Earth is dying
Humanity has so massively overshot planetary ecological boundaries, that already there is an impact upon jobs and consumption; and as a result of diminishing expectations, neo-fascism is rising. It is likely humanity’s cumulative huge demands upon ecosystems, which we seek to prolong at all costs for a huge population base, will collapse the entire biosphere as societies and economies crash. To avoid such a fate we must have fewer children, end fossil fuels, and restore natural ecosystems. Green Liberty – a political re-alignment of progressives, greens and libertarians who value ecology, justice, equity, and small governments and corporations – is the only pathway within existing sovereignty to achieve global ecological sustainability.
Humanity’s inability to stop destroying nature can only lead to profound human suffering as all known life’s one shared biosphere collapses, falling into nothingness, but not before we undergo an authoritarian corporatist hell on Earth. – Dr. Glen Barry
Ecological science has known for some time, and I have written and spoken at length, how Earth’s biosphere is collapsing and dying as global ecosystems and atmosphere are overwhelmed by human growth. How and over what time frame biosphere collapse will play out is less known though certain aspects are becoming increasingly apparent as environmental decline progresses. Lack of easily exploitable natural ecosystems to destroy in order to access resources to feed industrial growth has led to a downturn in jobs to fuel highly consumptive lifestyles, and the concurrent rise of political demagoguery and resurgence of authoritarian corporatism (of many types, under many names) to exploit the situation.
Threats to our shared biosphere’s health far exceed abrupt climate change as natural ecosystems which create the conditions for a habitable biosphere – such as old growth forests, soil, water, and oceans – are being pillaged and collapsing. A plethora of emerging science over the last several decades has shown the extent to which key planetary boundaries have been exceeded, leading to a state of global ecological overshoot that can only end in disastrous collapse.
In addition to climate and biodiversity loss having already surpassed planetary boundaries, my own peer-reviewed science has highlighted how 66% of Earth’s land must remain as natural or semi-natural ecosystems to sustain the biosphere, though 50% has already been lost . Given Earth is already well beyond her limits, I foresee several trends intensifying including further false techno-solutions and rising neo-fascism, which virtually ensure horrific biosphere collapse, which I will briefly review here. A political re-alignment necessary to achieve global ecological sustainability termed “Green Liberty” is again proposed. I continue to seek funding to complete a long-pending book on these matters.
MORE ECOCIDAL TECHNO-HUBRIS NOT THE ANSWER
The global ecological system is collapsing and dying as humanity overruns natural ecosystems and climate. Incautious human growth wantonly spills forth its filth, destroying natural ecosystems, and the very land and air that make life possible, to allow us to go shopping for things we often don’t need, and not everyone can have. Humanity faces a choice between more of the same chimerical techno-fixes to maintain such conspicuous consumption, such as proposals to engineer the biosphere and further false claims of sustainable old-growth forest logging, or to embrace the ecologically rigorous policies sufficient to achieve global ecological sustainability discussed here.
Profound ecological denial is occurring regarding what it will take to stop biosphere collapse. Unfettered, incautious application of techno-optimistic solutions to human needs and wants is precisely what has unleashed overpopulation’s and inequities’ never ending demands upon natural systems. As we seek technophile approaches such as geoengineering – rather than hitting at the root causes of overpopulation, inequitable consumption, and unsustainable rousting of resources from natural ecosystems – we continue to dig ourselves further into an ecological hole with diminished options for recovery.
Social, economic, and environmental policy to achieve just, equitable ecological sustainability must resist greenwash and doing more harm, while being truly on the scale of necessary solutions. The only type of geoengineering that may be acceptable if done carefully is for humanity to protect and enlarge natural ecosystems such as old-growth forests, buffered by semi-natural permaculture agriculture, in an attempt to reconnect frayed patterns of ecological connectivity upon which virtually all global scale ecological processes depend.
At this late date, as several planetary boundaries have been exceeded, only sufficient policies can turn back the overwhelming forces of seven billion super predators having overgrazed their habitat. Either together we limit our numbers, keep fossil fuel carbon in the ground, and protect and restore standing and connected old-growth forests, or alone we each face horrific biosphere collapse as society and economics unravel, authoritarian demagoguery rises, and being ends.
RISING AUTHORITARIAN CORPORATISM
The global ecological system is collapsing and dying as natural ecosystems and the atmosphere are overrun. Overpopulated humanity has surpassed the biosphere’s carrying capacity, and there are not enough resources and ecosystems for more over-consumption by all. Our scramble for ever more stuff is causing a rise in tyranny as more are left behind, many unable even to realize basic human needs. Together we simplify and share, and resist the urge to fight for the right to pillage Earth’s final intact ecosystems, or being ends.
Failure to recognize virtually all global societal problems – from poverty, to unemployment, and including racism – have an ecological component means a worsening of conditions, for the formerly bourgeoisie in particular, which leads to anger and lashing out. Thus we are witnessing the rise of a new sort of authoritarianism, distinct from past corporatist fascism, but sharing many of the elements and more.
Across the globe liberal democracies again face the scourge of worker vilification, capture of governance by corporations, education cuts, scapegoating minorities, nationalistic militarism, and other textbook examples of fascism. Most recently, fascism has included denial of basic ecological science such as climate change to prop up an ecocidal worldview that enriches a few at the expense of the well-being of the many and the very existence of our shared biosphere.
As declining economies are not properly attributed to diminished land bases, abrupt climate change, and reduction of other ecosystems, more authoritarian corporatist bought political mouthpieces blame perceived societal decline on numerous false factors. In the United States, far right wing politicians scapegoat any number of forces – be it unions, atheists, gays, blacks, you name it – anything but correctly linking reduced consumption to its root cause of ecosystem decline. It is human nature to try any and all means – be it perma-war, worker wage slavery, injustice and inequity – to maintain a comfortable lifestyle that was not designed to last.
Modern industrialism destroys itself through diminishment of the ecological fabric of nature which makes Earth habitable. From Syria to the Ukraine, from Wisconsin to California, and nearly all places in between, abrupt climate change is causing ecosystems to collapse and tyranny to rise. As climate abruptly changes and ecosystems collapse petty tyrants like Walker and Putin rise to demagogue ecological collapse for self and oligarchic enrichment. The twin crises of authoritarian corporatism and global ecological collapse are inexorably entwined, you only solve the latter by eliminating the former.
Green Liberty is the answer. Greens, progressives and libertarians (the reasoned sort that understand ecology) coming together to reduce the size of government and corporate control over humanity and Earth, is the only means within existing sovereign political structures to stop ecosystem collapse and achieve just and equitable global ecological sustainability. Either we embrace green liberty and commit to protecting ecosystems and remaining free at all costs using all means necessary, or we face horrific authoritarianism as our one shared biosphere collapses and being ends.
A LIVING EARTH CAN DIE
Earth is a living organism. It has long been known, before science by indigenous worldviews going back eons, that Earth as a whole depends upon the health, nutrient and energy cycling, and ecological regulation by its parts such as intact natural water, air, land, and ocean ecosystems. How did humanity forget that like any other animal we are entirely dependent upon this ecosystem habitat for survival? How can such simple and observable facts like the global environment is finite, yet human demands on ecosystems and biosphere continue to grow exponentially, be ignored? Doing so can only end in ecological collapse.
Humanity’s inability to stop destroying nature can only lead to profound human suffering as all known life’s one shared biosphere collapses, falling into nothingness, but not before we undergo an authoritarian corporatist hell on Earth.
Humanity has so far overshot planetary ecological boundaries that it is possible, indeed likely, we will collapse and kill the biosphere as ecosystems and society crash. Many ecosystems including the climate, terrestrial ecosystems, and the biosphere as a whole bifurcate between extremes just prior to collapse, something seen across scale in natural ecosystems, and which we are now routinely experiencing at the regional and global scales. Humanity is not only destroying our own potential longevity and advancement, but is also pulling down the biosphere threatening a dead, uninhabitable world.
The general perspective is that while humans may go extinct, life and Earth will go on. Possibly, but this is not assured. Humanity is in a state of ecological overshoot, whereby the full impacts of our current ecological damage, much less continuing as we are, has not become fully apparent. Our actions diminishing ecosystems today are multi-faceted, and have long lag times before being fully realized. We continue to dig ourselves deeper into a hole, and every indication is that we are going to incautiously try all types of techno-optimist solutions such as geoengineering and nanotech to try to build and maintain a biosphere. Such efforts are merely the last in a line of increasingly desperate ecocidal hubris and will fail.
We show every indication of destroying every last natural ecosystem, trolling oceans of all life, cutting every old-growth forest, disturbing every bit of soil, in a quest to maintain levels of over-consumption experienced while still plentiful virgin ecosystems were being liquidated for resources. As numerous planetary boundaries are unprecedentedly crossed all at once, it is conceivable if not probable that thresholds of planetary ecological regulation in terms of habitability for organic life will be crossed.
That is, Earth may die.
Perhaps some extremophiles will continue around deep sea benthic vents, or some dandelions will persist, but much like hair and fingernails continue growing when humans pass, the Earth will be dead. There have only been five previous mass extinctions of which we are aware, and while life re-radiated evolutionarily, there is no assurance this will necessarily occur. Particularly if the boundaries wherein life has evolved for billions of years are pushed outside of the range of biogeochemistry required for habitability.
Unless authoritarian denial of basic science that impedes ecologically sufficient policies is stopped, it is highly likely that many humans will continue their assault on the natural environment that nurtures us, right up until the last moment when we collapse socially and economically, and that the sheer mass of human inertia will pull down the living biosphere with us.
There is NO guarantee Earth’s environment recovers post human collapse, so find no false comfort there.
HOW TO LIVE ON A DYING EARTH
Food and water crises of unimaginable proportions loom as the biosphere collapses from ecosystem loss and climate change. I have been trying to figure out myself what to do in a dying world, and have settled upon a middle route. For any hope of surviving the coming transition, you simply must have a piece of land to make a last stand. Find a livelihood that helps meet human needs with a minimum of impact upon the natural world. Live as simply (work on being debt free) as one can focusing upon organic foods, minimizing your use of automobiles, and nurturing the ability to move agilely and adapt.
Efforts to avert biosphere collapse and achieve global ecological sustainability are no less than an epic battle between good and evil. Commit to affinity actions with others to protect and restore natural ecosystems, and leave fossil fuels in the ground. And please use birth control and limit your fertility to 1 or at most 2 children. It is what the Earth can bear.
Somehow coming together in markets to exchange our surplus became perverted into usury intent upon growth in profits at all cost including our shared habitat necessary to survive and thrive. We cannot afford to be anti-business, as nearly all social change has been achieved by usurping rather than eliminating opposition. But we can insist that business strive for a steady state economy while disavowing fossil fuels and ecosystem destruction, and boycott and urge the dismantling of all that fail to do so. We need both smaller corporations and smaller government in order to return control over our lives to democratic governance free of corporate and big brother’s control, with a political system committed to serving requirements for equitable and just sustainability of local bioregions.
We must also realize that there are large existing movements that each highlights one aspect of authoritarian inequitable ecological collapse. The Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street, Idle No More, climate change and hundreds of other local and regional movements are all struggles for truth, justice, equity and sustainability. Those profiting from pillaging the Earth and demagogueing the consequences shudder at the thought of these movements uniting to seize power and force implementation of required social change for a just, equitable, and sustainable Earth.
Every day the ruling oligarchy works to keep us divided.
Western culture and its adherents please slow down, catch your breath, and realize that perhaps working harder to consume more material stuff at the expense of natural ecosystems is not as important as your and our one shared planet’s long-term needs for nature as the basis for well-being.
Looming abrupt climate change, ecosystem loss, and global biosphere collapse demand urgent, sufficient solutions that are commensurate to the threat posed by looming global ecosystem collapse such as ending fossil fuels, having fewer kids, protecting and restoring ecosystems, and sharing more as end war. Green Liberty calls for you to fight for ecosystems, climate, and freedom; or passively accept biosphere collapse, tyranny in the face of scarcity, and the end of being. Choose.
 Barry, Glen. “Terrestrial ecosystem loss and biosphere collapse.” Management of Environmental Quality: An International Journal 25.5 (2014): 542-563.