By Robert J. Burrowes, New Age Islam
08 December 2016
On the day that you read this article, 200
species of life on Earth (plants, birds, animals, fish, amphibians, insects,
reptiles) will cease to exist. Tomorrow, another 200 species will vanish
The human onslaught to destroy life on
Earth is unprecedented in Earth's history. Planet Earth is now experiencing its
sixth mass extinction event and Homo sapiens is the cause. Moreover, this mass
extinction event is accelerating and is so comprehensive in its impact that the
piecemeal measures being taken by the United Nations, international agencies
and governments constitute a tokenism that is breathtaking in the extreme.
And it is no longer the case that mainly
'invisible' species are vanishing: those insects, amphibians and small animals
about which you had never even heard, assuming they have been identified and
given a name by humans.
You and I are on the brink of driving to
extinction some of the most iconic species alive today. For a photo gallery of
threatened species, some of which are 'critically endangered', see 'World's
wildlife being pushed to the edge by humans – in pictures'.
If you want to read more about some aspects
of the extinction threat, you can do so in these recent reports: 'World
Wildlife Crime Report: Trafficking in protected species'
and '2016 Living Planet Report' awsassets.panda.org/downloads/lpr_living_planet_report_2016.pdf
which includes these words: 'The main statistic from the report … shows a 58%
decline between 1970 and 2012. This means that, on average, animal populations
are roughly half the size they were 42 years ago.'
And if you want to read just one aspect of
what is happening in the world’s oceans, this recent UN report will give you
something to ponder: 'New UN report finds marine debris harming more than 800
species, costing countries millions'. un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=55724#.WEdCk1yYrIV
Of course, some of what is happening is
related to the ongoing climate catastrophe and there isn't any good news on
that front. See 'What's Happening in the Arctic is Astonishing'.
But not everything that is going badly
wrong is well known either. Did you know that we are destroying the Earth's
soil? See 'Only 60 Years of Farming Left If Soil Degradation Continues'.
And did you realise that even nitrogen is
now a huge problem too? See 'Scientists shine a spotlight on the overlooked
menace of nitrogen'.
Of course, military violence has
devastating consequences on the Earth's ecosystems too, destroying land, water
and atmosphere (not to mention killing human beings) in the fight over
resources. You will get no joy from the article 'Iraq's oil inferno –
government inaction in the face of eco-terrorism'
or the website of the Toxic Remnants of War Project.
http://www.toxicremnantsofwar.info/ But every single aspect of military
spending is ultimately used to destroy. It has no other function.
While 2.5 billion human beings do not have
enough to eat. See 'One in three people suffers malnutrition at global cost of
$3.5 trillion a year'..un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=55691#.WETNflyYrIV
As you read all this, you might say 'Not
me'! But you are wrong. You don't have to be an impoverished African driven to
killing elephants for their tusks so that you can survive yourself. You don't
have to be a farmer who is destroying the soil with synthetic poisons. You
don't have to be a soldier who kills and destroys or a person who works for a
corporation that, one way to another, forces peasants off their land.
You just have to be an 'ordinary' person who
pays your military taxes and consumes more than your share of world resources
while participating without challenge in the global system of violence and
exploitation managed by the global elite.
'Why Is This?' You Might Ask.
This is because the primary driver of the
human-induced mass extinction is not such things as some people hunting a
particular life form to extinction, horrendous though this is. In fact, just
two things drive most species over the edge: our systematic destruction of land
habitat – forests, grasslands, wetlands, peatlands, mangroves… – in our endless
effort to capture more of the Earth's wild places for human use (whether it be
residential, commercial, mining, farming or military) and our destruction of
waterways and the ocean habitat by dumping into them radioactive contaminants,
carbon dioxide, a multitude of poisons and chemical pollutants, and even
And do you know what drives this
destruction of land and water habitats? Your demand for consumer products, all
of which are produced by using land and water habitats, and the resources
derived from them, often far from where you live. The most basic products, such
as food and clothing, are produced on agricultural land, sometimes created by
destroying rainforests, or taken from the ocean (where overfishing has savagely
depleted global fish stocks). But in using these resources, we have ignored the
needs of the land, oceans and the waterways for adequate regenerative inputs
and recovery time.
We also participate, almost invariably without
question or challenge, in the inequitable distribution of resources that
compels some impoverished people to take desperate measures to survive through
such means as farming marginal land or killing endangered wildlife.
So don't sit back waiting for some miracle
by the United Nations, international agencies or governments to solve this
problem. It cannot happen for the simple reason that these organizations are
all taking action within the existing paradigm that prioritizes corporate
profit and military violence over human equity and ecological sustainability.
Despite any rhetoric to the contrary, they
are encouraging overconsumption by industrialized populations and facilitating
the inequitable distribution of income and wealth precisely because this
benefits those who control these organizations, agencies and governments: the
insane corporate elites who are devoid of the capacity to see any value beyond
the 'bottom line'. See 'The Global Elite is Insane'.
If you want action on the greatest
challenge human beings have ever faced – to avert our own extinction by
learning to live in harmony with our biosphere and equity with our fellow
humans – then I encourage you to take personal responsibility.
If you do, you need to act. At the simplest
level, you can make some difficult but valuable personal choices. Like becoming
a vegan or vegetarian, buying/growing organic/biodynamic food, and resolutely
refusing to use any form of poison or to drive a car or take an airline flight.
But if you want to take an integrated
approach, the most powerful way you can do this is to systematically reduce
your own personal consumption while increasing your self-reliance. Anita McKone
and I have mapped out a fifteen-year strategy for doing this in 'The Flame Tree
Project to Save Life on Earth'. tinyurl.com/flametree You might also consider
signing the online pledge of 'The People's Charter to Create a Nonviolent
World' thepeoplesnonviolencecharter.wordpress.com which obviously includes
nonviolence towards our fellow species.
One of the hidden tragedies of modern human
existence is that we have been terrorized into believing that we are not
personally responsible. See 'The Delusion "I Am Not Responsible"'.
thenigerianvoice.com/news/222631/the-delusion-i-am-not-responsible.html For a
fuller explanation, see 'Why Violence?' tinyurl.com/whyviolence and 'Fearless
Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice'.
anitamckone.wordpress.com/articles-2/fearless-and-fearful-psychology/ It isn't
true but few people feel powerful enough to make a difference.
And every time you decide to do nothing and
to leave it to someone else, you demonstrate why no-one else should do anything
Extinction beckons. What will you do?
Robert J. Burrowes has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending
human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to
understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist
since 1981. He is the author of 'Why Violence?' http://tinyurl.com/whyviolence
His email address is email@example.com and his website is at
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