The Earth is Dying – Is Anyone Up to Facing this Historic Crisis?

by on May 13, 2019 · 1 comment

in Environment, Under the Perfect Sun

By Jim Miller

The headlines screamed across front-pages last week.  “One Million Species Face Extinction, U.N. report says.  And Humans will Suffer as a Result,” blared the Washington Post .  “Humans are Speeding Extinction and Altering the Natural World at an ‘Unprecedented’ Pace,” the New York Times echoed.  “Human Society Under Urgent Threat from Loss of Earth’s Natural Life,” warned the Guardian).

Suffice to say, this is a big deal.  As the Post piece noted, the UN Report outlines “alarming implications for humanity” in that:

The landmark report by seven lead co-authors from universities across the world goes further than previous studies by directly linking the loss of species to human activity. It also shows how those losses are undermining food and water security, as well as human health.

More plants and animals are threatened with extinction now than any other period in human history, it concludes. Nature’s current rate of decline is unparalleled, and the accelerating rate of extinctions “means grave impacts on people around the world are now likely,” it says.

In a prepared statement, Robert Watson, a British chemist who served as the panel’s chairman, said the decline in biodiversity is eroding “the foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.”

The New York Times article on the same report observed that “Global warming is a major driver” in this rush toward extinction and that it is exacerbating the negative effects of other human activities like mining, logging, fishing, and industrial agriculture to such an extent that it is “unprecedented” in human history.

Despite the starkest of stark news delivered by the report, things are not totally hopeless (yet), but the way out is not just something the Republicans don’t like, but also what the Democratic establishment doesn’t want to hear.  As the Guardian tells us,

“The report acknowledges current conservation strategies, such as the creation of protected areas, are well-intended but inadequate. Future forecasts indicate negative trends will continue in all scenarios except those that embrace radical change across society, politics, economics and technology.”

Want an answer?  There you have it: “embrace radical change across society, politics, economics and technology.”

End of story.

Not that MSNBC or any of the other cable news closed feedback loops took more than a second off to tell you this when there was 24/7 coverage of the Mueller report to attend to.  It didn’t dominate the day on the campaign trail either.

Of course, as the Green New Deal debate has exposed, the mainstream of American politics is occupied by knuckle-dragging climate deniers on the right and a feckless Democratic establishment on the left that is afraid of telling the truth about the climate crisis out loud.

Indeed, in some cases, those who have called for solutions commensurate with the scale of the problem have been derided as foolish utopians not by Republicans, but by Democratic Party leaders, conservative unionists, and a host of other scared liberal pundits posing as “realists.”

The sad fact is that reaching those dug in on the Right in the time we have left is most likely hopeless as evidenced by the Trump administration’s cheering on of the melting of the arctic as a wonderful new economic opportunity .

But maybe, just maybe, those of good will on what stands in for the more progressive side of the ledger might be convinced that the debate about how to respond to catastrophic climate change is not a question of ideology or political strategy, but of physics and scientific reality.

I’d be lying if I told you I was optimistic about our chances given our current social and political context but surrendering to the political “realism” of “that will never happen” in the face of mass extinction is not savvy–it is suicidal.

It’s also morally bankrupt.

Consequently, when approaching this primary election of our lifetimes, no person of good conscience should vote for any candidate who refuses to acknowledge the colossal stakes of the climate question.  No one who fails to offer solutions big enough to actually save the future deserves to lead this country.

If we don’t answer the call of history on this front, nothing else will matter.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

sealintheSelkirks May 14, 2019 at 10:21 pm

Climate guy Bill Nye’s rant pretty much says it all: warning, profanity ensues:

Permian Extinction Event anyone?



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