As god looks down upon our planet …

Aral Sea with original area marked out in red

… he would cry floods of tears. For everywhere he looks his human creations are plundering the home he created for us. OK, OK, it’s a story line! I’m no preacher me. πŸ™‚ But you can allow yourself the scenario. If indeed a single creator of our complex planet floats up there in the universe (chatting in HAL) he would be in despair.

The above image of the Aral Sea is excellent for showing the destruction that human arrogance and stupidity can cause. For the Soviets their need for water was for 1000s of acres of cotton. One desire lead to another disaster. In 10 years time as disaster unfolds across the Amazon such images will appear from satellites, showing the death of a vast ecosystem but, this time with massive consequences for the whole planet.

We must stop drawing red lines of destruction upon our home.

I hereby call for the control of all state natural resources to be handed over to the World Bank’s Global Environment Facility. State governments can no longer be trusted to safe guard planet earth.

The GEF will have two experts from each country on its board, probably a scientist and an environment economist. The GEF World Resources Board will have absolute say on resource use, with the express aim of environment and human welfare. Businesses will trade under GEF terms of resource use. The GEF will have at their disposal a Global Police Force (GPF) to deal with blatant environmental crimes. That is the future my friends. You know it’s only right. πŸ™‚

Mother earth will be pleased.

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29 Responses to As god looks down upon our planet …

  1. ClareCat says:

    The wonders of satellites. Maybe all that space junk is worth it after all.

    Human beings have to stop thinking they can play god, so to speak. We’re just not that clever!

    I don’t think human beings will ever stop thinking they can play god. They (we) are just too stupid!

    =^.^=

  2. matt says:

    Oh, I know, I know. (holds his head in despair)

  3. suburbanlife says:

    A massive shift in philosphy is what is needed, that must come from the top down, because as a mass of beings we do little to voluntarily change the status quo – we only respond after the fact, in extremis, so to say. This is extremely saddening to me!

  4. matt says:

    Yes, top down implementation backed up by rigorous enforcement. Otherwise it’s only a matter of time ….

  5. Pete Smith says:

    Well, it’s God’s own fault if we trash the place.

    So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
    And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

    Genesis I, 27-28

  6. matt says:

    Amen.

    Indeed, you’re right Pete.

    Join the ‘humanists‘ today folks;

    πŸ™‚

  7. the Grit says:

    Well, Pete beat me to it. Dang. Except he didn’t point out that it will take several major wars before we turn control of our lives over to environmental Nazis. Considering that the odds of at least one group or country will spread nuclear fire around the planet during the conflict are right high, the Big Brother approach seems counter-productive and, well, stupid.

    the Grit

  8. Pete Smith says:

    Environmental Nazis? Really? With shiny boots and black uniforms with swastika armbands, singing “Die Fahne hoch” in Munich beer cellars?

    I must leak this to the National Enquirer.

  9. ClareCat says:

    I think the term you want is eco-nazi. And we don’t have shiny boots, altho we might wear black; dreads and dirty clothes are more common. My brother calls me an eco-nazi, altho I only have dreams in that direction. Action is lagging a bit 😦

    =^.^=

  10. matt says:

    That’s very gritty of you Grit. You imply nuclear war has a high probability of happening and so therefore greater control of resources is a waste of time. Did your therapist tell you this? I never knew that you had such a negative view of the world. πŸ˜‰

    Central control of resources might work. It’s simply taking state level control up to global control, with democratic input from all states. It’s not about comparative advantage in strict capitalist or economic terms but ‘environmental advantage’ instead, looked at globally. A slightly different angle on the focus of efficiency of resource use but, with a completely different end game; survival rather than profit.

    Clarecat. One has to play a very serious game to change things at the top. Playing them at their own game but, with a final twist. Undercover if you like. Not sure anyone or any organisation is doing this on behalf of the environment, at least, not with regional or global impact.

    FOE & Greenpeace work with the powers that be, attend conferences in suits, come to agreements, try to influence govt policy. The EIA or Environment Investigation Agency do undercover work, mainly in Indonesia/Malasia;
    http://www.eia-international.org/ These are small efforts really.

    I’d say the wearing of dreadlocks and not washing may well give the game away somewhat! It may of course serve you as a club of spiritual enlightenment. Your church or mosque. Nothing wrong with that but it won’t save the world, …. obviously!

  11. Pete Smith says:

    Hi Clarecat,

    It’s the mis-use of words like “Nazi” and “Fascist” that I object to. These have become convenient labels thrown around by anyone who doesn’t like being told what to do. I suspect that movements like eco-action are as far away from Nazism as it”s possible to get. Although it’s hard to tell as their web site is a bit ‘dusty’ 😎

    How does one get in touch with eco-action anyway? They probably wouldn’t have me, not enough hair for dreads and I get out of breath buying a round of drinks.

  12. Pete Smith says:

    “…it will take several major wars before we turn control of our lives over to environmental Nazis.”

    I can just hear Al Queda saying “It will take several major wars before we turn control of our lives over to American imperialists”. Freedom is a sword with many edges.

  13. the Grit says:

    Hi ClareCat,

    Actually, I expected the uniform to be green with a bit of brown trim, and flower badges to indicate rank πŸ™‚

    Hi Matt,

    Of course there will be war before some central authority can take control of the world. While the US and Europe might go peacefully if current trends continue, Russia is too paranoid to give up without a fight and, unless you want to put them in charge, I suspect China will reject the offer, as will India, Pakistan, and Israel. As to central control of resources working, well, some day pigs might sprout wings and fly. However, there is no evidence of either happening to date. So far, all recorded instances of central control of just about anything have proven to be grossly inefficient.

    Oh, and thanks for the Grit – gritty reference! Most people don’t notice. However, it actually is a play on grits, the food. When the Brit and I were discussing names for our blog, I suggested Warm Beer and Grits. After much discussion, we gave up on having any good ideas and went with something that rhymed πŸ™‚

    Hi Pete,

    You are right. I shouldn’t have used the Nazi reference. It should, technically, have been either Fascist or Communist. Although, I could make a fair case by comparing Hitler’s use of “the Arian Race” and related subjects in their propaganda to the use of “Global Warming” and other environmental issues, as reasons that the general public “needs” to give up some freedoms for the greater good.

  14. matt says:

    Oh Gritty ole boy you really are naughty. Guess you’ve read ‘Animal Farm’ (?). Just wondering how you treat your animals on your farm (other than your dog/s), if you have any. Or is it just crops down your way?

    I know I divert but hey, it’s my post. πŸ™‚

  15. ClareCat says:

    I don’t have dreds either πŸ™‚ I was joking when I said that Eco-Action are eco-nazis (or Fascist or Communist). I shouldn’t joke about such things, coz someone will take it the wrong way. I like the ideas behind Eco-Action that I’ve come across on the links on their site. And reading about their ideas is all the contact I’ve had with them.

    The link to the Earth First! journal is up to date.

    I have this idea in the back of my mind that only with the extinction (or huge population drop) of homo sapiens will the earth have a chance of overcoming what we’ve done to it. Of course this isn’t a very useful idea to have, unless I was going to take up some very extreme action to help it along πŸ™‚ (that was also a joke!) and so the idea just sits in the back of my head stewing.

    The best way to enable change in our society(s) is to have it come from government and governments are so unwilling to change if it involves the loss of that all important money. But maybe the loss of voters can spur them along, that seems to be working in Australia in the lead up to an election.

  16. matt says:

    Hi aussie Clarecat,

    It would do Australia no disservice to get rid of that horrible man, John Howard.

    Supposedly the top down approach to change should work but as you infer, normally grassroots movements that reach media coverage and mass appeal lead government to (vote grapping) policy making. Then those policies normally fail because they forget to fund them properly.

    Best actions I’ve noticed are those govt financial policy instruments (tax/subsidy) that give an incentive to business to carry the can (eg. renewables). Taxing landfill to encourage recycling is another.

    As to a population drop, well, it’s happening in Africa and Russia as a result of Aids and other diseases and general poverty and corrupt governments/corporations. Maybe your thoughts on population will spread into a greater reality.

  17. Pete Smith says:

    “I have this idea in the back of my mind that only with the extinction (or huge population drop) of homo sapiens will the earth have a chance of overcoming what we’ve done to it”

    Hi Clarecat,
    It’s funny how when a species exceeds the carrying capacity of its local environment, some bright spark orders a cull. Remind me, has the human race officially exceeded the earth’s carrying capacity yet, or not?
    Pete

  18. Mike says:

    There is a temptation (as we have seen in some of the responses above) that when things go wrong, we need to authorise some form of centralised control (e.g. GEF). We should not forget, though, that the ruin of the Aral Sea was perpetrated by one of the strongest centralist governments around.

    Central control does not confer extra wisdom on the controllers, but it does confer extra power. That power is then too easily used for vested interests. In the case of the ruin of the Aral Sea, the vested interest was the perceived importance of cotton for the economy, and humans and the environment were sacrificed. An environmental group in control could easily see humans and the economy being sacrificed for the vested interest of the environment.

    We already read remarks suggesting that what is needed is a human “extinction (or a huge population drop)”. Is a human disaster any more acceptable than an environmental one? And who gets to stay, who gets to be culled, who decides? This is highly totalitarian, and the use of the term ‘eco nazi’ in this context is not inappropriate.

    What we really should see are these three dimensions (environment, economy and social) all prospering, not just one.

    Possibly an answer lies in the opposite, i.e. a highly decentralised, maybe regional, approach. In such an approach, the vested interested would become the region. I note how parochial decentralisation can be, and this can be used to advantage, because smaller administrative areas tend to focus on all aspects of the area (and not just the notional ‘common good’ of the state).

  19. matt says:

    Yes, a regional approach and plan is necessary. Even better if they can generate a sustainable income from an economic and environmental point of view. This is what the Aral Sea needs and I believe ambitious moves are unfolding to replenish at least a part of the sea.

    Corruption is the worst nightmare whereby various characters simply ignore any rules whatsoever. Environmental crimes are also crimes against humanity. Tell me how these crimes might be curtailed.

  20. Mike says:

    Corruption is an ongoing problem, and it is not helped when, in the names of a variety of noble causes, the strength of fundamental political human rights are diluted. If we accept as an inalienable right the right to own property, and all that flows from that, then many of the problem causes become illegal, and therefore redressable.

    For example, in Britain, up until the industrial revolution it was a felony to pollute waterways and air used by someone else (recognising that no-one had the right to interfere with someone else’s unhindered use of their property by contaminating it). However, the greater good of economic prosperity saw this rescinded, and the consequence was widespread industrial pollution.

    Many current environmental concerns arise through the non-recognition of property rights; sometimes through the state notionally acting on behalf of its citizens, sometimes through businesses (often with state sanction) over-riding these, and sometimes through environmental groups (usually with state sanction) dispossessing people of their capacity to operate their properties as they see fit. In nearly all cases it is possible to mount a very convincing argument as to why this non-recognition should occur, but a convincing argument is not necessarily a correct one.

  21. matt says:

    As you say, property rights can be abused. Some common land arrangements work on a small scale. Then we have virgin forests (for example) where generally speaking no-one has rights (until govts move in to change this).

    All different situations above but nevertheless strong law enforcement agencies, backed up by tough penalties are surely the best way to deal with environmental crimes.

    Trouble comes when a state is sanctioning this destruction, as you yourself say. Who polices them? The EU is one possible model as environment directives are one of their relative successess. However implementation is obviously key and this is where many things fall down within bureaucratic setups.

    Which gets us back to regional and more local participation in enforcement. If this is backed up by international and regional/national laws that are actually enforced to make an impact there could be more success in environmental protection.

    Somehow the local, national, regional, international has to link up effectively. The GEF is one example of this linkup happening and they (at least on paper) appear to rigiourously check progress on their projects, feeding back any useful lessons. My thoughts are that they could do with the law being on their side too.

  22. Mike says:

    If we compare the state of this planet with how it was in the past,
    we can observe that some things are going right. For example, on average, life expectancy is higher, infant mortality is lower, air pollution and acid rain is lower (and harldy rates a mention these days), many waterways have been cleaned up, and the earth is 6% greener than it was two decades ago. So, despite specific environmental disasters (e.g. Aral Sea) and more general global concerns, it is not all bad.

    It would be worthwhile examining the mechanisms that have produced these results, and seeing whether they can be harnessed to generate results in other areas of concern.

    I suggest here that a key factor in influencing an environmental concern is choice. I am not wealthy, but I am comfortable, and that comfort allows me to choose an action (I can drive to the shops, or I can walk. I can burn wood for heat, or I can use hydro-generated electricity. I can operate solely off the electricity grid, or I can instal solar panels). Environmental issues are predominantly the concern of the ‘middle class’; they are the people who have a way of life that dually allows them to dwell on these things as well as do something about them.

    But those who have little freedom of choice have limited options. In that class are people who are living at the subsistence level and are too busy trying to survive to worry about the environment, and people whose choices are limited by repressive governements or lack of education.

    So a possible way of dealing with environmental concerns is not by implementing highly expensive, conceptually questionable schemes (such as carbon trading), but to spend that money instead on improving the prospects of people in underdeveloped or repressive countries. By raising global affluence, you also improve also education, health, sanitation, and importantly, the capacity to exercise choice.

  23. matt says:

    Mike

    Just out of interest where did you get ‘the earth is 6% greener than it was two decades ago’ summary from?

    Yes I agree in general that environmental concerns are currently a preoccupation of some of the middle class, in that they spend time talking, worrying and possibly acting on some ‘options’ because they have the luxuary of time and money to do so. That doesn’t mean however that environmental concerns aren’t on the minds of poorer folk. As you say yourself, they often aren’t able to resolve the problems they face and have no help in doing so.

    Yes, carbon trading is highly questionable and probably a result of London’s recent desire to create no end of complicated financial instruments for business means. A lot of those instruments have lead the world into financial turmoil now. The CDM is supposed to result in monies flowing from rich to poor but has had limited success and even supported the wrong projects in the wrong countries.

    Spending overseas development budgets directly on the provision of clean water, irrigation and power generation would, as you say, be more useful and more easily traceable. Corruption has to be tackled head on though. Seimens for example have just been fined heavily for paying out tens of millions in bribes for decades to win contracts all over the world. In many cases this has resulted in despots staying in power and increasing their citizens misery.

    Education for girls/women is extremely important for their emancipation and also because surprise, surprise they find earning an income and being able to make their own decisions leads to a desire to have less children. This relieves population pressures on resources and habitats. Of course it would also help regards this issue if more wealth didn’t lead to excess, as we see with middle class/upper class lifestyles.

    Are things improving for the environment? Maybe in some regards;e.g. with more nature reserves and marine reserves being set up and policed. These tend to be fairly small achievements though. On the down side what we are seeing is a realisation only recently that lots of global problems are out there; over fishing, deforestation on a massive scale, tundra releasing methane (tipping point), habitat fragmentation, serious desertification and droughts such as in Australia, Africa & China, countries now moving to buy up land from poor countries for agriculture so as to feed their own people because their land can’t support themselves (e.g. China from Sudan), ice melt at both poles, ozone holes & thinning, nuclear waste increasing with no plan as yet in what to do with it, major river’s water supply becoming erratic (e.g Ganges and Amazon). And that’s just off the top of my head!

    But hey, I’m an optimist. Have to be for my kids sake. πŸ™‚

    Matt

  24. Mike says:

    You’ve mentioned a lot of points in your last response, which I’ll try to address. But I’ll preface them by stating first that I have a philosophy that is based on (what I believe are) three fundmental principles: human rights, rational self-interest and contracts. The recognition and enforcement of these I believe to be the foundations of a civilised society, and whenever I am presenting a point of view, or discussing something, I have these lodged in my forebrain as a reminder.

    Take contracts, for example. In the Western world (though not exclusively) our lives are governed by them, whether they are the explicit, documented contracts of the business world, or the tacit contracts of personal relationships (e.g. getting engaged is a commitment between two people that possesses the key attributes of any contract: voluntarily entered, of mutual benefit, legality of action, eligibility to make a contract and so on). Economic (and, for that matter, personal) security is possible through confidence that contracts will be honoured (which, for the most part, they are).

    But not all countries conduct business in the same way. By our standards, African countries (with the curious exception of Botswana, of all places, South Africa and a few others) are notoriously corrupt. How does one transact business with such countries? Companies such as Seimens, Shell and others secure their contracts in these by conducting their business in the manner of the locals, i.e. by buying the security of their contracts (i.e. bribes). I don’t condone this, but I acknowledge their reasons for doing so. It is a tricky one. It is the equivalent of a protection racket: if you don’t pay up; we’ll confiscate your assets. I have nothing but contempt for country leaders who squander export-generated revenue on personal gain instead of using it for the betterment of their citizens.

    The ‘6% greener than twenty years ago’ comes from Bjorn Lomborg. He was a one-time Greenpeace activist who incurred their wrath by questioning their policies and actions. He started delving deeply into statistics relating to the general environmental health of the planet, and discovered that there was little to support the litany of doom promulgated by Greenpeace. He is still an ardent environmentalist, but urges Greenpeace to take a more considered approach on courses of action that have the potential to cause more harm than good.

    You have mentioned a number of global environmental issues, from the ‘top of my head’. That is one of the dangers we face at the moment; there are too many issues arising that become circulated as fact when they were only ever speculative to begin with. One example is the ‘switching off’ of the Gulf Stream. The Gulf Stream shutdown scenario emerged around 1998, but received more intense media coverage in 2005 when oceanographer Harry Bryden reported significant changes in current flow. Since then (and even prior to then) intensive studies have revealed no slowing of the current, and no likelihood of it ever doing so (much to the embarrasment of Al Gore). Nevertheless it continues to circulate as a looming environmental disaster.

    The nuclear waste issue is likewise intriguing. Some nuclear products have half lives of a few minutes, others of many hundreds of years, and so we take great pains to lock them away securely. Yet, there are highly toxic substances of infinite half lives (i.e. they never lose their toxicity) such as mercury, lead and so on, yet we are happy to leave these on shelves. In my view, nuclear waste issues are highly over-rated, and most of the fear stems not from science, but from B-grade science fiction movies.

    Anyway, that’s enough for today. I’m sure you will find enough to take me to task on in that lot!

  25. matt says:

    But how did Mr Bjorn Lomborg come to that conclusion with that stat of 6%?

    The Seimens case included corruption/bribes in Switzerland, Austria, Norway and Israel to name a few outside of Africa.

    Yes the gulf stream switching off is a theory but I didn’t mention that. The tundra warming in Siberia and releasing methane is fact and is happening and it’s warming affects are far worse than CO2. You didn’t acknowledge the other problems I mentioned. πŸ™‚

    Do you have a scientist or engineering background?

  26. Mike says:

    hi Matt

    It wasn’t my intention to provide rebuttals for the various problems you’ve mentioned. When I first stumbled across this site, my internal alarm bells rang at the various suggestions of strong central control. I was cautioning against precipitate and severe action as an answer to problems, specially when some don’t exist and others don’t matter. There are many environmental disaster scenarios circulating currently, and my concern is that decrees issued by people who should know better, and the consequent media feeding frenzy, are being treated as fact. And that as a result, resources are being diverted from long time real problems (hunger, lack of sanitation and clean water, lack of electricity, poverty, education and oppression) to these shimmery windmills.

    I mentioned the example of the Gulf Stream, showing how a misplaced assumption of one person led to an almost cult-like belief. It seems this is happening alarmingly at the moment, and I believe that this is the biggest global catastrophe we face.

    Here is another example; a double-barrelled tragedy.

    Barrel 1: In April 2008, the World Health Organisation announced that millions of Asians were at risk through global warming, and that malaria-carrying mosquitos were a clear sign of this warming, with them being found in the cooler climates of Korea and the highlands of New Guinea. As the planet warms, they will spread themselves and this deadly disease further.

    But malaria is not a tropical disease. The most severe outbreak in the last hundred years occurred in the early tentieth century . . . in Siberia. About 13 million people were affected, 600,000 of whom died, and 30,000 of them in Arkhangelsk, Russia’s port on the Arctic Circle. The only requirement these pesky critters need is an ambient temperature of around 15 degrees C in the breeding season.

    So how is it that people think that malaria is a tropical disease that will increase as the planet warms? One reason is that malaria is now virtually unknown in Europe, having vanished during the mid-twentieth century, and is now only endemic in hotter climates. However, they didn’t disappear because of the cold climate. Their demise in Europe (and the greater part of the develped world) was virtually at the hands of one man, Joseph Muller, who won a Nobel Prize for medicine in 1943 for his work. He was the one who invented DDT, a singularly effective agent against the malaria-carrying mosquito.

    Barrel 2: DDT was and still is banned. Rachel Carson, in the sixties, wrote a book called “Silent Spring” in which she observed, in Africa, cancer-affected fish and a reduced bird population, caused by the loss of baby birds through thinning eggshells. DDT was attributed as being the cause of the cancerous fish and thinning eggshells. This led to its eventual prohibition.

    However, subsequent research revealed that the fish were affected by aflotoxin, a naturally occuring carcinogen in the water, and that DDT wasn’t (and couldn’t) affect eggshells. DDT was not directly responsible for thinning eggshells, though it played a part in it. The thin shells were caused by a calcium-deficient diet in the birds, and the calcium deficiency was caused by a lack of insects on which the birds feed. It had nothing to do with DDT toxicity.

    Despite this reversal of views on the toxicity of DDT, it still remains banned. The western world was the beneficiary, but the already stressed populations of developing countries (mostly in tropical regions, hence the association) continue to be plagued at the rate of about 1 million deaths a year.

    I’ve gone on at length about mosquitos because it is such a classical example of misplaced assumptions leading to an inappropriate response.

    You mentioned “serious desertification” in Australia (and other places). I suggest someone else has made another misplaced assumption. I live in Australia and I am quite familiar with its climate. It is a very dry continent, and has been that way for a very long time. Most of the population lives on the edge of the continent, and for good reason: there is little water inland. However, there is no indication of increased desertification. What there is, though, is increasing use of marginal land for wheat and grazing. This marginal land is highly susceptible to weather variations (particularly El Nino effects), and Australian inland farmers are forever risking crop failure through drought. The number and intensity of droughts hasn’t increased, but the number of farmers trying to make a living off marginal land (mainly with the help of irrigation) has.

    However, this irrigation has brought its own problems. The Murray Darling basin has endured intense strain as irrigation takes water from an already fragile river system, so much so that the Murray (Australia’s longest river) no longer reaches the sea . . . it kind of fizzles out on the foreshore in South Australia.

    In a way, this problem is not dissimilar to that of the Aral Sea, where a high demand for water is causing environmental problems. However, unlike the Aral Sea, there are measures in place to restore a proper flow through the Murray Darling river system.

    You asked about my background. I only have a marginal scientific background. But for the last thirty years I worked for the Australian Bureau of Statistics. And since retiring, I spend an inordinate amount of time on research and analysis . . . being a natural sceptic, I like to challenge everything!

    I’m not sure where Lomborg gets his figures from. He had a team of statisticians working for him when he was questioning Greenpeace’s assumptions, and you can probably find what you want in his book, “The Skeptical Environmentalist”.

    mike

  27. matt says:

    Hi Mike

    Yes cause & effect are often difficult to establish for pretty much anything, especially when different parties get involved with their preconceived notions. Those parties can desire certain outcomes, no matter what information is available and become adept at interpreting stats to their own ends. Nevertheless statistics are obviously important to an argument!

    Add the media to the equation and mix in a few politicians and we end up in a bit of a mess when it comes to educating the public about the current state of the environment. Still, the debates must be had and I rather provocatively threw up the idea of more central control for policing environmental crimes because it’s one option for putting on the table.

    A while ago people would not have believed that the rangers policing wildlife parks in places like Kenya and South Africa would get arms and orders to shoot to kill poachers. But it happened as poaching got worse at one point.

    It comes down to, I think, how we look at land, sea and resources with regards ownership. Many aboriginal peoples had no particular ownership system or at least they didn’t get into parcelling up land as the Europeans did. OK, this may come down to Europe ending up rather crowded or simply because extremely wealthy Dukes and churches started to fence off great chunks of land for themselves in order to capitalise on producing goods for trade.

    Whatever, we’ve ended up with a land ownership system. Yes, land owners have the incentive to look after their land and buildings and not to pollute them. But we can’t get away from there needing to be common land, waterways, air and oceans.

    How we deal with the pollution and destttruction of these common areas is what interests me here. Let’s remember that these costs are hardly ever included in the market price of goods and services. It’s the tax payer that foots the bill. Is that right? I think not.

    Mike, Happy New Year down there in OZ.

    Matt (originally from NZ) πŸ™‚

  28. Mike says:

    There are some points worth dwelling on in yor last post.

    Let’s take the last para first. Maybe environmental damage is not included in the market price of goods, and maybe the taxpayer is the one footing the bill. I am undecided at which is fairer. If environmental costs were built into market prices, then consumers would pay when they purchase goods and services. In this sense it is a user-pays system, and those who buy more get to pay more, which makes sense to me. If not included, then the government sponsors this work and everyone pays through taxes, which spreads the cost throughout the community. Clearly in this case, those who demand resources (by buying more) don’t pay extra for their consumerist thirst. However, the other message through a taxatio system is that environmental responsibility belongs to everyone. (I think, though, that I would prefer a user-pays system.)

    Aborginals didn’t parcel up land in the manner of Europeans, but that parcelling arose neither from ovecrowding nor from the church or wealthy dukes seeking to further enrich themselves (thouhg I’ve no doubt that both took advantage of it).

    Parcelling up land was (and is) tied up with food security. Nomadic people, after exhausting the resources of a particular area, simply moved on to another area and used the resources there. This then allowed the first area to recover. A parcel of land was a concept unnecessary to their existence, and was in fact inimical to it: to stay with a particular patch of land would mean starvation, once emptied of game and fruit. Nevertheless, nomadic people still had a sense of land owndership in that they were territorial. ‘Border clashes’ occurred and still occur between nomadic tribes.

    The development of agriculture and animal husbandry necessitated land ownership and property rights. To be able to prepare, plant, raise and harvest crops needs security of tenure. The three threats to security of tenure are climate (floods, fire and drought), flora and fauna (weeds, animal and insect pests), and humans (hostile encroachment, pillaging). Physical structures can safeguard against the first two (dykes, dams, fences etc.), but these won’t deter humans. What was needed there was a recongition in, and recourse to, law, i.e. the establishment of property rights. This, of course (as we have seen through history) did not prevent property invasions, but it did provide a means of redress that wasn’t based on force of arms or physical strength.

    But yes: “whatever, we’ve ended up with a land ownership system”. Firstly, we should be careful not to be seduced by Eden-like visions of earlier times. Our forebears were no better at managing their environment than we were. Two thousand years ago the Romans and their contemporaries did a pretty good job at deforesting their region (take Spain, for example). About 150 years ago, 650 acres were chopped down to provide oak for just one ship; Nelson’s flagship, The Victory. In recent times, research attributes the demise of the large Australian marsupials to the Australian aboriginals, and the large North American mammals to the indians. In both cases, the extinction of those animals coincides with the arrival of humans. The Australian aboriginals used a practice of ‘slash and burn’ to clear areas. At times this was helpful for eucalypt forests, which won’t survive without regular burns (mostly provided in nature through lightning strikes). At other times (if an area is burnt too soon after a previous burn), this practice resulted in the death of forests, and, in the case of Tasmania, to the development of ecological deadends; the buttongrass plain.

    As far as I’m concerned, the jury is out on whether nomadic people were less harmful to the environment than sedentary people, so from that perspective, neither convinces me as being more environmentally meritorious, nor even environmentally conscious.

    For all the above, I haven’t got much further towards solving environmental problems.

    Maybe more next time

    I hope you enjoyed your Christmas and New Year.

    mike

  29. God is the eye watching over us, but we are responsible for our own actions, its being foolish saying he is the responsible one, yes he did created life, but gave us the chance to hold it in our hands, we got a good side and a bad side, god gave us each a heart,….We need to change our ways of living to a to z for our generation to come….who said it existed a end of the world…. if he just said it without knowing the truth, how can you believe, such a lie that humain is got at it….with my experience, the only way that it will have an end of the world, is that everybody dies at the same time without any survivors, because where is life there’s death, where theres death there’s life, this is the cycle of life… believe it our not, i know the truth and it hurts because the innocence, ignorance, insensible, persons that think they have one life to live, dont give a S*** about anything, just about them self, well they are wrong, when some one goes away comes back in another way, another mission is awaiting, because we are born to be strong, to tackle the most difficult probleme, everyday a mission, everyday a challenge, makes us a survivor, A BELIEVOR !!! God is the eye of all, may enjoy, may cry, may see the truth that humains hide… he can hear, he can judge, he can do anything without something, he has the power to see the truth, and here i am, still alive without feeling that i’m alone….i love my good side, but my bad side i like for what it can do good… :0)

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