A new version of this title is now part of my new book, 'The Secular Fundamentalist'.
|The most fundamental axiom of the industrial system is the belief that there is an unconditional right to use and exhaust every resource that inventiveness can devise. Massive capital stock, fast track technology, enterprise gigantism and global integration means the entire planet is being converted into one giant mining, processing and dumping facility for the sole benefit of humans; particularly the wealthiest ones.
Large scale species loss and environmental degradation is not just a regrettable side effect, but the principal effect of an underlying philosophy of domination more absolute than the divine right of kings. This ideology is so all pervasive, even attempts to defend eco-systems from demolition have to be couched in terms of potential alternative human ‘resource’ values.
Ecosystems have no life or needs independent of us. Ecological ruin is considered an acceptable price of ‘progress’ because eco-systems are not deemed to have a finite or capital value. They are therefore unlimited and costless expendables whose operations are external to the economic system.
This absolutist philosophy is re-enforced by increasing distances between decision making and the site of damage caused by the decision-maker. A forest in Papua-New Guinea is destroyed from a Kuala Lumpur office whose staff will see much less of the carnage they have caused than World War II bomber crews flying at ten thousand metres over Tokyo. Living in cities causes their populations to lose contact with natural processes. Many of their children have no idea what produces milk, let alone understand the terrible ecological strain of maintaining the super productivity that makes it so cheap.
Above all, urban populations have such a long history of seeing purchasing inventories exploding year after year, it is an overwhelming expectation that the consumption boundaries must always keep expanding. There is no such thing as an ‘ecological ration’ or a realistic built in economic cost for ecological ‘services’ that would have the same effect.
The twentieth century spawned the term Total War. Just as it had produced political totalitarianism, the war variant meant extremism to the maximum extent possible. Its logical end point was war of total annihilation, as expressed in the nuclear bombing of Japanese cities and the threat of it to all major ones during the Cold War.
The mobilisation of entire populations for war meant that entire populations would inevitably become the target. The mobilisation of the entire resources of the planet for production wars means total annihilation for any species unlucky enough to be exposed to the ever expanding blast zones caused by the energy and materials inputs, product and service outputs, and wastes of ever more massive industrial operations.
We have been spared (so far) the unthinkable outcome of all out nuclear war, but ordinary civil peacetime industrial operations will likely have similarly lamentable consequences if they are not severely curtailed soon.
The expansion of the industrial system is so fast and its activism so intense, it blurs the distinction between the deliberately destructive impact of total warfare and the deliberately predatory or ‘collaterally’ inflicted damage of total production warfare in ‘peacetime’. The attack is no longer periodic or spasmodic, regional or continental. All the land, atmosphere and seas of our globe are under siege.
The result is simultaneous multiple species genocide on a scale unprecedented since pale-ontological times. Ecocide is just another qualitative and quantitative leap from the Nazi and Soviet slave and death camps, and the Cold War threat of mutually assured nuclear annihilation. Ecocide promises a painful haemorrhaging of the life force by millions of daily cuts at its fabric everywhere, until it starts to collapse.
With the emergence of the ‘tiger’ economies of Asia and particularly the economic awakening of the two population giants, China and India, all previous production war efforts are being dwarfed. At the turn of the twenty-first century, half the world’s construction cranes were concentrated on around 22,000 sites, in one Chinese city alone, Shanghai; part of the industrial chain reaction that was already starting to devastate the industrial regions of that country and those either down stream or wind of them. The rapid increase in their participation in the industrial system can only serve to amplify the existing overwhelming stresses on environments everywhere.
The Chinese authorities are planning for a quadrupling of their economy within twenty years. If they decide to have a car ownership rate comparable with the Germans, it will mean an extra six to seven hundred million cars on their roads. India is not that far behind. They already have a middle class of more than one hundred million people.
Long before these developing economies gain production/consumption patterns comparable with The West, it will be all too brutally clear that whether it be limitations on ecological systems, primary resources, energy use or the disposal of wastes, such ambitions are out of the question, unless of course war is used to eliminate the competition.
I recently saw two pictures: one recent, of a clear felled forest, and the other, of the battlefield after the battle of the Somme in 1916. The only difference I could see was in the picture quality.
“Ready your planning permits, contracts, designs, capital raisings, equipment inventories and infrastructure! Take aim at your strategic financial goals!