Discuss: The Dawn of the Homogenocene
“History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.” (Joyce)
The story of the white plague that has covered the planet with its relentless greed and violence. The scum rises to the top. And we who are the heirs to the wretched loot and deadly karma of all this conquest still do not have a clue how to stop the relentless march to Armageddon.
This is a beautifully painted portrait that reveals just how long it can take the consquences of well-intentioned but ultimately ill-considered big ideas to manifest.
Wisdom of the Ages…..
There are sages and prophets who have time and time again, to generation after generation, given us what we appreciate as the “Wisdom of the Ages.” Their teachings appear altogether coherent and comprehensible. Their wisdom points us toward doing the right thing, adhering to a way which is somehow true and real, and following the path of what is virtuous and good.
Rachel Carson was correct years ago, I suppose, when noting,
“We stand now where two roads diverge…… The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road-the one “less traveled by”-offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of the earth.”
I fear we will not choose to take ‘the other fork of the road’ until it is too late to make a difference that makes a difference for the future.
No sage or prophet I can recall recommended the “superhighway” Dr. Carson identified for all of us. That road is the one upon which humankind is travelling at breakneck speed now, thanks to a tiny minority of self-proclaimed masters of the universe; that road is one that appears to be have been constructed in dastardly fashion upon a foundation represented by clever people through time but seldom better than by Nietzsche’s “Great Lie” as well as in the adamant advocacy of ‘the brightest and best’ and in the relentless pursuit of the rich and powerful of one idea: greed is good.
What if our faith was placed in the teachings of sages and prophets, and in their intellectual honesty and capacity for moral courage?
Thanks to the most arrogant, avaricious and foolhardy among us, all of humanity as well as much of life as we know it are now inhabitants of a planet that is failing fast because of global overconsumption, overproduction and overpopulation activities of the human species. What really matters regarding the coming unimaginable colossal global ecological wreckage that could soon be induced at the behest of too many leaders “on our watch” is not being openly discussed nearly enough.
Within the human community there has always been a tiny minority who hold the ‘destiny’ of all in their hands. This elite group has been operating behind the scenes in ways that are soon to become patently unsustainable because Earth is definitely not, absolutely not “too big to fail.” Their dishonesty, double dealing and greed-mongering has been legitimized, socially sanctioned and legalized, but their outrageous behavior is wholly bereft of moral authority. The moral thing to do has been replaced by criminogenic behavior. Virtue has been overcome by vice.
Imagine humankind is travelling on the Titanic and a mate on board shouts out, “Iceberg ahead. Iceberg directly ahead!” In reply the captain of the ‘Great Ship’, after briefly consulting with his associates on the deck shouts out, “Stay the course. Give me more speed. Stay the course. Full speed ahead.” Come what may.
In the “Annals of the Association of American Geographers”,
I’m glad this work by Dr. Dull is getting attention. Together with Dr. William Woods and citing Bill Ruddiman’s work, the pieces of anthropogenic climate change fall into place.
The Columbian Encounter and the Little Ice Age: Abrupt Land Use Change, Fire, and Greenhouse Forcing
The implications are really important. Dull, et al, argue that the re-growth of Neotropical forests following the Columbian encounter led to terrestrial biospheric carbon sequestration on the order of 2 to 5 GtC, thereby contributing to the well-documented decrease in atmospheric C recorded in Antarctic ice cores from about 1500 through 1750. While the paper does not extend to the medieval maximum, from charcoal in lake bed studies it documents increased biomass burning and deforestation during agricultural and population expansion in the Neotropics from 2500 to 500 years BP, which would correspond with atmospheric carbon loading and global warming 1100 to 650 years BP.
The charcoal & pollen evidence is hard to ignore.
Dr.Dull gives us hard numbers for what Charles Mann has tried to get across to us in “1491”, that we don’t give mankind near enough credit for creating our biosphere. Just as Michael Pollan’s “Botany of Desire” showed us how plants have manipulated us to spread them around the globe, the message of man’s mutuality with nature is more than seeping into the data everywhere.
As with 1491, Charles Mann writes a fascinating account of history and offers a new perspective on globalization as a 500 year old phenomenon. I have one question for Charles that keeps arising, as it did with Guns, Germs and Steel:
How is it that the populations in the Western Hemisphere didn’t cross-infect the Europeans with diseases from germs that they would have acclimated to over the centuries of living in the New World? Is it due to the lack of domesticated animals?
Recent genetic research shows that the entire new world population grew from <100 individuals. A genetic bottle neck, and profoundly different immune systems developed over 13K years. The challenging diseases of cattle, pigs, chickens etc, were only over come by <5% of the population. While the rest of us have been spreading our genes and living cheek to jowl with our animals for the last 10K years.
The reunification of terrestrial life, flora & fauna of the Colombian exchange held many unintended consequences. Not “good” or “bad” just life settling in to new niches. Climate change caused political chaos in Europe, Those that quickly adapted like those who embraced the potato emerged from the little ice age relatively fat & happy, the bread eaters not so much.
All grist for life’s mill
This all serves as an object lesson for What we can do NOW concerning Climate, what I suggested at the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, to the top three EPA officials of north America;
Bellow the opening & closing text. A Report on my talk at CEC, and complete text & links are here:
The Establishment of Soil Carbon as the Universal Measure of Sustainability
The Paleoclimate Record shows agricultural-geo-engineering is responsible for 2/3rds of our excess greenhouse gases. The unintended consequence, the flowering of our civilization. Our science has now realized these consequences and has developed a more encompassing wisdom. Wise land management, afforestation and the thermal conversion of biomass can build back our soil carbon. Pyrolysis, Gasification and Hydro-Thermal Carbonization are known biofuel technologies, What is new are the concomitant benefits of biochars for Soil Carbon Sequestration; building soil biodiversity & nitrogen efficiency, for in situ remediation of toxic agents, and, as a feed supplement cutting the carbon foot print of livestock. Modern systems are closed-loop with no significant emissions. The general life cycle analysis is: every 1 ton of biomass yields 1/3 ton Biochar equal to 1 ton CO2e, plus biofuels equal to 1MWh exported electricity, so each energy cycle is 1/3 carbon negative.
Beyond Rectifying the Carbon Cycle;
Biochar systems Integrate nutrient management, serving the same healing function for the Nitrogen and Phosphorous Cycles.
The Agricultural Soil Carbon Sequestration Standards are the royal road for the GHG Mitigation;
The Bio-Refining Technologies to Harvest Carbon.
The photosynthetic “capture” collectors are up and running all around us, the “storage” sink is in operation just under our feet, conversion reactor are the only infrastructure we need to build out. Carbon, as the center of life, has high value to recapitalize our soils. Yielding nutrient dense foods and Biofuels, Paying Premiums of pollution abatement and toxic remediation and the growing Dividend created by the increasing biomass of a thriving soil community.
Since we have filled the air,
filling the seas to full,
soil is the only beneficial place left.
Carbon to the Soil, the only ubiquitous and economic place to put it.
I just keep trying to make sense of the atrocious actions of peoples before our time. My initial feelings are those of disgust. I cannot imagine though that the majority of colonizers were ill-intentioned monsters looking to rape, rob and exterminate their own kind. It doesn’t make sense. Humans have a great capacity for compassion. Compassion, love and kindness are not new concepts exclusively experienced by members of the 21st century. We know that they have existed through time. So what is it I ask that continuously allows for such barbaric actions to ensue? I while I live in a world seemingly fraught with the same signs of uncompassionate and reckless behavior, I know that many out there understand the fundamental wrongness of depriving people, animals, living creatures and land of their abilities to thrive and grow in their own ways. There was a comment on your post made by Steven Earl Salmony. He attributes the current atrocities of the world to the “tiny minority of self-proclaimed masters of the universe” that control the global processes that most of us have become enslaved to. This is how I have felt about the issue. I believe that those in power are so deluded with their own success that they are unable to see the reality of these global systems and their consequences on humanity and the planet as a whole. Maybe it is even more accurate to say that their power prevents them from having the ability to feel the compassion required to live amicably amongst the creatures of the Earth. Or maybe I should go further to speculate that their own power is precisely what prevents them from making change. They too are slaves to their own systems.
So I suppose that the “good” intentions of Christopher Columbus, Legazpi and Urdaneta were to make trade possible with China. They say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. If only those in power could get their “good intentions” on track then we might have a chance at surviving the future.