Thursday, June 18, 2009

The City As Human Feedlot - Fatal Success

The following article -  Is Humanity Fatally Successful? :-
is by William E Rees co-originator of the Ecological Footprint approach in which
he makes the following statements:-
"What eco-footprinting shows is that, in ecological terms, the Dutch don't live in
Holland. Similarly, urban dwellers don't "live" in their cities; urbanization simply
separates us from the productive ecosystems that sustain us but lie far beyond
the urban boundary. An apt analogy is "the city as human feedlot." Like the city,
a livestock feedlot is an area with an extraordinarily high density of consumer
animals and a corresponding major waste management problem. Cities and
feedlots are incomplete ecosystems - the productive land component is some
distance away."

"If we are interested in conserving in non-human life on Earth, it might just be
that the greatest disaster that could befall the ecosphere is for humans to
discover another cheap, super-abundant source of energy to replace fossil
fuels. If there’s no change in the consumer values and behavioral
characteristic of high-income countries – in other words, no change in the
ways in which we use energy to exploit nature – then the present pattern of
biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation will continue on an even
grander scale. This would spell calamity for the non-human world, whatever
short term good it might be for humans."

"For all its positive functions, the human capacity for self delusion does
have a perverse side. As Derek Jensen (2000) has argued, there are
times such that for us to maintain our way of living, “…we must tell lies to
each other and especially to ourselves. These lies act as barriers to truth
[and] the barriers are necessary because, without them, many deplorable
acts would become impossibilities.” In these circumstances, the power
of the myth disallows consideration of contrary evidence, including the
best of scientific data."

"Little wonder that humanity becomes ever more dominant – half the
world’s forests have been logged, half the land on earth has been modified
for human use, 70% of the fish stocks are in jeopardy, carbon dioxide levels
are up by 30% in this century, and biodiversity loss is accelerating. These
are remarkably massive impacts considering they are caused by a species
whose mental constructs consider it to be essentially decoupled from “the
environment” and unaffected by the consequences of ecological change.
This is no minor cognitive lapse. Once we’ve separated ourselves mentally
from “the other,” then it doesn’t much matter to us what happens to the other.
But if the separation is only myth (and the empirical data show that the human
enterprise is a fully embedded –subsystem of the ecosphere)then what
happens to “the other” becomes absolutely critical to our own future survival."
The following chart, if projected into our energy declining future, will show a
resurgence of dependence on animal and human energy. Invest in horses
and other draft animals sooner than later. Bikes, too.

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Keith.

    We've been using a term for city dwellers not "living" in their city for a few years, calling it displaced impact. We use the same term to discuss "minimum impact" camping, as the impact isn't minimized, just displaced.

    I reused your graphic to illustrate that outdoor living is hard work on my blog at:

    I always enjoy reading your blog.