End Of The World?
By William M. H.
12 September, 2007
are all looking at the end of the world as we know it. Our attention
is focused on the holes in the ozone layer, planet warming, peak oil,
the spread of DU weapons, the collapse of the house of credit cards,
and the prospect of the planetary financial elite quickly establishing
fascist control of the planet. Below this threshold of conscious awareness
our biological survival systems are rapidly eroding. At this point some
twenty percent of the planet’s soils erode each twenty-five year
period. Each year at least two hundred thousand acres of irrigated crop-lands
go out of production because of salinization or water-logging and experts
say that sixty to eighty percent of all irrigated acreage is due to
follow the eight to ten million acres that have historically gone into
ruination from irrigation. The total drylands of the planet are 7.9
billion acres of which 61% are desertified, that is, driven by human
abuse toward uselessness. Globally, 23% of all arable crop lands have
been lost since 1945 through human use and experts say that all arable
land on the planet will be ruined in 200 years.
It is estimated that prior
to the human culture that we term civilization, one third of the planet
was covered with closed canopy forest. Now forests cover 10% of the
earth. In the oceans the collapse of major fish stocks is increasing.
At least eight stocks have collapsed beginning with the Antarctic Blue
Whale in 1935 to the Peruvian Anchovy stock collapse in the late twentieth
century. Since 1984 the world fish catch has been shrinking even with
greater investment and the taking of what in former times were considered
“trash” fish. Of the 32 ocean fisheries, 30 are in decline
and some of those are collapsing. At the same time coral reefs and mangrove
swamps which are considered the “incubators” of sea life
are dwindling precipitously.
Soil is the basis of the
planetary terrestrial life. In the best of circumstances such as old
growth forests and prairies, soil builds at the rate of one inch each
three hundred to a thousand years. It is being exhausted and is eroding
away. The way that the industrial system has continued to increase the
food supply is by trading off soil fertility for fossil fuel energy
through artificial fertilizers. Now, nearly half of the world’s
people eat because of the added production of food caused by artificial
fertilizers being injected into depleted soils and the use of all of
the other accouterments of fossil- fueled industrial agriculture.. Half
of the planetary population are hanging out on a limb essentially eating
petroleum! Now as the population continues to explode we reach peak
oil and its decline. We do not need to continue filling in the details.
Our intellect can draw the conclusion for us. An exponentially exploding
world population with increasing material consumption, based on dwindling
resources and a dying planet, won’t work!
But this is not a new phenomenon
as some would assume. This culture of civilization, of empire, was an
ecological catastrophe when it began some eight thousand years ago.
It is this culture and its inculcated reality-view that is the disaster.
Half of China was once a great temperate zone forest. That forest was
gone before recorded history, destroyed by the Han Chinese Empire. The
Indus River Valley Empire had ecologically destroyed its habitat before
recorded history. We do have recorded history of the Sumerian and Babylonian
empires. We know they decimated the forests and overgrazed the landscape.
One third of the land in Iraq that should be arable right now is still
so salinized from imperial irrigation four and five thousand years ago
that it cannot be used. The erosion material coming down the Tigris
and Euphrates rivers from that destroyed watershed has filled in 185
miles of the gulf. As we follow the history of this type of human culture
we find the Mid-East ecologically denuded. The empires of Greece and
Rome used Turkey and North Africa as “breadbaskets.” Now,
there are towns in Turkey, North Africa and even in Italy that were
port cities during those empires which are now ten and fifteen miles
from the water - all filled in with erosion material from the ecologically
destroyed landscapes. Then we go on to the destruction of the great
forests of Europe and now the whole world. These examples and many more
are indelible effects on the world ecosystem which have not recovered
in thousands of years.
The Success of the
Are humans a failed species?
Is it what some Natives Americans have said, “very shrewd but
no wisdom?” When we look around the biosphere we see that most
other species devote much of their life energies to birthing, raising
and protecting their progeny. In this respect, civilized humans are
a failed species. They can’t even keep the planet alive for their
descendants. But humans have been a marvelously successful species.
For several million years we existed as forager/hunters. We lived in
balance with the ecosystem, migrating in our traditional patterns around
our areas gathering the fruits of the earth. We were adapted to the
planetary life. We developed astonishing oral literatures, we developed
a rich cultural life. Anthropology says that each forager/hunter worked
an average of 500 hours per year obtaining the necessaries of life.
Traditional agriculturalists like the Hopi or Balinese worked 1,000
hours per year and had shorter life spans. Now the modern industrial
person works 2,000 hours per year on average and only stay alive because
they have health insurance. Anthropology says that the forager/hunters
(even those still remaining) have almost perfect health.
They also had a rich culture.
They didn’t simply sit around the campfire but created voluminous
oral literature, great works of art as handcrafts and a rich ceremonial
life of the tribe. Our species lived with the living earth. We had wide
knowledge of the living things around us and we respected life. Such
a grotesque event as killing thousands of buffalo simply to take their
tongues or hides away to market and to leave the carcasses to rot were
an act that was inconceivably inhuman in the eyes of a forager/hunter.
Our ancestors were well fed
with a widely varied diet. Anthropologists studying the !Kung Bushmen
of the inhospitable Kalahari Desert in Southern Africa say that each
person’s daily protein intake was more than Britain and exceeded
by only ten industrial countries. The proportion of men and women over
sixty was only ten percent smaller than industrial countries. Forager/hunters
who lived in more luxurious ecosystems did even better. This means that
most of the people of the third world and the poor of the first world
do not even have the living standards of the !Kung Bushmen and for eight
thousand years, all of those who did breast beating about the superiority
of “civilization” did not even come up to the living standards
of free living forager/hunters - talk about being sold a bill of goods!
For 99% of the time our species
has lived successfully in balance with the energy flows of the earth.
The soil community with its millions of inhabitants provides a milieu
in which plant roots can absorb nutrients that are in solution. The
plant community sheds leaves and other organic debris onto the soil
which feeds it as it is eaten by the “decomposers.” This
cycling of biological energy is then extrapolated to the cycles of life
of all the other biological entities of the ecosystem through the food
chains and other services species do for each other in what is an energy
flow system with photosynthesis as the primary motor. This is the energy
flow system that our species was adapted to for an untold period of
time. Being a small nomadic group (average of 28 people according to
anthropology) we had a cooperative culture, a sharing culture and being
migratory we only carried necessary items so that materialism, the accumulation
and adulation of material goods, did not occur.
Then in Central Asia and
Northern China, humans began to destroy the living planet with agriculture
and herding. The military based empires began to grow by running a net
deficit of the earth’s fertility - a human culture based in looting,
thievery. This culture began then, in just an eye blink of time, just
eight to ten thousand years, and the energy adaptation changed. Humans
began civis, towns, the root of the word civilization. Male dominance
- patriarchy, the horse and militarism became rooted in the soil, to
grow based on sucking out the fertility of the earth. This culture was,
in its origin, a culture of coercion based upon biological slaves such
as annual plants and domesticated animals and human slaves, in order
to extort fertility from the earth. The ecological history of empire
is there for all to see. We no longer gather the fruits of the earth,
we force the earth to give up surpluses, profits, until the earth can
no longer, then we move on. This is the culture of empire, a culture
of growth and imbalance. Its main tenets are patriarchy, hierarchy,
materialism, and militarism. The configuration of the imperial system
is: an Emperor (male), surrounded by a small financial/military elite,
who control and profit from a coercive hierarchal command system. That
is, they feed off the productive social activities of the people in
Now we are near the end.
The culture of empire has spread over the earth except for a few pockets
of remaining forager/hunters. As the exploding population meets the
dwindling resources, societies begin to unravel. We are beginning to
see massive cities around the planet, each encircled by millions of
the poor. These people are still fed by the dwindling acres but the
breaking point is in sight.
The human species is faced
with an ultimate. Will the species die off or can a rabbit be pulled
out of the hat over the long term? Inasmuch as humans live from other
living things, we know that whatever humans may exist in two hundred
years will be humans that have been able to keep their area of the planet
We live in an era in which
a number of things are occurring that have never happened to the species
before. We live in a time of human caused, mass, global, die off of
species. This is the third and largest mass die off of species since
life began on earth, the previous (and second) die-off being when the
dinosaurs went down millions of years ago. Humans have also caused the
ozone holes and the climate warming. But, we also now have planetary
communication and through the internet we also have planetary communication
available on an individual level. This is the first time that the human
species as a whole can communicate. This is also the first time that
humans are in control of evolution on this whole planet and the possible
further manifestation of themselves. Humans are in control and the choices
that they make in the next few generations will determine the course
for the future of the species as well as the earth.
The Cultural Conditioning
Culture is hypnosis. A hypnotic
suggestion can be given in deep trance or in light trance, a state of
conscious attention such as watching television. In light trance the
suggestion is repetitive over time. We have all had a world view suggested
to us by our cultural conditioning. For example, we intellectually know
that, except for native people, the rest of us in the American hemisphere
and many other places on the planet are colonials. But, we don’t
subconsciously hold this understanding because of the culturalization.
Since birth we have heard of “warlike” Indians. But intellectually
we know that any country that is invaded will put up a vigorous response.
Intellectually we know that, according to the historian Eduardo Galeano,
up to 70 million native people were eliminated from the Americas by
sword and pestilence yet we subconsciously view the holocaust of the
Jews and Armenians as the only significant massacres.
In this manner our world
view is created. The gold fish does not see the water. As our culture
instructs us that wealth is security and is the purpose of life, we
use up the earth more rapidly toward our demise. On a psychological
level we identify with our material possessions and subconsciously assume
our existence without these elements would be non-identity. Our needs
toward greater ego-security also point toward our demise.
The Species Initiation
Now that the planet-wide
human species, is by default, in control of the life of the earth we
can understand what would be needed for the species to succeed to full
maturity. The first order is to stay alive. To do that we must maintain
that which feeds and shelters us. We must keep the earth alive and ecologically
restore it even in the areas of dense human population today. Our reality
view is in fact, global now by default. Ozone holes, nuclear radiation,
sea level rise, planet heating and the rubbing out of the living flesh
of the earth are global phenomena.
Like the Six Nations Iroquois
who frame each tribal decision to its effects on the seventh generation,
we must create a reality frame as the life of the earth. Given our subconscious
conditioning that is difficult, but in this case our intellect can lead
us. If we can frame our cultural reality view as based upon the care
of the earth and teach that to the children, then many other cultural
values will flow from that.
A present day citizen of
the earth, if they were a mature and responsible adult would say that
honorable actions would perpetuate the living earth for its sake as
well as for the progeny of the human species. That commitment at the
level of the whole species would signify the initiation of the species
The Hero At The Portals of Initiation
The center does not hold..
Oil and the resources of the earth such as soil and forests are exhausting
as the mass swells. Can the hero make it through the disintegration?
Can small land based, self-sufficient communities make it through, some
of them? Can they carry the universal value of life through with their
culture? Can they create a culture that will spread in the future that
focuses on the highest development of each human as a person rather
than the highest rung up the ladder of empire? This is what is being
asked of the hero for initiation into human species maturity - nothing
less than courage, the adherence to the culture of life over long periods
of time and transformation.
All the elements that we
need exist. We have examples of alternative buildings, created from
local materials, with solar advantages that can heat and cool themselves
with no outside energy inputs. We have a world-wide movement to Permaculture
which can help us restore ecologies while producing more human food
per acre than the industrial system. We have a wide and increasing selection
of human development methods which can aid in the development of each
individual to their highest potential - outside the materialist paradigm.
We have planetary communication through the internet whose maintenance
could require few resources.
When the hero can succeed
at the matter of keeping the human species and the planet alive and
see that as just a “housekeeping” duty, then we can get
on with the truly challenging task of creating a positive and joyous
human culture to which the hero is entitled.
William H. Kötke author ofGarden Planet: The Present
Phase Change of the Human Species. See at: www.gardenplanetbook.com
and THE FINAL EMPIRE an underground classic book available for free
download at: http://www.Rainbowbody.net/Finalempire .
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