Sunday, December 20, 2009

ESEI: The Only Way Forward Is Back to Gaia's Garden

From the blog of BlueGreenEarth / ESEI


The Only Way Forward Is Back to Gaia's Garden

madness will complete the destruction of the biosphere and human
being(s). It is critical that we reject industrial geo-engineering, to
instead embrace a program of sufficient global ecological protection
and restoration.

By Dr. Glen Barry, Ecological Internet
Earth Meanders come from Earth's Newsdesk

Human Hubris
(or the Earth System if you rather) is not a science project, it is
alive (albeit sick) and fully inhabited. To speak of geo-engineering
the climate before having exhausted local, national and international
efforts to reduce emissions, protect and restore old forests, reform
industrial agriculture, and other ecologically sufficient policies to
sustain being, is rash and foolhardy. Continued ill-conceived
technological, industrial diminishment of naturally operating
ecosystems can only hasten and ensure global ecological collapse.

Sadly, President Obama's new science advisor, John Holdren, has
indicated the administration is investigating geo-engineering --
massive planetary alterations such as shooting aerosols into the upper
atmosphere -- to 'solve' climate change and associated ecological
crises. The Obama administration is clearly signaling it is going to
take a compromising, technology heavy approach to climate change
policy. Social change and personal transformation necessary to achieve
global ecological sustainability have received nary a mention.

Obama's climate policies will not be guided by what science tells us
is required to stop hazardous warming. Rather, the U.S. government will
only pursue policies that do not threaten economic growth, and rely
upon more industrial technologies at the expense of natural ecosystems.
Given America's history of exceptionalism, I suppose such hubris --
going from doing nothing to address climate change, directly to
seriously considering engineering the biosphere, completely skipping
the stages of self-examination and national transformation -- is to be

Climate change is exhibiting itself as abrupt and highly unpredictable changes in
climate consistency. So what we do now is throw more variability into
the system? Geo-engineering will lead inexorably to more climate
variability, biological diminishment and loss of natural ecosystems,
precisely at the time when we must stop digging our ecological hole
(grave). Surely there will be as many or more losers as winners as
climate predictability breaks down further with unexpected outcomes. To
even consider such outrageous actions distracts from the urgent
measures that need to be taken now on energy efficiency, conservation,
renewables and a whole host of ecologically sufficient policies that
require sacrifice.

Geo-engineering is Madness, Shear Madness

Geo-engineering is a lot of malarkey and can never work. The
atmosphere and biosphere of which it is part is simply too complex to
manipulate in a dependable, predictable way. Humanity is unable to
control exotic species, keep plastics out of the oceans, stop illegal
logging and fishing, and provide clean water for all; yet now we have
the ecological expertise and political will to commandeer the Planet?

For 3.5 billion years the Earth has maintained conditions conducive
to life and continued evolution; and now, in order to avoid giving up
and sharing with the poor our large homes, cars, air travel and other
conspicuous consumption, humans (including scientists that should know
better) are considering taking the risk of humans ourselves maintaining
the atmosphere and all attendant water, energy and nutrient flows. Even
considering this as an option puts off the necessary actions to stop
climate change and onrushing global ecological collapse by falsely
suggesting there are technologies to avoid the necessary social changes
required to lighten and reverse humanity's footprint upon natural

Nothing even remotely comparable to humanity engineering the Earth's
biosphere has been attempted. Fertilizing the oceans, making charcoal
of its ecosystems to bury, space mirrors, aerosol sprays, giant
umbrellas -- are we crazy, or just in denial? Setting aside the
ecological uncertainties for a moment, how would such a program be
carried out socially? Who makes the rules of who can change the
climate? I would suppose it is American business interests and not
peasants more intimately dependent upon natural climatic patterns. What
is proposed is similar yet even grander than Mao's Great Leap Forward
and numerous megalomaniacal attempts to conquer the world throughout

Age of Ecological Restoration

Gaia is full of unbelievably varied, evolved, co-dependent and
precious life. The biosphere, the relatively thin zone of life from
under the soil and ocean depths, through terrestrial and marine
ecosystems, to the top of the atmosphere; is the finely honed skin upon
Gaia, of unbelievable complexity and sensitivity. Water and oceans are
her precious blood. The sum total of over 3.5 billion years of
evolution in organisms and Gaia, the super-organism, is a habitable

Eight millennia of forest clearance for agriculture, three hundred
years of accelerating industrial fossil fuel dependence, and a century
of growth in human population and inequitable consumption, have
resulted in us all cutting and burning Gaia to death. We have misplaced
our faith in technology, failing to understand it is the Earth System
which supplies both natural and technological resources. You cannot eat
a cell phone or money.

There exists a fundamental split between those that are willing to
use technologies such as the Internet when they are appropriate, while
generally proposing ecologically based policies; and those whose only
response to environmental harm is further industrial technology at the
continued expense of ecosystem diminishment. These decisions regarding
which is the best path forward to global ecological sustainability --
geo-engineering and continued economic growth, or ecological
regeneration and powering down to a steady state economy-- are
questions of life and death for us all.

Humanity must return to nature, limiting our excesses, not complete
her dismemberment. It is beyond our capabilities to dependably engineer
a biosphere. At this moment of awakening of our oneness with the Earth,
and the fact we have done her wrong, I intuit with all my being and
ecological knowledge that we must return to nature's fold and not
pursue more of the same resource industrialism that has brought us to
ruin. A biosphere cannot be engineered, but it may be able to be
restored. There is still time, just barely, to get back to Gaia's

Restoring Gaia's Garden

Together the human family must commit itself to an Age of Ecological
Restoration, disavowing geo-engineering proposals and minor reforms, in
order to single-mindedly pursue global ecological protection and
restoration. It is up to our best and brightest to aid ecosystems to
regenerate with large-scale, targeted restoration ecology efforts
placed to maximally benefit landscapes -- both ecologically and in
terms of sustainable agro-ecological food and other plant material

Significant ecosystems, animals and genetic materials still exist as
seed stock and blueprints for the new garden. Restoring the Earth is
labor intensive and will provide many jobs and means of sustenance from
healthy land. And restoring old woodlands where they historically
occurred will absorb massive amounts of carbon. This is a sort of
geo-engineering, but based upon restoring the natural systems that we
have ripped asunder.

The hairless ape with opposable thumbs must return to Gaia's garden
and restore and expand natural ecosystems, while reclaiming the
industrial agricultural landscape with agro-ecological farming such as
permaculture and other systems of sustainable agriculture that renew
natural resources, increase natural diversity and enrich local

Land degradation is a much larger component of climate change and
general ecological decline than generally supposed. We must not
prematurely give up on Gaia's resiliency and the ability of her
ecosystems to be restored and to persevere, even as human industrial
society powers down to avoid further ecological collapse.

Now is the time to return to the land, sea and water; and begin
rebuilding core strictly protected ecosystems and buffering
agro-ecological ecosystems of abundance and joy, adequate to maintain
being for humanity and all Gaia's creatures. Natural systems continue
to exist that can be restored and aided to regenerate. Important
remnants exist as roadmaps and seeds to allow their expansion and

We must reject further industrial capitalism, brought to a maddening
crescendo with ill-conceived geo-engineering proposals, and instead
allow ourselves to be bioengineered at Gaia's command. Together we can
create with natural stocks, and our hands, minds and communities;
Gaia's new, old garden.

One Year for Governments and Then a Stewardship Revolution?

We could choose to give one year for the current governments (with
plenty of escalating protest action) to get their act together and
start taking ecologically sufficient policy measures on climate,
forests, water and oceans; and reject geo-engineering, or it will be
our and the human family's deepest calling to take whatever actions are
necessary to destroy the industrial growth machine and begin powering
down industrial society.

A Stewardship Revolution to stop industrial ecosystem liquidation,
including its intensification through geo-engineering, may best serve
humanity and the Earth's long-term prospects. It may be better to crash
the global industrial economy now, to relieve unsustainable pressures
upon ecosystems, than to allow the technological madness to advance to
a state where humanity and indeed all complex life are irreparably lost
forever. A credible revolutionary threat may spur governments to
required ecologically sufficient action.

A mighty buck deer comes to my window when the moon is full to tell
me these things. And a lifetime of ecological education helps too. I
have found my oneness with Gaia. I encourage you to do so too, by
seeing the natural world around you, and what it is saying to you, and
by studying and acting upon political ecology. When you understand and
feel the enormity of looming global ecological collapse, which if not
acted upon will devastate you and your family, I encourage you to act
accordingly, and with suitable urgency, using all actions within your

We are fighting for shared survival. Please start by fully
understanding that we will never, ever, ever be able to design and run
a biosphere. To try is ecocide and must be resisted using all means
necessary by all ecologically knowledgeable, clear minded and free
thinkers. But we may be able to recreate natural ecosystems and new
agro-ecological systems. There is one chance for the
corporate/industrial/military complex controlled governments to get
ecological sustainability policy right at Copenhagen in late 2009, and
if they fail, it will be up to global citizens to take the biosphere
into our own hands.

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