The Human Ecological Predicament: Wages of Self-Delusion | MAHB

GR: Here’s a thoughtful article about the absolute necessity to reject the global “growth at all costs” philosophy that dominates our businesses, governments, and churches. Because we have failed to choose our actions objectively, we are approaching major “tipping points” where choices will slip away. We might still avoid the crash by learning to use basic reasoning. Our children (and adults) should learn to recognize the many forms of faulty reasoning, the fallacies, that obscure truth. We must all learn the value of skepticism and we must learn to ask how (will we get Mexico to pay for the wall) and why (do we need a wall), and we must learn to insist on verifiable facts offered as proof.

The coming crash. (photographer unknown)

“Techno-industrial society is in dangerous ecological overshoot—the human ecological footprint is at least 60% larger than the planet can support sustainably (Wackernagel et al. 2002; Rees 2013; WWF 2016). The global economy is using even renewable and replenishable resources faster than ecosystems can regenerate and filling waste sinks beyond nature’s capacity to assimilate (Steffen et al. 2007; Rockström et al. 2009; Barnosky et al. 2012). (Even climate change is a waste management problem—carbon dioxide is the single greatest waste by weight of industrial economies.) Despite the accumulating evidence of impending crisis, the world community seems incapable of responding effectively. This situation is clearly unsustainable and, if present trends continue, will likely lead in this century to runaway climate change, the collapse of major biophysical systems, global strife and therefore diminished prospects for continued civilized existence (Tainter 1987; Diamond 2005; Turner 2014; Motesharrei et al. 2014).

“The proximate drivers are excess economic production/consumption and over-population—human impact on the ecosphere is a product of population multiplied by average per capita consumption—exacerbated by an increasingly global compound myth of perpetual economic growth propelled by continuous technological progress (Victor 2008; Rees 2013). While there is evidence of some ‘decoupling’ of economic production from nature, this is often an artifact of faulty accounting and trade (e.g., wealthy countries are ‘off-shoring’ their ecological impacts onto poorer countries). Overall, economic throughput (energy and material consumption and waste production) is increasing with population and GDP growth (Wiedmann et al 2013; Giljum et al. 2014). Consequently, carbon dioxide is accumulating at an accelerating rate in the atmosphere (NOAA 2017) and the years 2014, 2015 and 2016 sequentially shared the distinction of being the warmest years in the instrumental record (Hansen et al. 2017).

“There is widespread general support for the notion of ‘clean production and consumption’ but in present circumstances, this must soon translate into less production and consumption by fewer people (Rees 2014). It complicates matters that modern society remains highly dependent on abundant cheap energy still mostly supplied by carbon-based fuels. Despite rapid technological advances and falling costs, it is still not clear that renewable energy alternatives, including wind and photovoltaic electricity, can replace fossil fuels in such major uses as transportation and space/water heating in the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, in the absence of effective carbon sequestration technologies, reducing fossil fuel use remains essential to avoiding catastrophic climate change. Resolving this energy-climate conundrum will require major conservation efforts, the prioritizing of essential non-substitutable uses of fossil fuels and the banning of frivolous ones.

Source: The Human Ecological Predicament: Wages of Self-Delusion | MAHB

Prescott, Arizona History: Prescott Used to Have Countless Prairie Dogs

GR: People have eradicated inconvenient social groups and wildlife many times; it’s what we do. We haven’t prevented the growth of our own population, but we have a firm grip on the Earth’s wildlife. About half of all animals are gone, replaced by  people.

The Prairie Dog was present around Prescott, AZ for thousands of years before the city appeared. Apparently, nature got along just fine with Prairie Dogs and without us. Today, the Prairie Dogs are over most of Arizona, but they still survive in spots in the region. A few people work to help them continue surviving.

Eradicating the Prairie Dog

“For a rodent, they are undeniably cute. But to farmers and ranchers they’re a horrible pest. Where there are prairie dogs, agricultural output decreases 25-85%. (*1)

Humane Society Prairie Dog Coalition

“Yavapai County once had 1.5 million acres “infested” with prairie dogs. (2) When Prescott’s airport was first being laid-out, workers “went up and down both runways with shovels leveling the mounds and filling up the holes made by the hundreds of prairie dogs that infested the field.”(3)

“So, what happened to them?

“Mass rodenticide!

“It must be remembered,” the newspaper wrote, “that these rodents destroy a vast amount of forage, which, if saved, could be used for the production of beef and mutton. In many cases, the prairie dogs permanently injure the range by eating the roots of plants which bind the soil and prevent erosion. In many localities, the destruction of plant life has been caused by extensive washing away of the soil after the summer rains.” (*4) –Drew Desmond (Prescott, Arizona History: Prescott Used to Have Countless Prairie Dogs).

Turtle Update

Turtles at Coldwater Farm

Our turtle population is doing well. I photographed the Sonora Mud Turtle at top left in 2014 and the others today (March 18, 2017). Four of them were basking on one log, but I couldn’t get the shot–perhaps tomorrow.

The turtle at top right is also a Sonora Mud Turtle, but I’m not sure about the two below. All of them are too wary to approach closely. I made these shots with a Nikon Coolpix P510 with the 42x lens fully extended. I’ll update this post if I learn more.

Turtles at Coldwater Farm

Arizona has only six native turtle species and three recognized subspecies. A southern Arizona subspecies of the Sonora Mud Turtle (Kinosternon sonoriense longifemorale)  is of critical concern and may soon be added to the U. S. Endangered Species List (or not, sad). All of Arizona’s native and five introduced species are in danger from human activities. Full list with conservation status.

‘It’s very scary in the forest’: Should Finland’s wolves be culled?


Alaska wolf Yva Momatiuk-national-geographic-creative

GR: How can 235 wolves be too many when Finland has 5,500,000 humans? Does nature hold no value in our eyes? E. O. Wilson’s recommendation that we dedicate half of the Earth to wildlife would insure that moose, wolves, ravens, and other wildlife would survive, and so would we. The tiny part of the ecosystem these far-north creatures represent is an essential part of the natural processes that allow humans and other creatures to live on Earth. The alternative of a farm-and-concrete-covered world just isn’t sustainable and it’s not at all attractive.

The following article becomes more of a report than a question if you compare wolf kills to automobile kills or if you would like to preserve nature on Earth.

Moose antlers emerge from a frozen lake. Photograph: Davide Monteleone for the Guardian

“The story of a kill is told in the snow. On the Finnish island of Porosaari, we find the first paw print. “That’s a male,” says Asko Kettunen, retired border guard, hunter and tracker. How can he be sure? “It’s big.”

“Five ravens rise from dark pines, croaking in the icy silence; they will scavenge anything caught by the wolves. We wade through knee-deep snow. There’s a spot of vivid blood and a tuft of moose hair, cleanly cut, which Kettunen deduces has been ripped from a living animal. This, he says, is the moment the wolves made contact. First they try to puncture the intestines; if they succeed, the moose may run on, but the damage is done.

“We find moose tracks, each hoof print far apart: the animal was running. Kettunen points to wolf prints on either side, to where a second and third wolf joined the chase. There are blood spots and more hair and a pine sapling snapped in two. “The moose collided with a tree, so it was not that well,” Kettunen says, with Finnish understatement.

“There are spots of blood by every moose print now. Finally, up the hill, is the kill zone. A young moose has been reduced to two front legs and a skin detached precisely from the body, intestines that spill like butcher’s sausages and a mound of freshly chewed grass where its stomach once was. Kettunen thinks that five wolves feasted here the previous night. We find faeces and a curved bed of snow where a contented wolf took a postprandial doze.

“Finland has a wolf problem. Five and a half million humans share the country with an estimated 235 wolves, and that’s too many, say rural Finns, whose livestock and hunting dogs are being killed. Some parents are scared that wolves will attack their children. “Before, wolves were afraid of people,” Kettunen tells me. “Now people are afraid of wolves.” For the past three years, the government has assuaged these fears with a wolf cull. Last winter, 43 wolves were killed in a “management hunt”, while total fatalities numbered 78, including “problem” wolves shot by police and road casualties.” –Patrick Barkham (Continue reading:  ‘It’s very scary in the forest’: should Finland’s wolves be culled? | World news | The Guardian.)