Fear of a Corporate Planet

Most changes to ecosystems have been made to meet a dramatic growth in the demand for food, water, timber, fiber, and fuel.Courtesy of Earth Inc:

Most changes to ecosystems have been made to meet a dramatic growth in the demand for food, water, timber, fiber, and fuel.

 

 Lots of folks today sense a corporate militarism, a muscular fundamentalist faith of profit at any cost, running amok on the planet today. This faith runs on market theories that profit and growth are inherently good and will balance all needs through market forces. This is a scary and dangerous faith.

It expresses itself in our lives through exploitation of third world people who work for too little pay, with no benefits, or workplace safety to create consumer goods of questionable utility and safety to be sold at the “lowest price” to first world people who are scraping to survive as they see jobs, pay, work conditions evaporate in their lives as a natural consequence of market forces that move industry production to sites with lower production costs based largely on uncontrolled environmental degradation and non-existent work place rules to protect production line workers.

First world workers, and specifically young people, who cannot find work that pays a living wage, can alwys join the “all volunteer” army and get deployed around the planet to prop up foreign governments that are under siege from people who don’t think the environmental degradation and factory exploitation of a third world nation workforce are such a good deal. It’s an ugly cycle and a natural consequence of free market globalization where the only responsibility of a corporation is to turn a profit for shareholders.

It should also be noted that an increasingly small profit goes to shareholders and a larger windfall goes to the corporate architects, the securities professionals, who are being paid obscene wages for their free market ability to suspend their consciences. It must also be noted that when one of these free market corporations falls on hard times the corporate architects can be expected to lose their jobs with a severance package that means they really never need to work again.

All of this is a little discouraging, and it is easy to conclude that we are going down the tube in a major way. That may be true, but this is not a new fear. And to illustrate the history of the shadow rulers that pull the strings on the planet:

From Thomas Jefferson, a utopian thinker:

“The issue today is the same as it has been throughout all history,
whether man shall be allowed to govern himself or be ruled by a small elite.” — Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

From Abraham Lincoln, a pragmatist with principles:

 

Honest Abe“I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country; corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in High Places will follow, and the Money Power of the Country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the People, until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the Republic is destroyed.”

— Abraham Lincoln

 

and finally, from Woodrow Wilson:

“Since I entered politics, I have chiefly had men’s views confided to me privately. Some of the biggest men in the U.S., in the field of commerce and manufacturing, are afraid of somebody, are afraid of something. They know that there is a power somewhere so organized, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive, that they had better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it.”

— Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) 28th US President
Source: In his book entitled The New Freedom (1913)

I think we have to conclude that this battle between corporate and human values is not something new under the sun. Fight the good fight and fight it in a way that is true to your convictions and principles. Keep hope alive.

I think I will post some pics and text on my recent conversion of my pickup truck from gasoline to propane. More on that in the near future.

Ocean Acidification – Dead Zone Dangers – Oceans Part IV

As we burn things (or even breathe in and out) we terrapods release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The trees and other green beings with roots in soil appreciate this carbon dioxide, breathe it in and exhale oxygen into the atmosphere.Forest Federation Park We like that oxygen. Go to an old forest and simply breathe in and out to appreciate your connection with the plant kingdom. (image by David Tarsi)

By the way, most of what we breathe in is nitrogen. The atmosphere is primarily nitrogen, Plants love nitrogen and the atmosphere is full of it. Terrapods don’t do much with nitrogen except pass it through lungs on a regular basis.

This oxygen – carbon dioxide exchange with the plant kingdom is a pretty good cycle and it has tended to balance itself over geologic time by means that are pretty complex and not completely understood. Homo Industrialus, the 6 billion human beings on the planet today, are clearly sending this system out of balance right now. There really is no question that the number of human beings with their current living habits are loading the atmosphere with carbon dioxide.

One of the ways that our biosphere responds to higher level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is for the oceans to simply absorb a higher level of carbon dioxide. The oceans are really big and it is simply stunning that carbon dioxide absorption by the oceans could change the oceans, but that is the case.

Ocean Acidification GraphAs we “firemen” have burned everything imaginable for power, warmth, and nutrition we have loaded the atmosphere with so much carbon dioxide that we are changing the acidity of the planet’s oceans. The ocean absorption of carbon dioxide has raised the acidity of the oceans and that has profound consequences for all the sea life that works with shells. The “shell” life in the ocean is dissolved by more acidic oceans. We are talking about knocking out a significant portion of sea life with consequences that we cannot foresee.

The Oceans Have Dead Zones – Oceans Part III

The oceans of the small blue planet are really the reservoir of all life in this biosphere. Terrapods do not evolve or survive without the miracle of the bonding of hydrogen and oxygen molecules making the splashy stuff that we all know and love. You can add salt, or deal with in the “fresh” incarnation, but the bottom line is we are water beings and life depends on water.

Continuing studies regarding the health of the oceans are reporting increasing areas of oceans that are called dead zones. Dead zone mapThese are areas where there is so little oxygen available in the sea water that normal sea life dies. There will be some anaerobic life, jellyfish and other forms of life that require lower levels of oxygen, but the basic things that we think of as living in the sea cannot exist in the dead zones. Fish, crabs, dolphins, whales, shrimp, all those sorts of animals move out of the dead zones or they become part of the dead zone.

Ocean dead zones are an alarm bell ringing around the planet. We should all be concerned that industrial, agricultural waste is being discharged from rivers that are used as sewer systems and that the waste is accumulating in sufficient quantity to create dead zones in an ecosystem as large and resilient as an ocean.

I think we are facing an amazing opportunity to recognize that we can’t continue to treat the biosphere and the oceans as an economic asset, a dumping ground for toxic levels of chemical and biological waste. We can’t harvest the fish from the oceans in ways and on scales that the fisheries can’t sustain.

There are plenty of fish in the sea. Oceans, Part II

When we are disappointed in some way we may hasten to remind ourselves that there are a lot of fish in the sea. We don’t have to have the Plenty of fish in the sea?object of our heart’s desire, the manyness of the small blue planet oneness may have its own designs for us.

That is a soothing mantra for adjusting our world view and moving from an ego-centered frame of reference where the world exists primarily in its capacity to meet our desires to possibly recognizing our own place as one of the many fish in the sea.

But in fact, there are not nearly as many fish in the sea as once existed. One of our specie’s early recognitions of our capacity to decimate an aquatic population came when whale populations plummeted in response to their wholesale harvest. These beautiful, strange and clearly sentient beings are mammals like most of us reading and writing on the small blue planet. If we try just a little bit we can feel a kinship with these beautiful beings. It’s easier to bond with a sea-going mammal, a dolphin, a gray whale, and the others than it is to feel a bond with a mackeral.

The “fishing” of the whales continues here on the small blue planet but it is reduced and the economics-driven killing of these beings is out of vogue with many of the terra-peds operating nautical devices. But the reduced killing of whales and the economics of fishery harvest has decimated many of the large fisheries of the planet. Drift nets, gill nets, industrial “fishing” have created havoc with many species trying to slosh around below the watery horizon.

Courtesy of the National Center for Policy Analysis:

  • In the past 50 years, populations of large fish species – including tuna, swordfish, marlin, sharks, cod, halibut and flounder – have decreased 90 percent worldwide.
  • A total of 98 species are overfished, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service; as a result, half of all U.S. fisheries and a quarter of the major fish stocks worldwide are in jeopardy of an abrupt, severe decline from which they may never recover.
  • Fish stocks have collapsed in nearly one-third of all ocean fisheries, and all commercially valuable world fish stocks could completely collapse by 2048. [See the figure.]

Maybe we need to think more about just how many constitutes plenty?

Why is it a Small Blue Planet? – Oceans, Part I

small blue planet and MirEarth is primarily an ocean planet. That may be hard for non-aquatic life-forms to wrap our fins around, but it’s true.

The oceans are the reason the planet looks blue. The planet surface is about 2/3 ocean and 1/3 land mass.

When we terra-peds make a pilgrimage to the beach we look out at a horizon of ocean, the motion of ocean, we become the slaves of waves (having a Dr. Seuss moment). There is something wonderfully soothing about standing at the edge of the two different biosphere systems – land and sea.

It may be that looking at the eternal, unchanging nature of wave and water, contemplating the zen demonstration of the oneness of the manyness of this experience stops our minds in a fundamental way. However you experience it, I hope it is as meaningful and soothing to you as it is to me and I encourage you to find time to sit at the edge of land and sea, doing nothing but breathing and being a part of the biosphere instead of the econosphere.

But, there are problems with the blueness, the oceanity of the small blue planet. These problems are not readily apparent as we gaze at the wave horizon. We may experience a sense of the unchanging nature of the planet as we contemplate wave, but in the aquatic world beneath the ocean horizon there are problems of over-fishing, of ocean acidification, and of pollution that is creating large dead zones in the oceans.