Posts tagged with ecology
By the twentieth century, those on the margins of the city experienced the brunt of the city’s quest to grow. Even as late as 1900, New York City was a swampy environment dominated by wetlands. Over the course of the century, however, in part under the leadership of that master builder Robert Moses, New York’s once magnificent stock of wetlands came under attack. Roads, parks, and landfills all started to bear down on the marshy grounds. At the Flushing Meadows in Queens, the 2,400 acres of marshland in existence in 1900 were completely wiped out by 1966. In New York Harbor as a whole, more than 17,000 acres of wetland estimated to exist in the mid-1800s vanished during the golden age of American capitalism (1953–73) to make way for roads, landfills, and the expansion of Kennedy Airport.
At present, nearly 70% of water is used for agriculture, compared with 20% for industry and only 10% for human consumption. Not surprisingly, Americans use water at roughly double the world average, in part owing to a meat-centered diet and a fast-food culture that has no precedent. The global crisis imposes new pressures on water availability at a time when population growth and increased meat production drastically raise demands on this irreplaceable resources, and quick remedies are nowhere in sight: huge projects (dams, reservoirs, desalinization plants) are expensive, energy draining, and make up a relatively small percentage of the deficit. The world now operates some 15,000 energy-consuming desalinization facilities but these satisfy far less than 1% of all human consumption, with little change in sight.
Let’s just be aware that we are dealing with a series of very serious problems (in his book, Living in the End Times, he categorizes them as a) economic, b) social divisions, c) ecological, d) biogenetics) which if we just leave the existing society to develop…following it’s inherent tendencies… will eventually lead to some kind of zero level catastrophic point.
People can fall into the trap of blaming the poor of developing countries for the problems of the world since it is poor countries that have these massive, ballooning populations. Is is true that overpopulation in poor countries exacerbates the living conditions in those countries, but bear in mind that the average middle-class citizen of a Western nation consumes more than a hundred times the volume of resources of the average poor citizen of a developing nation. Armory Lovins calculated that the average American consumes 250 times the resources of the average Nigerian. This means that the United States has the global impact of seventy-five trillion Nigerians. I’ll go one step further: I’ll bet American citizens consume more Nigerian resources than Nigerians themselves.
Darwin was Right: Islands are Unique and Factories of Speciation
- by Carrie Arnold, for ScienceNOW (Image: ggalice)
Recommendation: Examined Life
My favorite thinkers from the film are Cornel West, Peter Singer, Michael Hardt, and Kwame Anthony Appiah.
Mindfulness of nature, therefore, is not a tree hugger’s plea but a practical imperative for twenty-first century survival. Our peril is unprecedented, and human knowledge, values, and social institutions are far behind the curve. The global economy has suddenly become so large - $70 trillion a year and doubling in size roughly every twenty years - that the earth’s air, water, land, and climate are all under threat. Our global response to date has been so obtuse, so absurd, so shortsighted that it almost seems that humanity has a death wish. This ignorance and shortsightedness can lead us to disaster. Of course, more than a death wish has been at play; the greed of powerful vested interests has been far more consequential than public confusion and shortsightedness.