flux Ecologie

The Deep Green Resistance News Service is an educational wing of the DGR movement. We cover a wide range of contemporary issues from a biocentric perspective, with a focus on ecology, feminism, indigenous issues, strategy, and civilization. We publish news, opinion, interviews, analysis, art, poetry, first-hand stories, and multimedia.

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12.04.2024 à 18:00
DGR News Service
Texte intégral (1555 mots)

Ecosophia by Peter Charles Downey – Film Review

By Elisabeth Robson

The film Ecosophia is a tour through many of the issues facing humanity: our addiction to growth, energy, and materials, and our devastating use of “surplus energy” to extract and consume—and thus destroy—the very system that sustains us. The narrative of the film is told through a series of short interviews, interspersed with reflections by the filmmaker, Peter Charles Downey.

Each interviewee brings a slightly different perspective on the predicament we are in: a completely unsustainable industrial civilization that is causing ongoing collapse of the living Earth; a global civilization that will soon collapse under its own weight.

The film begins by describing the fundamental problem: infinite growth on a finite planet. Tim Garrett describes what exponential growth means—the doubling over the next 30 years of the total energy and raw materials used by humanity in the past 10,000 years. Sid Smith explains that, no, renewables will not save us. Ian Lowe reminds us that we are right on track to match the predictions of the Limits To Growth—that is, collapse somewhere between 2030-2050 of civilization as we know it now. Climate change is highlighted but correctly understood and described as just one symptom of the overarching problem we’ve created for ourselves.

A little history: as soon as we learned how to store surplus, we were in trouble. This “storing of surplus” is often associated with the beginning of agriculture, but as John Gowdy describes, it actually happened before agriculture. Just one example: Pacific Northwest Native Americans learned how to smoke salmon and store it over the winter. This led to hierarchy and inequality, the inevitable outcomes of stored surplus, as the tribe who could best store salmon would gain priority over the best salmon runs, just like kings and emperors created hierarchy and inequality by storing surplus grain, thus creating slavery and the need for soldiers to protect the grain. The ability to store surplus is what allowed us to grow far beyond the carrying capacity of Earth to sustain us.

We are torn between Stone Age instincts and space age technology and we don’t know how to cope. As Bill Rees describes, we now have the capacity via fossil fuels and technology to grow exponentially, breaking the bounds of the constraints most species face—disease, resource shortages, etc.— which kept our population in control until about 10,000 years ago.

We learn about one third of the way into the film that Ecosophia means the passing on of knowledge over many generations about the specifics of place; of how to live well in a place, deeply understanding the climate, soil, and natural communities of that place. This localized knowledge is what allowed us to live sustainably on the land as a species for thousands of years before we went astray.

From here, the film moves from describing the problem into describing how we got here: a fundamental disconnection with ourselves, with the natural world, with that localized knowledge and respect for place. The interviews cover this disconnection well; Stuart Hill, a permaculturist, describes how our theistic religions come with spiritual beliefs that are limitless, but that nature has limits, and this spiritual disconnection from the reality of the natural world is a crisis for us as a species because we are utterly dependent on that natural world.

My favorite part of the film is perhaps the interview with Stephen Jenkinson, who is known for his work on Orphan Wisdom. “Exercising dominion is a surrogate for belonging,” he says, which is such a wonderfully concise and precise way to describe what we are doing to the Earth. We are orphans from the natural world, he says, not in the sense that our parents are dead, but rather that we cannot get to our parents (the natural world), and so, we don’t know how to belong. He says, “This is not a recipe for shame or class action guilt, despite the regime for social justice.” I strongly resonated with this, because of the extreme shame and guilt that are so pervasive in the critical social justice movement that is currently sweeping the Western world, and which seems so wrong-headed.

We orphans—and all of us who watch the film and read this review are orphans—will have to do the work to reconnect because we no longer inherit belonging through our ancestors, the ones who knew how to live well in a place. We are orphans because we can no longer access that generational knowledge in a modern culture that has all but destroyed it; we must do the work to recreate it ourselves. That is a multi-generational task. Are we up to it? As Stephen asks in the film, “How bad does it have to get before we question the utility of persisting?”

It’s clear in the film that the filmmaker recognizes the narcissism of focusing on self-improvement over taking responsibility for what we have done, what we are doing. Interviewee Alnoor Ladha describes this as “retreat consciousness.” He identifies that our loss of belonging makes us feel victimized, because we are “brought into a world that doesn’t belong to us” and our coping mechanism is to try to get as much as we can “on the sinking ship, to have a first-class cabin on the Titanic.”

Yet the message we are left with at the end of the film is profoundly disempowering. The last interviewee, John Seed, who is in the deep ecology movement, concludes that if we—humanity—are destroying the Earth, then we are the Earth destroying herself, because there is no separation between us and the Earth.

On the one hand, yes, that is true. We humans are nature. And on the other hand, to describe the cruelty and psychopathy of what humans are doing to the Earth as “the Earth destroying herself” is to utterly misunderstand the Earth and at once assign too much, and too little agency to the natural world.

The film has laid out the problem of the physical and spiritual crises we face, encouraged us to do the first steps—the work on ourselves to understand the problem and cultivate the desire to do something about it, and to relearn and recreate the wisdom for how to live well in a place—and then completely diffuses any energy and passion this might have inspired in the viewer by giving us an out.

At the very end of the film, the filmmaker moves into full-on human supremacy mode, saying that we humans are perhaps “special” and “unique,” because we haven’t found evidence of “any other intelligent life-form in the universe.” He says that what makes us special is that we evolved a passion to learn about ourselves, and that if we are indeed unique in the universe, that we might want to “keep this going.”

What’s shocking about this conclusion—that we are unique and rare and special, that we are the only “intelligent life-form in the universe”—is that it is so obviously untrue. Throughout the film, I enjoyed the many wonderful clips of animals and natural communities. Why is the filmmaker not able to see that this is the intelligence he thinks is missing out there in the Universe? It’s right here with us.

The Earth may indeed be unique in all of the universe in her capacity to support life, but we humans are not alone: we are surrounded by intelligence and love in the ecosystems and many species with whom we share this amazing planet. To listen to all of these interviews, to be able to appreciate the many life-forms on Earth, and yet conclude that humanity’s utter destruction of what might be the only planet capable of sustaining life in the entire universe is “the Earth destroying herself” and that this is part of nature is disappointing, to say the least.

In conclusion, I recommend the film, but caution viewers: there is another, better ending to envision. Yes, we must understand the problem. Yes, we must do the work on ourselves. Yes, we must listen to people who still understand ecosophia: that living well in a place with humility and respect for the natural world is the only way for us to live sustainably on the Earth.

And then we can take action. We can fight back against the forces that push us further into disconnection from reality each and every day. This is what the Earth herself wants us to do, if we’d only listen. Fight back!

Thank you to Peter Charles Downey for access to the preview of the film Ecosophia.

Photo by Ray Hennessy on Unsplash

08.04.2024 à 18:00
DGR News Service
Texte intégral (2048 mots)

Editor’s note: Wind farms are not a solution to ecological destruction, especially not when built in protected reserves. Singapore-based company Rizal Wind Energy Corp. (RWEC) is drilling illegally in wildlife sanctuary and ecotourism area Masungi Georeserve.

For this massive construction it is bulldozing forest to make roads. It needs diesel for the trucks and lube oil to run the wind turbines. Local environmentalists have protected the Masungi Georeserve over generations through educating local people and engaging in struggles against land grabbing.

This important work is dangerous: park rangers are shot, the army arrests workers and the government sends their agencies with legal threats.

Despite having considered giving up, conservationists won’t surrender: “If we abandon it, who will look after the wildlife?”

Everyone who is able to get active in these times of ecocide should ask themselves this same question.


Surprise Discovery of Wind Farm Project in Philippine Reserve Prompts Alarm

By

In late 2023, conservationists monitoring the Philippine’s Masungi Georeserve were surprised to encounter four drilling rigs operating within the ostensibly protected wildlife sanctuary. The construction equipment belongs to a company building a wind farm within the reserve, which claims to have received the necessary permits despite the area’s protected status. Masungi Georeserve Foundation, Inc. (MGFI), the nonprofit organization managing the site, has launched a petition calling for the project to be canceled, saying that renewable energy generation should not be pursued at the expense of the environment.

Drilling for windfarms without permission

Conservationists have expressed alarm over the surprise discovery that a Singapore-based company has started construction of a wind farm inside the Philippines’ Masungi Georeserve.

The Masungi Karst Conservation Area (MKCA), declared a strict nature reserve and wildlife sanctuary since 1993, is home to more than 400 wildlife species. The site is located in Rizal, a province about 60 kilometers (37 miles) south of the Philippine capital, Manila.

Drone images from late 2023 captured by the Masungi Georeserve Foundation, Inc. (MGFI), the nonprofit organization that manages the site, showed that Rizal Wind Energy Corp. (RWEC) was behind the construction, drilling to build 12 wind turbines as part of a renewable energy project. RWEC is owned by Singapore-based energy developer Vena Energy.

“This development entails widespread road construction and raises significant concerns for local wildlife, particularly threatening birds and bat populations,” the foundation said in a statement on Feb. 12. The group estimates that 500-1,000 hectares (about 1,200-2,500 acres) of the MKCA could be affected by the project, as it would require extensive road networks that may lead to forest clearing, vegetation damage, and visual disruption of the natural landscape.

The MKCA, previously commercially logged and barren, has been undergoing forest restoration since 1996 through a joint-venture agreement between the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Blue Star Construction and Development Corp., owned by the founder of Masungi Georeserve Foundation Inc. In 2016, when the foundation was formally established, Masungi also opened to the public as an ecotourism site, generating revenue to support ongoing restoration efforts in the area.

Green greed disturbs protected zone

Of the more than 400 flora and fauna species that call Masungi home, around 70 are endemic to the Philippines, including the Luzon tarictic hornbill (Penelopides manillae), which is nationally listed as vulnerable, and the Luzon mottle-winged flying fox (Desmalopex leucoptera), one of the world’s largest bats and internationally categorized as vulnerable.

In an online signature campaign against the construction of the wind farm, the group said this “misguided energy development” is the latest threat to Masungi, which already faces illegal logging, land grabbing, quarrying, and violence against its forest rangers. These challenges exist even though Masungi is part of the 26,000-hectare (64,500-acre) Upper Marikina River Basin that was declared a protected landscape in 2011.

The Masungi management said this venture “marked a disturbing violation” of a 1993 administrative order by the DENR prohibiting industrial or commercial uses of Masungi. The organization added that the wind farm project also shows a “blatant disregard” for the area’s designation as a strict protection zone in its own management plan.

As per the Philippine environmental impact statement system, projects that plan to operate in ecologically sensitive zones like Masungi need to obtain an environmental compliance certificate from the DENR prior to commencing activities.

wind power

Wind farm in the Philippines

Over four years of developing the Rizal wind farm, Vena Energy said that, “being mindful of its environmental impact,” it has secured various Philippine government permits, including an environmental compliance certificate, protected area management board clearances, and a certificate precondition, following an environmental impact assessment study and consultations with Indigenous peoples.

“Vena Energy assures the public that it continues to maintain open dialogue with stakeholders and is always willing to work with concerned parties to achieve the common good,” Angela Tan, the company’s corporate communications chief, told Mongabay in an emailed statement. The company has not responded to a request to verify its permits.

Coincidental discovery

MGFI says it was never formally informed of the project, which is reportedly nearing commercialization. Instead, georeserve staff discovered the project during routine monitoring of the site. MGFI advocacy officer Billie Dumaliang and her team periodically fly a drone over the reserve to monitor land changes, whether these are caused by fires, clearings, or new structures. In late 2023, they said, they were shocked to see four drilling rigs.

Zooming in on the photos, they discovered that RWEC was behind the drilling. “We immediately searched for their contact so that we can reach out to them and find out more about the project before reacting,” Dumaliang told Mongabay in an email on Feb. 21. “Nonetheless, we were surprised because as designated caretakers of the area, we were not informed of any wind development underway within the Masungi Karst Conservation Area.”

Hoping to persuade the company to relocate, MGFI did not publicize the issue until Feb. 12. This was after two meetings with company representatives where MGFI told them “they are on the wrong track.” According to MGFI, though, the company remains determined to build the wind farm inside Masungi, claiming it will undertake “‘mitigation measures.”

“However, mitigation is superficial if the site selection is wrong in the first place,” Dumaliang said, further expressing disappointment over what she describes as the company’s failure to adhere to emerging environmental, social and governance principles in the alternative energy industry.

“There are many other places to build colossal wind turbines — why do it inside a sensitive karst ecosystem and wildlife sanctuary which cannot be replaced?”

Touching interviews about the activists protecting Masungi Georeserve.

Wind power push

The Philippine government has promoted wind energy development to help meet its target of increasing the share of renewables in the country’s energy mix from 32.7% in 2022 to 50% by 2040. As of 2022, the country’s wind installed generating capacity stood at 427 megawatts, projected to rise to 442 MW by 2025. Since the enactment of a renewable energy law in 2008 up until November 2023, contracts have been awarded to 239 wind power projects. This includes RWEC’s 603 MW (potential capacity) project spanning Rizal and Quezon provinces, listed by the country’s energy department as in the predevelopment stage.

MGFI said wind energy development shouldn’t be pursued at the expense of the environment. “The transition to renewable energy and nature-based solutions such as reforestation and biodiversity conservation should go together. There should be no conflict between the two if the transition to renewable energy is done in a responsible manner,” Dumaliang said.

“If renewable energy development falls under the usual trappings of greed and capitalism, then we risk doing more damage than good.”

The group, along with 30 other civil society organizations, has demanded the revocation of RWEC and Vena Energy’s permits in the MKCA “on scientific grounds and the lack of public consultation.” It’s also seeking outright rejections for similar applications in this wildlife sanctuary, which is meant to be off-limits to industrial and commercial activities.


 

05.04.2024 à 18:00
DGR News Service
Texte intégral (1799 mots)
Editor’s note: As humanity, we’ve come so far as to consider – after having wreaked havoc on a perfectly functioning ecosystems on a flourishing planet – that producing clouds from seawater is a good idea. It sounds too bizarre to be true and even hilarious – but it’s deeply sad.
There are indeed scientists who get paid for researching not in a laboratory but in real life situations, how millions of aircrafts and ships can bring tons of aerosols into the sky to prevent the sun from doing what she does: shining to provide sunlight.
It seems as if some start-up youngsters with a hangover after pulling an all-nighter came up with that idea. But no, the proponents are adult scholars and they mean it.
With this sci-fi scenario we witness a degenerate humanity completely in denial over what is actually happening. A cut from the living and breathing world around us, inducing the immersion into minds of madness, who try to techno-fix us into oblivion.
It’s like hiring a beautician to put makeup on a person that is bleeding out, while the doctor stands there doing nothing.
It’s like calling a friend when you’re in an emergency situation instead of calling the ambulance.
It’s like breathing in while being under water.
Can we please stop rivaling the sun? Thanks.

 


Not a Bright Idea: Cooling the Earth by Reflecting Sunlight Back to Space

By James Kerry, Aarti Gupta and Terry Hughes/The Conversation

The United Nations Environment Assembly this week considered a resolution on solar radiation modification, which refers to controversial technologies intended to mask the heating effect of greenhouse gases by reflecting some sunlight back to space.

Proponents argue the technologies will limit the effects of climate change. In reality, this type of “geoengineering” risks further destabilising an already deeply disturbed climate system. What’s more, its full impacts cannot be known until after deployment.

The draft resolution initially called for the convening of an expert group to examine the benefits and risks of solar radiation modification. The motion was withdrawn on Thursday after no consensus could be reached on the controversial topic.

A notable development was a call from some Global South countries for “non-use” of solar radiation modification. We strongly support this position. Human-caused climate change is already one planetary-scale experiment too many – we don’t need another.

A risky business

In some circles, solar geoengineering is gaining prominence as a response to the climate crisis. However, research has consistently identified potential risks posed by the technologies such as:

Here, we discuss several examples of solar radiation modification which exemplify the threats posed by these technologies. These are also depicted in the graphic below.

A load of hot air

In April 2022, an American startup company released two weather balloons into the air from Mexico. The experiment was conducted without approval from Mexican authorities.

The intent was to cool the atmosphere by deflecting sunlight. The resulting reduction in warming would be sold for profit as “cooling credits” to those wanting to offset greenhouse gas pollution.

Appreciably cooling the climate would, in reality, require injecting millions of metric tons of aerosols into the stratosphere, using a purpose-built fleet of high-altitude aircraft. Such an undertaking would alter global wind and rainfall patterns, leading to more drought and cyclones, exacerbating acid rainfall and slowing ozone recovery.

Once started, this stratospheric aerosol injection would need to be carried out continually for at least a century to achieve the desired cooling effect. Stopping prematurely would lead to an unprecedented rise in global temperatures far outpacing extreme climate change scenarios.

Heads in the clouds

Another solar geoengineering technology, known as marine cloud brightening, seeks to make low-lying clouds more reflective by spraying microscopic seawater droplets into the air. Since 2017, trials have been underway on the Great Barrier Reef.

The project is tiny in scale, and involves pumping seawater onto a boat and spraying it from nozzles towards the sky. The project leader says the mist-generating machine would need to be scaled up by a factor of ten, to about 3,000 nozzles, to brighten nearby clouds by 30%.

After years of trials, the project has not yet produced peer-reviewed empirical evidence that cloud brightening could reduce sea surface temperatures or protect corals from bleaching.

The Great Barrier Reef is the size of Italy. Scaling up attempts at cloud brightening would require up to 1,000 machines on boats, all pumping and spraying vast amounts of seawater for months during summer. Even if it worked, the operation is hardly, as its proponents claim, “environmentally benign”.

The technology’s effects remain unclear. For the Great Barrier Reef, less sunlight and lower temperatures could alter water movement and mixing, harming marine life. Marine life may also be killed by pumps or negatively affected by the additional noise pollution. And on land, marine cloud brightening may lead to altered rainfall patterns and increased salinity, damaging agriculture.

More broadly, 101 governments last year agreed to a statement describing marine-based geoengineering, including cloud brightening, as having “the potential for deleterious effects that are widespread, long-lasting or severe”.

Balls, bubbles and foams

The Arctic Ice Project involves spreading a layer of tiny glass spheres over large regions of sea ice to brighten its surface and halt ice loss.

Trials have been conducted on frozen lakes in North America. Scientists recently showed the spheres actually absorb some sunlight, speeding up sea-ice loss in some conditions.

Another proposed intervention is spraying the ocean with microbubbles or sea foam to make the surface more reflective. This would introduce large concentrations of chemicals to stabilise bubbles or foam at the sea surface, posing significant risk to marine life, ecosystem function and fisheries.

No more distractions

Some scientists investigating solar geoengineering discuss the need for “exit ramps” – the termination of research once a proposed intervention is deemed to be technically infeasible, too risky or socially unacceptable. We believe this point has already been reached.

Since 2022, more than 500 scientists from 61 countries have signed an open letter calling for an international non-use agreement on solar geoengineering. Aside from the types of risks discussed above, the letter said the speculative technologies detract from the urgent need to cut global emissions, and that no global governance system exists to fairly and effectively regulate their deployment.

Calls for outdoor experimentation of the technologies are misguided and detract energy and resources from what we need to do today: phase out fossil fuels and accelerate a just transition worldwide.

Climate change is the greatest challenge facing humanity, and global responses have been woefully inadequate. Humanity must not pursue dangerous distractions that do nothing to tackle the root causes of climate change, come with incalculable risk, and will likely further delay climate action.


James Kerry is an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, James Cook University, Australia and Senior Marine and Climate Scientist, OceanCare, Switzerland, James Cook University.

Aarti Gupta is a Professor of Global Environmental Governance, Wageningen University.

Terry Hughes is a Distinguished Professor, James Cook University.

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