Environmental degradation is a concept that many of us have a hard time grasping. In the industrialized world, most of us live a life very disconnected from nature and do not see or feel the importance of our effect on the earth. The myth of civilization that we have adopted—that we are separate and independent from nature—may be our ultimate downfall.
The earth, our home as a species, is such a large, complex system that it can be difficult to imagine the theories behind global warming, peak oil, species extinction, ecosystems, etc. Nevertheless, as a species capable of both rational thought and massive destructive force, we must, with the help of experts, attempt to conceptualize these phenomena and make meaningful conclusions and changes.
The arguments of “anti-environmentalists”—those who decry global warming as a “hoax,” scoff at animal-rights, and warn of “eco-terrorism”—are quite interesting to examine. Rather than ignore our opposition, truth movers should always be able to face open debate and be ready to deconstruct fallacies and flawed rhetoric. See the Ayn Rand Institute for a primer on anti-environmentalist thinking.
Corporate interests, which mainly see environmental reforms as a threat to their profit margin, have a powerful influence in keeping progressive environmental information from the public. Organizations, PR firms, think tanks, lobbyists have all sprung up to maintain the illusion that humans can continue to destroy the earth without consequence.
Many such organizations have deceptive names and images that give an environmentally-friendly impression. For example, see globalwarming.org, a project of “The Cooler Heads Coalition…which formed May 6, 1997 to dispel the myths of global warming…”
A few facts that may shake you up:
- E. O. Wilson of Harvard, one of the world’s most esteemed biologist, estimates that one half of all species on earth will be extinct by the end of this century. 1
- World population rose from 1 billion in 1800 to 6.5 billion in 2006 and it could rise to over 9 billion by 2050. This population explosion was made possible by the Industrial Revolution (in other words, through the exploitation of cheap, nonrenewable fossil fuels). 2
- “According to NASA, 2005 was the hottest year since modern record keeping began in the 1890s. In second place comes 1998, the last year with a significant and temperature-raising El Niño, followed in descending order by 2002, 2003 and 2004.” 3
- Many respected scientists predict that as the world runs out of readily recoverable fossil resources, a phenomenon called “peak oil” could have apocalyptic consequences for modern societies and economies. 4
- All of earth’s life support systems–forests, oceans, fresh water resources, and all major ecosystems–are in rapid decline. 5