Thursday, December 3, 2015

Silent Spring ignored : How CO2 has done to the environmental movement what GDP has done to the economy

Quoting from :

During the committee, a senator said of Silent Spring: "Every once in a while in the history of mankind, a book has appeared which has substantially altered the course of history."

... the game-changing Silent Spring. The book alerted the world to the harmful impact of chemical pesticides and caused a storm of controversy. Although gaining a legion of fans, the book also saw a large pushback from the pesticide manufacturers who claimed the book was nonsense. The controversy caused then-president JFK to set up a committee to investigate pesticides with the findings eventually agreeing with Carson's claims. During the committee, a senator said of Silent Spring: "Every once in a while in the history of mankind, a book has appeared which has substantially altered the course of history." In 2012, the book was added to the list of American National Historic Chemical Landmarks, recognising landmark achievements in the history of chemistry.
The following quote is taken from Silent Spring, which was written over 50 years ago and is quite depressing that it still applies today:
"We stand now where two roads diverge. But unlike the roads in Robert Frost's familiar poem, they are not equally fair. The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road — the one less traveled by — offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of the earth."

Referring again to the climate change debate and my assertion that "CO2 has done to the environmental movement what GDP has done to the economy" :
This is one of the ways that show how that has happened. 1962 was when Silent Spring came out and proved that using harmful and addictive chemicals in agri was a bad idea.

The so-called "Green Revolution" in India happened just then and after that. It's 2015 and we're still not anywhere close to reigning in the pesticides and chemical fertilizers disasters. Had so much resources not been lavished on them, the frankenstein monsters of Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont et al wouldn't even be existing right now.. they wouldn't have the surplus funds to buy out key people in governments, rig the laws in their favour, and spend on the massive R&D it takes to churn out one GMO variety out of millions of trials that at least pretends to be food.

"Every once in a while in the history of mankind, a book has appeared which has substantially altered the course of history."

At the upcoming UN Summit that's supposed to be about saving the world, exactly how many countries' delegates are going to talk about THIS? How many global-level meetings have there even been that talked about the perils chemical-intensive agriculture?

And this too despite the fact that chemical-intensive agriculture is by itself a net emitter of CO2 whereas ecologically sustainable agriculture is a massive net absorber of CO2 and one of our best bets at actually reversing atmospheric CO2 levels without getting into the more harmful technocrat-drool geo-engineering tactics that Naomi Klein has so clearly exposed in her book This Changes Everything. But it's a more indirect process compared to fossil fuel burning, so it looks to me like the world's major orgs working for environment.. are so narrow-minded on CO2 that they don't really give a shit about what has been learnt from the book and the activist that literally started the global environmental movement. They seem to be in agreement and all in side conversations, but I don't see the requisite proactivity.

53 years on, Silent Spring has been PREVENTED from changing the course of history. Companies like Monsanto have hijacked it, directly benefitting from the diversion of public, civil society, academic and media attention from what Rachel Carson and others had brought to light. They've been given a free pass because they don't directly figure in the CO2 conversations. No country's government is being pressured to set ambitious agri-chemicals reduction targets or healthy soil targets. There is no major demand being made to switch to renewable food sources by 2030. It seems one's phone being recharged properly is more important than one's body getting recharged properly.

I don't really need to look elsewhere to see a worse consequence of being singularly, narrowly focused on just one abstract, not-immediately-tangible thing in a field that's supposed to be, well, broader. Keep CO2 as one of the talking points.. fine. But please stop making it the only thing to focus on.

What to do with climate change skeptics: When you come across people skeptical about global warming etc (they do have a reason to be.. we it's not only warming.. it's climate extremes and climate disruptions happening), leave CO2 aside for a while. Fish out Silent Spring and the topics of harmful chemicals in agriculture and the solutions to it like Permaculture, Zero Budget Natural Farming, etc.. find a common ground and build consensus on THAT. That's what we mean by "bringing multiple talking points to the table". Climate change negotiators need to grow up into Environment negotiators, and learn how to actually negotiate :P. Don't get so anal about CO2. Some of the most prominent climate change skeptics in the world, having a following of millions of people, are completely on the same page with environmentalists when it comes to pesticides and GMOs.. and even more knowledgeable about it all than most academics and NGO people. See, it's arising from the same core value system of non-invasion of personhood.

Heck, the whole skeptic movement exists because some smartass environmentalists developed a Malthusian superiority complex and started advocating invasive top-down measures on ordinary people as the way to curb CO2 emissions like mass power-consumption surveillance, extra taxes, punishments, sterilizations rather than just going after the handful of major emitters : fossil fuel industry, factory farming industry and aviation industry. And guess who supports, lobbies for such strategies. Evidently they chose the weaker kid to pick on. The skeptics clearly saw though the hypocrisy of the cap-and-trade mechanisms, which our more desperate-for-something friends let loose. Climate change folks seriously need to introspect and weed such invasive and anti-democratic people out of their ranks. At least publicly distance yourself from such things.

Use the vantage point of mutually shared care for what's in the food you feed to your children, agree to disagree on other points but make them your allies in this at least. Trust in the inter-connectedness of subjects.. they'll come around on the other subject if they get to work co-operatively with you in this one. If you say we're all in the same boat, then I would sincerely like to see you behave that way. And for God's sake please drop the superiority complex.

Oh, and if you're personally convinced about excess CO2 emissions being a problem but think GMOs and their essential companion herbicides etc are good for humanity and the planet, if you honestly want poison and drug manufacturers to control what everybody eats, if you really believe that royalty fees on something as fundamental and abundantly multiplying as seeds are a legitimate practice, then my dear friend, you need to do some homework and respect grassroots peoples movements a little more than industry-funded academia.

PS: There's a reason why I picked the zen pencils comic page as a reference at top. See it and rebuild your sense of wonder, people.

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