Forty times now, Earth Day has come and gone. Four decades of enviro-stewarding celebration and still a damn mess; this dominant culture has marched closer to planetary collapse ever so stridently over the last 40 years. This year, E-Day was rung in with an oil platform off the coast of New Orleans, ablaze like a birthday candle out of control, oil sloshing into the Gulf; a diffused chemical rainbow displacing the pelagic blue of the Atlantic waters. This is far from irony – a malefic boner (no, not that kind, silly) ascribed to the inherent destructiveness of the dominant culture and its insanely irrational operating instructions.
Over all these years, the voracity of civilization’s appetite has remained insatiate, devouring cultures of people; animal species aplenty; densely contiguous forests; ancient coral reefs; entire oceans; ranges of mountains; masses of majestic glaciers; systems of rivers, brooks, streams and other watershed; hundreds of feet of topsoil; earthworm populations… the list is long and expanding.
Unless we finally put forth a threshold at which point we turn every day into an Earth Day and begin fighting back in defense against the very system of violence that is invariably destroying the natural places we rely on for our very survival – i.e., our sources of food, water, air and relationships – the dominant culture will devour this planet whole, along with everyone on it (human & nonhuman). You can count on that. It is impossible to provide substantiating evidence proving differently.
Year after successive year, analysis shows more species gone, more preventable cancer rates ascending, more ecological and climatic havoc caused to the planet, etc & c. Here in Vermont one could drink from the mountain streams no more than fifty years ago. These days you’d be a fool to attempt it without some kind of water-purifying mechanism. Unless action is taken to reverse the démodé trend of globalization and latter’s ensuing planetary destruction, the next generations may not even have running water to purify. Apparently.
In this postmodern era of globalization (which is really the extenuation of colonialism, or better yet, the management of postcolonial assets perpetrated and secured by the violence of Empire and its omnicidal program euphemized as “civilization”) it’s important to see the concessions for what they really are.
Let’s start with the Internet. For example, Google’s search engine isn’t some benevolent ethereal wish-granter. Server plants require tremendous amounts of energy to allow search engines to function. Every Google search, every Yahoo! search – at the click of a mouse, requires the burning of fossil fuels. The amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere by server plants rivals that of the car-manufacturing industry, btw. Too, there are riparian server plants along the Colombia River. Chinook salmon is disappearing from this river. And what about computers? These gadgets use 1500 kg of water and 10X their own mass in fossil fuels and other chemicals, and then some in their manufacturing process. To go paperless is not to ‘Go Green.’
Then there’s coltan (columbite tantalite) that, refined to tantalum, is necessary for capacitors, which store an electrical charge in every electronic device imaginable (e.g., laptops, DVD players, cellular telephones [yes, even your iPhone boyz’n’galz], Playstations et al and so on). The mining of coltan along the DRC (= “Democratic” Republic of Congo)/Rwandan border has been behind seemingly endless civil war between tribes, claiming more than 5 million lives. Prepubescent children are handed guns and forced to partake in the raping and murdering of entire village communities. Mining for this mineral is also erasing the Eastern Lowland Gorilla from the planet. All this beautiful life is being lost in exchange for a cheap handset, for another pixel-in-motion PS3 RPG, or for that stupid iPad or something…
The construction of undersea cables disrupts the benthic ecosystems of the ocean floors. Cell towers and their wacky EM waves are killing migratory songbirds. Technological advancement requires cheap energy. We are running out of cheap energy. Besides, cheap energy may be a bargain in the pecuniary sense, but it’s costing us real physical life on a grand scale.
It’s true that globalization is “making it easy for anyone to do remote development,” rejoices the imbecile Thomas Friedman. But what that really means is corporate CEO’s can now manage their industrial plants in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, China, Indonesia, India, Nicaragua, et al from the comforts of their own homes, offices and conference rooms without having to witness first-hand, the environmental degradation they are causing, or the abject living conditions they are creating: the despoliation of water and air quality, the acidification of ocean waters, the lengthening of the endangered species list, the birth defects of children, the civil unrest and hunger, the wars being fought, women being raped, subsistence and small-scale farmers crying, thousand-year-old trees toppled, chopped – vanished. They don’t see the polar bears drowning in gelid waters, a tragic end to the searching of food in an area rapidly melting on account of this culture’s negligent indulgence in fossil fuels and industrial production.
Or on a more domestic front, e.g., King Coal doesn’t notice the tops of mountains missing in Appalachia – their CEO’s too busy teeing-off on the golf courses that replace them. These f***kers only notice the large subsidies the US supplies them; they don’t hear the heavy sobs of distressed mothers piercing the darkest hours of the night as they cradle in their laps children who are coughing incessantly and choking violently on their own spittle, suffering from blue-baby syndrome caused from inhaled coal ash. King Coal execs don’t care about the more-than-750-miles of watershed choking on the detritus of mountaintops, scarring the miraculous matrix of organic processes and symbiotic relationships synecdochically known as the “web-of-life.”
Meanwhile, when inundating floods aren’t shuffling toxic coal-slurry everywhere, drought continues to plague the surrounding Appalachian regions, and the water bottle industry persists in extracting copious amounts of groundwater faster than can be replaced by the hydrologic cycle. The bottled water is then sold to exploited miners who work all day, who live in abject poverty, while Texas burns all the coal to power death row, where they hold the record in executions of mentally ill prisoners.
Globalization has affluenced the upper hierarchy, while below, people and forests die and disappear. Ninety-five percent of North America’s original forests have been clear-cut. Gone. And every stream and river in the continental US contains carcinogenic material. What once was a population of 60 million “genetically pure” buffalo grazing the Great Plains has been decimated to a federally controlled population of less than 15,000. The rate of species extinction is presumably “10,000 times faster than what has historically been recorded as normal”; and there is a “trash-vortex” the size of the continental US drifting in the Pacific.
Essayist and novelist Arundhati Roy reveals that overseas, the Indian government let sixty-three million tons of grain rot while twelve million tons were “exported and sold at a subsidized price the Indian government was not willing to offer the Indian poor.” Since 1989, police and security forces have killed approximately 80,000 people in Kashmir. Women have been gang-raped by security forces; Muslims and Sikhs have been beaten and murdered; and in the police stations it isn’t rare to see: “people being forced to drink urine to being stripped, humiliated, given electric shocks, burned with cigarette butts, having iron rods put up their anuses to being beaten and kicked to death,” writes A. Roy.
These abovementioned atrocities, all of them, have been employed under the auspices of ambiguous and dubious anti-terrorism acts such as POTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act), the Armed Forces Powers Act and more (similar to the domestic PATRIOT Act and the Homeland Security Act). To paraphrase Roy, such acts allow security forces to charge individuals as “terrorists” (while corporate private enterprises and government back the removal of people by force to dismantle intact fecund landbases, mind you) for: acting out civil disobedience; speaking out against and/or petitioning the establishment; opposition to free trade, privatization, and globalization; alongside other varieties of dissent against the establishment, capitalism, Western ethics, and/or for just being poor. Even young children have been imprisoned and held without bail under POTA.
Meanwhile, CEOs, shareholders, developers, and (obviously) private and national security forces inflict massive violence on citizens and land without any accountability (think back to the horrific 1984 incident in Bhopal when poisonous gas leaked from a US-owned pesticide company killing thousands of people), perseverating in the psychopathy of hyper-exploitation to funnel resources back to the epicenters of “culture” and growth.
Where’s the justice? It is found in resistance to global corporate privatization and in defense of a rekindled love for the natural world we are a part of. Make every day a damn Earth Day and fight like hell for the future of this planet. Step 1: Start deglobalizing and begin relocalizing.