All evidence now confirms that we humans have dramatically, and likely irreversibly, altered the Earth’s climate, and that the negative consequences are widespread, dramatic, and fearsome. There is little cause for optimism that our national or international leaders are willing to take the necessary actions to control and curtail the activities that continue to generate the fossil fuel emissions largely responsible for altering the world’s climate. Our natural ecosystems and human health and welfare are all at risk.
We do not know what all the consequences will be or what will befall us, as carbon emissions into the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans exceed all bounds of sustaining our climate and life-support systems, and continue to accumulate beyond the capacities of the atmosphere and oceans to withstand profound alteration. Over the past three centuries we humans have indulged in profligate extraction and emissions that are about to put the Earth’s natural systems “over the edge.” Scientists now report that each month is the warmest on record and in known time, exceeding only the worldwide temperatures of the previous year. And atmospheric temperatures are climbing, while likewise the temperatures and surface levels of the oceans are rising ever higher.
We are in deep trouble.
Our societies and political leaders seem locked into practicing violence on the Earth, without regard for the future—that is, the long term well-being or even survival of people, society, ecology, or ecosystems. Carelessness is at the core of the prevailing economics that have brought us this plight. Our economic model assumes endless growth and this, in turn, relies on “extractivism”—a term used to describe economies based on the removal of ever more raw materials from the earth, usually for export to more affluent countries and the traditional colonial powers, where so-called “value” is added. Extractivism allows unlimited taking of the earth’s natural resources, by strip mining, mountaintop removal, old-growth forest clearcutting, subsurface fracking, and more. Extractivism assumes and establishes “sacrifice zones” in places populated by human and natural communities that “don’t count” by the values of the engineers of “progress.” The sacrificed places, and their inhabitants, can be poisoned, ravaged, drained, or otherwise destroyed for the supposed greater good of economic progress—or at least for the wealth of the exploiters. Those “sacrifice zones” of extensive resource extraction and exploitation (or areas downstream or downwind of them) are the lands of lost people and lost natural ecology.
But we now know that this resource-depleting economic model is inherently flawed and unsustainable . . . and is about to bring us disaster. Nature is fragile and resilient but has its limits. We are now passing those limits. We are all in the same sinking boat, though poor people and people of color are closest to the hole.
There is a growing literature about our world’s changed climate, the causes and response strategies. But I do recommend for your reading Naomi Klein’s 2014 book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate (Simon & Schuster). --Chuck Roe, President SCP
Wendell Berry, again, is perceptive in his observations, here excerpted from his 2013 speech to Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, and reproduced in his latest published collection of essays, Our Only World (2015):
“If we want to save the land, we must save the people who belong to the land. If we want to save the people, we must save the land the people belong to…. The connection is necessary of course because it is inescapable. All of us who are living owe our lives directly to our connection to the land…. I am not talking about the connection that is implied by such a term as ‘environmentalism.’ I am talking about the connection we make economically, by work, by living, by making a living….
The loss of a saving connection between the land and the people begins and continues with the destruction of locally based household economics…
(T)he most effective means of local self-determination would be a well-developed local economy based upon the use and protection of local resources, including local human intelligence and skills….And here we realize that a local economy, supplying local needs so far as possible from local fields and woodlands, is necessarily diverse….
(T)he fact is that if the land and the people are ever to be saved, they will be saved by local people enacting together a proper respect for themselves and their places.”
--Chuck Roe, President, SCP
When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.... Conservation, viewed in its entirety, is the slow and laborious unfolding of a new relationship between people and land."
There is in fact no distinction between the fate of the land and the fate of the people. When one is abused, the other suffers.
From the President
SCP President Chuck Roe looked at land conservation along the route of John Muir's "Southern Trek."
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