Tag Archives: ecology

Are my hands clean?

NewImage

Are my hands clean?

That urgent question, sung some years ago in the plaintive voices of the band Sweet Honey In The Rock, haunts me this week. As this horrifyingly tender image from the tragedy also haunts anyone who has found themselves arrested this week, by the above photo.

[youtube u9sBRnVeUuI]

Are my hands clean?

The question haunts me. As it should all of us, if we are paying any attention to the death toll that continues to rise from the most recent collapse of garment factories in Bangladesh, which has taken 800UPDATE (13 May 2013): now 1100—lives so far. And counting. Factories where underpaid workers labored long hours under blatantly unsafe conditions to produce garments most of us would wait to buy when they appear on the sale rack at the local big block store, or grab during the stampedes of Black Friday, happy at finding another cheap deal.

Are my hands clean?

Sure they seem clean. After all, it wasn’t you or me who built that factory and ran it so brutally, nor were we the ones who failed to inspect the facilities and ensure even minimum safety. That was the Bangladeshi businessmen, and their government’s lax enforcement. It wasn’t you or me who outsourced the jobs to that factory. That was the multinational corporation. It wasn’t you or me who manipulated the laws of both that country and ours, forcing governments everywhere to turn blind eyes to such tragedies repeatedly, so long as “world trade” kept flowing smoothly, and cheaply. That too was, is, the work of corporations greedily anxious to maximize profits and maintain a “healthy” bottom line to please Wall Street. And of politicians anxious to keep the corporations and Wall Street happy and sustain their political bottom lines. All you and I want is that occasional cheap deal on some decent clothes to wear. All most of us can afford are these cheap deals. What can we, mere individuals, do when they come at such a high human cost? It was someone else’s greed in service of your and my need.

Are my hands clean?

Why is it that the high human cost of our globalized consumer culture never part of the price on that sale tag? After all, this is not the first such tragedy in a third world factory producing cheap goods for the global first world market. Nor will it be the last. How is it that the corporations, at least some of which have honestly humble origins, and must contain some ordinary human beings not unlike you or me, feel free to ignore these enormous costs from their balance sheets when reporting their earnings to share holders? How have we allowed these corporations to claim a citizen’s right to participate in (and hijack with money) our very democracies, yet not force them to also accept the minimal responsibility towards other citizens and human beings that is routinely expected from you and me? Why don’t we make them face the question?

Are my hands clean?

Replace the factory collapse in Bangladesh with the BP oil spill of three years ago, and you face the same question in the funhouse mirror, telescoped larger. Only, instead of 800 human beings (and counting), the victims number in the unfathomable populations of uncountable species of other living beings affected by the oil spill. For, when we allow corporations to ignore even basic human rights in their pursuit of profits by satisfying our desire for consumer goods, what chance is there of any honest accounting of the environmental costs of their business, and our deals? Replace both of these examples with the greenhouse gas emissions from our global corporate industrial consumer civilization, and we face an even more unimaginably horrendous cost, to human beings and to the rest of life on this planet. Profits before people before nature begets misery for all in the long run. But that quarterly accounting tape must stay in the black. Thus does short term greed trump consideration of long-term needs.

Are my hands clean?

Some economists are beginning to call for a truer accounting of corporate balance sheets, reflecting the true costs and benefits of their supply and production chains, not merely in dollar terms, but in human and environmental terms. Some environmentalists are challenging public institutions to divest from greedy companies that hide the enormous ecological costs. The benefit you and I derive from the sale price of a product must surely be balanced by the real total cost of its production. A recent analysis by Trucost, an environmental consultancy engaged in this endeavor on behalf of TEEB, concluded that none of the world’s top industries would make any profit if they were forced to account and pay for all of the costs that are currently external to their balance sheets. Externalities. Not lives cut short or homes and habitats and futures destroyed. Mere externalities. That’s the dispassionate dehumanized term economists and business accountants may use for these costs, if they even acknowledge them. Of course there are positive externalities too, but TEEB’s work and the Trucost report shows these to generally outweigh the negative ones, overwhelmingly. These externalities must be paid for, surely, if we are to enjoy our consumer goods without the guilt of the human and environmental costs they currently hide behind their enticing price tags.

Are my hands clean?

When are we going to start demanding that the price tags on our clothes and other goods reveal the full cost of the product, from the environmental costs of the extraction of its raw materials to the human costs of its manufacture? And this is not just about cheap goods which carry hidden externalities, but also expensive consumer products we like to be seen with, high-tech toys and fashionable raiments, shiny baubles and decorative kitsch alike. After all, many of us are willing to pay a premium price for trendy goods that cut us at the bleeding edge, or come with the stamp of creativity from a brand-name designer. Or rare items scoured out of remote parts of the earth, perhaps by slave hands we would never know about. If the creativity of the human designer can be fairly compensated, why not also pay for the dignity of the human labour in mass producing that creative design, or extracting that precious rare element? Why not, moreover, also pay for nature’s evolutionary ingenuity in producing the ecological services that enable the human labour to transform the creative idea into a mass-market product? Why not demand, as consumers, and as shareholders, that the corporations start being honest about their business, and force them to take seriously the full responsibilities of true citizenhood?

Are my hands clean?

Ah but who will be able to afford the truly-costed goods then, if the price tag covers the entire production chain? Only the richer among us? Like the ones now shopping for fair-trade organic groceries at Whole Foods AKA Whole Paycheck? Or may be more of us too, if we start getting real life wages to be able to afford these goods? And even scale down our wants, to focus more on our needs. The economics of the global market are complicated, they tell me, and it is not a simple matter of consumers demanding better practices from companies, and even boycotting a few goods. It is all too complex, this business of global trade, our world too tied up in corporations and banks that are “too big to fail”. So we should stop worrying about ever changing the big picture, shed a tear or two over that haunting embrace, buy another rock album with a conscientious song, maybe donate some money to some BINGO (Big/Business-friendly International Non-Government Organization) offering to help ease the burden on those Bangladeshi workers. Maybe they will even bow down a bit to our pressure, the greedy politicians and businessmen, and tighten some loopholes to reduce the frequency and magnitude of these tragedies. Push them down them below the safety valves of our placid reservoirs of outrage. Keep them where they’re easy to sweep underneath the carpets of our collective conscience. Meanwhile, they tell us, just move along and keep buying those goods because otherwise the whole world economy will stall, and collapse!

Are my hands clean?

Over the past century, labour activists, especially in the developed world, fought for their rights collectively, and managed to improve their own lives, in the here and then, making corporations pay more of the costs of human labour. And their societies and countries too flourished, leading in no small part to forming the First World, as we now know it, the successful global North. Little did they anticipate, though, how corporations would displace those costs to other places, other workers, other times. Across the border. Over the horizon. Beyond the oceans. Out of sight, out of mind. And later, even bring them back home in the dark of the economic night, after the collective actions of past generations were forgotten, disguised under austerity, the new mantra of the first and third world orders.

Are my hands clean?

And what of the ecological costs? Those externalities, even more external to the corporate ledgers? Well, we only woke up to those costs more recently, and haven’t really been able to force businesses to pay for those consistently yet – except piecemeal, in the aftermath of disaster. Capitalism and the free market won the cold war after all, didn’t they? The market will solve all these problems, won’t it? So why won’t it, hasn’t it, yet? What’s it waiting for?

Writing 22 years ago last week, soon after the free market West won the cold war against the East, Ecuadorean writer Eduardo Galeano asked us in the global South if we really wanted To Be Like Them, up in the shiny global North. Can we be like them, given that

“Our poor planet is already in a coma, severely poisoned by industrial civilization, and squeezed nearly dry by consumer society”?

Do we want to be like them, he asked? Leading lives of drudgery, “marked by the confusion of means and ends, we don’t work to live: we live to work. Some people work increasingly longer hours because they need more than they consume, while others do the same in order to continue consuming more than they need.

And those externalities? Galeano ended his essay by observing that:

“In the West we see justice sacrificed in the name of freedom, at the altar of goddess Productivity. In the East we saw freedom sacrificed in the name of justice, also at the altar of goddess Productivity.

“In the South, its not yet too late to wonder if this goddess deserves our lives.”It is over two decades now since he wrote that essay. The free market won, and that goddess continues to claim lives. We made that choice he warned us against, to be like them. Even as the bankers and businessmen and politicians have dragged many of them into lives increasingly like ours. We chose to sacrifice lives, human and non-human, by the millions, at that same altar, and continue to persist on that same path whose folly we never paused to ponder.

Are my hands clean?

Elinor Ostrom, champion of the sustainable commons, RIP

I just read the very sad news that Professor Elinor Ostrom, the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Economics (in 2009), and an inspiration to many of us struggling to understand and transform the dynamically intertwined human and natural systems, passed away earlier this morning, after a battle with cancer at age 78. She was a remarkable scholar whose life’s work demonstrated that the tragedy of the commons was not an inevitability, but something that people had very often found ways to avoid by building a diversity of institutions for governing the commons for the benefit of all instead of mere private profit for a few. Here she is, in a simple short video, explaining the basic concept of how truly sustainable development can avoid the tragedy of the commons:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ByXM47Ri1Kc]

I last met Lin Ostrom a little over a year ago, very briefly, in a hallway in Arizona State University’s Memorial Union, in one of the interstices of the Resilience 2011 conference (I shared my talk here). I remember well my nervous thrill at getting to shake the hand of a Nobel Prize winner (my previous meeting with her, which I’m not sure she remembered, had been well before she won the prize) for the first time in my life! She, of course, was very kind and disarming and took a few minutes to sit down and talk to me about our shared connections. My last postdoc mentor, Marty Anderies, is one of her close disciples/collaborators, and I am grateful to him for introducing me to her work, which I consider one of the truly transformational influences in my life. She was happy to hear how one of Marty’s postdocs was now doing in trying to apply some of her ideas to urban water and biodiversity issues. We also talked about one of my newer collaborators, Harini Nagendra, who worked closely with Lin in studying the governance of forest ecosystems in India and Nepal. She told me how she looked forward to speaking with Harini, now based in Bangalore, during their weekly Skype conferences! I wish I had had more opportunities to get to know this truly remarkable, inspirational woman, but am glad I was at least able to meet with her and speak to her on a couple of occasions. One must make the most of whatever chance happenstance grants one a brush with true greatness.

Her website at Indiana University has more details of her life (and death), with links to videos of other talks, photos, and texts. CHANS-Net, the International Network of Research on Coupled Human and Natural Systems, offers this obituary.

If you want to know more about her work, start with her landmark book Governing the Commons, which should really be required reading for all ecologists, especially those who are enamored of the more cynical and popular “tragedy of the commons” meme. Anyone concerned about how to build a more sustainable world, who calls themselves an ecologist/conservation biologist/environmentalist/green activist/deep ecologist really must read her work. It took the Nobel committee long enough to recognize the value of her work at a time when the world’s economies are crumbling under the dictates of the very free-market Chicago-school economists they’ve rewarded far more often. We ecologists had better pay good attention to her work as well, and absorb and internalize her deep insights, as we go about trying to find ways to build a better, more sustainable, more biologically diverse, and more environmentally equitable world. She would have liked to see us try, harder.

Welcome to the Anthropocene (a video)

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/39048998 w=500&h=283]

A 3-minute journey through the last 250 years of our history, from the start of the Industrial Revolution to the Rio+20 Summit. The film charts the growth of humanity into a global force on an equivalent scale to major geological processes.

The film was commissioned by the Planet Under Pressure conference, London 26-29 March, a major international conference focusing on solutions.

planetunderpressure2012.net

The film is part of the world’s first educational webportal on the Anthropocene, commissioned by the Planet Under Pressure conference, and developed and sponsored by anthropocene.info

Ecologists Discuss World’s Problems in Austin – #ESA11 report on KUT radio

At the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America, 3500 scientists meet in Austin this week to discuss issues like overpopulation, climate change and loss of biodiversity. Photo courtesy of NASA.At the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America, 3500 scientists meet in Austin this week to discuss issues like overpopulation, climate change and loss of biodiversity. Photo courtesy of NASA.

Homepage Feature Slider, News

Ecologists Discuss World’s Problems in Austin

August 11, 2011 5:44 am by: Axel Gerdau

By Lindsay Patterson for KUT News

Until the end of the week, 3500 scientists are gathered in Austin at the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America to discuss—and try to solve—some of the biggest problems facing the planet today. On the agenda are issues like overpopulation, climate change and loss of biodiversity.

The six-day conference allows ecologists to share the latest research with each other and talk about solutions.

University of Texas Professor Camille Parmesan is one of the speakers at the conference. In a conversation with KUT News, she emphasized the changing role of her profession.

“What ecologists used to do, which is work in a pristine environment and try to figure out how species are interacting and how they interact with their environment, is now becoming how species interact with each other and all the human activities going on,” Parmesan said. “That requires collaborating with a diverse range of other professions, like architects, economists and policy makers.”

A collaboration with professions inside and outside of academia is essential when it comes to solving the biggest ecological problems facing the planet, according to Parmesan.

“Working together with other disciplines, we’ve come a long way towards actually having solutions,” she said.

To listen to the full story, click on the audio player above.

A few thousand ecologists meet in the city to discuss Earth stewardship… but does anybody know or care?

Screen_shot_2011-08-07_at_11

I woke up in Austin, Texas this morning, a bright and sunny one, looking forward to the start of the 96th annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America. The society has chosen “Earth Stewardship” as its theme this year, and the meeting launches not with a lecture or a keynote speech by an eminent ecologist – but an interdisciplinary panel discussion on the topic of earth stewardship! The conference program is appropriately filled with sessions and talks on the topic of how we might be better stewards of spaceship earth even as we continue to do a lousy job of it right now. Drop by on Wednesday, Aug 10, 2011, for example, to catch two symposia (and an evening workshop) I’m co-organizing on Stewardship of Urban Systems:

  1. Ecosystem Services and Processes in the ULTRA Network
  2. Socio-ecology, Governance, and Equity in the ULTRA Network

There is, obviously, plenty more about all areas of ecology – this is, after all, the largest annual gathering of ecologists in North America. I don’t see any meeting stats readily available on the website yet, but know that this meeting will feature a few thousand attendees. If you want to visualize how big this conference is, note this: every morning and afternoon from Mon-Fri, there will be as many as 25 parallel sessions of talks – some organized like my symposia, others consisting of papers contributed by authors. 

Think of the scale again: there may be as many as 25 different sessions of talks for you to choose from at any given time!!! Followed by evening poster sessions with thousands of posters. And workshops, and field trips filling up every available interstice of time. On Thursday evening, we even have an ESA sponsored music concert!

So I sit here this morning, trying to wrap my head around the scope of this meeting, trying to reconcile what I want to attend and what I can, realistically, given my own commitments and meetings with friends, colleagues, and collaborators. Overwhelming as the program is, I am also contemplating the broader context of this meeting. We ecologists are meeting in Austin, the state capitol of Texas. We meet a day after the state governor, Rick Perry, held the Response, a massive prayer meeting “for a Nation in Crisis”, in nearby Houston. In addition to the political, social, economic crises facing this country (whether you view them from the left or right perspectives, you will agree we have crises), Texas itself has been in a drought this year, with associated ecological problems for an agricultural state. Texas is also a state with very little in the way of public lands: it is a model state for private ownership of all land! One would think, therefore, that this ESA meeting about earth stewardship has massive relevance to the community, both locally and nationally. Kudos, therefore, to the ESA for choosing the theme of Earth Stewardship, and attempting to include non-academic perspectives in today’s opening panel discussion.

So it occurs to me to do something I haven’t really done a lot at conferences before: see if there is any news story about this meeting anywhere in the local or national media. I fire up the google to first find local newspapers. There are two: the Austin Statesman and the Austin Chronicle. Neither, it seems, has heard of the ESA or our big meeting happening right under their noses this week. Not even the concert “An Austin Night for Nature” is on their event calendars!

Hmm…

A broader search on Google – its news and blog searches in particular – yields links to but one story: a study about bellybutton bacterial diversity to be presented at ESA on Friday

One study in the news. That’s it. Surely we ecologists are not all navel-gazers? Not at a meeting about nothing less than the stewardship of this entire planet? So why is their nothing else at all about this meeting in any of the mainstream media? The conference website even has a special section for the press. Surely not everything happening at the meeting is embargoed! Or is it?! Will there be more media coverage in the coming days? I sure hope so…

I’ve seen much better news coverage at other scientific meetings, but the ESA has generally always felt behind the curve. There isn’t much blog coverage – not much that I’ve read in any prominent blogs with high traffic. Nor is there much chatter on twitter, yet – but follow #earthsteward and #ESA11 if you’re on twitter, as I expect traffic will increase in the coming days. Although I’d be amazed if we can make either hashtags trend. Where, o where, is our public outreach, ESA??!!

So a few thousand ecologists are meeting in the capitol of the second biggest state (after Alaska) in the US of A, one with most of its lands in private hands, to discuss how we might become better stewards of the earth… does anybody care?

The oceans rise, even as they decline… so long, fish!

ResearchBlogging.org

Two interesting, alarming reports this week about what’s happening (no small thanks to us) to the dominant habitat on this watery planet. First, that habitat is becoming even more dominant: a paper in PNAS meticulously reconstructs global sea-levels over the past two millenia to show that the oceans have been steadily rising, in concert with climatic changes, and that their rise has accelerated in recent years. This figure ought to worry you:

Media_httpwwwrealclim_jaxzn

Meanwhile, though, that dominant habitat is also becoming emptier of inhabitants, as we continue to deplete marine wildlife in alarming ways.

Media_httpnewsbbcimgc_trgil

So concludes an international panel of marine scientists convened by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO). Even though conservation biologists have a reputation for being alarmists, this statement from one of the panelists, should worry you:

“The findings are shocking,” said Alex Rogers, IPSO’s scientific director and professor of conservation biology at Oxford University.

“As we considered the cumulative effect of what humankind does to the oceans, the implications became far worse than we had individually realised.

“We’ve sat in one forum and spoken to each other about what we’re seeing, and we’ve ended up with a picture showing that almost right across the board we’re seeing changes that are happening faster than we’d thought, or in ways that we didn’t expect to see for hundreds of years.”

There’s more:

“The rate of change is vastly exceeding what we were expecting even a couple of years ago,” said Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, a coral specialist from the University of Queensland in Australia.

“So if you look at almost everything, whether it’s fisheries in temperate zones or coral reefs or Arctic sea ice, all of this is undergoing changes, but at a much faster rate than we had thought.”

But more worrying than this, the team noted, are the ways in which different issues act synergistically to increase threats to marine life.

Those “different issues” include, of course, overfishing, pollution – especially from nasty plastics – ocean acidification, and warming. All adding up to the next mass extinction, one we are living through, unprecedented in being caused largely by a single species – us. So what are we to do?

IPSO’s immediate recommendations include:

  • stopping exploitative fishing now, with special emphasis on the high seas where currently there is little effective regulation
  • mapping and then reducing the input of pollutants including plastics, agricultural fertilisers and human waste
  • making sharp reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Sounds simple enough, right? Clean up our act and take responsibility? So, we may know the way to back away from this rising, empty tide. Do we have the will?

Reference:

Kemp, A., Horton, B., Donnelly, J., Mann, M., Vermeer, M., & Rahmstorf, S. (2011). Climate related sea-level variations over the past two millennia Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1015619108

 

Is it possible for the world’s economies to keep “growing” their way out of trouble?

Media_httpwwwthehindu_lszad

Even as onion prices have hit the fan in India at the year’s closing (a crisis that would never have touched my grandmother’s economy because she never touched an onion in her life, while cooking some of the most delicious food I’ve ever eaten!), The Economist tells us (cautiously, but still sounding the drumbeat for growth) that the American stockmarket enters 2011 in a jolly mood. Not so jolly is Prof. Jayati Ghosh, described as one of the world’s leading Female Economists (therein lies another tale of lack of growth in economics) who warns us that the next financial crisis is not far off! In the midst of her cogent analysis of the world’s far-from-over economic ills (she is better, I daresay, than Krugman in laying bare the workings of the global economy in a few short paragraphs), this catches my ecologist’s eye:

The gloves are not yet off, but they could be soon, because no one seems sure where the growth is supposed to come from.

“… no one seems sure where the growth is supposed to come from.” Think about that for a minute as you contemplate the world’s dwindling resources and ever-flourishing ecological crises.

“… no one seems sure where the growth is supposed to come from.” Yet, everyone seems sure that “growth” must come, that “growth” is the only way out of this crisis. Without getting into the fundamental absurdity of expecting continued economic growth on a finite planet, let me ask this: have we forgotten that much of this ongoing crisis was created by people in pursuit of very rapid, and therefore unsustainable, growth in profits? Why then would anyone think that we can rapidly grow our way out of this crisis? Are we thinking that we have dug ourselves into such a deep hole, that if we keep digging faster, we will emerge into daylight on the other side of the planet?!

“… no one seems sure where the growth is supposed to come from.” A good place to start looking for an answer to that conundrum can be found in Prof. Ghosh’s own column from almost exactly a year ago when she wrote, in the aftermath of the breakdown of global warming negotiations at Copenhagen:

But describing this as a fight between countries misses the essential point: that the issue is really linked to an economic system – capitalism – that is crucially dependent upon rapid growth as its driving force, even if this “growth” does not deliver better lives for the people. So there is no questioning of the supposition that rich countries with declining populations must keep on growing in terms of GDP, rather than finding different ways of creating and distributing output to generate better quality of life. There is no debating of the pattern of growth in “successful” developing countries, which has in many cases come at the cost of increased inequality, greater material insecurity for a significant section of the population and massive damage to the environment.

Since such questions were not even at the table at the Copenhagen summit – even a “successful” outcome with some sort of common statement would hardly have been a sign of the kind of change that is required. But this does not mean that the problem has gone away; in fact, it is more pressing than ever.

Optimists believe that the problem can be solved in a win-win outcome that is based on “green” growth and new technologies that provide “dematerialised” output, so that growth has decreasing impact on the environment. But such a hope is also limited by the Jevons paradox (after the 19th century English economist William Stanley Jevons), which states that the expansion of output typically overwhelms all increases in efficiency in throughput of materials and energy.

This is forcefully elucidated in an important new book by John Bellamy Foster. [Note: that link is broken, so I’m not sure, but I think Ghosh is alluding to his latest book, The Ecological Rift: Capitalism’s War on the Earth.] Foster argues that a rational reorganisation of the metabolism between nature and society needs to be directed not simply at climate change but also at a whole host of other environmental problems. “The immense danger now facing the human species … is not due principally to the constraints of the natural environment, but arises from a deranged social system wheeling out of control, and more specifically US imperialism.” (p 105)

How does imperialism enter into this? “Capital … is running up against ecological barriers at a biospheric level that cannot be overcome, as was the case previously, through the ‘spatial fix’ of geographical expansion and exploitation. Ecological imperialism – the growth of the centre of the system at unsustainable rates, through the more thorough-going ecological degradation of the periphery – is now generating a planetary-scale set of ecological contradictions, imperilling the entire biosphere.” (p 249)

This does not mean that the interests of people in the centre are inevitably opposed to those of people in the periphery, since both are now adversely affected by the results of such ecological imbalances. Instead, it means that it is now in all of our interests to shift from an obsession on growth that is primarily directed to increasing capitalist profits, to a more rational organisation of society and of the relation between humanity and nature.

So there is indeed a win-win solution, but one that cannot be based on the existing economic paradigm. The good news is that more humane and democratic alternatives are also likely to be more environmentally sustainable.

How about changing that economic paradigm then? If being in the throes of such a festering economic crisis is not a great time to change paradigms, when is? Or shall we just keep on digging, hoping for light at the end of the tunnel, even though we suspect that the increasing glow is most likely from (no, not an onrushing train, but) the magma we are about to hit?

Happy New Year!

 

Help Kickstart a field research project! The Quail Diaries: In Search of the Elegant Quail

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/401217730/the-quail-diaries-in-search-of-the-elegant-quail/widget/video.html

In what I am told is the season of giving, why not give to a couple of field biologists and artists who want to go chase a rare quail in an interesting collaborative field project? My friend Jennifer Gee has teamed up with colleague Jennifer Calkins to launch this project, and they are trying a novel way to finance their work – directly from us, via kickstarter! Their fundraising goal is modest, just shy of $5K, and with less than two days to go in the campaign, they are just about $500 shy of the target. Will you pitch in and help? Of course, if you do, and they raise enough to fund their expedition – don’t be surprised if one of these days I hit you again with something similar for one of my own students’ projects! 🙂

How do we resist the dominant culture that is killing the planet?

That is the big question raised by Derrick Jensen, described here by Amy Goodman as the “poet philosopher of the ecological movement” – although I have to admit I hadn’t heard about him until I heard him talking to Goodman on the radio last week. Perhaps its because I’ve been too busy getting tenure as an ecologist to be in the ecological movement. I don’t know. In any case, he offers much to think about in this interview. Not everything I agree with, but enough to make me want to look for his books too now, the latest of which is Deep Green Resistance.

Here’s the interview from Democracy Now – worth your while if you (in the US) aren’t spending the wee hours of this day freezing your backside off (in the central valley) lining up outside department stores waiting for Black Friday specials, and aren’t joining the mobs in the shopping malls today. Or perhaps especially if you are:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W0dT_x1XQuQ?wmode=transparent]

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtqHSLDuXR8?wmode=transparent]