The World Grows Quieter by the Day
Thank you, Bill. This sensitivity to the larger crisis (our rapid impoverishment of the community of life) should be an essential part of the daily climate conversation. It's easy to forget that for all its terrifying power, the climate crisis is just one symptom of the deeper illness. I'm not sure whether we are, metaphorically, a slow-moving asteroid or a fast-moving supervolcano, but as the new numbers from the Living Planet Index make clear the impact on species and their ecological communities is approaching the literal definition of "decimate": to reduce by 90%. It's not a mass extinction, but it certainly feels like the event horizon of one.
It's easy to feel buffered from the losses - whether wasps, alewives, hemlocks, wolves, or painted turtles - when we live our boxed-in lives. It's even easier here in coastal Maine, for example, when eight species of birds flurry at the feeder at dusk before the rain and winds set in, when a posse of turkeys forage in the squash patch, and when the second-growth forest echoes with barred owls and coyotes. We have to pay attention to see how much has changed (like the coyotes, at least two of the feeder species, cardinals and titmice, didn't exist here 50 years ago), how much is missing, and how quickly what remains is being lost at home and elsewhere (particularly those distant communities we've hijacked).
As you note, any climate solution that isn't also a biodiversity solution is a lost opportunity at a time when we can't afford lost opportunities. It kills me to see new solar farms being built on the stubble of a former forest - there's good seed money in a clearcut, I guess - when open land is available nearby.
So again, thank you for sharing your grief and connecting the dots between climate and biodiversity. Your writing is beautiful and important, as always.
If we expand our framing, from carbon emissions driving climate change, to energy extraction from hydrocarbons diminishing habitats on earth that are inhabitable by humans, the link to biodiversity loss becomes, I think, a bit more logical, and maybe obvious.
Keith Johnson gives us a nice Midwestern phrase for the world we are living in today: "We are eating our seed corn."
Great fortunes for individuals are being extracted from a future that is diminshing for all of us.
The Growth Imperative of share price trading.
Would we ever be able to imagine a different way of providing financing to enterprises operating at scale, that is not reductionist, extractive, externalizing and uncaring about the future?
Here's a clue. The word "fiduciary" is legal for caring. Could we imagine the innovation of a new system of fiduciary financing for fiduciary-grade enterprise that is design to care?
Thank you for this beautiful but very sobering piece, such a tragedy about losing these animals…
The world's population has more than doubled since 1970, from 3.7 billion to 8 billion this November.
Our country is the major industrialized nation with the greatest per capita greenhouse emissions, and resource use, and it has gone from 203 million in 1970 to 332 million now. The Census Bureau projects we'll add another 75 million over the next four decades, which is the addition of nearly one New York State equivalent every decade, 90% from immigration. The US is a bad place to put more people. (Plus, in the next few decades, Americans are going to become climate refugees.
We depend on unaltered land for ecosystem services--clean water, clean air, fertile soil, biodiversity, disease prevention (the various tick-borne diseases in the US, as well as HIV in Africa, and COVID in Asia likely emerged due to disruption of ecosystems), food (particularly ocean fish), and many others.
The population needs to start shrinking, voluntarily. And we need to consume less--a lot less.
Our extreme anthropocentrism is at the heart of the matter. Unless with deal with it, we'll continue exterminating other life, with or without fossil fuels.
We like to bike around the farmlands surrounding Houston. We’ve had to venture further and further to reach the “countryside” in the past few years because of rampant development of bloated suburban houses, strip malls and huge warehouses while other buildings around the city sit empty/abandoned. In the meantime, the biggest political contributor ($400,000) in our local County Judge race is a real estate developer.
When I was a teenager in the Sixties, I was often woken by birdsong. Now, I rare hear birdsong at all. Birds are disappearing, at least from suburbia, and I miss them.