Gaia and all that 1009


I have been trying for the last few days to discover a coherent logic towards my feelings on man’s relationship with his environment.  This is proving not to be simple.

The process started when I heard on World Service radio a gentleman from the International Panel on Climate Change discussing their latest report.  As you know, I tend to accept the established opinion on climate change, and rather take the view that if all our industrial activity were not affecting the atmosphere, that would be strange.

But what struck me was that the gentleman said that a pause in warming for the last fifteen years was not significant, as fifteen years was a blip in processes that last over millennia.

Well, that would certainly be very true if you are considering natural climate change.  But we are not – we are considering man-made climate change.  In terms of the period in which the scale of man’s industrial activity has been having a significant impact on the environment, surely fifteen years is a pretty important percentage of that period?  Especially as you might naturally imagine the process to be cumulative – fifteen years at the start when nothing much happened would be more explicable.

Having tucked away that doubt, I started to try to think deeper.  Man is, of course, himself a part of nature.  Anything man does on this planet is natural to this planet.  I do not take the view man should not change his environment – otherwise I should not be sitting in a house.  The question is rather, are we inadvertently making changes to the environment to our own long term detriment?

That rejection of what you might call the Gaia principle – that the environmental status quo is an end in itself – has ramifications.  It is hard to conceptualise our relationship with gases or soil, but easier in terms of animals.  I am not a vegetarian – I am quite happy that we farm and eat cattle, for example – and you might argue that the cattle are pretty successful themselves, symbiotic survivors of a kind.  Do I think other species have a value in themselves?  Is there any harm in killing off a species of insect, other than the fact that biodiversity may be reduced in ways that remove potential future advantages to man, or there may be knock on consequences we know not of that damage man somehow?  I am not quite sure, but in general I seem in practice to take the view that exploitation of other species and substantial distortion of prior ecological balance to suit men’s needs is fine, so presumably the odd extinction is fine too, unless it damages man long term.

I strongly disapprove of hurting animals for sport, and want to see them have the best quality of life possible, preferably wild.  But I like to eat and wear them.  I am not quite sure why it is OK to wear animal skin on our feet or carry it as a bag, but not to wear “fur”.  What is the difference, other than that leather has had the hair systematically rubbed off as part of the process of making it?  A trivial issue, but one that obviously relates to the deeper questions.

Yes I draw a distinction between animals which are intelligent and those which are not.  I would not eat whale or dolphin.  But this does not seem entirely logical – animal intelligence and sensibility is evidently a continuum.  Many animals mourn, for example.  The BBC World Service radio (my main contact with the outside world at present – I have just today found my very, very weak internet connection just about works if I try it  at 5am) informed me a couple of days ago that orang-utans have the ability to think forward and tell others where they will be the next day.  Why cattle and fish are daft enough to eat is hard to justify.

I quite appreciate the disbenefits to man of radically changing his environment, even if it could be done without long term risk to his existence – the loss of beauty, of connection to seasons and forms of behaviour with which we evolved.  But I regard those as important only as losses to man, not because nature is important intrinsically.  In short, if I thought higher seas, no polar bears and no glaciers would not hurt man particularly, I don’t suppose I would have much to say against it.  I fear the potential repercussions are too dangerous to man.  At base, I don’t actually care about a polar bear.

 

 

 

 


1,009 thoughts on “Gaia and all that

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  • Phil

    Jon 6 Oct, 2013 – 1:30 pm
    “I think it should be looked at on a case-by-case basis.”

    Who are you, a privileged son of empire, to “look at” such things “case by case”. Do you think the oppressed should wait for your consideration? And you even conclude after much hand wringing that the palestinians should not be armed. Jesus fucking moses budda krishna christ.

    If you really cared about the palestinians you would be fighting the british establishment on english streets. Anything else is relatively futile.

  • Komodo

    Merging two discussions….

    As Russia then, so Israel now.

    I will permit myself to draw the attention of the Chamber to another question which, compared with the first, is more general but less acute — namely, the question of the Soviet’s use of force in general. Did the Soviet consider itself entitled through the agency of one or another of its organs to use force or repressive measures in certain eases? My answer to this question put in such general terms is: Yes! I know as well as the representative of the prosecution that in any “normally” functioning state, whatever its form, the monopoly of brute force and repression belongs to the state power. That is its “inalienable” right, and of this right it takes the most jealous care, ever watchful lest any private body encroach upon its monopoly of violence. In this way the state organisation fights for its existence.

    Leon Trotsky (on trial for insurrection) 1906; the Soviet was not then yet the State.

  • Jon

    Phil, happy to hear how you think arming them should work – I am open to persuasion. I tend to get frustrated here, since several times I’ve spent an hour or more on a substantial, discursive reply, and it gets passed over for squabbling, or curtly dismissed. I sometimes think it isn’t worth the effort.

    I made several reasonable objections, including how blowback from arming Palestinian fighters would end up in practice in the deaths of Palestinian civilians, and I think this deserves an answer. In fact, I made many points, and they all deserve an answer. Citing my privilege does us no good – it’s the same privilege you enjoy too.

    I like your call to revolution at the end, though! I agree in theory, but it requires widespread pre-revolutionary consciousness, doesn’t it? How to create that amongst the proletariat is, as ever, tricky given where we stand relative to capitalism’s usual propaganda.

  • Jon

    Phil, addendum – your comments on Fedup’s perspective would be interesting. His view is that not only should we arm the Palestinians, but that we should hope for sufficient civilian Israeli casualties that it will bring the Israelis to the negotiating table. Personally, I see nothing remotely progressive about that stance.

    That said, morality aside, this approach does exhibit some technical rationality. Chomsky points out that most terrorism* is caused (i.e. justified) and is successful over the long term. As you say, some people cite the IRA’s bombing campaigns as the only reason the British government took them seriously. But I’d rather the killing stopped on all sides in the Middle East, never mind all the other worries I outlined.

    * Not using the propagandist term here. I mean “using violence or the threat of violence against civilians for the purposes of achieving a political or religious aim”.

  • Red Robbo

    Fred:

    “@Anon

    Komodo’s link does seem to back up my argument rather than your’s doesn’t it? Trotsky did go to New York and he did leave with a lot of gold. Are you claiming he won it on the lottery?”
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~

    On the contrary. Read the first 10 lines; I fail to see how you can get much clearer.

  • Chris Jones

    @Resident Dissident “Could you please share the trusty old Oxford English Dictionary of anti-semitism with us all at your convenience – juts top demonstrate that you are not making it all up. Once you have done so I think we can both leave this matter to rest.I suggest that you look at the A’s first as that is the first letter of Anti-semitic”

    With great pleasure Resident Dissident. I’m always glad help those who have had an impoverished education. I also include a few other links to help you out of your self harming indoctrination programme:

    http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/Semitic
    1.relating to or denoting a family of languages that includes Hebrew, Arabic, and Aramaic and certain ancient languages such as Phoenician and Akkadian, constituting the main subgroup of the Afro-Asiatic family.

    2relating to the peoples who speak Semitic languages, especially Hebrew and Arabic.

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/semite
    Person speaking one of a group of related languages, presumably derived from a common language, Semitic (see Semitic languages). The term came to include Arabs, Akkadians, Canaanites, some Ethiopians, and Aramaean tribes including Hebrews. Semitic tribes migrated from the Arabian Peninsula, beginning c. 2500 BC, to the Mediterranean coast, Mesopotamia, and the Nile River delta. In Phoenicia, they became seafarers. In Mesopotamia, they blended with the civilization of Sumer. The Hebrews settled at last with other Semites in Palestine.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semitic_people
    The term Semite means a member of any of various ancient and modern Semitic-speaking peoples originating in the Near East, including; Akkadians (Assyrians and Babylonians), Eblaites, Ugarites, Canaanites, Phoenicians (including Carthaginians), Hebrews (Israelites, Judeans and Samaritans), Ahlamu, Arameans, Chaldeans, Amorites, Moabites, Edomites, Hyksos, Arabs, Nabateans, Maganites, Shebans, Sutu, Ubarites, Dilmunites, Bahranis, Maltese, Mandaeans, Sabians, Syriacs, Mhallami, Amalekites, Palmyrans and Ethiopian Semites.

  • fedup

    Ah, Fedup – I rather lost the will to read the whole of your post, but belatedly spotted a partial answer to my question:

    How fucking gracious of you, slap my thigh, more than one fucking paragraph in response, boy I will have to buy the rounds in the pub tonight. But, losing your will to read, beggars the question. why is your will mislaid in the first place? You ought to be careful not to be so sloppy and mislay your will to read as you do, don’t you think?

    Back to your statement;

    Let’s be clear. You so believe in an eye for an eye, that you think the Palestinian resistance may now be entitled to shoot or bomb or maim women, children, babies and the unborn, for the crime of being alive in Israel? What sort of numbers would satisfy you?

    What is wrong with an eye for eye policy? Is this not one of the oldest principles of natural justice, which has been extended into various religious beliefs, and thus civic rules? Further, you are so busy hyping the potential fall out from such a policy, that you are discounting the current ziofuckwit policies of ethnic cleansing, and genocide that is a systematic policy; shoot or bomb or maim women, children, babies and the unborn, for the crime of being alive in Palestine.

    That of course is of no importance is it? What numbers do satisfy me? Let us ask the same question from you how many fucking Palestinian lives are to be lost, imprisoned, humiliated, kept in open air concentration camps, for you to accept that no one ever got rid of their oppressors and tyrannical despots by begging for their freedom from the said lowlife wankers who have force on their side?

    No, not pesky liberals, but the crypto ziofuckwits, and the blinkered and blind “individuals” caught up in their own interpretations of “liberalism”. Your jaundiced view of anyone questioning the current status quo concerning the ziofuckwits and their victims the Palestinians, is not a propensity for liberalism but an active promotion of the current fuckwit farrago in the mid-east.

    The notions of accepting the current situation, leaves what else to be changed? Perhaps we can always debate the colour of the room that the negotiations are to take place, or the size of the table and its shape? With respect to fears of blow back, is this to be the fate of vorse than vorse than death (Shades of Blackadder)? The current rate of attrition in the numbers of the Palestinians going unabated, what difference will the blow back make? Further would it not be a wise move to force the hands of the ziofuckwits and show them for the barbaric bunch of supremacists wankers that they are?

    Also, why soon as the notions of arming the Palestinians comes to the the fore, the question of who is going to supply these arms is asked? Why the sudden interest in the technicalities of the supplies and logistics? This in the face of the fact that, as the current status quo is concerned, the Palestinians are the “Indians/Terrorists/Baddies/Evil doers”, and the ziofuckwits are “cowboys/the sheriff/cavalry”. Why can we not float the notion of the equal military help to Palestinians?

    Why can we not begin the levelling process by accepting that Palestinians have an equal rights to bear arms against the oppressive, tyrannical ziofuckwit supremacists occupying their country?

  • Villager

    “Also, why soon as the notions of arming the Palestinians comes to the the fore, the question of who is going to supply these arms is asked? Why the sudden interest in the technicalities of the supplies and logistics?”

    Mere technicalities indeed. As the clouds drift over Cuckooland, we begin to see the cuckoos rather more clearly. Is this why Fedup drags his teddy-bear puppet Passerby by day so ‘they’ stand as a team? Who else is willing to stand up and be counted?

    What about Mary, why is she silent while her pet-topic is being so vigorously debated? Mary, critically you haven’t informed, why are the Palestinian negotiators ’empty shells’?

    Either of you have a take on Saudi Arabia’s role in all this?

    Sorry to butt in Jon.

  • Jon

    Well Fedup, I think you know perfectly well by now what the problem is with your posts, and your latest suffers from it too. At the risk of my stating a fact ad nauseum, your contributions frequently restate the point that the Palestinians have been denied justice these sixty years. You are preaching to the choir though; I know all this stuff. Everyone here does.

    Here you go:

    …how many fucking Palestinian lives are to be lost, imprisoned, humiliated, kept in open air concentration camps, for you to accept that no one ever got rid of their oppressors and tyrannical despots…

    Yes Fedup, I broadly agree with this.

    …the current ziofuckwit policies of ethnic cleansing, and genocide that is a systematic policy; shoot or bomb or maim women, children, babies and the unborn, for the crime of being alive in Palestine.

    Yup, thanks for that, I agree with that too.

    It is OK for the ziofuckwits to be armed and supplied with free; arms, Nukes, Jets, and oodles of kickback money through weird and obscure contracts. Alas the case for Palestinians ought to be studied carefully and they should not be allowed to receive even the medicine, and water purification ancillaries, they need.

    Sigh, yes, I agree with this. Why restate it?

    Further, the conspiracy of silence surrounding the give away of the land without people to the people without a land (who the hell invented this horseshit, aside) The same conspiracies have extended to the exclusion of the Palestinians as people and human beings. Thus reducing this beleaguered nation into mere “chattel” that can be dealt with, by the ziofuckwits without any impunity in law, or any consequences for the said supremacist wankers.

    Further, the no arms supply for the “animals in the human guise” or “cockroaches in a bottle” has meant that there has been a siege laid to Gaza, that is further reinforced by killing, incarcerating, and maiming anyone from outside world who dares to break the siege to take medicine, or food, or material needed for the water purification, sewerage, or electricity production, into that benighted land.

    It is now seventy years the “peace” in the occupied Palestine has been in the making and during this time, as you are aware there is a ratio of one hundred Palestinian deaths, to one zionistani death.

    Yes, yes, yes: I know. I’m not trivialising the situation when I say “I know”. Injustice, state terror from a police state, the denial of medical attention, semi-starvation, ethnic cleansing and so forth. I’m quite sick of explaining to you that, insofar as a long-running injustice has occurred, we are on the same page. I have no idea why you keep ignoring this basic point.

    Thankfully though, there were one or two nuggets of new information in your post. Here’s the crux of it:

    What is wrong with an eye for eye policy? Is this not one of the oldest principles of natural justice, which has been extended into various religious beliefs, and thus civic rules?

    Well, doesn’t this depend on where you appear on the social-political spectrum? An eye-for-an-eye is aggressive and violent. It is UKIP and BNP policy, being generally to the (far) right of modern Tory perspectives. It is American capital punishment, Saudi Arabian punishment leg amputations, or North Korean firing squads.

    I made it clear in my post that I am not opposed to arming freedom fighters if they are willing to limit themselves to targetting only military installations. But you are specifically interested in harming civilians deliberately, easily fitting the definition of international war crime (even if, as I said earlier, it would be hard to prosecute in practice). I think you have no idea how dreadful this is. As a resident presumably of Britain, would you be willing to be blown up by a freedom fighter on the basis of British foreign policy?

  • fedup

    An eye-for-an-eye is aggressive and violent. It is UKIP and BNP policy, being generally to the (far) right of modern Tory perspectives. It is American capital punishment, Saudi Arabian punishment leg amputations, or North Korean firing squads

    Fact that some unsavoury characters, also find the recourse to natural justice a desirable outcome, ought not taint the spirit of the natural justice or cause any aversion to this process, rendering it to be invalid. An eye for an eye, is the retribution exacted on the transgressor, in a bid to make the transgressors aware of the implications of their crimes and misdemeanour’s. Without taking account of the aggression that the victim has been subjected to, the notion of condemning the the process of achieving a measure of justice, and attaining parity, off hand is not a wise proposition.

    simply put because there has been no parity in the attrition rates between the combatants, the aggressors are emboldened to engage in a turkey shoot, safe in the knowledge that there will not be a comparable retaliatory counter attack. This then becomes the basis of their operation to rain shit on their victims, and proudly to boast about it too.

    I made it clear in my post that I am not opposed to arming freedom fighters if they are willing to limit themselves to targetting only military installations. But you are specifically interested in harming civilians deliberately, easily fitting the definition of international war crime (even if, as I said earlier, it would be hard to prosecute in practice). I think you have no idea how dreadful this is. As a resident presumably of Britain, would you be willing to be blown up by a freedom fighter on the basis of British foreign policy?

    There are those whom acknowledge; majority of the residents of zionistan are military personnel given their national service and then their role as active reserve status, whom can be called forth to do the killing and maiming of Palestinians, Lebanese, Syrians, etc. Further, you are conflating two factors; acts of terror, and war.

    So far you forward that, everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet with respect to the Palestinians plight, and I have been preaching to the choir! However you then fall into the trap of Palestinian terrorists. Funny old world that we cannot debate this subject freely because given the current laws; it is an all too easy affair for anyone to depicted as an “extremist”.

    Fact is do you believe that if Palestinians had access to comparable arms as with those in the hands of the ziofuckwits, would they “misuse” these arms? Why do you keep shoving in the women and children and unarmed combatants clause, who will be killed by the Palestinian freedom fighters? The simple fact is; as it stands the ziofuckwits get out of the wrong side of the bed in the morning and are bombing and shooting the Palestinians in the afternoon. All the while Palestinians have not the ability of retaliating or defending themselves. How do you propose to rectify this situation? Talk to the ziofuckwits? BEg of the ziofuckwits? Appeal to their sense of fair play, or humanity?!!

    Is it not that every effort is spent to demonise, dehumanise, and portray the Palestinians as “terrorists”, “savages”, in the corporate media, and even on the blogs like here, and anywhere else that have been issued their own ziofuckwit gauleiters using every tactic to insult, coerce, obfuscate, prevaricate, and derail any debate concerning the really dreadful situation in Palestine. Just looking at this page and interjection of a total inane wanker should be the clue Jon.

    The success of the operation bash the enemies of the ziofuckwits, is now extending to the war on Islam and Muslims. It is not any measure of liberalism to provide a tribune for the ziofuckwits, given the number of the corporate media outlets that are busy pushing their recommended and provided mind numbing narrative.

    Don’t you think the call for providing the Palestinians with arms is in fact the first step in the long journey towards rehabilitating the rights of the Palestinians as nationals of Palestine, and human beings?

    Why do you expect higher standards of conduct from Palestinian fighters than the ziofuckwit uniformed vigilante? As per the current laws US supplied military equipment ought not be used in the attacks on the Palestinians, why is there not the appetite for the enforcement of the current laws?

    There is liberalisms then there is blinkered and wilful blindness to the actualities. It is time Palestinians were armed, is the call of those seeking justice, only then would the ziofuckwit supremacists game plan would change, these cretins know no other means than force. In fact you are on record attesting to their successful policy of playing the mad dog. Mad dogs can only be rehabilitated by being put down, ought to be the message, loud and clear.

  • Fred

    “On the contrary. Read the first 10 lines; I fail to see how you can get much clearer.”

    Keep reading. It says although Trotsky had limited means he had a very opulent lifestyle and that he left with $10,000 a lot of money in those days, more than most people earned in a lifetime.

    So the only question is where did he get it from? The article just says some Germans, Schiff was German and he is known to have donated money to Jewish causes. There was also the question of why Wilson would give Trotsky an American passport, I can’t believe it was German influence, America was about to go to war with Germany.

    Trotsky may not have been a Zionist but he was in favour of creating an autonomous Jewish state in Russia. I have no doubt that Schiff would be happy to donate and that Trotsky would be happy to take the money.

    People who insist that all Zionists are saints and no Zionist ever did anything wrong seem just as fanatical as those who believe they can do no right as far as I can see.

  • Chris Jones

    @Villager – That is indeed their modern definition you are correct. But Oxford, as one example is correct on Semitic and incorrect on the non sensical ‘anti-semitic’ definition.Other dictionaries propose a more logical definition. The term itself is based on an illogical falsification of its context. It was illogical when it was first used in this context the 19th century and it is still illogical.Despite the use of the prefix anti-, the terms “Semitic” and “antisemitic” are not directly opposed to each other, making the term a misnomer. It’s true meaning should of course imply discrimination against all Semites, including Arabs and other peoples of this near / middle eastern and north African region

    Logic kindly informs us that if something means something, then the anti of that something should be directly opposed to that something, not suddenly be anti something that’s now completely different.

    Trying to argue that anti antisemitism should not be about the varied Semitic peoples is akin to Donald Rumsfeld’s “If I said yes, that would then suggest that that might be the only place where it might be done which would not be accurate, necessarily accurate. It might also not be inaccurate, but I’m disinclined to mislead anyone.”

    In other words – illogical nonsense

  • Nextus

    Chris J: It’s common knowledge that “antisemite” doesn’t simply mean the inverse of a Semite. The Wikipedia article on Antisemitism will explain further, should you be interested.

    I’m a-mused (i.e. definitely not “mused”) by your assumption that the meaning of words can be logically dismantled … presumably to be mantled back again (or “re-mantled”)? What does “logic” inform us about these inversions?

    I am such a dolent man,
    I eptly work each day;
    My acts are all becilic,
    I’ve just ane things to say.

    My nerves are strung, my hair is kempt,
    I’m gusting and I’m span:
    I look with dain on everyone
    And am a pudent man.

    I travel cognito and make
    A delible impression:
    I overcome a slight chalance,
    With gruntled self-possesion.

    My, dignation would be great
    If I should digent be:
    I trust my vagance will bring
    An astrous life for me.

  • nevermind

    noun
    [mass noun]
    hostility to or prejudice against Jews.

    poppycock, once again the priory of suffering has been established by the villager when there is no such thing.

    To be antisemitic surely includes Arabs and Jews, but the term is conveniently claimed and used as claimed, by the wider MSM.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semitic_people

  • anon

    Nevermind and Chris Jones can rant and rage against dictionaries all they want – the job of dictionaries is just to provide the common usage of words not those used by Nevermind, Chris Jones and others who want some cover for the own anti-Semitism (standard dictionary definition)

    There is a word for irrational hostility to Arabs
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Arabism

    And the collective term for all such irrational hostilities is of course racism.

  • Komodo

    ….irrational hostilities…

    Irrational, as in not the product of reason, certainly. But built-in and instinctive and very difficult to overcome in any but the politest societies, I suggest. Suspicion (at least) of the outgroup is inherent in tribal/pack animals. And when the outgroup is seen as competing for resources, it’s more than hostility. It’s self defence. Many examples exist in the Old Testament of racism and irrational hostility, usually by the Chosen People. Mmmm?

  • anon

    Komodo

    I don’t think I ever said that any group had a monopoly on racism – the wikileaks article I linked to on anti-Arabism made it quite clear that Israeli Jews were not immune either.

  • anon

    Many Gods or at least their supporters are behind much racism I’m afraid – and I don’t think any of the major religions are without some blame. Similarly for the many varieties of nationalism and totalitarian politics.

  • anon

    On reflection it was not kind of me to call Nevermind an anti-Semite in my post of 9.27am. Apologies.

  • Komodo

    Many Gods or at least their supporters are behind much racism I’m afraid – and I don’t think any of the major religions are without some blame. Similarly for the many varieties of nationalism and totalitarian politics.

    Try turning that on its head, Anon. Suppose Gods and nationalities are the effect rather than the cause of racism. I think that makes more sense, myself.

  • anon

    Komodo

    May be – I tend to see it as a bit of a chicken and egg debate -e.g. there is certainly a tendency for mild nationalism to develop into more virulent forms which would point to it being a cause and not just an effect.

  • Komodo

    And I think there is a stochastic variation in the expression of nationalism: it can and does go either way. Our nearest relatives, btw, hunt, kill and eat the females and young of rival packs. They don’t call it racism, though. It’s logical behaviour in the context of survival, and it’s evolved. We inherit at least some of it.

  • anon

    “Our nearest relatives, btw, hunt, kill and eat the females and young of rival packs.”

    Your relatives perhaps – mine certainly hunt males and females but I don’t think they have killing and eating in mind!

  • Phil

    Jon 7 Oct, 2013 – 4:38 pm
    “I tend to get frustrated here, since several times I’ve spent an hour or more on a substantial, discursive reply, and it gets passed over for squabbling, or curtly dismissed. I sometimes think it isn’t worth the effort.”

    Maybe it isn’t. Our “substantial, discursive” comments do absolutely nothing, zilch, nada, to improve the lot of the people arrogantly counseled. It may only serve to rationalise our complicity in murder. Save the whale! Save the rain forest people! And thus “substantial, discursive” arguing on the internet becomes a hobby.

    I recommend getting arrested instead.

  • anon

    Komodo Dragons clearly don’t have a teenage stage – something to do with looking old and wrinkly from birth.

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