Change is coming – catastrophic collapse of ecosystems

Change is coming whether we like it or not. People have plundered the Earth’s web of life for many hundreds of years to satisfy their greed. We are living in a moral vacuum, only believing in our own manipulations and no longer perceive the reality of what it means to be human on this Earth. We believe that we can kill that which gives us life and still, inexplicably, continue to exist.

The millions of other species, unpolluted fresh and marine water, clean air, uncontaminated soils that make up the life-giving Earth ecosystems are not a ‘nice to have’, they are critically essential for our very existence.

Catastrophic change

Catastrophic Change – Global Warming & Burning Forest

Politically correct terms such as new normal, green recovery or carbon neutrality are terms designed to keep people docile. They are terms that give us a false sense of security. The reality on the ground is critical and it would be a cardinal mistake to imagine that governments have this under control.

Climate Change in particular is a dangerously misleading term. The weather and temperature changes in land and marine environments is only one of a number of consequences of Ecocide. The other two being pollution and the extermination of land and marine plant and animal populations. Ecocide is to wilfully cause the death of ecosystem. I use the word ‘death’ deliberately as ecosystems are not made up of inert matter, they are made up of living biodiverse species. They are made up of soils, air and water that are biologically alive. It is the interactions between these live elements that create ecosystems and not the space they operate in. This is a global existential crisis and it is time to be alarmed.

Every element of the Earth’s ecosystems is under lethal attack. Wild grasslands and forests are still being cleared to make way for livestock farming and feeding, and human infrastructure. Forests worldwide are burning because of global warming.

It is possible to feed all of humanity for all time if the arable land worldwide, used to feed the 70 billion farm animals, were instead used to grow crops for human consumption. This could provide food for another 2bn people. Food wastage globally amounts to 1.3bn tons annually. This wasted food could feed another 3 billion people. The world population today is 7.9bn and, other things being equal, it would be expected to level at around 11bn by 2100. If we do the maths we can see that we should not have a food scarcity problem at all and yet we do in many parts of the world. There is no serious attempt to cut waste or move to a diet largely based on plants.

Catastrophic change

Catastrophic Change – Plastic Ocean Pollution

The rainforests around the world contain the vast majority of existing biodiversity. Every one of these rainforests is being severely degraded by human activity. It is estimated that at a time in the next few decades the forest ecosystems will collapse. The loss of biodiversity will be enormous. The micro climate that the forests had created over millions of years, that supports their existence, will fundamentally change. The forests are already becoming net carbon emitters, no longer carbon sinks. At some point, in the next decade or two, it will not be possible to restore these rainforests as the climate will no longer support them.

The sixth mass extinction of life on earth is accelerating. The populations of all species are in sharp decline. Humanity is driving one million species to extinction through its direct actions. It is expected that we will lose 4 million species in the coming decades if we also consider the effects of ecosystem collapse.

The oceans and seas are grossly overfished. Studies estimate that between 2048 and 2078, there would no longer be any viable fish populations left anywhere, with many marine species becoming extinct, lost forever. The oceans and seas absorb carbon and are becoming as a result more acidic, killing coral reefs that normally act as fish nurseries. Oceans and seas are warming up and loosing oxygen. Dead zones are growing. The plastic pollution of the oceans and seas has reached global pandemic proportions. The micro-plastics in marine systems is estimated in multiples of trillions. Plastic has entered the marine food chain and it is most unlikely that any fish one eats is plastic free. It has also been estimated that 80% of all people have plastic in their blood. Plastic is a toxic petrochemical substance.

Catastrophic change

Catastrophic Change – Failing Crops

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the crisis that we are facing. Glaciers and ice sheets are melting at accelerated rates and sea levels are expected to rise by metres. Greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase in spite of international agreements to reduce them. Global warming marches on unabated. There is more, including poverty, famine and disaster driven mass migrations and fresh water scarcity, increasing livestock methane emissions and increased conflicts over vital resources.

People are so far gone that it seems unlikely that we will halt their harmful actions, let alone mitigate the effects of such actions on the Earth’s web of life. All this notwithstanding, the majority of people, and their political representatives, live in denial of this reality. The planetary ecocide perpetrated by people’s exploitation of nature has triggered chain reactions across the biosphere and nature is moving to establish a new dynamic balance. Nature will of course survive but our own existence is now seriously in the balance.

This article has been published in the Times of Malta on the 4th August 2021 

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