In 1918 a US Senator is reputed to have coined the phrase “The first casualty when war comes is truth”. I have a couple of things to say about this. Firstly, that it is a truism. It was true then and in the distant past as well as still being true today and I suspect well into the future. Secondly, that in my opinion lies, half-truths and being economical with the truth is also stock in trade for industries such as the armaments, space, fossil fuel, food, petrochemical and telecommunications ones.
The truth that interests me today is the truth about humanity and the shared reality with all other life on Earth.
There is no need for truth about reality to be shrouded in mystery or codified in voluminous bibles. Some things are just obvious, especially in this day and age where science has come to our rescue empirically proving the origin of species and much that we experience and perceive. We should therefore know enough to draw some intelligent conclusions that could guide our actions.
Territories and countries, democracy, the economy, currency, societal norms, legal systems, industry, language, culture, war and a fair number of diseases, are all man-made and entirely a choice, albeit not a choice we remember making. Although our complex societal structures were fabricated by millions of choices made by generations of our ancestors, these were choices none the less and ones that we stubbornly choose to maintain and reinforce every day. Importantly we can choose differently. Let’s get down to the facts.
It is a fact, validated by thousands of studies and scientists across the globe, that humanity has brought life on Earth to the brink of extinction. It is a fact acknowledged by the United Nations that we are in the middle of the sixth mass extinction of life on Earth caused entirely by human activity and the choices we have made and continue to make.
It is a fact that incompetent and corrupt policymakers, the space, armaments, food, telecommunications, petrochemical and the fossil fuel industries have been aware for decades of the damage being done to the planetary life support system by their decisions and actions. This notwithstanding, they still cannot find within their minds the will to act in order to prevent taking themselves, their families and all of us with them, over the cliff edge.
It is a fact that globally governments spend just under two trillion US dollars annually (that is the number two followed by twelve zeros) on armaments for the sole purpose of waging wars thereby spreading death, suffering and destruction. We are still fighting religious and tribal wars in the Middle East and North Africa and strutting with military hardware in and around all continents like bullies in a boys’ playground – unbelievable. Imagine having that budget to restore wellbeing to all life on Earth.
We collectively annually spend over twenty billion US dollars on space exploration and satellites and, as it is for military spending, there is no way a cost-benefit analysis could justify this extravagance by a long shot. While we supposedly search for other lifeforms in the universe, we claim to be afraid that we may be alone in this vast universe and at the same time are responsible for Ecocide on this planet.
We lay claim to morality, ethical behaviour and love for our children while we destroy their future. Moreover we continue to lie to the younger generations and try to hide from them the fatal consequences of our actions. Scientific discoveries decades old have yet to reach educational institutions and we continue to teach outdated and infantile notions.
The list goes on and on. People generally seem to have a huge disconnect with reality. There is widespread ignorance of the reality of life on Earth. By far and large people act as if their actions had no consequence on the environment which, in the light of the scientific knowledge of the age, is ridiculous. It would be a laughing matter if it wasn’t a crying one. You would think that if schools and religions wished to teach anything worthwhile they would teach at least this.
Truth is an endangered species and as much as we would like to lay the full blame at the foot of the powers that be, to a lesser extent we are all to blame, so let’s not waste time blaming others and do something about it.
We mostly live in the biological virtual reality of our misguided perceptions and thoughts. In recent times that situation has been made impossibly worse with the advent of electronic virtual reality delivered by handheld and all sorts of other devices, powered by airborne electric currents. Leaving aside for now the harm to life of electromagnetic radiation, I would like to focus on the sheer madness of it. People are being transformed into biological communication devices in the electronic chain of the Internet of Things. I look at the younger generations and despair to see them so mindlessly being taken like lambs to the slaughter. Artificial intelligence indeed, seems more like enslavement to me.
Climate change and global warming sound harmless enough. How bad can a 1 or 2 degrees centigrade global increase in temperature be? These numbers are averages and hide extreme hot and cold fluctuations in temperatures on land and in the oceans, drought, flooding, cyclones and desertification.
We must internalise the truth that the Earth is our only home, there is no other Earth. Moreover it is a home that is made temperate and hospitable for us by Nature. Nature is the biosphere and the biosphere is the combination of the Earth’s ecosystems stretching from the bottom of the deepest ocean to the higher limits of the Earth’s atmosphere.
All biological life would die within minutes outside of Nature. We have poisoned all parts of Nature, and unless we reverse this process we also will die as we have nowhere else to go. Nature is not some lifeless construction. It is the existence of, and interactions between, all the species in nature that create nature’s life giving properties. So when it comes to life on Earth and our fellow species, we will either survive together or die.
Prior to the death of the last human there will be an odd century or two of accelerating environmental degradation characterised by mass human migrations and ferocious conflicts over resources for survival. In the early stages of this process today’s young generation will witness the end of civilisation. If we choose to do nothing or not enough in the next decade, nature will reach tipping points that will kick start catastrophic feedback loops that will be irreversible, no matter what we do.
It does not have to be this way. There are solutions for the economy, for jobs, for health and wellbeing, for overpopulation, to restore biodiversity and for nature to flourish. This future Earth would look nothing like the Earth today, it would be so much better. It would be good to be home again.