Truth, the First Casualty of Ecocide on Earth

A US Senator once said “The first casualty when war comes is truth”. This is in fact generally true for the entire spectrum of human affairs for as far back as we can trace our history.  Lies, half-truths and being economical with the truth are mainstream, and worse still, acceptable behaviour. One of the prime casualties of this predicament is the truth about life on Earth.

Image of an orangutan confronting a mechanical excavator, the truth on deforestation

There is no need for certain truths about life to be shrouded in mystery, especially in this day and age when science has to a degree come to our rescue with working explanations for the origin of species and for much that we perceive. This information should allow us 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 behaviour was fabricated by millions of choices made by generations of our ancestors, these were choices nonetheless and ones that we stubbornly choose to maintain and reinforce every day. Importantly, we can choose differently.

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. Global warming caused climate change is real and it will have catastrophic consequences if not checked within the next ten years, starting now. Time for meaningful action is short.

Image of forest fires in Australia, the truth about climate change

It is a fact that policymakers, the space, armaments, food, telecommunications, petrochemical and the fossil fuel industries have been aware for decades of the damage being done to the Earth’s biosphere by their 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 on armaments for the sole purpose of waging wars thereby spreading suffering and death. We are still fighting religious and tribal wars, strutting with military hardware in and around all continents like bullies in a boys’ playground.

We also collectively annually spend over twenty billion US dollars on space exploration and satellites. There is no way a cost-wellbeing-benefit analysis could justify this extravagance by a long shot. While we supposedly search for other lifeforms in the universe we are insanely responsible for ecocide on our planet.

Imagine having these budgets to restore wellbeing to all life on Earth.

Image of beach littered with plastic trash, the truth about plastic pollution

We say we love our children while we destroy their future. We continue to lie to the younger generations, hiding from them the truth about 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.

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. 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 each to blame. Let’s not waste precious time blaming others.

Image of a missile fired from a warship, the truth about pollution caused by the military

In recent times the disconnect with reality has been made impossibly worse with the advent of electronic virtual reality delivered by handheld 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 hardware and enslaved within the global digital matrix called the Internet of Things.

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.

Image of a derilict boat left in a barren landscape, the truth about global warming

We have poisoned all parts of Nature, and unless we reverse this process humanity is doomed. 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. When it comes to life on Earth and our fellow species, we will either survive together or die.

If we choose to do nothing or not enough in the next decade, nature will reach tipping points that will kick start irreversible catastrophic feedback loops. Prior to the death of the last human there will be an odd century of accelerating environmental degradation characterised by mass human migrations and ferocious conflicts over resources. Early on, today’s younger generations will witness the end of civilisation.

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. In this future Earth we would be happier, healthier and may even finally learn what it means to be human. It would be good to be home again.

This article was published in the Times of Malta on the 15th August 2020