I recently learned about author John A. Livingston, whose pioneering 1970s era environmental works are steeped in a misanthropy that reflects my own feelings on the scourge of humanity. I just acquired a used hard-back copy of his book, One Cosmic Instant: Man’s Fleeting Supremacy, and found myself in agreement with his attitude from the get-go, starting with Chapter One:
“The non-human world is important to the bird watcher. Its relative importance grows, in inverse relationship with an inevitable misanthropy. One’s disillusionment with society’s treatment of non-human nature is built on a body of evidence which is conspicuous on every hand…
“…if for no other reason than his own survival, man must soon adopt an ethic toward the environment. ‘The environment’ encompasses all non-human elements in the one and only home we have on Earth. However, it will be some time before we are able to enunciate, much less promulgate, an environmental ethic because, fundamentally, the ethic runs contrary to our cultural tradition.
“Ethics have been associated with man-to-man or man-to-society. They have not been concerned with man’s relationships to the non-human. Most moral philosophers have not acknowledged that man might have at least some ethical responsibility to the non-human. Perhaps this is because we cannot conceive of having any ethical responsibility to that which is not capable of reciprocating. Ethics, morals, fitness and propriety of behavior—these are human attributes. They do not exist, so far as we’ve been able to determine, in the non-human world. (That this may be a mere problem in communication does not seem to have occurred to us.) Since ethics do not exist in the non-human world, there is no need to apply them to that world. Our attitude toward the non-human world is not immoral: it is amoral.”
Last night I watched the timeless 1973 movie, Soylent Green, again and was again impressed (unfavorably) by how much the futuristic world that it depicted mirrored the world we’re headed for now. The temperature of the overcrowded New York of the future was a constant 90 degrees; the oceans were dying (presumably from overfishing and pollution, they hadn’t heard of acidification at the time); and the world was running out of food..
Set in 2022, the film opens with a slide show of earlier eras, back when the Earth was covered with forests and open fields, and there were only a few scattered settlements of people who travelled in horse-drawn wagons.
As the images pass quickly by, we see the first automobiles (tail pipes spewing toxic climate-changing carbon gases), followed by a massive blacktop parking lot jam packed with Model Ts. The pictures begin to flash almost more rapidly than we can focus, but we catch glimpses of factories with smokestacks billowing and crowds of people barely able to
move without trampling one another. (Come to think of it, what we are witnessing looks a lot like the inside of an average modern-day poultry barn, where chickens and turkeys are forced to live out their lives in intense confinement.)
The first scene of action takes place in a cramped little New York City apartment, the dwelling of the film’s two main characters, Thorn, a semi-corrupt detective, and his elderly room-mate and research partner, Sol, who is constantly going on about the good old days—a world that Thorn can’t possibly envision or relate to.
They are among the lucky few; most people sleep on the stairways or in the hallways or anywhere they can find shelter from the oppressive heat caused by an out of control greenhouse effect. We overhear a program on their worn out old TV which is an interview with the governor of New York, touting a new food product called “Soylent Green,” ostensibly made from the ocean’s plankton. (Everyone in that day and age knows that the land is used up, but they’re told the oceans can still provide for them).
Food in this depressing, human-ravaged world comes in the form of color-coded wafers, distributed under strict government supervision. Hordes of people stand in line for their ration of Soylent yellow or blue made from soy, or other high protein plants grown behind the fortress-walls of heavily guarded farms.
Signs remind the throng that “Tuesday is Soylent Green day.”
The multitudes are exceptionally unruly on Tuesday. Brimming with anticipation, they can’t wait to obtain a ration of the special new product. When the food distributors run out of soylent green, people start rioting and things get out of hand. “Scoops” (garbage trucks fitted with backhoe-like buckets on the front) are called in to scrape up the angry masses and haul them off…
By the end of the film, Thorn learns that the oceans are dead and the actual ingredients of Soylent Green are something a bit harder to stomach than plankton. In the final scene, a mortally-wounded Thorn is carried away on a stretcher as he desperately tries to tell bewildered onlookers, “Soylent Green is People!” “They’re making our food out of people. Next thing, they’ll be breeding us like cattle for food!”
Could it ever happen? Could the human race ever stoop so low? If the scenario seems too hard to swallow, consider this: the conditions animals are forced to endure on today’s factory farms would have seemed unimaginable to people living a hundred years ago.
The human species is surely impressed with itself. Even the name they chose to classify themselves—Homo sapiens (Latin for “wise man”)—suggests it. Undoubtedly, there must have been some thought involved in the process of mushrooming from a simple tree-dwelling leaf eater in one small corner of the planet, to becoming the scariest big game hunter to rule the Earth.
(Carrying a torch)
“I’ll use this fire stick to chase that group of peacefully grazing, gregarious gazelles toward that cliff over there, and you guys try to spear as many as you can”
(Carrying a spear)
“Good thinking, Ugh.”
Scenes like this played themselves out over and over as the species spread out and burgeoned to 7.2 billion. Now the technology of the killingest of creatures has advanced to the point that a single hunter, dressed in camouflage and drenched in another animal’s urine to con his victim as much as possible, can bring down the mightiest moose or tallest giraffe with the slightest squeeze of a trigger.
And still the species grows exponentially and continues to claim every last habitat.
It was impressive when man built the first rocket and took a walk on the moon. However, the rockets they build to blow their enemies sky-high (while irradiating the land and sea) more clearly typify the species’ overall achievements to date. But lately it seems that nuclear annihilation won’t get to see its day; anthropogenic climate change and a man-made extinction spasm are now higher on the agenda.
Perhaps the human, the only creature capable of destroying the Earth, should have been named Homo horribilus mactabilis (Latin for “horrible, dreadful, fearful; deadly, lethal man”).
What would really be impressive is if people were to drop their steak knives (and other weapons of mass destruction) en masse and make peace with this amazing planet and all of its inhabitants. The potential is there, but do they still have the will to learn?
Pope change his mind on breeding “like rabbits”?
ROME – During his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis sought Wednesday to clarify remarks he made earlier in the week which suggested Catholics should limit the number of children they have, if they can’t afford to take care of them properly.
Aboard the papal plane from Manila to Rome on Monday, the Pope spoke of his disapproval of a woman who was expecting her eighth child.
“Does she want to leave seven orphans?” asked the pontiff, wondering aloud whether she was trying to tempt god by undergoing an eighth birth by cesarean section.
Using the colorful language that has become his hallmark, the Pope said being a good Catholic did not mean people should breed “like rabbits,” and added that there were many church-approved ways to limit births without resourcing to contraceptives, which are banned by the Catholic Church.
Wednesday, he seemed to pull back from that statement. Speaking of his recent trip to the Philippines, where he presided over the largest mass in history, he said “it gives consolation and hope to see so many numerous families who receive children as a real gift of God. They know that every child is a benediction.”
He called “simplistic” the belief that large families were the cause of poverty, blaming it instead on an unjust economic system. “We can all say that the principal cause of poverty is an economic system that has removed the person from the center, and put the god of money there instead.”
Mons. Anthony Figueiredo, a theologian and Director of the North American Pontifical College in Rome, said the two statements are not contradictory.
“When the Pope speaks on the plane, he is speaking as a pastor to ordinary people,” said Figueiredo, who is a CBS News consultant. “When he comes back, he wants to speak as Pope.”
The Monsignor said that while some Popes have put doctrine first, Francis puts the person first.
“It’s a risky business, there is no doubt about it; because when you begin with the person, everyone has their own way of hearing it.”
Putting Pope Francis squarely into any category can be difficult.
Speaking to reporters during Francis’ trip to the Philippines, Archbishop of Manila Luis Antonio Tagle said that when he’s asked whether the pope is a liberal or a conservative, he responds simply: “he is who he is.”
Will the Pope Go Vegan? | Posted January 20, 2015 | 11:35 AM
I jest not. Never having been one to adhere to any organized religion, in fact I have an utter contempt for them, I find myself nonetheless more than a little happy to hear Pope Francis has made global climate change a top concern. According to the Associated Press…
Pope Francis said Thursday he is convinced that global warming is “mostly” man-made and that he hopes his upcoming encyclical on the environment will encourage negotiators at a climate change meeting in Paris to make “courageous” decisions to protect God’s creation.
…He then deviated from his prepared remarks to praise Pope Paul VI for having “courageously” resisted calls for an opening in church teaching on sexuality in the 1960s. Paul penned the 1968 encyclical “Humanae Vitae” which enshrined the church’s opposition to artificial birth control.
Francis noted that Paul was aware that some families would find it difficult to uphold the teaching and “he asked confessors to be particularly compassionate and understandable for particular cases.”
But he nevertheless said Paul was prescient in resisting the trends of the times.
“He looked beyond. He looked to the peoples of the Earth and saw the destruction of the family because of the lack of children,” Francis said. “Paul VI was courageous. He was a good pastor. He warned his sheep about the wolves that were approaching,…”
Yet another derogatory statement about wolves? Apparently the Pope didn’t read the May 7, 2007 news release from the U.K.s’ http://www.optimumpopulation.org “Combat Climate Change With Fewer Babies”: The most effective personal climate change strategy is limiting the number of children one has. The most effective national and global climate change strategy is limiting the size of the population.
Hunters here need to get a life. For over a week now, I’ve been receiving comments about the wolf/coyote contest hunt addressed in the January 2nd article, “ID Gun Nuts Start New Year With Three-Day Mass Slaughter Of Wolves And Coyotes.”
I don’t know if it’s the insinuation that they might be “gun nuts” (I would think they’d gladly fess up to that) or what, but long after the derby has played itself out, they’re still trying to get their vitriolic comments approved. So far, over 500 of their 180,000+ viewers have left comments that will never see the light of day (except in the occasional post like this one, meant to expose just how malicious they really are).
And they really do all sound alike—believe me when I say you’d never want to sit through 500 of their repetitive statements, such as the ever-popular catch phrase:
It wasn’t funny the day the first guy blurted it out and it just gets more tedious—and more carcinogenic—with each repeated use. However, it does point out their universal sentiment about doing away with wolves at every chance they get. With all the anti-wolf mawkishness it’s hard to imagine there are many wolves left in Idaho. Each licensed hunter there can legally kill up to five wolves per season and trap and an additional five individuals, so recovering wolves would conceivably have suffered considerable losses by now.
But these would-be commenters seem keenly concerned about controlling the wolves’ population (as if they need it) while at the same time, indifferent about their own. Here are some of their views on the subject of overpopulation:
“There is nothing wrong with the killing of these animals it’s a all in an order to control population.”
“Their numbers are unsustainable. Wolves will kill for the thrill and not just because they are hungry.”
“haha kill them all! Wolves are one of the biggest problems we have in Idaho, wyoming and Montana!”
“if we don’t thin out these packs it could turn bad for everyone they are already over populated…”
And yet, according to post-contest articles like, “Wolf Population Unaltered By Controversial Hunt,” “Nobody even saw a track. We had fresh snow, and we were just in shock,” Alder said. “No sightings, no tracks.” He noted that there was an increase in coyote captures this year—30, compared with 21 during last year’s derby.
Not to give them credit for achieving anything whatsoever, but it would seem wolf-killers have been proactive about gettin’‘er done well before the contest’s start date.
The article goes on to say, “One team of hunters killed 12 coyotes over three days and sold their pelts to a fur buyer who attended the event. The team walked away with a $1,000 cash prize for most coyotes killed.
“Thirty coyotes were killed during the three-day hunt, and—for the second consecutive year—zero wolves.”
The derby, organized by executive director of Idaho for Wildlife Steve Alder, was created to help curb predator populations.
Considering the burgeoning human population, Alder and his ilk would do well to look in the mirror before calling any kettles black. Are they blissfully ignorant of the fact that another human is born every eight seconds in this country alone? Meanwhile, 350,000 humans are born each and every day worldwide.
How many of them will grow up to be predator hunters? Talk about “unsustainable” numbers. This isn’t just about them or their rancher buddies. This is about a world-wide loss of biodiversity—their part in the sixth mass extinction. It’s really not something to be glib over or proud of.
One of the unwelcome, unapproved hunter-comments received today asked the hypothetical question, “So what do you suggest?… Control the human population limiting each family to one child so we stop ‘encroaching’ animal habitat?” He surely knew not the wisdom of his words.
Dave Foreman, founder of the original Earth First!, posits in his book, Man Swarm and the Killing of Wildlife, that no one can call themselves a conservationist (and what hunter doesn’t like to call themselves a “conservationist”?) if they’re unwilling to at least acknowledge the human overpopulation problem.
The following quote from Man Swarm should make this point clear.
“…whenever conservationists spotlight threatened landscapes or wildlife, we need to bring in the ways high population and ongoing growth are behind that threat.
“Right now this is not being done. When horror stories pop up about the dreadful loss of wildlife somewhere in the world, population growth is rarely mentioned, much less blamed for it. A glaring example comes from a 2009 news story about the crash in wildlife numbers in the big game haven of Kenya. Nowhere in the article is Kenya’s skyrocketing population mentioned. Of the fabled big five animals only the buffalo is not now endangered, while Kenya could lose the others—lion, elephant, rhino and leopard. In all cases wildlife are threatened because swarming new populations of Men are pouring into former wildlife habitat. When conflicts arise, the wildeors are killed.
“In 1963, 20,000 lions lived in Kenya. In 2008 there were only 1,970. A ninety percent loss. Elephants went from 167,000 in 1963 to 16,000 in 1989. They are back at 32,000, which is still piddling. Black rhinos were poached down to 20,000 in 1970 to 391 in 1997. Now they are at 603 only with tough protection. Other big, wide-ranging wildlife are at all-time lows. Conservationists need to take such figures and show how exploding human populations are to blame and that, without serious birth reduction, wildlife will go.
“Now, let’s look at how growth is behind the Seven Ecological Wounds. Wound 1: overkill
“When I was in grade school I read the Weekly Reader telling us how more thorough harvesting of the seven seas would feed more and more mouths. Well, we did that. The upshot is crashing fisheries throughout the world, die-off of coral reefs, and the functional extinction of once-teeming highly interactive species such as cod, sharks, and tuna. When highly interactive species are killed off, their neighborhoods crumble and whither.
“As hungry little settlements swell and spread out, they gobble up bigger wildlife from rainforests and other wild lands. Even a little knot of huts with near-Stone Age tools can clean out the bigger wildlife in a nearby protected area. As more babies become more mommies and daddies, hunters go ever farther afield with snares, nets, and old guns. There are tropical National Parks still full of tall, never-cut trees and heavy lianas that are empty of big wildeors thanks to this belly-driven hunting.
“Historically, hunting has caused the extinction, local extirpation, or near extinction of wildlife, including once-highly abundant bison, passenger pigeons, shore birds, whales, cod, elephants, sea turtles, and many more. Such hunting has been driven by the “need” for meat and for new settlements and cropland by growing populations of Men worldwide and locally.”
…many of whom still think they’re welcome here.
Here are a couple of their choice comments from today:
“Hunting had been a “sport” since the the 14th century… And it’s going to be around in 2015 too.”
“So what do you suggest?… Control the human population limiting each family to one child so we stop ‘encroaching’ animal habitat?”
Sorry to the rest of you to have to repeat myself, but to all the hunters visiting this blog site, hoping to leave a comment or two (or five) in defense of coyote/wolf contest hunts, go away—you weren’t invited! Some troll must have posted a link to this onto one of your evil pro-kill sites and you’ve apparently followed it back to a blog site dedicated to the defense of wildlife.
Now you think you have the First Amendment right to comment on the merits of predator killing. Well, you don’t—not here anyway. If you would have bothered to read this blog’s “About” page, you would have learned that it’s not a chat room or message board for those wanting to argue the supposed merits of animal exploitation or to defend the act of hunting or trapping in any way.
It’s not just you; in the spirit of fairness I eighty-six all comments from all types of hunters or trappers.
Believe it or not, some people might not be interested in your opinion in support of killing. I know I’m not. I’ve heard it all before, ad nauseam.
When I shared the article, “Idaho Gun Nuts Start New Year with Three-Day Mass Slaughter of Wolves and Coyotes,” I provided a link http://news360.com/article/272715208/# to the source right at the top of the page. Maybe readers there want to hear what you have to say, but this site is strictly on the side of the animals.
Again, you weren’t invited here, and if you’re on the side of killing, you’re not welcome here. No new comments are being approved, so don’t bother leaving one.