Ladies and Gentlemen, the jury has returned from their deliberations and they have delivered the following verdict: we are fucked. Yes, fucked. The Earth is strapped down to a filthy bed in a back alley of some benighted slum and is having the guts ripped out of it by the forsaken human race. Let's examine a brief digest of current news that illustrates this problem, namely the problem of OUR BEING FUCKED.
It was recently the 20th anniversary of the death of Chico Mendes, the Brazilian rubbertapper who was murdered by a cattle rancher and his son for the crime of opposing rainforest clearance in Brazil's Acre region. Mendes' legacy is a network of what are known as "extractive reserves", where people can make a living from the rainforest without chopping it down. That living takes the form of tapping trees for rubber, collecting medicinal plants, and the like. Unfortunately, since the world rubber price has crashed, the tenants of the extractive reserves are now chopping down the forest to grow corn and soybeans and FUCKING SUGARCANE FOR YOUR GODDAMN BIOFUEL CARS. Economics trumps principles, as per usual. Of course it does. If you've got starving children to feed and there's a pristine rainforest right outside your backdoor, guess who loses?
Evo Morales, much vaunted defender of indigenous rights and Bolivian energy independence, opponent of neoliberal development schemes and water privatization, has agreed to permit oil exploration in 400,000 hectares of pristine rainforest in Bolivia's northeast. That oil is going to be used to earn hard currency to raise the standard of living for the vast number of impoverished Bolivians, the majority of whom are indigenous. If you've got starving citizens and a pristine rainforest in your northeast, guess who loses?
Recent UN climate talks were full of happy blather about the concept of REDD, or Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, which is basically the concept of paying for rainforest protection through carbon offsets. I.e. Bono buys a bunch of carbon offsets when he jetsets to the UN to talk about AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa, and that money is used to save rainforest tracts. But what does that really mean? Does it mean the Old-Growth tropical forest is going to be left standing? Does it mean the web of life and species that comprise the arbitrary hectare of tropical forest is going to be left intact? NO OF COURSE IT FUCKING DOESN'T. REDD ideas are often focused on concepts like "sustainable" "low-impact" logging of rainforest tracts; removal of the biggest, most valuable trees, or conversion of ancient forest tracts to timber plantations. A timber plantation is NOT A FUCKING FOREST. Groups as divers as Greenpeace, the World Bank, and Rainforest Action Network support REDD programs. As long as the forest continues to be a commodity, as long as people are willing to buy products made from the rainforest, the rainforests of the world will continue to dwindle. And guess how long people will be willing to buy products of the destruction of the world's tropical forests? FOREVER, THAT'S HOW FUCKING LONG. Because all humans care about is humans.
Efforts to remove invading cats from Macquarie island in Australia have proved successful. The cats were responsible for the devastation of the island's seabird populations, and have been almost entirely removed by a stupendous effort. Unfortunately, cats weren't the only invading species on the island. There were also rabbits. And rabbits, breeding as is their wont, have in the absence of cat predation subsequently taken over the island and are eating every last scrap of vegetation, further threatening the populations of the island's native birds. Of course, both cats and rabbits were introduced by humans. The humans tried to solve the problem they created but in doing so MADE IT FUCKING WORSE.
The forests will continue to be CUT. The oceans will continue to be STRIPPED. Thousands and thousands of species of fish and plants and mammals and birds and insects and soil fungi and arthropods and jellyfish and reptiles and amphibians and etFUCKINGcetera will continue to go extinct until all there is left is a rat gnawing on a stalk of Bermuda grass, until that rat is conked by some bastard human to feed to its starving child. Humans will continue to try and mitigate the problems they create and in the process will cause the law of unintended consequences to annihilate everything in their path.
Keep on telling yourself you're doing something useful.