I first became overwhelmingly aware of this problem in early 2002, when I read "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight" by Thom Hartmann. Which begins with the following paragraph.
In the 24 hours since this time yesterday, over 200,000 acres of rainforest have been destroyed in our world. Fully 13 million tons of toxic chemicals have been released into our environment. Over 45,000 people have died of starvation, 38,000 of them children. And more than 130 plant or animal species have been driven to extinction by the actions of humans. (The last time there was such a rapid loss of species was when the dinosaurs vanished.) And all this just since yesterday.
When I realised how significant this situation is, I honestly thought that most people would be amazed and shocked and very highly motivated to do something about it. In the following few years, however, I came to realise how much this is not the case. By the time I saw What A Way to Go: Life at the End of Empire, I was (and still am) pretty much competely convinced that most people are going to remain more interested in consuming and improving their material standard of living. If the majority of the world's Nobel Prize winners in science aren't regarded as "expert" enough to take notice of, I'm not sure who is going to be. So the machinery of death marches on, faster than ever (at least since whatever killed the dinousars, which was a very long time ago).
This page is a catalogue of evidence of the destruction of life on this planet, as caused by human overconsumption.
Death of the Earth's Wildlife
In September 2014 the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) released a report stating that human activity has killed over half the entire world's wildlife in just the 40 years between 1970 and 2010.
"Living Planet Index" from the WWF.
And the trend appears to be continuing:
The 2016 version of WWF’s biennial Living Planet Report, published Thursday, found a 58 percent overall decline in vertebrate populations from 1970 to 2012, the latest year with available data. The nonprofit warned that if current trends continue, the world could lose more than two-thirds of wildlife by 2020.
Even though I've been following things like this for a while, I found the scale of this really disturbing. There's 40 years between 2017 and when the movie "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope" was released in 1977. In that movie, which I saw as an innocent child, the Death Star destroyed an entire planet (Alderaan). At the time that seemed to me like absolutely chilling, horrific, unimaginable evil. I can remember it so well. It must have really made a lasting impression on me, because one of the first things I thought after hearing the WWF news was how, since that movie was made, we ourselves have killed half a planet of wildlife.
The next thing I thought is how we are well on track to killing the rest of it.
In fact, projecting just this one finding alone into the next few decades is quite dire indeed. Since the size of the economy (and therefore, approximately, the rate of loss of the natural world) doubles about every 25 years, then the rate of wildlife loss has now more than doubled in the last 40 years. And it took us 40 years to kill half the wildlife. Which means that now, with no major changes to the way things are heading, it would take only about another 20 years or less to finish off the rest of the planet.
Since our economy must continually grow or die, even considering just this problem and nothing else, it seems quite unlikely that modern life as we know it can continue for much more than a couple of decades, and quite possibly a lot less than that.
After that, I remembered they were only talking about vertebrate populations, which does not include insects etc. Though there are plenty of insects which are threatened too, and in decline — they are just not considered in this report. I wonder if what's left of life on the planet, and our society, could still function without any non-domesticated vertebrates.
These are huge lists of mass animal death events, published by end-times-prophecy.org. Each one has a source link so you can check it out. Whether or not you believe in the prophetic part of their website, the lists and their linked references speak for themselves. The recent years' pages say, "NOTE: Due to time constraints, we no longer report every event, so the numbers are lower than they should be".
Links to lists for previous years going back to 2011 are shown at the bottom of these pages.
World Terrestrial Vertebrate Biomass
Here are two graphs created by Paul Chefurka showing estimates of world terrestrial vertebrate biomass, and how it has changed since 10,000 B.C. Biomass means the weight of living organisms. Vertebrate means animals with backbones (which excludes things like insects, worms, bacteria, fungi, plants, etc.), and terrestrial means living on land (so not fish or marine mammals or plankton etc.). There are more articles on Paul Chefurka's website.
Chefurka says [I added the bold emphasis],
I used three data sources to develop the chart: a paper by world-respected ecological scientist Vaclav Smil, called “Harvesting the Biosphere”; world population estimates from the Wikipedia article of the same name; and the UN’s Medium Fertility variant for the human population in 2050 (9.6 billion).
The definition I used for Global Carrying Capacity is, “The biomass the planet can support without the assistance of human technology or fossil fuels.” The impact of human activity has gradually eroded the Earth’s carrying capacity over time, which is why I show the red dotted line sloping down to the right. The degree of erosion is very hard to estimate. My guess is that we may have lost around 25% by this point, some of which would of course be naturally regenerated over time in the absence of human activity. Any biomass above that dotted line has to be supported by human technology and energy supplies (which at this point are mostly from fossil fuels).
The conclusion is that we have been living in the midst of an accelerating Global Mass Extinction Event for over 100 years already. Unfortunately we’ve been too fixated on human issues like economics and politics to even notice, let alone realize what it means. Those who did realize the significance, both to wildlife and the human species, have been powerless to act in the face of economics and politics.
Note that the green area (representing wild animals) between 1950 and 2000 looks like it's gone down by roughly half, which is a similar conclusion to that of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) above.
Here's a later revision. Chefurka said "I've updated my world biomass graphic using better data on the current mass of domesticated animals and humans. The situation is a little worse than my previous estimate".
Both graphs are shown here because they each contain different and useful information.
This article by Kim Hill, of Deep Green Resistance Australia, points out among other things that so much of what people think of as sustainable and environmentally friendly is actually the complete opposite. For example:
Solar panels. The very latest in sustainability fashion. And in true sustainability style, incredibly destructive of life on earth. Where do these things come from? You’re supposed to believe that they are made out of nothing, a free, non-polluting source of electricity.
If you dare to ask where solar panels come from, and how they are made, its not hard to uncover the truth. Solar panels are made of metals, plastics, rare earths, electronic components. They require mining, manufacturing, war, waste, pollution. Millions of tons of lead are dumped into rivers and farmland around solar panel factories in China and India, causing health problems for the human and natural communities who live there. Polysilicon is another poisonous and polluting waste product from manufacturing that is dumped in China. The production of solar panels causes nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) to be emitted into the atmosphere. This gas has 17 000 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.
Rare earths come from Africa, and wars are raged over the right to mine them. People are being killed so you can have your comfortable Sustainability. The panels are manufactured in China. The factories emit so much pollution that people living nearby become sick. Lakes and rivers become dead from the pollution. These people cannot drink the water, breathe the air or farm the land, as a direct result of solar panel manufacturing. Your sustainability is so popular in China that villagers mobilise in mass protest against the manufacturers. They are banding together to break into the factories and destroy equipment, forcing the factories to shut down. They value their lives more than sustainability for the rich.
Panels last around 30 years, then straight to landfill. More pollution, more waste. Some parts of solar panels can be recycled, but some can’t, and have the bonus of being highly toxic. To be recycled, solar panels are sent to majority-world countries where low-wage workers are exposed to toxic substances while disassembling them. The recycling process itself requires energy and transportation, and creates waste products.
Solar panel industries are owned by Siemens, Samsung, Bosch, Sharp, Mitsubishi, BP, and Sanyo, among others. This is where solar panel rebates and green power bills are going. These corporations thank you for your sustainable dollars.
It's also worth noting that computers and the internet use a lot of energy and other resources. I suspect many people believe (because they have been told) that doing something on a computer and/or online is environmentally friendly, compared to the old way with pens and paper.
The energy used by the Cloud is about 2 percent of the world's energy. If the Cloud were a country, it would be sixth in the world in terms of energy consumption — after the USA, China, Russia, India and Japan, but ahead of Germany.
By itself, Google uses more power than the country of Turkey.
Suppose that you stream an hour of video each week. The power used to get that 60 minutes of video into and out of the Cloud, and then to your smartphone is more than the power needed to run your refrigerator for a week.
A similar but even more extreme result is given by salon.com:
According to a report posted online by Mark Mills of the Digital Power Group, the ICT (information, communications, technology) ecosystem — which includes the cloud as well as the digital devices and wireless networks that access its services — is approaching 10 percent of the world’s electricity usage, or the same amount of power we used to light the planet in 1985. Streaming an hour of video per week it says, uses more electricity in a year than two new refrigerators.
Perhaps a general way to view things is that anything which closely resembles modern high-tech is probably going to be ecologically damaging and unsustainable, and anything which primarily uses only ancient technology and/or low-tech has a chance of being actually sustainable. You can also think about whether or not the technology requires huge mines, third-world sweatshops, and huge amounts of energy inputs from fossil fuels in its mining, construction, and transport.
The North Pole is 30 Degrees Celsius Warmer Than Usual
War on Cash intensifies: Citibank to stop accepting cash at some branches. "Less than a week after India’s surprise move to scrap its highest denomination cash notes, another front in the War on Cash has intensified down under in Australia. Yesterday, banking giant UBS proposed that eliminating Australia’s $100 and $50 bills would be “good for the economy and good for the banks.”"
Ecological and Economic Collapse: What To Do About It
The sooner you start on this, the better (for you and, to some extent, for everyone else).
If you find that you can't deal with it (at first), whatever that means for you, you are going to be much better off going through this phase of reality sinking in before the economy crashes and before things start to really change. While we still have all the conveniences and benefits of modern life and of our availability of technology, information, tools, social stability, and so on.
It's not something that is outright impossible to deal with, since people have been living in ways other than our current modern high-tech lifestyle for the whole of human history up till very recent times.
The practical outcome of this is that the modern way of life
we have all become accustomed to is about to change on a major scale.
This website (along with many others on the internet) is an attempt
to help people to come to terms with these changes, and to take appropriate
action in response.