Epilogue Living In The Age Of Ecocide

1. The ozone hole is the largest ever. The seasonal hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica reached record proportions in September 1998, according to a report by the World Meteorological Association (WMO). Covering an area of 9.75 million square miles, or about 2.5 times the area of Europe, 1998's hole surpassed the previous record - set in 1993 - by about 3 million square kilometers. The rift was also the "deepest" and fastest-growing ever, said WMO expert Rumen Bojikov. It involved the destruction of more than 85 per cent of the ozone in the lower stratosphere over an area of more than 10 million square kilometers; Lisa Mastny, "Ozone Hole Is Largest Ever," World Watch 12(1) (January/February) (1999), p. 11.

2. UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) Human Development Report 1998 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998).

3. Stephen P. Hubbell, The Unified Neutral Theory of Biodiversity and Biogeography, Monographs in Population Biology 32 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001) p. x.

4. Ayres, "The Fastest Mass Extinction in Earth's History," Wilson, The Diversity of Life, Wilson, "Is Humanity Suicidal? We Are Flirting with the Extinction of Our Species," Wilson and Peter, eds, Biodiversity.

5. Elias Canetti, Das Geheimherz Der Uhr. English: The Secret Heart of the Clock: Notes, Aphorisms, Fragments 1973-1985, trans. Joel Agee (New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1991), p. 61.

6. By virtue of the social and biological evolution of our uniquely expanded manual and verbal dexterity, we have become all-purpose animals that in principle can solve any problem. Tudge, however, in an invigoratingly syncretic look at 5 million years of human life, hastens to say that this adaptability and power do not give us the right to destroy other species. Much of his history of humanity analyzes the negative impact humans have had on the Earth ever since we mastered fire and engaged in agriculture, from the depletion of the ozone layer to the pollution of the oceans and the decimation of numerous animal species. See Colin Tudge, "Why We Must Save Animals," New Internationalist (Special Issue) 288 (March) (1997).

7. In Language and Species, Derek Bickerton, for example, shows that the possession of language alone may be sufficient to account for both our unique minds and our unparalleled success as a species. Language is more than a reflection, merely labeling our thoughts and their objects; it actually "creates" all we communicate about. Bickerton shows how a primitive protolanguage could have offered Homo erectus a novel ecological niche; it probably developed subsequently into the languages we speak today. But, he asks, what if our vaunted human intelligence is no more than the addition of language to the cognitive powers possessed by other creatures - and what if the process of language itself is as automatic as a spider's spinning of a web? Could language, our most successful adaptation, one day cause our failure as a species? See Bickerton, Language and Species.

8. The critical significance of historical ecology in this context is to provide us (at least in principle) with long-term insights and perspectives on the scope and nature of human socio-biotic impact.

9. Warfare and the activities of the military-industrial complex are estimated to account for 10 to 30 per cent of the planet's total ecological damage. Thompson, Scorched Earth: The Military's Assault on the Environment.

10. Neo-liberal globalization gives free rein to a world of increasingly licentious and large-scale corporate individualism. With the global mobility of capital comes the mobility of both the industrial base and the tax base that supports key national institutions. Globalization not only undercuts a nation's ability to tax mobile capital, it also undercuts a nation's ability to tax capital in order to support social welfare and environmental protection programs. Globalization thus conceived has initiated a new era of capitalism, which will change the planet probably as dramatically as the first Industrial Revolution did. For the critics, the decisive challenge is this: how to bring the destructive dimensions of market forces under control and to develop democratic, socially equitable, and environmentally sustainable alternatives. This gives rise to the worldwide call for a (re)regulation of the global economy and the struggle for an alternative globalization based on ecological democracy and ecological citizenship.

11. Stephen Jay Gould, "The Persistently Flat Earth: Irrationality and Dogmatism Are Foes of Both Science and Religion," Natural History 3 (1994), p. 19.

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