Some Thoughts on the Anthropocene

Anthropocene. Plastic as fecal. Capitalism’s soothsayers. Ocean death. Cancer Air. Methane acceleration.

 

Earth is dying and nobody gives a shit.

People maintain that climate change can be stopped. “It’s getting better,” they insist. “Soon we’ll have electric cars, batteries that last for ages, clean wind power and biodegradable plastic!” Watch their enthusiasm. They really do believe we can change things in time.

The truth, however, is already here. Capitalism’s anarchic and wholesale devastation of the planet, in pursuit of transforming nature into profit, has permanently destroyed the environment.

anthropocene-picture3

The Anthropocene has begun. The word has entered our lexicon. We have marked our place in Earth’s geological timescale with garbage. Plastic is ubiquitous. The ocean is dying. Biological life is going extinct. Resources are being used and wasted at a rate that can’t be maintained. All analysis show that these things will continue, at a faster pace each year.

Plastic

431894-c9c817a4-ec6c-11e3-bb45-046f3d36ad52

Since mass-production of plastic began in the 1950’s, we have produced 8.3 billion tons. This plastic has contaminated the natural world. That contamination is representative of the nature of capitalism. It’s not products that litter the landscape, but waste. Trash. Garbage. Social metabolism has created shit, and we are drowning in it.

Plastic relies on chemisty, a manipulation of the natural environment. This can be a wonderful thing. But the product, plastic, becomes an act of arrogance. We litter the world with shit that will outlast our own short-lived existence.

Contrast the pollution of plastic with the creation of monuments. Monuments are meant to commemorate a moment in history, a testament to the strength of a ruler or an accomplishment of a civilization. Like plastic, they remain after our life. But consider the fact that plastic, human social waste, will outlast any monument we have of our species.

When we are nothing but dust, our garbage will remain. Our species eternal monument then, is fecal in nature. We do not flood the world with our greatness, but with undigestable fibers of social metabolism. Our world is drowning in our own shit. We suffocate the planet with disposability. The plastic pollution is incriminating evidence that our species failed to achieve communism. It is a testament to our slavery to capital.

I remember in China, we visited Dameisha, one of the world’s dirtiest beaches. And yes, it really is that disgusting. There was a little boy throwing a tantrum. His mother, looking defeated and exhausted, let him pout and scream, giving him kind words. The boy had a plastic bottle. He pouted and threw it into the ocean. She patted him on the head and they walked off like it was nothing.

article-2647256-1E74726F00000578-185_964x640

Everywhere, and I mean everywhere I went in China, from rural Yangshuo to urban-insanity of Beijing, there was garbage and plastic. Guilin, so beautiful. We sat beside a river beneath the cylindrical mountains. Next to us were river oxen. Floating in the river were plastic bottles.

It’s this way around the world now. Plastic (shit) is ubiquitous.

Here on Jeju island in Korea, there’s a nearby island named Udo. It’s tiny. The economy depends largely on tourism from Koreans and Chinese. With a population under a thousand, each summer they host massive numbers. There is no system to deal with that number of people. The island completely lacks the infrastructure to deal with the garbage. What garbage makes it the few dumpsters ends up on the ground then in the sea. At the end of the day the tourists leave but the waste remains. The beaches and coast are covered in plastic bottles or bits of kibble.

Island Nations Sinking

With the ocean waters already rising comes the submerging of land. This is already happening. The waters rise, people have to move. The Maldives has attempted to raise the issues of its existential predicament, to perfunctory applause then silence. The Marshall islands face the same destruction. Resolutions are passed, the whole time knowing that nothing can be done. The Titan cannot be stopped. We would have to stop polluting CO2 today, an impossible feat under capitalism. Waters rise from the distorted atmosphere. “We’ll curb the pollution,” the UN has said, every year since the 1990’s.

maldives

The fact is that no nation, bound by the laws of capital, will harm its immediate profit margins for longterm survival. The entirety of the discussion over climate change is in regards to arbitrary numbers of degrees of celsius. Governments and bourgeoisie alike make the mistake that scientists are certain of how climates work, are able to map CO2 production and its effects on the climate, down to the knowing exactly how much we shit we can pump into the air before getting ‘too much’.

They dont. Each year, we see these same headlines of humans being dumbfounded that our infallible models are inconsistent with reality:

Greenland’s ice sheets are disappearing faster than predicted

Earth’s oceans are warming 13% faster than thought, and accelerating

Climate Change Faster Than Predicted

Climate is far more complex then we can predict at this time. And yet we trust arbitrary numbers.

These meetings become a circus of kings and soothsayers. And of course, the most convenient numbers (two degree Celsius) are chosen to appease the national economic plans of growth, growth, growth.

they are children who want to know how far they can lean over a cliff before falling off.

Animal Extinction

ivory.jpg

Half of wild animals on Earth have died in the past forty years. Much of this is a result of habitat destruction for agriculture or poaching. These things happen in underdeveloped countries. Their economies, controlled and leeched by global imperialist powers, have little options for people to survive. The destruction of wildlife is a kind of ‘outsourcing’ from the rich overdeveloped zones to the underdeveloped zones.

“Although extinction is a natural phenomenon, it occurs at a natural “background” rate of about one to five species per year. Scientists estimate we’re now losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the background rate, with literally dozens going extinct every day [1]. It could be a scary future indeed, with as many as 30 to 50 percent of all species possibly heading toward extinction by mid-century [2].” –Center for Biological Diversity

This paper states that around 59 per cent of the world’s largest carnivores and 60 per cent of the world’s largest herbivores are threatened with extinction. By 2100, animals like rhinos, tigers and gorillas will all be dead.

In the past ten years, 2/3 of African elephants have been killed. Who buys this fucking ivory? Rich Chinese people, often purchased in Vietnam. I’ve seen it. There is a museum in Guangzhou showcasing this bullshit. They have engravings of elephant ivory that you can buy. They claim it’s a ‘rich Chinese cultural tradition’. If the CCP were at all communist in practice, they could stop the importation of ivory overnight. To be fair, they are making efforts. But we don’t need baby steps. The practice of poaching needs to stop. Immediately. African nations need functioning, green (sustainable) and red (communist) economies so the basis of for poaching is eliminated. An impossible idea under capitalism.

China claims to have outlawed the practice and closed its factories (they had fucking factories?!?) but this says otherwise.

p04b21zv

Think about this. Elephants bury their dead. Possibly, they communicate through seismic vibrations in their feet. They have the largest brains of any land animal. They display ‘human’ behaviors including grief, mimicry, altruism and cooperation. They use tools.

We murder them and steel their tusks to be transformed into gaudy investments for rich people.

Why the hell would intelligent alien life both to communicate with us?

The same goes for pangolins. Their populations in Asia are so decimated from being the world’s most poached animal, that the practice has moved to Africa. Their scales are considered medicinal. People who believe in mostly bullshit Chinese medicine use the dust for ‘medicinal’ (bullshit) purposes.

Animals are brought to extinction because of human ignorance.

(Obligatory:  there are plenty of people in China who think TCM is bullshit and prefer actual scientifically proven medical procedures. Anything that TCM is effective at is called medicine. Korea also has its own ‘traditional’ medicine. Most Koreans think its a scam and prefer ‘medicine’ instead.)

Oceans

What about marine life? Just as bad, if not worse.

Water temperatures are rising and becoming increasingly acidic. The life there can’t cope. Ocean water has become 30% more acidic in the past 200 years. Changes in the ocean environment have disrupted populations of all marine life. This article suggest that the food chains are at risk of collapse.

Soylent green, here we come.

These reports seem to indicate that truth. As much as a staggering 85% of global fisheries may be overexposed or depleted. This is a global phenomenon. Again, China, the most capitalist country in the world, plays a major role in it. After depleting most of the fish populations in its own waters, Chinese boats travel to Africa and underdeveloped nations to take their own fish. As much as 2/3 of the fish caught by China in Africa may be against international law. They assault waters everywhere. The picture below shows a fleet of illegal fishing boats stealing fish from Korean waters.

wor2_k3c-s75_3-25_verfolgungsjagd_vor_suedkorea

China claims to be a friend of Africa, while stealing its resources.

China, the country that chose the capitalist road over the communist road, is leading the way to destroy the oceans. The rest of the world, however, is only yards behind.

Even though we’re murdering everything in the ocean, you still don’t even get what you ordered at a fucking restaurant.

When we’re done trying to murder and eat everything in the water, we kill what we can’t catch with the poisons (fertilizers) we use to grow our food and the mountains of shit from cattle grown in concentration camps.

Food needs to be communized, grown in a regulated and planned economy. An impossible feat under capitalism.

Pollution

We shouldn’t be surprised that each year, more people are found to have cancer. Go to anywhere in Asia and you’ll understand why. The air here is the worst in the world. It’s unbreathable. Imagine the smell of burning plastic. That’s what the air tastes like. And its everywhere. It assaults you outside, sure. But it comes into your homes and workplaces. You wake up with crud all over your eyes and sinuses inflamed. Global air toxicity ranges from China to Iran and Turkey. All these people, including myself, breath in cancer air. Just wait for it. There will be whole generations of people unable to work, creating a ‘yuge burden in the healthcare system, as we all die from lung cancer.

Don’t worry Amerikkkans. You’ll get yours too. Your racist fears of immigration in air-form are coming true. Build the air wall, I guess.

Industry dependent on fossil fuels needs to be completely revamped to use energy from sustainable sources. Today. An impossible feat under capitalism. They prefer the slow and steady ‘voluntary change’. Heating is unavoidable.  They just want to avoid ‘too much heating’.

Yeah, okay.

Pollution from industry and coal to power industry. Capitalist production has cancer as its inherent consequence.

Temperatures Rising

As global temperatures rise, all hell breaks loose in the Siberian tundra. Heatwaves around the world kill ‘even the healthy’ (what a headline!) What the main concern should be is that the carbon stored in the permafrost of the arctic and tundra regions gets released into the atmosphere. Carbon, and methane deposits alongside it. The later is far more dangerous to the ozone layer and is capable of further heating the atmosphere.

This methane forms ‘bubbles’ in the ground. They explode into the atmosphere with a bang.

This gives evidence to the feared ‘accelerated climate change‘. The idea is simple. Shit gets so bad so quick that we can’t stop it in time.

But we should already live as if that was the case.

The evidence is on the wall.

Animals are dying out. Fish are gone. Oceans can’t support life. The ground and air are polluted. Islands are swallowed into the ocean. Plastic, social fecal matter, is as ubiquitous as cancer.

This is the logical result of capitalism. A system dependent on constant growth and profit. There’s no green capitalism or safe way around this.

They will tell you that individual consumer choices can change things. This is false.

That idea predicated on the myth of ‘a market producing a commodity to fulfill a need’. The reality is that capitalism produces commodities for profit, and that ‘need’ is often created.

Hence, ‘advertising’ and ‘marketing’ as mind control.

If everyone stopped purchasing a commodity (plastic bottles), companies would still make them. And they would continue to try to convince you to buy them. The structure is in place for that purpose. Entire factories and distribution chains are designed for that commodity. A pistol is designed to shoot bullets.

The worst mistake is that there is never a discussion about production itself. There is only a ‘curb the cost’. The responsibility of consumption is placed on the working class. All discussion about having control over what is produced (and how) in the first place is off limits. This is classic commodity fetishism. People only look at consumption, and not the entire chain of production/distribution/exchange/consumption.

The focus on consumer change betrays the fact that there is no political control over the production process, and in fact that politics is simply about maintaining the ‘economy’ (capitalism) at all costs, at all times. The people of the planet are alienated from any substantive decision making. We can only decide what to do with the garbage afterwards.

In reality, these commodities should not be produced in the first place.

It’s simple. Destroy capitalism or the planet dies. The latter is already underway.

neoliberalism_1_.png

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s