The Revenge of Gaia
This is the title of Dr. James Lovelock’s famous book (2007 Penguin Books) which I am sure many of you have read. Dr. lovelock calls the earth by the ancient name of Gaia (Greek mythology meaning: The Great Mother of All). Dr. Lovelock isn’t saying in his book that there is an actual lust for revenge on Gaia’s part for the way humans have treated her. Lovelock is just pointing out that science demonstrates how the earth’s waters and atmosphere have been thrown out of equilibrium by corporate industry. Gaia is now searching for a new equilibrium.
Unfortunately for humans, and most other species, this is very bad news. It’s bad news because Gaia is setting the thermostat up a notch. Or even a couple of notches in order to find a new equilibrium where she can escape the uncertain gyrations of carbon and now methane being pumped into the atmosphere as the permafrost melts up north. It seems that once the earth’s temperature reaches a certain point it doubles back on itself…as the atmosphere warms, the earth warms, the arctic ice melts, methane escapes from the artic land permafrost combining with increased carbon which further warms the atmosphere, the earth itself becomes hotter which means more methane escaping…more floods, droughts, storms, hurricanes, earthquakes, landslides and paradoxically, desertification. And there will be no end to the carnage until Gaia finds a new equilibrium.
He you noticed how the Canadian press, including the CBC, played down last week’s bizarre rain storm in Toronto? It’s almost as if the media was saying, “Oh,poo…there’s nothing here in this city to look at…just a few people being pulling out of flooded submerged trains and the like. Nothing unusual”.
President Obama has recently signed a bill that dictates that Monsanto can’t be sued for anything even if their genetically engineered foods prove to be lethal to humans. Fancy that. Monsanto has become part of the legal arm of the US government. Republican Senator Roy Blunt received over $64, 000 from Monsanto for tagging this bill onto the end of a US spending bill. The Republicans in the white house or even state governments can anonymously slip riders into other bills which is how an anti-abortion rider got slipped into the North Carolina hearing of a motorcycle safety bill. And of course the anti-abortion tacked on rider passed.
Should we feel smug up here in Canada that our government doesn’t do such things? In a pig’s eye. Stephen Harper’s government recently passed the Omnibus Bill that sneakily and disastrously took protections off just about everything in the Canadian environment…oceans, lakes and streams, rivers, animal habitat and lands.
However, we are told not to worry and above all, we mustn’t begin to suspect that the entire human race has been blindsided by a sick, slick, treacherous bunch of alpha males with illusions of some god directed grandeur or just plain money grabbing idiocy, who are in charge of everything…banks, militaries, commerce, logging, mining, chemicals, science for sale in service of corporations, pharmaceuticals ,education, democracy, fascism, communism, religion, food and water distribution and the lives of all women and children and the majority of other men. There is no gender balance anywhere and no justice to speak of.
Roughly, Dr. Lovelock’s thesis is that the earth is a complete system that acts as a mother. Gaia gives each species survival techniques plus the habitat and food each species needs to survive. However, humans have allowed the world’s food supply and potable water to become so unevenly distributed that wars with unimaginable vicious weapons have poisoned, and are poisoning, large swaths of the earth. Countries like Canada that has a relative secure food supply and no land mines underfoot or left behind US weapons that incorporated depleted uranium, still, we have no idea what much of that food supply consists of because our government won’t tell us. And fracking continues to endanger the drinking water. Is it all hopeless?
Yes and no. China is making vast investments in alternate energy and has just agreed to a deal with the US to cut back carbon emissions. Can we believe them? Probably not. Certainly if any cut back in carbon emissions harms corporate profits in the US the agreement will fall by the way side.
But we can believe in each other. I read many reports from online papers like the Tyee, Common Ground, International Clearing house, etc., and watch on line programs such as Democracy now. There are glimmers of hope out there. Such as Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan.
Malala is the fifteen year old girl who was shot in the head last year by the Al Qaida for attending school. She not only lived, but is back on her feet and has just addressed the UN General assembly. It was her sixteenth birthday (7/12/2013, The Guardian). She spoke passionately on the right for all children to attend school. Incredible! And last April the European Commission voted to ban bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides for two years. This means a continent-wide ban in Europe for two years for Monsanto’s Roundup. This may give the bee population time to recover. Again, incredible!
I think that if we actually look at the situation we are in environmentally, politically and financially without fear and/or self-deception that we can think of ways, good ways, to survive the challenges before us. Gaia is not deliberately trying to punish us. She is just telling us how it is. We should listen. If we listen deeply we might hear some solutions that Gaia may be offering.