CRUELTY AGAINST BIOSPHERE

DON’T JUST DEPLORE, RESTORE!

Highest Form Of Cruelty Cynically Fixed, If Need Be.

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Abstract: As Wikipedia puts it: Cruelty can be described as indifference to suffering, and even positive pleasure in inflicting it. If this habit is supported by a legal or social framework, then it receives the name of perversion.” Several species disappear, each day. The biosphere has clearly entered its sixth great extinction, in 500 million years. And it’s caused by just one species, us.

Usually people evoke, a la Cousteau, the prospect of the sad, uninteresting world that their grandchildren will inherit to give themselves some moral spur to save the biosphere. This is a valid argument, at least to people who care about their grandchildren, real or imagined. 

But there is a more fundamental moral question.

Is it CRUEL to be indifferent to the suffering of the biosphere? Is destroying the biosphere a perversion of the degeneracy of  civilization that affects us? And if it is, why should we be surprised that this cruelty, once fully exercized and in great shape, does, of course, come out somewhere else, here, there, everywhere, to exert its horror on all things human?

There is a solution to the deterioration of the biosphere: restoration, on an industrial scale (you want to lower unemployment? Here you go!). Restoration does not mean just asking the Indians to save Asiatic Lions, the Chinese to save the Pandas, and Africans to be trampled by elephants. It means for the richest countries to take the burden directly, even more so.

To restore the biosphere is not just an esthetic and hedonistic necessity, but also a socio-economic necessity. Beyond this, restoring crucial elements of the life we are meant for, is a moral necessity, a psychological necessity, and even a neurobiological necessity.

The perverse society plutocracy is pushing on us is enabled by a loss of moral and common senses, both originating from cruelty against the biosphere.

(As I will hopefully explain in this and a companion essay.)

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CAN THOSE WHO ATTACK MOTHER EARTH FEEL GOOD?

Cruelty against various species is often condemned. However, although great prayers evoking lofty principles are always good, they can also immunize against effective action, by replacing the humble, mitigating task by self satisfaction. The sad fate of individual animals should not be used to occult a much more ominous fate, the assault against life itself.

That assault is fundamentally immoral, and that immorality has drastic consequences. They lay at the bottom of the present socio-economic crises, as I will show in this essay, and the next.  

Some will say:”Wait a minute, which moral system are you using? Certainly not Judeo-Christo-Islamism!” Ok, first there is no doubt that religions and moods such as found in the Indian sub-continent, all about the inter-connectivity of lives and life, have more expertise in their appreciation of the wealth of the biosphere. Spinoza and Schopenhauer, even Nietzsche, infused Indian thinking into their Western brew (since their thoughts are derivative, I will ignore them).

As my attack against Jainism below will show, I present as all encompassing a moral system closer to that of “First Nations“.  I don’t know of a name for it, but it’s the simplest thing. Maybe I should call it paleolithic morality.

“Mores” means long term habits, ways of doing things, which have proven sustainable.

So morality is what works in the long run for the continuation of the human experience.  Anything making human life unsustainable is immoral. Certainly the destruction of the biosphere qualifies as the ultimate immorality. Because without biosphere, man dies. And when everything dies everything, and everybody will suffer. And the indifference to that is the definition of cruelty.

Thus one can say that cruelty against various animals generalizes to a much higher form, CRUELTY AGAINST THE ENTIRE BIOSPHERE.

Instead of hounding businessmen who want to make a buck from the biosphere, much salvation, especially regarding the preservation of species, could be found, by carefully turning greed on its head.

Example: To save elephants, as a species, one should use their two greatest assets, and those are tourism (of course)  and…ivory. Otherwise elephants will disappear, because common people need very good reasons to learn to manage their lives with up to 11 metric tons beasts around, those mountains of irascible flesh capable of charging at 40 km/h through rice paddies (yes, there is native rice in Africa).

Making the biosphere profitable, by investing in it, is a high moral calling.

And if it means unsavory means, so be it. After all, people are known to go to the euphemistically named “restroom” everyday. The biosphere may be a temple, but Aztec style, with lots of blood. Invest in the biosphere, as it is, avert your senses, if need be.

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AUSTERITY DOES NOT WORK: DEPEND, SAYS THE BIOSPHERE!

Many ecologists have an anti-technology, anti-passion approach to the biosphere. They think AUSTERITY (that concept again) will solve it all. There is a Jainist side to them.

Jainism is the original version, 3,000 years old, of fanatical pacifism and ultra Buddhism. Its main idea, as practiced by its monks, is to have no dependency whatsoever. No dependency to love, even to their own parents. No dependency even to appreciating food, which is viewed only as a necessary fuel, as bland as possible. No dependency even to clothing, so they wear strictly none.

That works better in balmy India, rather than Siberia.

Jainism is superficially impressive. Its (naked) priests were already well known to pre-Socratic Greeks (who called them “gymnosophers“, that is the naked wise ones).

The silence of Greek philosophers is deafening. It’s not that the Greeks were afraid of nakedness: they exerted in the nude (gymnastics!). The Greeks could only feel that Jainism was mostly wrong. First because it denies the nature of Homo Sapiens, Earth’s ultimate predator. So it’s make belief. Even the rice the Jainist monks eat comes from violence. If Jainist monks want to be involved in absolutely no violence, they better stop eating. However, they would then commit violence against themselves. Jainism is a religion which tries to make us believe that lions can be angels, if they would just beg for grass and stop wearing clothing.

As a semi anecdote, Hitler wanted to be seen as a man of peace. That is the angle he found in Maynard Keynes’ “The Economic Consequences of Peace” (a German supremacy document that alleged that anything causing Germany umbrage was against peace!). So Hitler adopted the most sacred Jainist symbol, the Swastika (changing its red color to black, and putting the red around in a creative fit of his).

The fundamental intuitions of Jainism that we can just disconnect from the world, and that this is a good thing, are wrong, on both counts.

A baby depends upon love and adults, for years. All Jainists who ever existed started with love and dependency. Even Jesus had to acknowledge he needed a support system, when very little.

Of course one can deny co-dependency, and believe one is better than anybody else, that’s what the Nazis did, on an industrial scale. But that means one is either incapable of thinking correctly (co-dependency is a fact), or one hates all and any life. The Nazis proved both phenomena can happen at the same time (and Merkel is trying her best to demonstrate the same point again).

But that’s a mistake, austerity is anti-life, dependency the way, the biosphere is about exuberance, passion, experiments. Life is about the Red Queen Hypothesis (Alice asks the Red Queen why they are running the landscape does not move, and the queen explains they have to run, just to stay in place). Don’t go Jain on us, that’s what mussels do, and we are not mussels.

Life is all about maximum interdependence, no holds barred, it’s about bursting out of the biosphere, and death itself (French researchers just found that muscular stem cells keep the entire rebirth capability, 17 days after “death”, and out of one of these apparently dead cells, a million new ones could be born).

The most developed world should reintroduce dangerous megafauna. A new industry, another new way to fight unemployment (same as the old one, during eons passed, when the genus Homo was already the manager of life, at least on land).

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THE SUFFERING MOON BEARS: YES, BUT HOW MUCH?

I had not heard of all the charms of Traditional Chinese Medicine. However Sherryn Groch revealed to me in “Raging Against Cages”  an industry that I never suspected existed: extracting bile from caged bears. One gram of bile sells for $20 (that is half the price of gold)… Here we have a piece of nature with a high market value. From the BBC’s China bear bile farms stir anger among campaigners:

“In a secretly shot video, a Chinese farmer holds up a bag of yellowish bile he has just extracted from a caged bear.

“Some Westerners say this is cruel – but I think the bears are making a contribution to mankind,” says the grinning man.

Animal welfare groups have recently stepped up their campaign to end the practice of milking bears for their bile, still legal in China. They say the animals suffer enormous physical and psychological pain.

But bear bile has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for hundreds of years and it is not proving easy to change habits formed over generations. Pharmaceutical companies that farm bears are also fighting back to protect their industry, in a public relations battle to win hearts and minds.”  

Sherryn exhibits gruesome cases, which could clearly be outlawed for extreme cruelty against an advanced animal, the Asian Black Bear (“Moon Bears“).

Sun Bears, and the much larger Moon Bears, are tropical bears, all black, except for a big white crescent moon on their chests. Animals like these are part of the megafauna, and, as man replaces primary forest everywhere with furniture, palm plantations, asphalt, they are threatened with extinction.

Outlawing all and any bear farming is very honorable, at first sight, a bit like when Gandhi proclaimed that he did not want India to take part in World War Two. A honorable end: peace at any cost.

Never mind that if Hitler’s henchmen had their way, they would have stuffed the likes of Gandhi in an oven. If the means destroy the ends, are the ends worth pursuing?

Indeed, there is another side to the whole question. The Asian Black Bears are a “threatened” species. Yet, officially pharmaceutical companies in China hold 10,000! Some want to hold even more, and be listed on stock exchanges.

Says the BBC: “…. [a] company opened its doors to journalists – the BBC was not allowed in – to counter claims that its business is cruel.

Reporters were shown bears playing in a pit and others being milked for their bile by workers dressed in face masks and protective clothing. The bears appeared comfortable and unconcerned by the procedure.

At a news conference, company director Zhang Zhijun said making a hole in a bear’s abdomen was no different to “piercing people’s ears”.”

The notion that the pain can be so small should be judicially explored. If it is demonstrated, then the business ought to be tightly regulated, but kept legal. And I am going to explain why.

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SAVE PRESTIGIOUS SPECIES BY CAGING THEM IF NECESSARY:

A few years back, a company asked for authorization to farm a nearly completely disappeared species of sea turtles. They intended to grow thousands, although only a few hundreds were left in the wild. As the mortality, in the wild, is more than one adult turtle for 1,000 baby turtles, from predation, it’s easy to save sea turtles, if one raise them on a farm. They were refused. (I did not follow the story after that.)

Generally conservation organizations make the silly argument that it is more important to save the environment, and that, if one saves the most prestigious species in captivity, people will be less motivated to save entire ecological system. (Merkel makes a similar argument: better a dead patient, pour encourager les autres.)

However this is exactly how the California Condor was saved. Instead of waiting for the South West USA to return to wilderness, state conservationists captured all the condors, and bred them in captivity. They are now back in the wild, over several states. (Still dying from lead pellets, though.)

I do think that one should encourage the (as non cruel as possible) farming of some species threatened by extinction presently (say some sea turtles, sharks, etc.). As is done with some saurians (there are highly successful crocodile farms; crocodiles in farms are so well nourished and content that they do not practice cannibalism, differently from their common practice in the grand outdoors.)

I do not mean one should kill dolphins, because they are good to eat. Japan should stop killing whales. One should draw the line somewhere, with sentient animals. (Although I have seen Africans butcher dolphins, as they have always done traditionally to feed themselves; they should be allowed to keep on doing so, under legal monitoring, as is done with “first nations” Arctic hunters and sea mammals).

The case of elephants is different: dolphins or whales are innocuous to humans, and do not live where people do, whereas elephants, who are as intelligent, need another reason to justify their encumbering existence, in the midst of humans, because they are very dangerous, if not carefully managed (that means half domesticated; wild elephants can be domesticated, they are that intelligent).

In general saving prestigious species helps to remind common people how prestigious the environments they came from, as a species, were. Thus reintroducing the prestigious species is conducive to re-introducing said environment. For example California is making efforts to be ecologically correct enough so that condors can survive. Little things, such as leaving enough carcasses.

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THE GREATER CRIME: EXTINCTION.

There are three crimes often committed nowadays against the animal kingdom:

1) the cruelty to individual animals. (Princeton philosophy professor Singer has waxed lyrically, not to say rather grotesquely, on the subject, with the base, not to say deranged, argument that, since people are animals, animals are people. Or something akin to that.)

2) the cruelty to the biosphere, by amputating it of its species. If one thinks about it carefully, literally, etymologically speaking, exterminating a species is genocide (it kills genes!). Some will say I torture semantics, but, if one insists to torture the biosphere, the following will happen:

3) inuring ourselves to being cruel and devastating to the biosphere, and the termination of species. That will make the commission of genocide something normal. We will start with bugs, and, when we run out of bugs, we will treat human beings as we treated the bugs (yes, this is a reasoning similar to Singer’s, and Singer falls exactly in that pit, like the mammoth he is). Call that psychological inertia: commit cruelty here, consider it normal, carry it somewhere else.

2) and 3) are arguably higher category moral wrongs than the cruelty against individual creatures. It’s torture against creation itself.

Farming wild species may often be the way out. For example, saving rhinoceroses by large scale farming beats the disappearance of the species, anytime. As it turns out, rhinoceroses readily domesticate (they were even used militarily, because they are highly combative. ).

Farming wild species may also necessitate saving enormous areas of wilderness (say if one were raising elephants for ivory). Hunting ranches in Texas are said to have more of some subspecies of tigers than there are left in the wild.

Another example is Spanish fighting bulls used for corrida de toros. They constitute a breed of their own. To cultivate their ferocity, they are brought up wild. For human reasons (bullfighting is cruel, at least at some terminal point, for beast, and, or, man alike) corrida may well be outlawed (as it just was in Catalonia). Then the breed will certainly disappear.

In general species without any commercial interest whatsoever may well disappear. Better sell a sea turtle soup, than to see the species the soup is made from, disappear forever.

A related activity would be to displace threatened species to places where they would have much more room. My preferred example would be to transfer surplus zoo Amur leopards to Yukon national parks (reducing if need be the local mountain lions’ population).

In conclusion, developing commercial interests to save elements of the biosphere is not crime, but virtue and (short term) solution.

Reciprocally, preventing the rise of legitimate, lawful, well regulated businesses, augments even more the commercial value of organized crime, and is leading to the present disappearance of many species.

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NO DANGEROUS LIFE WITHOUT HIGH INCENTIVES:

The main reason Asian Black Bears are eliminated is that they are very dangerous. They are known to attack people without provocation, viciously and lethally. As someone who got charged twice by black bears (in the American West), and had many all too close calls (as a solo mountain runner), I can testify that only lions I fear more (OK, I have never run among grizzlies, and did not try it when I could, fishing proved dangerous enough).

If Asians are not given very good pecuniary reasons to keep dangerous predators around, they simply will not. True there are lots of national parks in the USA, but they are mostly in the empty west, and the really dangerous predators, such as grizzlies, and the equivalent of tigers and lions, have long been eliminated. The progressive return of the wolf is highly resisted.

Large animals tend to be deadly. A small, 5 kilogram shark is not a problem. It is a problem when it is 100 times more massive. The lethality of some species calls to actively manage them, and thus to make them profitable to:

1) pay for said management.

2) give a considerable incentive for the population to live cautiously, if not dangerously.

Elephants in Sri Lanka constitute a particular subspecies.  Under human pressure, they have quickly become smaller in the last two centuries. Without careful management, they are terrifying, and dangerous neighbors.

There are at least 5,000 elephants, there used to be 15,000 two centuries ago. They particularly like the rich alluvial plain, best for rice farmers and their families. Often girls come back from school and have to stop before getting home, terrified by a trumpeting band of irate multi tons quadrupeds in the distance. More than 100 elephants a year are killed to protect crops and houses. Their habitat is extremely fragmented.

An extensive government monitoring and teaching program, complete with frightening pachyderms at night with firecrackers, has established some modus vivendi. However, that program is expensive, and will survive if, and only if watching elephants can be turned into such a profitable tourist activity, that it pays for itself. Blatantly.

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RESTORE NATURE AS IT EVOLVED TO BE. IN GIANT PARKS EVERYWHERE:

Speaking of elephants brings attention to the hypocrisy of much of the North Atlantic countries will be exposed. Large species related to elephants, mastodons and mammoths, used to roam present say NATO. Agreed, they were a threat. But also a resource. NATO now has the technology to enjoy the resource, and keep the threat in check.

There used to be mammoths, wooly rhinoceroses, and elks with antlers 3 meters across all over Europe. Men eliminated them all in the last 14,000 years. The extermination started with the (giant) Cave Bears, about 50,000 years ago. Thank the Neanderthals for that.

Up to 3,000 years ago, European Lions were still found in Western Europe. Aurochs survived until the 17C. Lions and tigers were still in the Caucasus-Caspian area up to very recently. The Atlas lion, a larger species, survived until the 20C. Poison nearly completely eliminated Brown Bears in Europe (the ancestors of American Grizzlies), and wolves (who are coming back, big time).

So is Europe going to show the way, and re-introduce what it used to enjoy? Real big dangerous animals? Experiments in France (reintroducing prehistoric horses and bison) show that nature becomes completely different, taking more the appearance of a park, like the African savannah park (for the same reason). 

Homo sapiens has eliminated megafauna on most continents. Australia had many large animals (marsupial “lion”, marsupial “rhinoceros”). Men arrived by boats, killed them all. Ever since Australian ecology has been out of balance (in spite of dingoes to play predators).

Notice that the usual anti-idea that the climate fluctuations and attending vegetation change truly killed the megafauna do not hold for Australia: the extent of glaciation in Australia was rather reduced (to put it ironically). Verily, it’s the other way around. It is likely that killing (most of the) megafauna changed the vegetation, and maybe even the climate.

Exterminating “lions” allowed the cattle to multiply. This is what Neolithic herders wanted. However, differently from lions (previously the most frequent species, as they eat everything, from rabbit up), cattle make a lot of methane, CH4, the powerful greenhouse gas. Thus the first man made greenhouse. It may have prevented a return of a little glaciation.

It’s high time to reverse all this, and restore megafauna. Before being able to re-create the original species, stand-ins ought to be brought in. Elephants and rhinoceroses have been suggested for Australia, be it only to reduce the (African) Gamba grass (a giant grass, meters tall, made to burn spectacularly. I have seen some of these brush fires in the park-savannah).  Australia had a full megafauna, with rhinoceros sized “giant wombats“, and predators to control them. It disappeared 50,000 years ago, as Homo Sapiens invaded (that disappearance led, in turn, to climate change… this, please notice, is the exact opposite to what Conventional Wisdom is paid to babble about).

The full panoply of prehistoric animals ought to be reintroduced, say in Europe. OK, none of the ancient animals has been yet recreated, using genetic engineering (although some Japanese have just such a plan for mammoths). However some animals close to extinction such as the Amur Leopard, the Siberian Tiger could be reintroduced in safe places, along the lines of the reintroduction of the California Condor.

And yes, some of these places ought to be in Western Europe. Britain could start by reintroducing the wolf, exterminated in the 17C (the UK has signed a treaty to this effect, but “forgot” to implement it).

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RESTORE THE HUMAN MINDS, IN FULL:

Why should we restore wild nature? As I said above, to abate cruelty, restore morality. However it goes much further than that, as I evoked in the abstract. That will be the second part of this essay, where spectacular connections with neurobiology, neurohormonology, institutional cycles, and the present civilizational crisis will be established.

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Patrice Ayme

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32 Responses to “CRUELTY AGAINST BIOSPHERE”

  1. Martin Lack Says:

    This post is 3750 words in length! If necessary, please forgive my impertinence, Patrice, but can I suggest that you try to limit individual posts to say less than 1500 words? With the greatest of respect to you and all that you have to say, I believe you will get more traffic to – and more comments on – your site if you do this. Unless it is me that is merely incapable, I suspect than many readers cannot retain their thoughts on what they read and must either make physical notes, or type their ideas into a document in another window alongside that showing your blog (this is what I have to do).

    The predominantly unintentional destruction of the biosphere (i.e. ecocide) is not a perversion of the degeneracy of civilization that affects us (that would be a double negative); it is a consequence of it. I think you may be right to cite the beliefs of the native Indians of North America as a good example of how to live in harmony with nature. However, I think the Judeo-Christian tradition is not entirely bereft – it has merely been corrupted by Western ‘progress’ and The Enlightenment in particular. I have not much to say about Buddhism or Jainism other than I feel, much more than Roman Catholicism or Russian Orthodoxy, they deserve to be labelled as “the opiate of the masses”. As for Hitler, the Nazis and Merkel, I am going to pass on that one this time: A definite sense of deja-vu and strictly “no comment” from me.

    I also think you are right to point out the job creation potential of finally beginning to live in harmony with nature (i.e. being good stewards of it) rather considering ourselves to be superior to it (i.e. going forth, multiplying, and ‘subduing’ it). We have indeed lost our way, but were we led astray; or are we all equally guilty? Personally, I believe the blame lies within each and every one of us. In essence this is why I cannot be a socialist. Socialists (and liberals) believe that humans are essentially good and capable of creating Utopia if the right conditions are provided for it to emerge. Conservatives accept that humans are essentially imperfect; and therefore rely upon received wisdom and tradition to optimise reality. By embracing moral relativism, socialists and liberals have made the fallacy of the marketplace of ideas – and the cynical rejection of all authority figures – a very powerful and corrosive aspect to modernity itself. It is the reason climate change scepticism is proving so hard to dismantle.

    You cite the example of elephants being endangered by ivory poachers. But as with heroin, the solution is not legalisation, the solution is education. The illegal trade endangering elephants and many other endangered species will be stopped by the education of people who hold irrational beliefs about the powers of animal artefacts (such as in Chinese medicine and Homeopathy). The sixth mass extinction of species now underway is caused by human activity and, as with all other adverse consequences of human activity (such as climate change), is a consequence of the scale at which that activity is now occurring. In other words, all these things are Limits to Growth phenomena.

    As for your categorisation of three types of crime, cruelty to individual animals is a perversion similar to paedophilia; cruelty to the biosphere is a consequence of not recognising its intrinsic value (pursuing its inherent or instrumental value instead); and injuring ourselves is a failure to recognise that we are a part of nature not separate from it (see above). As for the dangerous nature of wild animals such as Asian Black Bears, I would be surprised if this is not learnt behaviour. My understanding that, although often shot in the US, black bears do not generally attack humans; they are vegetarians aren’t they? If any animal attacks you but then does not eat you, I suspect history will record that you deserved it; you must have worried it or provoked it. We may be part of nature but that does not mean that every part of it is going to love us. Hug a tree by all means but, if you attempt to hug a crocodile, you deserve your fate.

    Good luck with Jurassic Park.

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    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      dear Martin: Your own comment is pretty long, and i thank you for it. I don’t have the time to read it presently (I have an appointment far away). Books are long, true. Are we therefore only to read tweets? What’s next? Perching in trees, instant messaging all day? Birds already do that.
      I start my essays with abstract, precisely for those who do not have time.
      I could have said: “Cruel with bio bad”. But chimps I don’t consider my interlocutiors to be. Anyway I will read your full comment later today, when I have time, now I have to hit the road.
      Thinking has to be re-learned.
      PA

      Like

      • Martin Lack Says:

        I know, Patrice, I’m sorry but, you will have to put that down to cause and effect. Have a good day and, remember, if I didn’t enjoy reading what you write, I would not do it.

        Like

        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          Thanks Martin!
          My essays are designed to be read modularly. For less taxing activity:

          Patrice Ayme (@Tyranosopher) on Twitter
          twitter.com/tyranosopher
          Philosophy. No Holds Barred. No clout left unturned. Extracting possible truth from primal facts, in history and science, rather than from literary gossip.

          It’s all aphorisms, limited to 140 characters.
          PA

          Like

      • Martin Lack Says:

        Dear Patrice, I am very glad that you are able to receive constructive criticism with good humour. However, I am not sure what you mean by “modularly”. If this is an acknowledgement that your essays could be easily split into smaller chunks, why do you not do it? If you did, you might not get people posting 750-word responses! Or perhaps you just want responses 140 characters in length?

        Although I have created a Twitter account to help promote my blog, I do not have a smartphone; and I dislike both tweets and texts because I think they imperil centuries of linguistic development. There is a great gulf between 3750 words and 140 characters; and all I am suggesting is that you take advantage of it. If you choose to ignore this suggestion, I will of course respect your decision; and not repeat myself further.

        One question remains though: If, notwithstanding domestic crises and/or ill-health in the family, you are able to regularly churn-out essays of this length, how come you do not have time to respond to someone who takes the time to respond in detail?

        In closing, I would wish to repeat that I am not attacking you; I am trying to be helpful (I say this because Paul H. tells me I often seem very aggressive, when all I am doing is speaking plainly. In reality, I am about as aggressive as a dead fish)… 🙂

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        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          Dear Martin: I did not answer you last long comment, because I had some duties. I also had an answer to you that I unfortunately lost because the computer crashed. My last essay had been written in days prior. The reason for writing essays is a bit the same as in writing books: to go deeper.

          I don’t want to do like Krugman, and always write the same shallow things, because each time I get started, I have to stop, having exceeded my self allocated 75 words or so. Krugman has the most popular economic blog, and I read it. However it’s stuck in the ankle deep mud of convenience on steroid. Krugman talks about Iceland all the time, but has never, ever mentioned the important idiopathic point about it: Icesave. Why? Because Krugman never wrote an essay about Iceland. If he had, he would have had to mention Icesave. And that would change HIS picture completely.

          Similarly, just worse, with Quantitative Easing. Krugman looks at all these things in a shallow manner, greatly, I believe, because of the way he expresses himself. Expression modulates reflection. Always.

          Some of the most popular blogs are just vulgar and shallow, and precisely popular because of that. They constitute, mostly, pornography (id est “writing of prostitutes“).

          Nowadays people are addicted to a short attention span. Nietzsche used to say that newspapers killed thinking, or something like that. Now he would have been aghast to learn that a cause of concern is trains of thought exceeding 750 words.

          Since we are into the fine points of editing, etc., I do modify my essays a bit, typically in the first few hours, because there are sometimes computer glitches, or, on re-reading, I find problems. I have been unable to go around this: I look at the essay differently after it’s out there. A few times major (controversial) essays were blocked and never published because I sent them prior to people who asked for major modifications (still pending! Supposing I can find the essays again!)

          So I do what I can. No more. It’s better to do that than splitting hair in 750 nanometers pieces, each with a catchy title.

          BTW, I tried the shorter post method, on a Blogger account. But it takes time, and I got no feedback, so I basically put it to sleep…
          PA.

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        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          Dear Martin: Let me quote you. You said in your comment to me:
          You cite the example of elephants being endangered by ivory poachers. But as with heroin, the solution is not legalisation, the solution is education. The illegal trade endangering elephants and many other endangered species will be stopped by the education of people who hold irrational beliefs about the powers of animal artefacts (such as in Chinese medicine and Homeopathy). The sixth mass extinction of species now underway is caused by human activity and, as with all other adverse consequences of human activity (such as climate change), is a consequence of the scale at which that activity is now occurring. In other words, all these things are Limits to Growth phenomena.

          With all due respect, that is the Common Wisdom on the subject. The theme of my essay was that this Common Wisdom is completely wrong. From the lack of education of the white people proffering it.

          I explained: elephants are extremely dangerous. It’s very uneducated to believe otherwise. educated elephants, if they know they are safe and treated with respect are, indeed safe. But that requires management. And enormous resources.

          I lived in Africa. When you come by the river, and you see a male bull elephant 300 meters away, you seriously worry if you are on foot. All the Kenya-safari stuff is unreal, the beasts are half domesticated, and people drive around anyway. But in reality Africans are very educated about megafauna. Africans are much more educated about megafauna than arrogant pontificators who have never lived among it, in Africa. It is sheer racism to believe Africans don’t know megafauna. To see it, they can start with the roof of their hut.

          Have you lived in huts with extremely lethal enormous snake hiding in the straw? I have. Many Africans have (that’s why most Africans have fled to cities, by the way: safer there!)

          Africans know megafauna kills. Have you had some monster beast come by your bed at night, sniffing? I had, I was 10, and I don’t know if it was a heyna or a leopard, but that was close.

          So Africans kill megafauna. It’s not because they are selling the leopard pelts (although I own several, with bullet holes here or there). It’s because they want to live. And they want their children to live. One single leopard in India was documented as having killed more than 200 people. Yes I had full grown live cheetahs on my knee. Seeing them eat is highly instructive. better be their friend!

          Way out? Management. But management is expensive, so leopards and elephants have to pay for it.
          Management is better than extermination.

          There is nothing irrational about ivory. It’s magnificent. I have a lamp made out of an elephant tusk. It glows from inside. It’s very old, and, at the time that elephant was killed there were millions in Africa. If elepahnts were viewed as a toering economic resource, as they are renewable, their numbers would grow. Selling two tusks a year would pay for a village’s solar pannels.

          And I love elephants, precisely.
          PA

          Like

  2. Paul Handover Says:

    OK, this was a long and intellectually demanding essay. But length, of itself, is irrelevant; the typical book is 80,000 words long (as I know to my cost!).

    But the fundamental premise that we need revisions to the legal framework to make any and all actions that harm the biosphere a civil/criminal offence is spot on.

    Interestingly, a recent BBC News item, see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-18455351 speaks in harmony with the proposition in PA’s essay, ergo this extract:

    “Politics isn’t necessarily the best course, nor politicians the best people to plot such a course, to judge by the glacial, boulder-strewn pace of talks here in Rio.

    The science is clear on so many of the issues, and ministers acknowledge it – but they see many other factors too, which is why the political response on issues such as climate change often lags way behind the science.

    If politics can’t get on with it, what about the law?

    In 1996, lawyer Mark Gray had a simple vision: make ecocide (destroying nature) a crime.”

    Once again, Mr. Ayme is thinking ‘outside the box’.

    Like

    • Martin Lack Says:

      I think this is why I don’t read many books: I don’t like the escapism of reading novels; and I hate having to take notes on non-fiction books (because I know I will just forget it otherwise). Is there something wrong with me?

      Like

    • Martin Lack Says:

      If the fundamental premise was as you suggest, then I would wholeheartedly agree; but I am afraid that (for me at least) it was lost in an ocean of words. However, I am not asking Patrice to desist from the intellectualisation of the subject; all I am suggesting is that he could present it in more manageable pieces. Otherwise, I fear that my failure to spot the core message will be replicated many times over by people suffering from mental indigestion.

      I trust no offence will be taken by me saying this (I am not trying to upset anyone). However, if I am the problem, I will just shut up and go away.

      Like

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Thanks Paul for the information, I was not aware, and will look into it. And thank, as usual, for the compliments. “Ecocide” implies genocide (human and otherwise), so it should be clearly a crime.
      I want to show, in the second part (yet unwritten) that this cruel drift explains out increasingly cruel world. Look at Italy: no primary deficit, still everything being cut because the cruel plutocrats ask for ever higher rent. What about rent control?
      But right now I have to run.
      PA

      Like

  3. Wen Scott Says:

    There is one issue you don’t touch in your essay, Patrice, and that is human population. Yes, very controversial, and yes in the past attempts to ‘control’ human populations have been disastrous (and probably immoral).

    That said, I still believe we need to look at our own numbers (7B +) much more critically. If we were able to provide meaningful incentives to people who choose 1 or no children, rather than disincentive, for example, guaranteed provision in old age, over the next few centuries reduced numbers will mean reduced demands on the environment — coupled with some of your suggestions above and better consumption choices will make huge differences in the stabilization of our beautiful world.

    Like

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Wen: yes, I did not touch the total population problem (clearly too high for present sustainable technology), but the essay is actually the first part of something else, quite a bit deeper, the allegation that, by damaging nature, we damaged our minds.
      And the worse is that the places that can afford children less, have them more. Soon there will be no more Japanese and Germans 9except in retirement homes with Merkel!), but 200 millions Nigerians.
      PA

      Like

  4. preventing reverse psychology in the future « power of language blog: partnering with reality by JR Fibonacci Says:

    […] Cruelty Against Biosphere (patriceayme.wordpress.com) […]

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  5. Old Geezer Says:

    At the present time, we need 1.4 planet earths to sustain us at our current level of existance. No need to extrapolate the disaster awaiting us when all the Chinese and Indians decide to commute from suburbia in their cars.

    Or the Africans decide to eat meat.

    Perhaps this global “downturn” has a bright side. If we can all learn to live and thrive WITHOUT GROWTH. Because somehow growth always means burning more fossil, using more fertilizer and water, creating more waste and pollution.

    Like

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear OGP: it’s all about the nature of growth. Germany has been growing exponentially it’s solar industry (producing up to 22 GW, 22 nuclear plants, in two consecutive days in May 2012). That’s good. Growing coal plants, as Germany is also doing (26 new ones planned), that’s terrible (there is no CO2 capture involved).
      Africans used to meat meat. Lots of fish, fowl. So full access to meat would be a return to the past’s comfort (3-4-5 year olds in Africa tend to be protein deficient, though, even when the adults got enough proteins… Lack of education, plus lack of milk.)

      I tried to advocate in ‘Cruelty…’ the new economy, same as the old one, to take care of the environment, by spending lots of time on it:”One must cultivate one’s garden, our planet.”
      PA

      Like

      • Old Geezer Says:

        Goes back to Aristotle’s definition of Happiness. Living well in harmony with nature.

        Bet he never watched TV commercials.

        Like

  6. Andrej Dekleva Says:

    Patrice,

    You have been very consistent with the length of your essays so I don’t see why this has become a topic – I like your modular explanation, as it’s true for the structure of your individual essays and to the development of ideas through the blog.
    But I’m so happy to be arriving to this point – ‘the deepest hollow of our minds, a system failure left behind’ – this line from Massive Attack song just resonated in my room as I was searching for a phrase to describe it.
    I’ve had a hunch that our psyche/neurology is being ruined with our systematic obliteration of terrestrial magic (if I may be so unscientific to evoke beauty) and can’t wait to see what you find in this relationship. I’m hoping you can connect this murderous path we’re on as humans to the idea that we’re birthing babies in places where they are not only unnecessary but actually destructive, while our Western comfort cultures are slowly aging, poorly…
    With greatest respect to your abstinence from any sort of mind expanding chemistry – how do you plan to ‘improve’ ourselves/our minds in time to prevent this perversion from winning? I mean our wisdom quotient is decreasing if I’m noticing anything, this consumerism is perfect for growing ignorance.
    … and please, don’t hold back on anecdotal details anout running through the wilderness, attacks from beasts are the best way to connect complex philosophical ideas and keep them dynamic!

    Like

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Andrej: Welcome to the commentary part of this debate! And thank you.

      Terrestrial Magic” is an excellent expression, I will de delighted to us it. Indeed, nature, in full, is magic. And i claim that magic is necessary to have a brain in full. That is while I piled up the interaction between me and nature in the raw, since ever. And I always found that reality, in full, makes fiction so meek as to be unreal. Be it among waves, in the cathedral forests, in the savannah, in the canyons, the desert or the peaks, in the raging storm or the tall flames of an African fire, reality is what’s left after everything else became immaterial.

      Fiercest real experiences are the fiercest impactors on the mind’s chemistry, hence the mind itself. At the battle of Bir Hakeim, a soldier who had lost an entire leg to a German 88 shell kept on fighting and singing, into the next day. When asked recently how he did it, standing on one leg, he replied he did not feel the pain. For 24 hours. After he reached the British lines and was safe, only then did he feel the pain. It is actually well documented that, when there is an absolute need, to accomplish an important, the mind does not generate crippling pain.

      A dose of serious reality is what many of today’s leaders need. And not just in Egypt.
      PA

      Like

  7. Martin Lack Says:

    Dear Patrice, Please forgive me for overlooking much of your original post (about megafauna) – I may well have missed the thrust of your entire argument. Therefore, although I am grateful to you for taking the time to explain what I may have missed (above) – and I accept that ivory makes nice objects – I do not see how this invalidates what I said (and I just wish people could wait until the elephant died of natural causes before making use if it).

    Like

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Martin: Any animal which is large enough is dangerous. Especially if it eats more than shrimps. Especially when its business is to kill, or avoid being killed by the fiercest means.

      Your idea that one should wait for elephants to die naturally to harvest their ivory is very interesting. And it may actually be practical. I agree that this would be the best.
      In Asia, elephants are disappearing. Why? They are replaced by machinery. It used to be that they were crucially economcally useful, and wild populations were maintained as elephants were captured among them.

      The biosphere has economic utility. krill has economic utility. However megafauna, in the present set-up, does not. In many places nets are put up against sharks. It is a deep philosophical mistake to force the megafauna out of our lives. As I will detail in the next essay, if I find time to write it.

      So we have to make megafauna economically useful. If the Chinese are going to have more than 10,000 endangered bears in a sort of zoo to extract their bile, so be it. The alternative, at this point is confining the bears to history. And poetical moaning of no value in the real world. I want to hike in Asian forests, threatened by bears (happened once, in a Iranian Caspian forest, next to Alamkou! After an hour of threats, I succeeded to scare the bear away from my family; the locals admitted the bears are very dangerous, they hunted and poisoned them; something ecotourism and the like could stop)
      PA

      Like

      • Martin Lack Says:

        Do you agree with me that Black Bears in America are vegetarian and, if so, what of their Asian counterparts?

        Like

        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          One should have used my link provided on Asian Black Bears… American Black Bears, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Black_Bear are OMNIVOROUS, like Homo Sapiens. Both species die on a vegetarian diet. There are more attacks on humans in America (USA + Canada) than from Brown Bears (Grizzlies). I have seen Ursus Americanus chomp on live flesh, in the wild, from 5 meters away (at 5 am, the 300 kgs bear then fled).
          Once in the Banff area (Alberta) several people got killed in a few days by Black Bears. Rangers reacted by killing all such bears in a vast area.

          As I said I was charged by Black Bears more than once, and stalked at least once (in June at 9pm, Squaw Valley). The trick is that bears hate stones

          It is better to throw the stones on a noisy object, not directly on the bear, lest it gets enraged! Once, though, after being charged by a youngish bear. As the bear came for an encore, I hit the bear with a rock on the side, only then did the beast flee, full speed. Three weeks later, in the same area, it tore off the face of a woman, and was killed by Yosemite rangers. The reason for the charge and attack was that I carried a backpack with chicken inside! That bear was in the habit of tearing packs off hikers. Little Yosemite valley, quite a while ago.
          PA

          Like

      • Martin Lack Says:

        Thanks Patrice. Apologies for overlooking earlier links and/or comment. My misapprehension that US Black Bears are vegetarian is as a consequence of the amazing work of Dr Lynn Rogers in Minesotta.
        http://blogs.bbcworldwide.com/2012/05/18/planet-earth-live-blog-black-bears-in-minnesota/

        Like

        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          Martin: Thanks for the link. This lady is dealing with bears who know her, that’s different. Bears are extremely intelligent. One researcher who works on intelligence with bears and one chimp says he does not see much difference. Bears’ intelligence makes them highly unpredictable.

          Bears are totally obsessed with eating flesh, and have been known, like wolves to kill, for killing’s sake. When I meet a carnivorous, or omnivore, member of the megafauna, I try to project mutual respect, while discreetly increasing the distance, and, if that is not applicable for some reason, abject terror.
          PA

          Like

  8. Andrej Dekleva Says:

    Just wanted to add that it was nice to hear the whole story about the bear encounters you’ve had, Patrice – I’ll keep a stone around when hiking the vast Sierras…

    Like

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Hi Andrej: I have only run fully armed with stones after interference with mountain lions (I have charged mountain lions three times). The time I was attacked by that bear in Little Yosemite valley, I had the time to constitute a weapon made of climbing gear attached at the end of a rope I was spinning like a mace. The bear had just attacked and grabbed the bags of half a dozen screaming Americans, who were banging pots, 30 meters away, a music all half civilized bears associate with human impotence.

      Then that ursine thinker decided my chicken was much more interesting than peanut butter. Anyway he had finished that, with the tooth paste. After the first charge, which I eschewed elegantly, torreador style (Actually the bear veered at the last second, lest it contacts with heavy steel!) I decided a good piece of granite would facilitate its intellectual efforts to comprehend the situation, and I hit it squarely in the ribs, the only time I targetted a bear directly. Usually I hit something on the side like a boulder. Anyway he fled for his life. Tourist saw it still running like a maniac half a kilometer away. It was clearly a dangerous bear.

      But around Tahoe there are many civilized bears, who come next to the inhabitations very discreetly.

      My greatest fear with bears is to fall upon cubs. That happened more than once: bears, including cubs, love to use trails. Last year, when, after running through a kilometer of slabs I re-entered forest, 5 miles from the closest road, just to find myself, to my consternation, in the middle of a bear family. The bears had got to have seen me coming, and maybe thought i targetted them deliberately. It was pandemonium, as the tiny ones were very curious and did not follow their parents’ mixture of orders, advice and threats. That was the occasion for me to discover that experts are wrong about bears: the male can be with the female, well after birth… I got outta there ASAP, and did not stop for pictures.

      Ideally, especially against mountain lions, a knife should be carried, or, at least pepper (but I generally forget). Anyway lions attack mostly from behind, so it’s more a matter of impressing them at the outset, a lesson I learned in Africa…
      PA

      Like

  9. Homepage Says:

    Excellent job. I did not expect this. This is really a superb article. Thanks!

    Like

  10. Paul Handover Says:

    Patrice, I think the ‘Homepage’ comment is spam.

    Anyway, thanks to Naked Capitalism for providing this link http://cryptome.org/2012/06/uscg062212.htm from which I quote:

    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY

    Coast Guard

    33 CFR Part 165

    [Docket Number USCG-2012-0508]
    RIN 1625-AA00

    Safety Zone; Arctic Drilling and Support Vessels, Puget Sound, WA

    AGENCY: Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION: Temporary final rule.

    ———————————————————————–

    SUMMARY: The Coast Guard is establishing a temporary safety zone around the nineteen vessels associated with Arctic drilling as well as their lead towing vessels while those vessels are underway in the Puget Sound Captain of the Port Zone. The safety zone is necessary to ensure the safety of the maritime public and specified vessels while they transit and will do so by prohibiting any person or vessel from entering or remaining in the safety zone unless authorized by the Captain of the Port or a Designated Representative.

    DATES: This rule is effective with actual notice from June 7, 2012,
    until June 22, 2012. This rule is effective in the Code of Federal
    Regulations from June 22, 2012 through August 1, 2012.

    Like

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Hi Paul!
      I was travelling and completely cut-off any Internet access for more than 26 hours… (and had reduced access before that). Interesting that Coast Guard protection of fossil fuels in action. First time I hear of it. They may be heading towards the Beaufort Sea (just off North-East Alaska).
      In France the socialist government, in full control of everything, just authorized Shell to drill off Guyana. French socialists may be left wing, but they stay on the right side of oil…

      This being said the big problem with Arctic drilling is that the waters are a bit cold, global heating or not. Thus, if oil spills, dispersants will not work, and the oil devouring bacteria found in the Gulf of Mexico, will probably not be there, and, if there was something like that, it would be much more sluggish…

      In any case, they are hard to stop. Better to circumvent them by pushing for newer and cleaner energy… If “homepage” is spam, & makes its home in these pages, it shall be zapped… But occasionally legitimate comments ended down in “spam”, I was told, and observed, BTW…
      PA

      Like

  11. Why I am not a Socialist « Lack of Environment Says:

    […] responding to the amazingly erudite blogger who is Patrice Ayme, on the subject of how we should treat all other life-forms with which we currently share this planet, I recently found myself explaining some very basic stuff regarding what makes me tick: I also […]

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  12. Golden Earth Says:

    How many species of plants and animals are there? Although scientists have classified approximately 1.7 million organisms, they recognize that the overwhelming majority have not yet been catalogued.
    Between 10 and 50 million species may inhabit our planet. None of these creatures exists in a vacuum. All living things are part of a complex, often delicately balanced network called the biosphere. The earth’s biosphere, in turn, is composed of countless ecosystems, which include plants and animals and their physical environments. No one knows how the extinction of organisms will affect the other members of its ecosystem, but the removal of a single species can set off a chain reaction affecting many others.
    This is especially true for “keystone” species, whose loss can transform or undermine the ecological processes or fundamentally change the species composition of the wildlife community.

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