When the recovery from the Coved 19 pandemic comes, I hope/pray that it does not come as a misguided return to the dead end unlimited growth way it was. Mother Nature(Gaia) is speaking very pointedly to humanity: what we are doing is not sustainable and will not sustain human civilization on Earth. Indeed, it is imperative that all of us recognize that Coved 19 may well be Nature’s last warning to a deluded and all-too-arrogant humanity.
It is not as though nature has not been very clear about the inevitable end to species that know only the urge to grow without limit. I remember so well the public quarrel in the late 1970’s when the BC Forest Service wanted to spray large swaths of the upper Fraser canyon with the toxic chemical Sevin to control an outbreak of Western Spruce Budworm.
The Budworm, it seems, shares a common trait with humanity—it has a propensity for unrestricted growth of its population. It can be devastating on Douglas Fir forests—for a time. For humanity—well, actually, for capitalist’s society, the idea of sharing the forests with another species is just unthinkable. All of nature is ours for the taking so any species that wants a share of nature’s bounty is an enemy to be eliminated in any way necessary—including spraying toxic chemicals over vast forests; regardless of the impact on human and other non target species. But for the spray program aimed at Fraser Canyon spruce budworm there was a problem: people lived in and got water from the drainages the BC Forest Service wanted to blanket with toxic sprays. From 1977-1979 every time the Forest Service got its poisonous sprays ready to take flight local residents came up with another successful way to block the spraying which would not have been healthy for the human population as well as damaging to the Spruce Budworm.
Finally in 1979 the BC government removed all restraints preemptively! And the pesticide laden planes were off!
Well they were almost off. Just before the spray program was to take to the air a local entomologist brought back surveys showing there was no infestation to spray! In the three years the Forest Service spent fighting to spray the moths, the moths, of themselves, had come up against mother nature’s dictum that all must live within a balance. The moths, by their massive presence in the forest had attracted both predators and rapidly spreading disease that entirely collapsed the budworm populations in the Fraser Canyon.
In nature nothing is allowed to grow without limits—not budworms—not humans. As the virus is teaching us, it is a mortal delusion to believe that we have some sort of executive pass on the laws of nature that apply to all other species.
But if we are to abandon the infinite growth/consume everything at the fastest possible rate ethic that has for the past two centuries dominated human thought, how will we live? Very good question –a question we all must begin to ask ourselves AND we must begin to talk (however physically distant) collectively about how we can turn away from the devastating path that has been the human trajectory until this nasty virus injected its dire warning into our considerations of who we are and what we are doing on this beautiful Earth.
If you are looking for a place to begin meaningful discussions about where we go from here I highly recommend the free online Earth Fest webinar series organized by Creatively United for the Planet that will run from 11am to 12:30 pm (PT) daily from April 19-25. Arriving fittingly on the 50th anniversary of the founding of Earth Day this webinar series will explore topics such as:
Thursday, April 23
Creating One Planet, Self-Sustaining Communities
Jack Anderson, Chad Thiessen, Ken Nentwig, & Pooran Desai
Friday, April 24
Regenerative Agriculture and The Zero-Mile Diet
Carolyn Herriot & Gary MacDougall
Saturday, April 25
Bouncing Forward to a One Planet Region: Could Covid-19 be a Social Tipping Point?
Dr. Trevor Hancock & Nigel Seale
On Sunday, April 26 at 4:00 pm Mike and Arlene Bell are holding a Comox Valley based digital discussion of the TED Talk: “A Healthy Economy Should Be Designed to Thrive, Not Grow” by Kate Raworth. As security on Zoom has been an issue I will send a link to the discussion if you write me at the email below.
If after digitally sitting in on all or some of these conversations you would like to (digitally) explore some of these ideas (or similar topics) in a local context please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will set up a video conference to begin such a discussion.