This is an excerpt from the book Bright Green Lies, P. 1-7
By LIERRE KEITH
“Once our authoritarian technics consolidates its powers, with the aid of its new forms of mass control, its panoply of tranquilizers and sedatives and aphrodisiacs, could democracy in any form survive? That question is absurd: Life itself will not survive, except what is funneled through the mechanical collective.”1
There is so little time and even less hope here, in the midst of ruin, at the end of the world. Every biome is in shreds. The green flesh of forests has been stripped to grim sand. The word water has been drained of meaning; the Athabascan River is essentially a planned toxic spill now, oozing from the open wound of the Alberta tar sands. When birds fly over it, they drop dead from the poison. No one believes us when we say that, but it’s true. The Appalachian Mountains are being blown to bits, their dense life of deciduous forests, including their human communities, reduced to a disposal problem called “overburden,” a word that should be considered hate speech: Living creatures—mountain laurels, wood thrush fledglings, somebody’s grandchildren—are not objects to be tossed into gullies. If there is no poetry after Auschwitz, there is no grammar after mountaintop removal. As above, so below. Coral reefs are crumbling under the acid assault of carbon. And the world’s grasslands have been sliced to ribbons, literally, with steel blades fed by fossil fuel. The hunger of those blades would be endless but for the fact that the planet is a bounded sphere: There are no continents left to eat. Every year the average American farm uses the energy equivalent of three to four tons of TNT per acre. And oil burns so easily, once every possibility for self-sustaining cultures has been destroyed. Even the memory of nature is gone, metaphrastic now, something between prehistory and a fairy tale. All that’s left is carbon, accruing into a nightmare from which dawn will not save us. Climate change slipped into climate chaos, which has become a whispered climate holocaust. At least the humans whisper. And the animals? During the 2011 Texas drought, deer abandoned their fawns for lack of milk. That is not a grief that whispers. For living beings like Labrador ducks, Javan rhinos, and Xerces blue butterflies, there is the long silence of extinction.
We have a lot of numbers. They keep us sane, providing a kind of gallows’ comfort against the intransigent sadism of power: We know the world is being murdered, despite the mass denial. The numbers are real. The numbers don’t lie. The species shrink, their extinctions swell, and all their names are other words for kin: bison, wolves, black-footed ferrets. Before me (Lierre) is the text of a talk I’ve given. The original version contains this sentence: “Another 120 species went extinct today.” The 120 is crossed clean through, with 150 written above it. But the 150 is also struck out, with 180 written above. The 180 in its turn has given way to 200. I stare at this progression with a sick sort of awe. How does my small, neat handwriting hold this horror? The numbers keep stacking up, I’m out of space in the margin, and life is running out of time.
Twelve thousand years ago, the war against the earth began. In nine places,2 people started to destroy the world by taking up agriculture. Understand what agriculture is: In blunt terms, you take a piece of land, clear every living thing off it—ultimately, down to the bacteria—and then plant it for human use. Make no mistake: Agriculture is biotic cleansing. That’s not agriculture on a bad day, or agriculture done poorly. That’s what agriculture actually is: the extirpation of living communities for a monocrop for and of humans. There were perhaps five million humans living on earth on the day this started—from this day to the ending of the world, indeed—and there are now well over seven billion. The end is written into the beginning. As earth and space sciences scholar David R. Montgomery points out, agricultural societies “last 800 to 2,000 years … until the soil gives out.”3 Fossil fuel has been a vast accelerant to both the extirpation and the monocrop—the human population has quadrupled under the swell of surplus created by the Green Revolution—but it can only be temporary. Finite quantities have a nasty habit of running out. The name for this diminishment is drawdown, and agriculture is in essence a slow bleed-out of soil, species, biomes, and ultimately the process of life itself. Vertebrate evolution has come to a halt for lack of habitat, with habitat taken by force and kept by force: Iowa alone uses the energy equivalent of 4,000 Nagasaki bombs every year. Agriculture is the original scorched-earth policy, which is why both author and permaculturist Toby Hemenway and environmental writer Richard Manning have written the same sentence: “Sustainable agriculture is an oxymoron.” To quote Manning at length: “No biologist, or anyone else for that matter, could design a system of regulations that would make agriculture sustainable. Sustainable agriculture is an oxymoron. It mostly relies on an unnatural system of annual grasses grown in a mono- culture, a system that nature does not sustain or even recognize as a natural system. We sustain it with plows, petrochemicals, fences, and subsidies, because there is no other way to sustain it.”4
Agriculture is what creates the human pattern called civilization. Civilization is not the same as culture—all humans create culture, which can be defined as the customs, beliefs, arts, cuisine, social organization, and ways of knowing and relating to each other, the land, and the divine within a specific group of people. Civilization is a specific way of life: people living in cities, with cities defined as people living in numbers large enough to require the importation of resources. What that means is that they need more than the land can give. Food, water, and energy have to come from somewhere else. From that point forward, it doesn’t matter what lovely, peaceful values people hold in their hearts. The society is dependent on imperialism and genocide because no one willingly gives up their land, their water, their trees. But since the city has used up its own, it has to go out and get those from somewhere else. That’s the last 10,000 years in a few sentences. Over and over and over, the pattern is the same. There’s a bloated power center surrounded by conquered colonies, from which the center extracts what it wants, until eventually it collapses. The conjoined horrors of militarism and slavery begin with agriculture.
Agricultural societies end up militarized—and they always do—for three reasons. First, agriculture creates a surplus, and if it can be stored, it can be stolen, so, the surplus needs to be protected. The people who do that are called soldiers. Second, the drawdown inherent in this activity means that agriculturalists will always need more land, more soil, and more resources. They need an entire class of people whose job is war, whose job is taking land and resources by force—agriculture makes that possible as well as inevitable. Third, agriculture is backbreaking labor. For anyone to have leisure, they need slaves. By the year 1800, when the fossil fuel age began, three-quarters of the people on this planet were living in conditions of slavery, indenture, or serfdom.5 Force is the only way to get and keep that many people enslaved. We’ve largely forgotten this is because we’ve been using machines—which in turn use fossil fuel—to do that work for us instead of slaves. The symbiosis of technology and culture is what historian, sociologist, and philosopher of technology Lewis Mumford (1895-1990) called a technic. A social milieu creates specific technologies which in turn shape the culture. Mumford writes, “[A] new configuration of technical invention, scientific observation, and centralized political control … gave rise to the peculiar mode of life we may now identify, without eulogy, as civilization… The new authoritarian technology was not limited by village custom or human sentiment: its herculean feats of mechanical organization rested on ruthless physical coercion, forced labor and slavery, which brought into existence machines that were capable of exerting thousands of horsepower centuries before horses were harnessed or wheels invented. This centralized technics … created complex human machines composed of specialized, standardized, replaceable, interdependent parts—the work army, the military army, the bureaucracy. These work armies and military armies raised the ceiling of human achievement: the first in mass construction, the second in mass destruction, both on a scale hitherto inconceivable.”6
Technology is anything but neutral or passive in its effects: Ploughshares require armies of slaves to operate them and soldiers to protect them. The technic that is civilization has required weapons of conquest from the beginning. “Farming spread by genocide,” Richard Manning writes.7 The destruction of Cro-Magnon Europe—the culture that bequeathed us Lascaux, a collection of cave paintings in southwestern France—took farmer-soldiers from the Near East perhaps 300 years to accomplish. The only thing exchanged between the two cultures was violence. “All these artifacts are weapons,” writes archaeologist T. Douglas Price, with his colleagues, “and there is no reason to believe that they were exchanged in a nonviolent manner.”8
Weapons are tools that civilizations will make because civilization itself is a war. Its most basic material activity is a war against the living world, and as life is destroyed, the war must spread. The spread is not just geographic, though that is both inevitable and catastrophic, turning biotic communities into gutted colonies and sovereign people into slaves. Civilization penetrates the culture as well, because the weapons are not just a technology: no tool ever is. Technologies contain the transmutational force of a technic, creating a seamless suite of social institutions and corresponding ideologies. Those ideologies will either be authoritarian or democratic, hierarchical or egalitarian. Technics are never neutral. Or, as ecopsychology pioneer Chellis Glendinning writes with spare eloquence, “All technologies are political.”9
- Lewis Mumford, “Authoritarian and Democratic Technics,” Technology and Culture 5, no. 1 (Winter, 1964).
- There exists some debate as to how many places developed agriculture and civilizations. The best current guess seems to be nine: the Fertile Crescent; the Indian sub- continent; the Yangtze and Yellow River basins; the New Guinea Highlands; Central Mexico; Northern South America; sub-Saharan Africa; and eastern North America.
- David R. Montgomery, Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2007), 236.
- Richard Manning, Rewilding the West: Restoration in a Prairie Landscape (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009), 185.
- Adam Hochschild, Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire’s Slaves (Boston: Mariner Books, 2006), 2.
- Mumford op cit (Winter, 1964), 3.
- Richard Manning, Against the Grain: How Agriculture Has Hijacked Civilization (New York: North Point Press, 2004), 45.
- T. Douglas Price, Anne Birgitte Gebauer, and Lawrence H. Keeley, “The Spread of Farming into Europe North of the Alps,” in Douglas T. Price and Anne Brigitte Gebauer, Last Hunters, First Farmers (Santa Fe: School of American Research Press, 1995).
- Chellis Glendinning, “Notes toward a Neo-Luddite Manifesto,” Utne Reader, March- April 1990, 50.
by The Invisible Warrior / Illahee Spirit Runners
I have been asked to write a letter to someones grandchildren for the solstice. I think this fitting since i have no children. Sometimes i think of the movement as my children and is certainly a consideration when devoting to this path. 7 generations.
To all the grandchildren i have this message for you. As some of you know the world is in dire condition. Many of you have been born into a world where your existence and quality of life is questionable. Despite this please try to rise to the occasion and meet the challenges of your generation head on with dignity and determination. Defend your communities and the natural world. Challenge yourself to learn your roots. It helps to know where your coming from to know where your going. Try to get back to your roots before industrial civilization. Form sustainable habits. Find ways to give back to the earth who truly is our mother and source of your true power. Benefit and restore her whenever possible. Stick up for people. Stick up for all the creatures of the world the swimmers, the four legged, those crawlers and those who fly. Extinction is a major issue you will face in your lifetime. It will be difficult. Do it anyway. More people are coming to join you because there is no turning away from this truth. You will face climate catastrophe. Over 200 species go extinct each day. In the Anishinaabe wolf story it explains that what happens to the wolf will also happen to human kind. Remember not to be so worried about what people think of you that it prevents you from making a stand. On difficult days try to remember the animals and forests you fought for. Your causes. Put some water or tobacco on the ground from time to time.
If there was any wisdom i wanted to leave the youth was that we set out to prove wolves are sacred to the tribes of Turtle Island and they are. Wolves like humans in their ancient forms are what science calls a keystone species. This means they benefit the natural world around them. Its a compass telling you where to go, where to return to. How to find your way home.
Regularly study martial arts. One of the most useful things you can do for this world. Keep your self capable, and fortified. Do this for the planet so you can respond in defense of her, do this for your community, your family, lastly do this for yourself. This way you can protect. Solve problems as they arise. Build your mind and your spirit by building your body. Do this so your as a responsibility to pull your own weight. Be your own security. This is especially important for women so you don’t have to run to a man or the system for help, you can handle it right there on the spot. This is a huge and overlooked solution to many of the problems we face today.
At times it will seem difficult to work with other people and the people will be divided. Seek unity and collaboration where you can and hold it in high regard. The wolf teaches us to work together. That we are strong together. Community. This is the same for humans. Individuality is a lie. Contribute to the lives and well being of others. Seek to deeply understand the meaning of family in life. Be present for them. This is a very important time to be alive. Embrace it.
Wishing you the best winter solstice.
by Earthjustice / Ecowatch
The Trump administration released on Wednesday its long-overdue recovery plan for Mexican gray wolves, one of the most endangered mammal species in North America with an estimated wild population of just over 100. However, the plan charts a course for extinction rather than recovery, cutting off wolf access to vital recovery habitat and failing to respond to mounting genetic threats to the species.
“It’s a ‘recovery plan’ in name only. Without additional habitat and greater genetic diversity, the wolves will continue to teeter on the brink of extinction. The plan provides none of these essential needs,” said Heidi McIntosh, an attorney with the nonprofit environmental legal organization, Earthjustice, which sued the federal government on behalf of conservation organizations.
The Trump administration refused to listen to the tens of thousands of people who asked them to fix their awful draft plan before finalizing it. Among the people who weighed in asking for stronger protections for the wolves were concerned citizens, business owners and scientists.
“Lobos waited decades for a plan to save them, only to be given one that does not guarantee recovery,” said Bryan Bird, Southwest director for Defenders of Wildlife. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had the opportunity to build a plan on a foundation of science and conservation, but instead decided to let politics rule.”
“Instead of moving forward with a plan based on legitimate, science-based recommendations, the Service collaborated exclusively with the very states that have gone to extraordinary lengths to obstruct Mexican wolf recovery,” said Maggie Howell of the Wolf Conservation Center. “Critically endangered lobos deserve better.”
“The Fish and Wildlife Service published over 250 pages of supporting ‘scientific’ justification, used a sophisticated model to predict extinction probabilities, then tossed the science aside and asked the states how many wolves they would tolerate with no scientific justification whatsoever,” said David Parsons, former Mexican wolf recovery coordinator for the Fish and Wildlife Service. “Using the states’ arbitrary upper limit as a population cap in the population viability model and forcing additional recovery needs to Mexico, the plan will guarantee that from now to eternity no more than a running average of 325 Mexican wolves will ever be allowed to exist in the entire U.S. Southwest. This plan is a disgraceful sham.”
The best available science indicates that recovery of the Mexican gray wolf requires at least three connected populations totaling approximately 750 individuals, a carefully managed reintroduction effort that prioritizes improving the genetic health of the animals and the establishment of at least two additional population centers in the southern Rockies and in the Grand Canyon area.
“This isn’t a recovery plan, it’s a blueprint for disaster for Mexican gray wolves,” said Michael Robinson, conservation advocate for the Center for Biological Diversity. “Limiting recovery to south of Interstate 40 keeps wolves out of the Grand Canyon and southern Rocky Mountains, areas that would greatly benefit from having wolves back and that scientists have determined are absolutely essential to their recovery.”
The recovery plan just released by the Trump administration ignores the science and falls short in several key and interrelated ways:
- Fails to establish the additional population centers and limits wolves to inadequate habitat with low recovery potential;
- Does not provide for sufficient releases of wolves into the wild;
- Fails to ensure conservation and enhancement of genetic diversity to ameliorate inbreeding;
- Relies excessively on Mexico for recovery, where habitat is unpromising.
“It is critical for the health of the Mexican wolf population to obtain a sound, scientifically reviewed and based recovery plan. Politics should not play a role in management of an endangered species,” said Virginia Busch, executive director of the Endangered Wolf Center.
The critically endangered Mexican gray wolf almost vanished from the face of the earth in the mid-20th century because of human persecution. The entire population of Mexican wolves alive today descends from just seven individuals that were captured and placed into a captive breeding program before the species was exterminated from the wild.
In 2014, Earthjustice on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, retired Fish and Wildlife Service Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator David R. Parsons, the Endangered Wolf Center and the Wolf Conservation Center, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to develop a recovery plan.
Featured image: School children in Montana pose with wolves that Wildlife Services killed with aerial gunning
by Predator Defense
Five conservation groups filed a lawsuit in federal court today challenging the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services’ killing of gray wolves in Idaho.
The agency killed at least 72 wolves in Idaho last year, using methods including foothold traps, wire snares that strangle wolves, and aerial gunning from helicopters.
The agency has used aerial gunning in central Idaho’s “Lolo zone” for several years in a row — using planes or helicopters to run wolves to exhaustion before shooting them from the air, often leaving them wounded to die slow, painful deaths. The agency’s environmental analysis from 2011 is woefully outdated due to changing circumstances, including new recreational hunting and trapping that kills hundreds of wolves in Idaho each year, and significant changes in scientific understanding of wolves and ecosystem functions.
Wildlife Services does most of its wolf-killing at the behest of the livestock industry, following reports of livestock depredation. For example, five wolves were killed outside of Hailey, Idaho in July 2015 for allegedly attacking sheep. Documents indicate that Wildlife Services has even attempted to kill wolves in the newly-designated Boulder-White Clouds Wildernesses. But Wildlife Services does not consider whether livestock owners took common-sense precautionary measures to avoid conflicts with wolves such as lambing indoors.
“Wildlife Service’s wolf-killing program is senseless, cruel, and impoverishes our wild country,” said Travis Bruner of Western Watersheds Project. “Killing wolves for private livestock interests is wrong, especially on public lands, where wildlife deserves to come first. In addition, new science shows that it does not reduce conflicts long-term.”
“Wildlife Services has never even bothered to consider how much mortality a healthy wolf population can handle,” said Andrea Santarsiere of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Recent research indicates the state may be overestimating wolf populations — something Wildlife Services must consider before killing more wolves.”
“It is long past time that we base wildlife management decisions on the best available science, not on antiquated, disproven anti-wolf rhetoric,” said Bethany Cotton, wildlife program director 2 for WildEarth Guardians. “Wildlife Services needs to come out of the shadows, update its analyses and adopt practices in keeping with modern science and values about the ethical treatment of animals.”
The agency also kills wolves for the purported benefit of elk herds, including in the Lolo zone.
“The campaign waged against the Lolo’s native wolves in the name of elk is reprehensible. Science shows that the elk decline there is due to long-term, natural-habitat changes, not impacts from wolves,” said Gary Macfarlane of Friends of the Clearwater. “It is particularly galling that Wildlife Services is targeting wolves that mostly live in Wildernesses or large roadless areas. These, especially, are places where wolves should be left alone.”
“Wildlife Services, formerly called Animal Damage Control, has been criticized for over fifty years by some of our nation’s leading predator biologists. It has a long, documented history of violating state and federal laws, and even its own directives,” said Brooks Fahy, executive director of Predator Defense. “Idahoans and the American public deserve a guarantee that federal programs like Wildlife Services are using the most up-to-date scientific information available.”
The five conservation organizations are asking the court to order Wildlife Services to cease wolfkilling activities until it prepares an up-to-date environmental analysis of its wolf-killing program. The groups — Western Watersheds Project, the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Clearwater, WildEarth Guardians and Predator Defense — are represented by Advocates for the West and Western Watersheds Project attorneys. Read the complaint here.
By Center for Biological Diversity
After pressure from the Center for Biological Diversity and allies, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Wednesday it will release about 10 Mexican gray wolves into the wilds of southwestern New Mexico–a move scientists say is crucial to reduce dangerous inbreeding of the rare creatures.
Just days earlier, the Center and allies sent a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, signed by 43 groups and scientists, asking her to release at least five packs of endangered Mexican gray wolves into New Mexico’s 3.3-million-acre Gila National Forest.
Back in 1998, after a Center lawsuit, the Service began reintroducing Mexican gray wolves from captive-breeding facilities into their historic U.S. Southwest range, where they had been obliterated by federal poisoning and trapping. But the Service only released wolves into a small part of Arizona’s Apache National Forest, which quickly filled with wolf families.
“Releasing Mexican wolves to the wild is the only way to save these animals from extinction,” the Center’s Michael Robinson told the Santa Fe New Mexican. “It’s vital now that enough wolves get released to diversify their gene pool and ensure they don’t waste away from inbreeding.”
Read more in the Center for Biological Diversity press release and the Santa Fe New Mexican.