Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Love in the Time of Ebola

Overpopulation, ecosystem loss, climate change, and Ebola itself are all growing exponentially. The human family must come together now to stop Ebola in West Africa or risk a global pandemic that could potentially kill millions – even as we commit post-Ebola to solving with greater equity and justice the disease’s root causes of rainforest loss, poverty, war and overpopulation.

Deep ecology essay from Dr. Glen Barry, EcoInternet

Take Action! Demand More Aid to Africa to Stop Epidemic at Its Source

The Ebola epidemic in West Africa is doubling every 20 days, killing 70% of those infected. We are approaching a total of 10,000 official infections, though the actual number is almost certainly much higher. At this rate of growth, we can expect 10,000 new cases a week in December, with a far greater chance of the disease spreading internationally. It is clear that if Ebola is not stopped in Africa in the coming months, it will never be kept from Europe, America, and the rest of the world.

Despite some success containing the disease at its periphery, all who love the human family and Earth understand that avoiding a global pandemic depends upon the international community marshaling resources and rushing into the Ebola maelstrom to decisively stop it at its source. Efforts from the US military sending troops for logistical support, Cuba sending doctors, and Doctors Without Borders taking the lead in treatment and stopping infection are commendable but are too little and haphazard.

We have under two months to stop the deadly Ebola virus from – well, going viral. We must stop bickering, roll up our sleeves, and rush into the fire. Doing so will require massive amounts of aid, as only 1/3 of the initial $1 billion necessary to fight Ebola in Africa has been raised. Western democracies have plenty of money to wage perma-war but apparently meager funds and few doctors to avoid global pandemic. This is a shocking betrayal of international security by the world’s nations, and must not be tolerated. (You can take action with my organization EcoInternet to demand more Ebola aid.) [1].

Ebola’s real threat lies in its exponential growth and virulence, unleashed by overpopulated, sick ecosystems. Ebola is emblematic of the types of natural responses we can expect as planetary boundaries including the loss of terrestrial ecosystem are surpassed. As long as Ebola rages in Africa, no one in the world is safe from the threat of global pandemic.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Ebola a Symptom of Ecological and Social Collapse

The global environment is collapsing and dying under the weight of inequitable over-population and ecosystem loss.

“We learn the meaning of enough and how to share or it is the end of being.” ― Dr. Glen Barry
Ebola is ecosystem collapse
The surging Ebola epidemic is the result of broad-based ecological and social collapse including rainforest loss, over-population, poverty and war. This preventable environmental and human tragedy demonstrates the extent to which the world has gone dramatically wrong; as ecosystem collapse, inequity, grotesque injustice, religious extremism, nationalistic militarism, and resurgent authoritarianism threaten our species and planet’s very being.

Any humane person is appalled by the escalating Ebola crisis, and let’s be clear expressing these concerns regarding causation is NOT an attempt to hijack a tragedy. Things happen for a reason, and Ebola was preventable, and future catastrophes of potentially greater magnitude can be foreseen and avoided by the truth.

The single greatest truth underlying the Ebola tragedy is that humanity is systematically dismantling the ecosystems that make Earth habitable. In particular, the potential for Ebola outbreaks and threats from other emergent diseases is made worse by cutting down forests [1]. Exponentially growing human populations and consumption – be it subsistence agriculture or mining for luxury consumer items – are pushing deeper into African old-growth forests where Ebola circulated before spillover into humans.


Friday, September 19, 2014

VICTORY: Welcome Baby Steps by Greenpeace and FSC on Ending Old-Growth Forest Logging

Come together to end old-growth forest logging
Reflections upon having taken on Greenpeace and other lesser FSC old-growth logging apologists over their greenwash of old-growth forest logging and winning, and why 66% is the next 350.
“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
“All we ever wanted was for the good-guys Greenpeace and FSC to stop logging old-growth forests.” ― Dr. Glen Barry

Greenpeace does many things well, such as photogenic posing with celebrities and pithy slogans on banners. But this does not include admitting error or treating critics with dignity and respect. For the past decade my small organization EcoInternet has alerted the world to the fact that Greenpeace founded and for years directed the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) – an organization that promotes industrially logging Earth’s last large old-growth forests – and spearheaded a global campaign to get them to stop. After years of stonewalling, turned slowing to embracing our policies, this week they promised to stop logging intact forest landscapes, potentially a substantial victory for the real forest movement.

After tens of thousands of people around the world have over the years protested NGO involvement in FSC old-growth logging, we have successfully pressured Greenpeace and FSC into taking the first step and admitting they have a problem. After twenty years of gorging themselves upon logging old-growth forests – by our measure destroying an area two times the size of Texas for consumer products such as toilet paper and lawn furniture – all while accepting money for forest protection (gotta admit they have chutzpah); this past Friday Greenpeace and FSC made vague promises at FSC’s general assembly to stop logging old-growth forests.

After years of ridicule and contempt directed at their critics, FSC and Greenpeace did exactly what we have demanded (without admitting to having done wrong) and pledged to someday really soon stop logging old-growth rich intact forest landscapes. Gandhi was oh so right on how crazy ideas – like forest protectors shouldn’t log old-growth – eventually, after much disparagement, end up becoming self-evident truths that can’t be denied.


Friday, August 1, 2014

Global Ecosystem Collapse

The global environment is collapsing as human industrial growth overruns ecosystem habitats that make life possible. Either we choose now to embrace personal and societal changes necessary for global ecological sustainability, first and foremost stopping the destruction of ecosystems, or we face collapse and the end of being. The meaning of life is radical freedom, sustained ecology, freethinking, truth and justice, and loving all life like kin – so the biosphere, humanity, and all life continue to naturally evolve forever.


The global ecological system is collapsing and dying. Humanity wantonly destroys natural ecosystems and climatic patterns that provide all life’s environmental habitats. Our one shared, overpopulated, ecologically diminished, abjectly unfair biosphere is careening toward scarcity, war, disease, and social, economic and ecosystem collapse.

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Dr. Glen Barry: Too Many Humans; Not Enough Biosphere

Radio interview with Dr. Glen Barry on overpopulation by 95bFM in New Zealand.

Dr Glen Barry, environmental advocate and scientist, says 'Earth's biosphere is collapsing and dying as human industrial growth overwhelms ecosystems and abruptly changes climate.'

95bFM reporter George Freeman crossed to Dr Barry in Wisconsin to discuss the issue of global overpopulation, the future implications of a growing population and whether we can get out of this mess.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Dr. Glen Barry Recalls Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in College

"God Has Told Me I’m Chosen To Cut Taxes and Stop Killing Babies." - Governor Scott Walker

Dr. Glen Barry heavily quoted in major national news article in the The New Republic regarding Scott Walker's electoral race-bating:

Monday, June 9, 2014

I Too Have a Dream: That Life on Earth Shall Not Perish, But Rather Thrive Forever

As a species we can do better if we believe in the human family, ourselves and Earth. There are alternatives to passively sitting by as climate abruptly changes, ecosystems collapse, and authoritarianism rises, destroying naturally evolved ecosystems and their life. A pathway exists to global ecological sustainability, yet it requires shared sacrifice and courage, and we may have to fight. What if we came together to pursue human advancement without destroying the biosphere and actively opposed those in our way? We choose ecocide and death by not choosing to stand for Earth and all life. A global revolution is coming that will sustain the environment and ensure basic needs are met for all, while embracing truth and justice as the basis for shared governance, ecological sustainability, and economic well-being.
“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” – Krishnamurti

“The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.” – Plato

“Big old trees in large, connected, ecologically intact old-growth forests make the world go round.” – Dr. Glen Barry

The world has gone dramatically wrong as she is ravaged by ecosystem collapse, abject poverty, grotesque inequity, militant nationalism, and resurgent authoritarianism. Overpopulation combined with inequitable overconsumption, leading to a state of permawar, in particular are root causes destroying natural ecosystems and threatening collapse of our one shared biosphere. Either the human family learns to share, simplifies our way of living, and takes any and all truthful actions to end the current state of global ecocide; or else we collapse into nothingness.

There are alternatives to ecosystem collapse and authoritarian rule, including taking mass collective action to do together what must be done for survival of our ecosystem habitat and universal well-being. Economic inequity – 300 people holding as much wealth as billions – is obscene. The rich are going to learn to share, and stop amassing wealth by liquidating Earth’s ecosystem commons, or there is going to be a global revolution. Those guilty of climate denial and other crimes against ecology will face a reckoning soon, if their unchallenged misbehavior doesn’t kill us all first.

Now is the time for moral and political courage as together we limit abrupt climate change; and stop and reverse ecosystem collapse and rising tyranny. I anticipate that we are near an inflection point, where increased awareness is meeting clearly observable accelerating socioeconomic-ecological deterioration, allowing for a brief window of opportunity to save being through embrace of knowledge-based policies that will deliver long-term global ecological sustainability. Nations will be downsized, as local sovereignty to live well within bioregions is actualized.

We have to be ready with viable agro-ecological, restoration ecology, transition communities, renewable energy, and other solutions to implement as ecosystem, economic, and social collapse becomes more evident. And speaking academically, at the right time, under the right circumstances, where we hold the strategic edge, a concerted global effort of clandestine sabotage and swarming of the sources of ecocidal threats may be necessary. By doing nothing as society and ecology unravel, we have chosen to quit, dooming ourselves, our planet, kindred species, and our loved ones to a hell on Earth, followed by grisly death and the possible end of being.

Continue reading essay...

Monday, May 26, 2014

This US Memorial Day Remember War Is Murder

We must stop glorifying war murders and their perpetrators. Instead we must demobilize globally in order to address the far greater threat of abrupt climate change and ecosystem collapse. Murder has not, nor will it ever, make us free.

War is Murder
It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets. Voltaire (1694 - 1778)
By Dr. Glen Barry, EcoInternet

This Memorial Day, as America lionizes the bravery and sacrifice of its soldiers, try if you can to step aside from jingoistic nationalism for a moment and think freely. Recall that stripped of ritual and pomp, war is the killing of other human beings for political and economic gain. America has proven particularly adept, by some estimates being at war all but 20 years of its nearly 240-year history.

In war brainwashed young men (and now women) of one tribe hunt down and kill the indoctrinated from another tribe to serve the interests of rich old men. It doesn’t matter which gods or arbitrarily delineated nation are displayed or what rhetoric is used; war is murder. Bodies are cut and blown apart, homes destroyed, families ripped asunder, women raped, and the land, water, and air plundered as the wealthy declare a respite from the laws of humanity to further their own enrichment.

This is not to suggest that humanity never has to fight to stop the march of some madman or to stop some overconsuming nation from wantonly stealing resources. We may yet have to fight to overthrow the oil oligarchy’s hold on our economy and destruction of our biosphere.

But the way we glorify soldiers and war – covering up the brutal nature of war, and the profound suffering it causes – does a sad disservice to those killed, those aggrieved who will start the next war, and those who blindly followed orders. Young, naïve men and women go to war believing falsely that a nation can excuse their acts of murder – and remain forever traumatized as a result.


Saturday, May 17, 2014

On Overpopulation and Ecosystem Collapse

Earth's biosphere is collapsing and dying as human industrial growth overwhelms ecosystems and abruptly changes climate. Equity, education, condoms, and lower taxes and other incentives to stabilize and then reduce human population are a huge part of the solution.

By Dr. Glen Barry, EcoInternet


Earth in overshoot;
human growth is killing her;
the end of being.

The global ecological system is collapsing and dying under the cumulative filth of 7 billion people INEQUITABLY devouring their ecosystem habitats. It is impossible to avoid global ecosystem collapse if humanity continues to breed like bunnies; tolerates exorbitant inequality, abject poverty and conspicuous overconsumption; and destroys the ecosystems and climate that – rich or poor – are habitat for all of us. As I have written previously and will write again, the human family either comes together to address converging ecology, rights, and injustice crises – largely brought on by inequitable overpopulation – or faces global ecological collapse and the end of being.

It is not possible to go from 1 to 7 billion people in 135 years – while still growing exponentially – without profound impacts upon natural ecosystems that provide air, water, food and livelihoods. If you don’t understand this, you are uneducated, dumb, and/or indoctrinated; you need to study ecology and get out and see the world. Or go and look at an overgrazed cow pasture and extrapolate. Merging climate, food, water, ocean, soil, justice, poverty, and old-growth forest crises – all which are to some degree caused by inequitable overpopulation – are destroying ecosystems and threaten to pull down our one shared biosphere.

Earth has lost 80% of her old-growth forests, 50% of her soil, 90% of the big fish – and many water, land, and ocean ecosystems, as well as atmospheric stability, as human population has soared more than sevenfold. The human family is living far beyond its means, devouring natural capital principal and ravaging its own ecosystem habitats, which can only end in ecological, social and economic collapse. Earth's carrying capacity has been exceeded, and we must equitably and justly bring down human population and consumption inequity or else face global ecosystem collapse. We can start the necessary social change or an angry Earth will sort it out herself by killing billions; as we possibly pull down the biosphere with us, ending most or even all life, during a prolonged collapse.

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Saturday, May 3, 2014

Terrestrial Ecosystem Loss and Biosphere Collapse

By Dr. Glen Barry
Independent Political Ecology Scientist

Excerpt of manuscript accepted for publication mid-2014 by Management of Environmental Quality

Planetary boundary science defines key thresholds in the Earth System's biogeochemical conditions that precede ecosystem collapse and threaten human well-being. Terrestrial ecosystems enter into the nine originally defined planetary boundaries only indirectly, through boundaries such as biodiversity and land use. This study proposes a measurable terrestrial ecosystem boundary to answer the question: what extent of landscapes, bioregions, continents, and the global Earth System must remain as connected and intact core ecological areas and agro-ecological buffers to sustain local and regional ecosystem services as well as the biosphere commons? Two preeminent considerations are connectivity of large ecosystem patches, enabling them to persist as the matrix for the landscape, and critical collapse of the dominant large habitat patch – or "percolating cluster" – into smaller, more isolated habitats, amid a matrix of human development. This transition, found to occur at about 40% habitat loss in landscapes and bioregions, is likely to be similar at continental and global scales.
A new planetary boundary threshold is proposed based on ecology’s percolation theory: that across scales 60% of terrestrial ecosystems must remain, setting the boundary at 66% as a precaution, to maintain key biogeochemical processes that sustain the biosphere and for ecosystems to remain the context for human endeavors. Strict protection is proposed for 44% of global land, 22% as agro-ecological buffers, and 33% as zones of sustainable human use.
Because humanity is now the major force shaping the biosphere, up to 50% of Earth's land surface has already been cleared of natural ecosystems; thus the biosphere may already have lost its global percolating cluster. If so, with diminished connectivity, the global ecological system is now composed of islands of nature within a sea of humanity, meaning critical water, climate, soil, and other ecosystems processes are at risk. This observation suggests that to sustain the biosphere it is urgent to protect remaining large, relatively intact terrestrial ecosystems, especially old-growth and primary forests. This will require accelerating current approaches such as biosphere reserves, and taking up new polices such as a carbon tax to fund protection and restoration of natural and agro-ecological terrestrial ecosystems. To ensure global ecological sustainability, it will be necessary to reconnect matrices of intact ecosystems across scales, so that globally the biosphere and its constituent ecological processes and patterns can percolate back to connected nature as the context to all life. Otherwise, it is hypothesized the global biosphere may collapse and the Earth System perish.

Introduction to Planetary Boundaries
From Malthus (1798), through Aldo Leopold's land ethic (1949), to The Limits to Growth (Meadows et al. 1972), the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005), and finally current planetary boundary and global change science (Rockström et al. 2009a, 2009b) runs a strand of concern about human growth's impacts upon Earth's biophysical systems – terrestrial ecosystems in particular – and about requirements for global ecological sustainability, while avoiding biosphere collapse. Our biosphere is composed of Earth's thin mantle of life present at, and just above and below, the Earth's surface. Some have indicated that human impacts upon the biosphere are analogous to a large, uncontrolled experiment, which threatens its collapse (Trevors et al. 2010). Little is known regarding what collapse of the biosphere would look like, how long it would take, what are its ecosystem and spatial patterns, and whether it is reversible or survivable. But it is becoming more widely recognized that Earth's ecosystem services depend fundamentally upon holistic, well-functioning natural systems (Cornell 2009).
Accelerating human pressures on the Earth System are exceeding numerous local, regional, and global thresholds, with abrupt and possibly irreversible impacts upon the planet's life-support functions (UNEP 2012). Planetary boundaries provide a framework to study these phenomena, by defining a "safe operating space for humanity with respect to the Earth System" (Rockström et al. 2009a). Planetary boundary studies seek to set control variable values that are a safe distance from thresholds of key biophysical processes governing the planet's self-regulation to maintain conditions conducive to life (Rockström et al. 2009b). This builds upon landmark efforts by Meadows et al. (1972) to first define global limits to growth. Their prediction that key resource scarcities would emerge has proven remarkably accurate (Turner 2008), albeit delayed – but not avoided – through the advent of computer technology. Ecological and economic warnings since at least Malthus have called attention to economies' dependence upon natural resources. The observation that near-exponential growth of human population and economic activity cannot be sustained, far from being disproven, is more valid than ever (Brown et al. 2011). Those who deny limits to growth are unaware of biological realities (Vitousek 1986).
The initial planetary boundary exercise identified nine global-scale processes, including climate change, rate of biodiversity loss (terrestrial and marine), nitrogen and phosphorus cycles, ozone depletion, ocean acidification, freshwater, land use change, chemical pollution, and atmospheric aerosol loading (Figure 1). Preliminary safe planetary thresholds were established for seven of these, and three – rate of biodiversity loss, climate change, and the nitrogen cycle – were found to have already surpassed such a threshold (Rockström et al. 2009a). Many such changes occur in a nonlinear, abrupt manner; others are more incremental and subtle. Yet both types of change threaten the viability of contemporary human societies by diminishing or destroying ecological life-support systems. If one or more of these boundaries are crossed, it could be "deleterious or even catastrophic" as nonlinear, abrupt environmental change occurs at the continental to planetary scale (Rockström et al. 2009b).
Here an ecologically rich revision to the planetary boundary framework is proposed – in the tradition of political ecology, not ignoring politics – to set the threshold of how many intact terrestrial ecosystems are required to sustain the biosphere. It is not possible to carry out controlled experiments upon our one biosphere to know at what point collapse occurs. We are thus left with observational studies and synthesis papers regarding what is known about ecosystem collapse at other scales. This paper first reviews what is known about biodiversity and old-growth forest loss, abrupt climate change, and ecosystem collapse as ecological systems are diminished at lesser scales. Next, the critical phase shift seen as landscapes percolate from nature surrounding humanity, to small reserves surrounded by human works, is presented as analogous to outcomes for the biosphere, whose terrestrial ecosystems are after all simply a large-scale landscape.
The remainder of the paper synthesizes these findings regarding ecosystem loss and thresholds in loss of ecosystem connectivity into a rationale for recognition of a 10th planetary boundary in regard to terrestrial ecosystem loss. It is suggested that some two-thirds of Earth’s land surface should be protected totally (44%) or partially (another 22%) to avoid biosphere collapse. Given current best estimates are that approximately one-half of Earth’s terrestrial ecosystems have already been lost, the discussion centers around biocentric policy measures required to protect and restore terrestrial ecosystem connectivity in order to maintain global ecological sustainability.

Figure 1: Proposing a Terrestrial Ecosystem Loss Planetary Boundary. Currently nine planetary systems are recognized as providing a safe operating space for humanity, as long as boundaries are not exceeded. It is thought three systems (denoted with +) have already surpassed their boundaries. This paper proposes a Terrestrial Ecosystem boundary of 66% ecosystem land cover (44% as intact natural ecosystems and 22% as agro-ecological buffers) to avoid biosphere collapse. Best estimates are that about 50% of terrestrial ecosystems have been lost; thus this boundary has been surpassed too, albeit full impacts may not yet be realized due to time lags (adapted from Rockström et al. 2009a).

Coming Soon: the rest of this journal article as published mid-2014, including these headings:
Biodiversity and Old-Growth Forest Loss, Abrupt Climate Change, and Ecosystem Collapse
Percolation Theory and Landscape Connectivity
Terrestrial Ecosystem Loss as a Planetary Boundary
Biocentric Discussion on Achieving Global Ecological Sustainability

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