Unsustainable Sustainability

16 Feb

The following piece was written by DGR Orlando member Chris Byron and appears in the February 2012 issue of  “Sounds of a Democratic Society.” It is the first submission of what will be regular (monthly) submissions to the local zine by DGR Orlando members.

The mainstream media has an innate modus operandi of only reporting what is profitable. Frightfully grim news regarding the planet’s health necessitates scattered reporting, on back pages and sub-sections, to keep the reader base interested enough, without being so frightened they cease reading altogether – and hopefully start rebelling.

It’s worthwhile then, for those of us deeply concerned about species survival – not just our own – to daringly enough view this news in whole. Let us pretend that it is in fact reported all on the same day, and on the front page. After-all, the facts of environmental reporting are occurring everyday, even if the reader base is not consistently made aware of the facts.

Here are some facts from the past week.

In Youngstown Ohio, hydraulic fracturing for dwindling shale gas reserves is rapidly increasing small scale – but growing – earthquakes in the city. Unsurprisingly, the company in charge of fracturing is trying to spin the science to indicate too many variables and causalities exist to be absolutely certain their fracturing is the cause of the earthquakes, albeit the earthquakes begun and have progressed since their fracturing began. And tend to happen primarily around main fracturing locations.i

In South Fayette Pennsylvania, energy companies seeking to extract untapped gas and oil reserves are rapidly encroaching on property rights of local communities. Moreover, their rapid development and extraction is outside the scope of any local governments ability to monitor and ensure regulations. The town was able to mobilize and delay a particular shale factory whose presence was correlated to a local hillside cracking and sliding due to the weight of the gas processing plant. Taking a long view of matters, if the town wants to retain its levels of energy expenditure, eventually the hillside will come down.ii

A recent study in a major scientific journal has reported compelling evidence that links mountaintop coal mining to polluted water, damage to local forests, streams, and adverse health effects to citizens. At first glance this isn’t a scientific breakthrough in information. However, the scientists reported that mines that have ceased being used for extraction continue to pollute local watersheds for approximately two decades. This means if a coal mining operation is stopped today, for the next two decades water quality will still deteriorate. In the US alone there are 52 coal mines, and tap water is rapidly becoming more tainted from coast to coast.iii

In Utah, approximately 1,500 migratory birds died for mistaking snowed over parking lots as soft landing sites. Their intuitive and naturally evolved senses had not prepared them for the human contrived material reality that is pavement.iv

Canada has recently announced it will be withdrawing from the Kyoto protocol. The environmental minister believes the protocol prevents Canada from “moving forward.” Meanwhile Iceland, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, and Ireland, all remarkably missed their emissions targets.v And the US still refuses to sign. All of these nations, and China, share the same excuse for either not participating or not living up to their contractual obligation. These reasons where best expressed in Durban’s recent climate talks.

In Durban South Africa the UN recently held a climate conference whose goal was an attempt to bolster and go beyond the Kyoto protocol. As expected, when an increased number of State representatives enter a room to negotiate, very little happens. “The countries in attendance agreed to a schedule that would lead to an agreement by 2015, which would commit all countries to reduce emissions starting no sooner than 2020, eight years into the future.”vi This is an abysmal failure. 2010 was the hottest recorded year since recording of overall climate temperature began to be calculated. And only a month ago the US Department of Energy issued a reported stating that “greenhouse emissions rose six per cent in 2010, far more than recent worst case scenario.” The consistent scapegoat for all nations, even the most technologically impoverished, and technologically advanced, is that reducing emissions prevents development and/or moving forward.

This scapegoat is no mere excuse, it’s actually quite understandable. Capitalism has unquestionably spread its mode of production across the globe. The life blood of the capitalist system is contingent upon constant development and revolutionizing of the means of production. This requires growth for growths sake, development for developments sake. Without either, there is recession, poverty, questioning of the dogma, and ultimately resistance.

The question that must be asked though is this: how far can unfettered growth – or even fettered but still ultimately growing – last, when it’s contingent upon the extraction and commodification of finite resources?

Youngstown Ohio and South Fayette Pennsylvania are two cities, amongst many, who are in the limelight for a problem that is global. The consistent problem in each previously listed news report is the constant growth and energy extraction of the capitalist economy and industrial civilization. It’s not irrational to suggest this system is being unsustainably sustained by utopian thinkers generating a dystopian planet.

If a martian were to view our planet from on high, it would undoubtedly conclude that the planet was under attack, and the assaulters were insanely myopic. Not only are they tarnishing the sources of sustainable living from other species, but in the long run, their own as well, i.e., they are assaulting themselves.

This ought not to continue. Factually, this cannot continue. If you have any desire to resist the impending travesty that is industrial capitalist civilization, please contact Deep Green Resistance Orlando.

-Chris Byron

iFountain, Henry. “Add Quakes to Rumblings Over Gas Rush.” New York Times 12 December 2011, n. pag. Web. 15 Dec. 2011. <http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/13/science/some-blame-hydraulic-fracturing-for-earthquake-epidemic.html?ref=science>.

iiTavernise, Sabrina. “As Gas Drilling Spreads, Towns Stand Ground Over Control.” New York Times 14 December 2011, n. pag. Web. 15 Dec. 2011. <http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/15/us/towns-fighting-to-stand-ground-against-gas-drillers.html?_r=1&ref=science>.

iiiWard, Ken. “Study Confirms Mountaintop Removal Stream Damage.” Charleston Gazzete 12 December 2011, n. pag. Web. 15 Dec. 2011. <http://wvgazette.com/News/201112120118>.

iv“Utah: Thousands of Birds Die After Crash Landings.” New York Times 14 December 2011, n. pag. Web. 15 Dec. 2011. <http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/15/science/earth/utah-thousands-of-birds-die-after-crash-landings.html?ref=earth>.

v“Canada quits Kyoto climate protocol .” Al Jazeera 13 December 2011, n. pag. Web. 15 Dec. 2011. <http://www.aljazeera.com/news/americas/2011/12/2011121222251949941.html>.

viGoodman, Amy. “Climate Apartheid.” Democracy Now 14 December 2011, n. pag. Web. 15 Dec. 2011. <http://www.democracynow.org/blog/2011/12/14/climate_apartheid>.

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