Categorized | environment

The politics of Nausicaa. Toxic whales

Here is a story some people may have seen. It basically has to do with toxic metals and man made/synthetic chemicals found in the tissue of whales. Its based on a report put out by Ocean Alliance

Stuff like this always gets me worried the whole left is missing the boat on how messed up our planet is. I keep thinking even socialist/communist theory and green politics don’t get how much we need to change the way things are. I look at statistics about how many species are going extinct and how something like 75-90% of fishing stocks in the world’s oceans are decimated and keep thinking everything falls short. At this point it doesn’t even seem like its about conservation or reaching some sort of parity or point of self-sustainability or renewable resource allocation.

I seriously think we’re at the point where we need to harness the capacity and potential of  human productivity to put more back into the planet than we take out and currently there doesn’t seem to be a political ideology that expresses something like that. I certainly know Capitalism is not the answer and whatever is needed to take stock of our resources and plan how we fix the planet, but beyond that it’s hard to say. How do you plan for increasing the biodiversity of the planet? How do you plan for literally cleaning the Oceans?

It reminded me of this other thing I had seen a while back about global warming and its interaction with the ocean.

Here are some cursory links on the decimation of fish populations in the oceans, with a quick rundown, some info from Greenpeace and a breakdown of some industrial fishing practices.

The thing that came to mind when reading and writing about this was the movie Hayao Miyazaki made in 1984, Nausicaä. It was based around a humanity in the future where the environment has been destroyed. Only in this case the planet fought back by creating plants that were deadly to mankind. In effect the plants were acting as an immune system and the disease it was fighting off was mankind. I think the point of the movie was trying to find a way in which humanity could contribute to the ecosystem not just exploit it for resources, renewable or whatever.

I mean, think about it, even if we harnessed the power of the Sun with solar power would that necessarily ensure a peaceful future? The Sun bombards the planet with so much energy. Of course we could exploit it for renewable energy, but some other people (like the Pentagon) could exploit it for more nefarious purposes. This is the danger of the system(s) we live under. All we are trying to do is figure out another way to exploit the environment. Renewable energy is a better way and I do agree with it. But, under Capitalism any technological advance always has the capacity for destruction.

This image from the movie is the remains of one of the great bio-engineered weapons of war in Nausicaä that was symptomatic of industrial development that lead to the destruction of the environment. Even it fell to mother nature eventually.

From 'Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind'

  • http://hughgiordano.com Ross

    It’s not just capitalism that ends in exploitation. It’s human behavior in any system. Just look at communism under Stalin. That’s why I believe that a green philosophy – since it is both ecological and democratic – is the best way to address our problems. Not perfect, of course, if that’s what you’re looking for, but nothing is perfect.

    • EnCee

      The way I see it, Capitalism leads to war and exploitation. That exploitation is not just of people but of the environment. In the end working people pay for that too because they bear the burden of an ailing environment more than the rich or ruling class. That is even true on a global scale. The effects of global warming affect poor countries worse than rich countries partially because they do not have the infrastructure to deal with severe problems like, drought, famine, floods and other extreme weather effects.

      The problem is I don’t see many, if any socialist theories that deal with this in a concrete sense. At least as far as repairing the planet. Plus, to be fair a lot of development in socialist countries was not or has not been friendly to the environment. I have seen of promising things in Cuba with a turn away from industrial type agriculture, but even that’s off the mark. They’re blockaded and dealing with constant threats, though, so that might not be the best example.

      Most green politics, at least in the U.S., give too much of an allowance for capitalism and I think you end up hamstringing yourself before things even get started. On a basic level I find things lacking but then when you think of actually restructuring society, the economy and production for the express purpose of fixing the environment, then things fall way short. I don’t think you can incentivize your way to a better environment. You certainly can’t use a market structure to pour human productivity back into the environment.
      Right now, renewables seem the best way to go and it’s a start but even so I get worried were way off the mark not just as a society but as a species.

      • http://polizeros.com Bob Morris

        Also, green politics tends to put the burden on the individual, if only we recycle more or use CFLs, then things will be better. But the problems are much larger than that and the solutions need to be systemic.

        • http://hughgiordano.com Ross

          I don’t think that’s true. I think Green politics very much embraces the government making citizens do things to protect the environment. Personal responsibility is of course a part of it, but Greens in general recognize that collective action is necessary in some circumstances (or many circumstances, given the multiple and horrible ecological crises).

          In response to EnCee, what I’m saying is I think that exploitation doesn’t come from any specific system, but just from human behavior and psychology. Green politics seeks to create a democratic and empathetic culture in which that exploitation is not acceptable and therefore much less common (of course it won’t be eliminated, because we’re human).

          Another thing to add is that I think Green politics could be applied to capitalism, communism, socialism – whatever. It is about creating a democratic, fair, ecological, etc. system in whatever type of economic system exists. Because we have clearly seen that an unfair system can exist in each of those economic systems, so why isn’t the opposite possible?

          • http://polizeros.com Bob Morris

            I think exploitation comes from having authoritarian buttheads in positions of power. :) So how do we deal with it, how do we make a better system where an entrenched few don’t steal from the rest?

      • http://asymptoticlife.com DJ

        The awakening of individuals to make better long-term choices is essential, and has already begun. Even many evangelical Christians are demanding that their leaders quit focusing on being anti-gay and start worrying about the planet. Recognizing the essential interdependence of human and planet would seem to be an inherent outgrowth of almost any spiritual path.

        But individual awakening is not enough. When faced with the actual purchasing decision, most people still vote with their wallets. So there has to be structural change as well. I think there are two directions we can go: use the market control of government to address some of these problems… (What? In capitalism government is supposed to exert some market controls? Well yes, Adam Smith thought so.) …or implement a global government that can make and enforce rules on a global level.

        I’m no fan of the idea of global government with Green Shirt storm troopers, so bringing back capitalism may be the most palatable method. The downstream cost of a product should *always* be included in its purchase price. And we should stop subsidizing oil and coal with tax breaks, and instead tax dirty energy sources for their environmental cost.

        There are just two problems: (1) gas and heating oil prices will rise, and people will scream– and the poor will be hurt the most. (2) All those people whose jobs rely on cheap fossil fuels will become unemployed. That includes not only coal miners and oil workers, but several million truck drivers, dock workers, and support people.

        Our economy runs on waste, which we can afford because oil and coal are artificially cheap. It doesn’t need a tune-up, we need a complete economic overhaul, and it’s going to hurt. No wonder our politicians won’t talk about it!

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