The Ecology of Environmentalism

The concept of “nature” is a romantic invention. It was spun by the likes of Jean-Jacques Rousseau in the 18th century as a confabulated utopian contrast to the dystopia of urbanization and materialism. The traces of this dewy-eyed conception of the “savage” and his unmolested, unadulterated surroundings can be found in the more malignant forms of fundamentalist environmentalism.

At the other extreme are religious literalists who regard Man as the crown of creation with complete dominion over nature and the right to exploit its resources unreservedly. Similar, veiled, sentiments can be found among scientists. The Anthropic Principle, for instance, promoted by many outstanding physicists, claims that the nature of the Universe is preordained to accommodate sentient beings – namely, us humans.

Industrialists, politicians and economists have only recently begun paying lip service to sustainable development and to the environmental costs of their policies. Thus, in a way, they bridge the abyss – at least verbally – between these two diametrically opposed forms of fundamentalism. Still, essential dissimilarities between the schools notwithstanding, the dualism of Man vs. Nature is universally acknowledged.

Modern physics – notably the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics – has abandoned the classic split between (typically human) observer and (usually inanimate) observed. Environmentalists, in contrast, have embraced this discarded worldview wholeheartedly. To them, Man is the active agent operating upon a distinct reactive or passive substrate – i.e., Nature. But, though intuitively compelling, it is a false dichotomy.

Man is, by definition, a part of Nature. His tools are natural. He interacts with the other elements of Nature and modifies it – but so do all other species. Arguably, bacteria and insects exert on Nature far more influence with farther reaching consequences than Man has ever done.

Still, the “Law of the Minimum” – that there is a limit to human population growth and that this barrier is related to the biotic and abiotic variables of the environment – is undisputed. Whatever debate there is veers between two strands of this Malthusian Weltanschauung: the utilitarian (a.k.a. anthropocentric, shallow, or technocentric) and the ethical (alternatively termed biocentric, deep, or ecocentric).

First, the Utilitarians.

Economists, for instance, tend to discuss the costs and benefits of environmental policies. Activists, on the other hand, demand that Mankind consider the “rights” of other beings and of nature as a whole in determining a least harmful course of action.

Utilitarians regard nature as a set of exhaustible and scarce resources and deal with their optimal allocation from a human point of view. Yet, they usually fail to incorporate intangibles such as the beauty of a sunset or the liberating sensation of open spaces.

“Green” accounting – adjusting the national accounts to reflect environmental data – is still in its unpromising infancy. It is complicated by the fact that ecosystems do not respect man-made borders and by the stubborn refusal of many ecological variables to succumb to numbers. To complicate things further, different nations weigh environmental problems disparately.

Despite recent attempts, such as the Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI) produced by the World Economic Forum (WEF), no one knows how to define and quantify elusive concepts such as “sustainable development”. Even the costs of replacing or repairing depleted resources and natural assets are difficult to determine.

Efforts to capture “quality of life” considerations in the straitjacket of the formalism of distributive justice – known as human-welfare ecology or emancipatory environmentalism – backfired. These led to derisory attempts to reverse the inexorable processes of urbanization and industrialization by introducing localized, small-scale production.

Social ecologists proffer the same prescriptions but with an anarchistic twist. The hierarchical view of nature – with Man at the pinnacle – is a reflection of social relations, they suggest. Dismantle the latter – and you get rid of the former.

The Ethicists appear to be as confounded and ludicrous as their “feet on the ground” opponents.

Biocentrists view nature as possessed of an intrinsic value, regardless of its actual or potential utility. They fail to specify, however, how this, even if true, gives rise to rights and commensurate obligations. Nor was their case aided by their association with the apocalyptic or survivalist school of environmentalism which has developed proto-fascist tendencies and is gradually being scientifically debunked.

The proponents of deep ecology radicalize the ideas of social ecology ad absurdum and postulate a transcendentalist spiritual connection with the inanimate (whatever that may be). In consequence, they refuse to intervene to counter or contain natural processes, including diseases and famine.

The politicization of environmental concerns runs the gamut from political activism to eco-terrorism. The environmental movement – whether in academe, in the media, in non-governmental organizations, or in legislature – is now comprised of a web of bureaucratic interest groups.

Like all bureaucracies, environmental organizations are out to perpetuate themselves, fight heresy and accumulate political clout and the money and perks that come with it. They are no longer a disinterested and objective party. They have a stake in apocalypse. That makes them automatically suspect.

Bjorn Lomborg, author of “The Skeptical Environmentalist”, was at the receiving end of such self-serving sanctimony. A statistician, he demonstrated that the doom and gloom tendered by environmental campaigners, scholars and militants are, at best, dubious and, at worst, the outcomes of deliberate manipulation.

The situation is actually improving on many fronts, showed Lomborg: known reserves of fossil fuels and most metals are rising, agricultural production per head is surging, the number of the famished is declining, biodiversity loss is slowing as do pollution and tropical deforestation. In the long run, even in pockets of environmental degradation, in the poor and developing countries, rising incomes and the attendant drop in birth rates will likely ameliorate the situation in the long run.

Yet, both camps, the optimists and the pessimists, rely on partial, irrelevant, or, worse, manipulated data. The multiple authors of “People and Ecosystems”, published by the World Resources Institute, the World Bank and the United Nations conclude: “Our knowledge of ecosystems has increased dramatically, but it simply has not kept pace with our ability to alter them.”

Quoted by The Economist, Daniel Esty of Yale, the leader of an environmental project sponsored by World Economic Forum, exclaimed:

“Why hasn’t anyone done careful environmental measurement before? Businessmen always say, ‘what matters gets measured’. Social scientists started quantitative measurement 30 years ago, and even political science turned to hard numbers 15 years ago. Yet look at environmental policy, and the data are lousy.”

Nor is this dearth of reliable and unequivocal information likely to end soon. Even the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, supported by numerous development agencies and environmental groups, is seriously under-financed. The conspiracy-minded attribute this curious void to the self-serving designs of the apocalyptic school of environmentalism. Ignorance and fear, they point out, are among the fanatic’s most useful allies. They also make for good copy.

Environmental Issues For Real – Population Growth

Twenty years ago I wrote an article entitled “What’s in a number?” It was about the challenge of a rapidly growing elephant population in northern Botswana that was confined to a large but finite area. At the time the wildlife managers, scientists and conservationists close to the problem argued incessantly about exactly how many elephants there were. Was it 80,000, or 110,000 or 92,421?

This was a peculiar focus given that the real challenge was not how many elephants there were, as everyone agreed that there were many, but what, if anything, was to be done about the consequences of each year there being more and more hungry herbivores the size of a truck. In effect the problem was the consequences of population growth.

Today in Australia there is a simmering debate about numbers. This time it is about the growing population of humans and how many there should be living on the island continent.

Would 26 million Australians or 36 million be best? Perhaps it should be some number in between. And at what rate should Australia get to whatever the final number should be, given that as at June 2011 there are 22.6 million residents?

Well known Australian entrepreneur Dick Smith argues for a stable 26 million. He proposes that the extra 3 million or so should be achieved by limiting annual immigration to 75,000 per year (from the current 185,000) and letting the number climb steadily. Typically for a modern economy birth rates have fallen so that population is stable without immigration. The main logic behind Smith’s 26 million is that this is the number of humans that the environment can handle.

Financial analyst Bernard Salt believes 33 million by 2050 is essential. Any less and Australia will run out of workers. His conclusion comes from the demographic numbers that see retiring Baby Boomers leaving the workforce and, as they struggle to pay for their retirement, not enough new workers leaving school to replace them. Annual immigration of 180,000 over the next 15 years would be necessary to prevent serious labor shortages and a stalling of the economy.

These two contrasting views capture the essence of the debate that has also begun to spread to the political sphere. Should the optimal population size be determined by available resources (Smith’s view) or by the need to maintain the economic system (Salt’s argument)?

Before we try to unpick this conundrum, some context is needed.

The global human population of 6.7 billion will grow to at least 9 billion over the coming decades. It may be more, 12 billion perhaps, but it will certainly grow before it contracts back to perhaps 5 billion post-2100.

An increase in population over the next decades is as inevitable as death and taxes, just as growth in numbers of a protected elephant population in northern Botswana was a biological certainty. There are already too many youngsters in big families who will themselves reproduce. We have to see out the demographic transition because it is a certainty.

Australia is big enough and rich enough to handle its share of a 50% increase in human numbers and so reach the 30 or so million Salt says is essential.

It is also capable of feeding far more. There is land, technology, a stable economy and the people smarts to overcome challenges of irrigation, nutrients and old soils to grow far more food that the resident population would require. In the future, as now, agriculture will be an important export industry for however many Australians live on the continent.

As a retail entrepreneur, Smith knows about the importance of growth. He would also be familiar with the political economy mantra of ‘more workers, more consumer demand, more tax‘.

Consequently his suggested shift from the economic model of growth at a time when the local population ages, is a huge call. Although he would probably argue that even under a stable population, people will expect standards of living to rise and that this is enough to maintain the paradigm of economic growth.

Salt’s 33 million will put enormous pressure on housing, transport and utilities. The cities will sprawl and the coastlines where people want to live will become more crowded. However, all the building and development, plus the goods and services to keep the people happy will, of course, fuel the economy. An extra 10 million people will buy a lot of refrigerators, toasters and flat-screen TVs.

Economic growth would happen if the number were 43 million or even 63 million. Indeed there are some politicians who see such large numbers as a laudable goal. But, as with the elephants, it is not the number that matters, it is the decisions on what must be done when they go up.

Given time and smart decisions on land management a doubling of population size is possible. It would put pressure on the environment and make it much harder to achieve current conservation objectives and pressure on the decision system. Planning departments would be snowed under.

Growth at a fast rate would stretch the system to breaking point. There would not be time to move to sustainable land management, planning decisions would be rushed and infrastructure would not be able to keep up. People would end up frustrated and stressed.

Rather than argue about the number it is smart to think about managing the rate of growth.

The importance of insurance

The insurer is the insurance company, while the police made use of this service. In this process, the insured must pay a certain amount of quotas, at prescribed intervals for the company, and in turn, the insurer undertakes to assume the financial losses and expenses policy. Insurance is very useful in case of loss of property, in business, the loss of life, considerable medical expenses, damage to the car in case of accident, etc.

If you are considering its importance in risk management, which protects the company stops in case of loss of property. Losses may be incurred by all means of destruction, such as fires, floods, storms and other natural disasters. The financial losses that may occur due to a grand larceny may be covered. More property losses, insurance companies are significant, because it can also cover a portion of the amount payable in the event of loss of a trial. Without doubt, this is the best way to protect organizations of large losses.

Life insurance
In the work of these policies, who continue to pay the premium, periodically and in case of death, the insurer must pay a certain amount for the candidates, who are mainly members of his family, and those who depend on their financial support. The amount receivable by the family in case of death depends on the chosen policy. The employer’s policy may include an amount that is double the annual salary; however, other policies may allow up to ten times the annual salary.

Health insurance
It plays an important role in the coverage of medical expenses prescribed. In this, you have to pay the premium, for which expenditures for your medical expenses are supported by the undertaking concerned. Don’t forget the costs will be covered only if the insured falls ill due to causes provided for by the police.

Auto insurance
This is no more coverage for damage due to traffic accidents. This is the best option to stop worrying about the costs that will be paid in the case of a car accident. The United States alone, more than 1,200 traffic accidents take place. There are several types of policies, which have coverage for specific information on accidents. Some types can be covered damage caused by vandalism, fire, theft and natural disasters. Deciding policy, to understand all aspects covered

The Physical and Environmental Benefits From Wearing and Using Bamboo Products

Bamboo is a plant of the grass family. It is evergreen, very hardy, has an excellent growth rate compared to cotton and is economically viable. Manufactured items from bamboo are known to last a long time. This is because of the natural properties the fibers contain. Bamboo is considered the most environmentally friendly plant on the planet. This plant replenishes the atmosphere through its leaves by manufacturing oxygen more than 35% of its counterparts of trees. One hectare of bamboo eliminates 60 tons of carbon-dioxide per year from the atmosphere in comparison to its same amount of forestry in trees which eliminates 15 tons per year. The rate of growth of the bamboo plant is up to 35 meters and is able to grow as many as 1 meter per day; comparing this to regular forestry, which one tree, takes years to develop. Once the plants mature, and new shoots are produced it takes 8-10 weeks to reach its full height and about 3 years to mature; bamboo can be harvested on a continuous basis and there is no damage or lack to the environment.

Irrigation is none as the plant is able to thrive in any climatic condition. Studies have shown that bamboo is able to grow under the harshest of conditions and survive. This is one reason it is used for construction in the housing sector in Indonesia. The plant is able to preserve the soil at an alarming rate, as during harvesting the root system remains intact. This helps to keep the soil in place and will regenerate new plants, as well. The roots also bind the soil together during weather conditions of storms or hurricanes.

Manufacturing clothing from bamboo is done by using the Moso bamboo found in China. This is one of the 1600 species of bamboo that is found worldwide. The Moso bamboo grows on 2% of Chinas forest population and is where most of the timber and textile comes from. The product is viable for garment manufacturing because of its breathability, softness to the skin, easy care, insulating properties, wicking ability, bio-degradable characteristics, and it is also less expensive than cotton or the manmade fabrics. This product is also able to protect you from 99% of the sun’s harmful rays. How cool is that? The many advantages of using bamboo products can only enhance our lives, and we need to consider the planet and what we can do to save it. This is an exceptional way of doing so, and it is cheap also.

Interconnected Environmental Problems

A number of environmental problems are continuing as a major part of our concern. Habitat destruction and fragmentation, biodiversity loss, stratospheric ozone depletion, global climate change, herbicides, pesticides, pollution of surface- and ground-water, acid deposition, oil spills, and thermal pollution are direct environmental problems. Human population growth, unsustainable consumerism, urbanization, international conflicts, and inequities in the distribution of wealth are indirect environmental problems. All such problems are presently being viewed in a totality, to ameliorate the said problems, and to ensure the future of life on earth. Expansion of chemical industries, during and after World War II, has aggravated such problems. “Silent Spring” written by Rachel Carson awakened about pollution threats to living species. Environmentalism has become accepted in the public Agenda since the first National Earth Day in 1970. The 1970s were the decade of environment.Between the 1980s and 1990s, environmental issues were pushed into the political background, and now coming to the forefront as human abuse of the earth is continuing. Emphasis on preventive measures rather than curative measures on environmental problems is believed to contribute a lot.

Diversity in living forms occurs due to changes in their genetic make up, inheritance of changes, and operation of natural selection. Interaction between environment, genetic variation, and natural selection leads to evolution. Origin of new species is the result of evolution. Existing biodiversity is the result of evolution, and extinction. Evolution and extinction are make, and breake system in nature. Diversity of species and the complex interrelationships that sustain them are encompassed by the term biodiversity. The term “Biological Diversity” was coined by Thomas Lovejoy in the year 1980. E. O. Wilson applied the term “Biodiversity” in 1986. The 1992 United Nations Earth Summit held at Rio de Janeiro defined biodiversity as “the variability among living organisms from all sources, including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part: this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems”.

Brown, an administrator of UNDP has recently argued that biodiversity is far from being optional or a luxury; rather a key development issue that frequently provides the welfare system for poor people and communities. Most of the world’s biodiversity exist in the economically poorest countries, which offer opportunities to the poor to enhance their income by exploiting the biodiversity resource. According to Brown, our future programmme should focus on “biodiversity for development”, not biodiversity or development.

Increasing population degrades natural habitat in a number of ways. An assessment of wildlife habitat loss in tropical Asia reported that India had already lost about 80% of its natural habitat. Biological diversity has become a topic of international convention, and is no longer the private domain of biologists. The complexity on this planet lies in the dynamics of the “biodiversity/biosphere” system. The concept of Sustainable development has been emerged for conserving the natural and biological resources. Understanding biodiversity necessitates the knowledge of taxonomy, evolution, genetics, behavioral biology, economics, ecology, environmental science, political science, and sociology. In fact, economy and ecology intersect in a 3 fold system of biodiversity, biosphere, and human society.

Evolution of the diversity of life is associated with interaction involving biosphere, human society, and climate. In both Rio and Johannesburg, economic and social development of humanity was emphasized, as they depend on long-term environmental health. Central role of biodiversity in sustainable development and in eradication of poverty was recognized at Johannesburg. World Commission on Environment and Development report states that “If needs are to be met on a sustainable basis, the Earth’s natural resource base must be conserved and enhanced”. Developing countries are plagued with social inequalities with features, including poverty, inadequate social amenities, high unemployment rates, and lack of proper infrastructure. These countries base their development policy on the paradigm set by the market economy. The pursuit of developmental objectives by such countries comes into conflict with environmental protection.Poverty and present trends of development leads to environmental degradation. The World Bank has asserted that the poor are both victims and perpetuators of environmental abuse. The World Bank has claimed that up to 1991, more than 1500 environmental components were added to power, transportation, industry and agriculture projects,with a few being implemented to improve soil conservation, to manage forests and rangelands, to prevent desertification, to protect biological diversity, and conserve water resources and fisheries. However, an interdisciplinary approach can help in the conservation of biodiversity along with the environmental resources, and essentially with involvement of the people.

Why You Should Never Purchase Unified Communications

What’s the most important part of your business? Is it marketing, your employee choices, your location? If you think about it, there’s one thing that ranks above all of those aspects of your company: communications. If you don’t have a very well structured communications system, then you won’t be able to even reach your customers, let alone sell them something. Your communications system defines your company to potential and existing customers. They interact with you through it, they purchase products using it, and they recommend your services to other friends with it. Unified Communications (UC) combines all your real-time and non-real-time communication services so you can present a unified front to your customers. UC allows you to maintain your company persona and combine a variety of services into one, easily managed process. Many businesses use UC for smooth and efficient management. If you’re looking into UC, you’ve probably already discovered the popular debate that rages on today: should businesses buy or lease this technology?

Equipment Leasing and Unified Communications

Equipment leasing has become a more and more popular choice as time goes on and the market becomes more fast-paced. About 1/3 of equipment today is leased, not bought. UC is no exception. As technology, not machinery, UC is often leased because of the flexibility leasing provides. Purchasing is just too committed for something that will probably be an entirely different piece of equipment 2 or 3 years down the road. In fact, it can be a fatal mistake to purchase UC technology instead of leasing it – and here’s why.

You’re Not Getting a Return, You’re Losing Money

Equipment is usually bought solely because it’s thought of as an investment. The idea is, you’re losing money in the long run if you lease instead of buy. This can be true with some things, but it’s not true with technology, and especially not with UC. The problem is, UC loses value quickly over time. This isn’t an uncommon phenomenon. With most technology, you’ll find this is true. No one wants outdated tech. Not only will you be unable to sell your UC technology as time goes on, you’ll also be losing money as your competitors upgrade and leap ahead of you. And speaking of competitors . . .

Have You Lost Your Edge Yet?

If you’re leasing your UC, you have an extreme advantage as far as flexibility goes. You’re only held to your tech for as long as your lease extends. When you’re purchasing the technology, you’re obligated to keep the old system as long as possible so you don’t lose money on your supposed ‘investment’. What does this mean? It means that those people who are leasing their UC, as opposed to buying it, can upgrade quicker. They’re more abreast of the times. Let’s face it, breakthroughs in technology are coming hard and fast. It’s no longer affordable or cost-effective to try to purchase everything. You’ll end up using antiquated methods far quicker than you think, which leads to losing money – not saving it.

The ‘Mine’ Mentality

It’s no longer efficient to purchase instead of buying UC. So why do people keep doing it? One of the reasons is the thought process that goes behind a purchase. We often have something of a ‘mine mentality’ – owning something appeals more to our nature than simply ‘borrowing’ it. We’re more comfortable if we know we own a product or service than if we only have it for a short period of time. However, when it comes to things that will need to be upgraded or replaced anyway, that mentality is useless. Who cares if you own it, if you’re just losing money from the ownership in the first place? Don’t make the fatal mistake of purchasing instead of leasing your UC technology – you’re going to regret it later.

Developing a Healthy Relationship With Fear

I once heard a woman being interviewed on the radio say “I know I’m on track when I can smell my own fear and walk right through it.” Fear can be absolutely debilitating or with a little fine tuning, it can be transformed into excitement and exhilaration, much like a roller coaster ride. In these times of such challenging economic and environmental changes, it seems that approaching problem solving with a sense of adventure will be more fruitful for us than remaining in panic or fear. There are plenty of individuals and organizations that are excited about our old structures breaking down just for the opportunity to get to participate in creating the new structures with more sustainable values.

We have a profound yet simple choice before us: to let fear claim us or to develop a relationship with fear that empowers us to take action. The interesting thing about fear is that energetically, it is dense and rigid rather than fluid and flowing. Creativity can only be explored and expressed in the flow of free thought. And since solutions can only be found within creativity, the survival of the human race actually depends on how we relate to fear.

Creativity is not the only gift of fear. Having our fears triggered brings forth our insecurities for us to examine and release, which is at the heart of healing our soul. Developing a healthy relationship with fear is also part of developing a positive relationship with the Self.

So what does a positive relationship with fear look like?

First of all, we become acutely aware of when we are allowing ourselves to be fed by fear or unconsciously absorb it when watching the media or by buying into the fears of others. Filter the type of information that you expose yourself to. Listen to National Public Radio and local community based stations that offer news without sensationalism and provide equal amounts of good news. Listen to the news with discernment to filter the fear based messages and seek out solution based news.

Second, we learn how to become aware of our unconscious fears that choose our behaviors and reactions by recognizing when our ego is active. The ego’s job is to protect our insecurities, so developing a positive relationship with the ego strengthens self-honesty and self-awareness. Befriending the ego actually allows us to let go of shame and guilt and heals insecurities.

Third, we develop our core strength to actively release fear and intentionally increase the fluidity and flow of our energy system. This is a practice that can be performed daily by intentionally releasing fears with your breath as they arise. Unconscious fears can also be proactively sought out and released.

The gifts of developing a positive relationship with fear are infinite. As you increase the fluidity of your energy system through healing fear, flow and harmony will infuse your relationships, projects, and your overall perspective on life. Clarity, solutions, and inner peace present themselves underneath each fear turned over.