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Never, Ever, Ever, Ever Give Up on Gaia

It is late, despair high; yet ambitious policies emphasizing
sacrifice and preparation can keep the Earth from dying

A series of personal ecological essays by Dr. Glen Barry
October 28, 2007

Human caused ecosystem destruction has progressed well beyond
the Earth’s carrying capacity — its ability to provide goods
and services, and to regenerate. Global heating is occurring
at a rate and extent far exceeding expectations. There are too
many people to meet basic needs for all based upon further
habitat destruction for resources, much less making possible
Western lifestyles. Ecological crises have progressed to the
point where global ecological, economic and social upheavals
are guaranteed. This is ecological fact, truth, knowledge —
it is what it is, and no value is gained by stating otherwise.

Yet it is critical that we never, ever, ever, ever give up on
Gaia. There IS still time to save the Earth and allow humanity
and most of her creatures to thrive indefinitely. The global
family has not yet reached the point where environmental
policies no longer matter. The degree of disruption that will
be caused by ecological decline is being determined now. While
it is unlikely serious and painful changes can be entirely
avoided, much can be done now to limit the extent and
permanence of ecological collapse, and resulting pain and

How quickly we stop emitting greenhouse gases; and end
destruction, while preserving and restoring, natural
ecosystems, will determine whether the biosphere and her
ecosystems are able to avoid complete destruction. We can make
it more likely, and easier, for humanity to reconstitute some
sort of advanced (and hopefully more peaceful, just, equitable
and sustainable) society post-collapse — and maximize the
recovery of all life.

My acknowledgement in earlier writings of my own despair,
shared by many, was not meant to suggest that we should give
up. As always my intention was to think freely and write
truthfully, including in regard to my feelings, and by doing
so help identify, pursue and achieve policies adequate to
solve grave ecological crises facing my and other species.

There is much that can be done, if will and knowledge are
developed and harnessed, to pursue ambitious policy responses
adequate to sustain and regenerate the biosphere. These
include societal policies based upon the Planet’s ecological
conditions and needs; such as ending coal emissions into the
atmosphere, and stopping ancient forest logging and markets.
Similarly, individuals are responsible for their procreation,
levels of consumption and commitment to environmental

But let me be clear, any hope for achieving just, equitable
and ecologically sustainable societies depends upon embracing
personal and societal sacrifice. That most environmentalists
suggest we can increase population by 50%, reduce energy
consumption, and continue to have it all — with no need for
sacrifice — deeply disturbs me. This pervasive misleading
self-denial hampers sufficient responses to global ecological
emergencies. We shall learn to live simply, well, and within
limits; or humanity and the Earth will cease to exist.

The Earth Can Die

I receive a lot of email saying do not worry about what
happens to humans, the Earth’s life will continue regardless.
Will it, or does thinking so just provide false comfort? I
believe based upon science, spirituality and intuition that
the Earth is a self-regulating organism, that other than the
rise of blue-green algae there has never been a planetary
disturbance on the scale of human impacts upon the biosphere
(and never at this rate), and that there is nothing to suggest
that the Earth cannot die.

Death of the Earth may be a complete absence of life, or
perhaps an unrecoverable loss of complex life, in either case
the end of being. The fact that past extinction events led to
further evolution of complex life does not mean it must
necessarily, or can always, be so. The sheer scale and rate of
concurrent liquidation of terrestrial habitat, atmospheric
change, ocean and water dimnishment, and all the rest, I
suggest, may well make the Earth uninhabitable for organic
life. All things must die, you may say, but must it be
needlessly and prematurely allowed to happen through sheer
ignorance and apathy?

There is still time to pursue necessary policies to ensure the
Earth and our loved ones do not pointlessly die upon our
watch. However, it is not much time. And it is no longer
possible to save ourselves and the Earth with cosmetic reforms
and without substantial sacrifice and change. To survive the
human family must learn to live simply and well without
burning and cutting.

Survival of Your Family and Community Is Your Responsibility

The likelihood that the biosphere will be saved, and you and
yours survive, is going to depend upon your personal
preparation including living more closely with the Earth.
Self-reliant, ecologically sustainable living is not
synonymous with kooky survivalists. Any extended, truthful
examination of the Earth and her humanity’s condition makes it
clear we are living beyond our means, and that a period of
profound ecologically induced upheaval is nearly certain,
indeed will be imminently upon us.

There is much that can be done to limit its duration and
impact. There are many books that describe long established
homesteading, permaculture, animal husbandry and organic
gardening techniques. Tightly coupled agro-ecological systems
exist that provide basic needs indefinitely within the context
of operable ecosystems to which they contribute. Indeed, this
is precisely what is required for sustainable lifestyles.
Personally I find inspiration in early American homestead
life, indigenous cultures, and the 70s back to the Earth

A neo-agrarian ecologically sustainable democracy movement is
the next big thing! Indications are that a family of four can
produce what they need on five or so acres. Recently I read
that in addition to shelter, garden and crop seeds, and a
water source; that a dozen chickens and two goats provide all
the protein, manure, and waste disposal systems necessary. I
intend to write further on this in the future, but let me
encourage you now to embrace hope, never give up, and help
avoid the Earth’s death by working for your own self-reliant,
sustainable future.

Dr. Barry is founder and President of Ecological Internet;
provider of the largest, most used environmental portals on
the Internet including the Climate Ark at
http://www.climateark.org/ and http://www.EcoEarth.Info/ .
Earth Meanders is a series of ecological essays that are
written entirely in his personal capacity. This essay may be
reprinted granted it is properly credited to Dr. Barry and
with a link to Earth Meanders. Emailed responses are public
record and will be posted on the web site unless otherwise

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