Friday 30th of July 2021

The conundrum of sustainability, self-reliance… and going to the slaughterhouse...


As a famous-in-my-own-mind anthropologist, I can say there is not much difference between the Neolithic tribes' and corporations’ behaviour: fierce competition against other tribes, for resources and for profit or food. While the Neolithic people had herds and veggie patches, hunters/gatherers had none.



The clever Neolithics have morphed into corporations — the goose-keepers (for the golden eggs) and turnip growers (hedge funds, banks, government taxes, etc). Us? The plebs? we’re still scrounging around like chooks to find enough stuff to survive. Neat. We’re still in the hunting/gathering mode while the corporations throw rubbish at us. Some of us try to be self-reliant but these fail miserably.

Yes, it would be hard to find ONE single self-reliant person on this planet, amongst its 7.1 billion people. Most animals are self-reliant. Dinosaurs, we can imagine — with their big teeth — were self-reliant... Some species like ants are a breed apart. Apparently, most ants have a gene suppressor of the need to reproduce and they “sacrifice” to become “slaves” — workers for the good of the community, and soldiers to defend against invaders, the goal of which is to get the queen to reproduce as many clones as possible in relation to the tucker available — as supplied to by the hunter/gatherers. 

This semi-flat lined hierarchical system needs some upheaval from time to time, in order to create a new colony. The queen will give birth to new queens and males — when the hunting/gathering conditions are good and the weather is dry — new ephemeral individuals that will fight it out until some workers and some soldiers switch allegiance. This is survival of the species at work. This has gone on for many years. We’re told that ants first appeared on the earth between 140 to 168 million years ago, during the Jurassic period — a time when dinosaurs roamed the land and plant life consisted mostly of cone and spore-bearing species like pines and ferns. Ants survived, dinosaurs did not. What does this tell you? that we need to be like ants? Bugger... Most of our politicians are dinosaurs...

Humans are newcomers at this game of survival. We have developed weird ways to go about it, because to say the least, we should not have survived as a species. We look like discards of nature, with no protection against the elements — wrinkled a bit like blind-hairless moles (most of us need glasses) — but we took our revenge on nature for making us a weak species, by cunning and deceit. 

We soon diced self-reliance and became a social species beyond that of our cousins — the fully-hairy monkeys. It did not take long. We’re still in the evolving stages of our hopefully upward improvements, yet, along the way we’ve gone through various hairy moments when we nearly wiped ourselves out by being nasty to each others.

We’ve learned to cooperate a bit better, but we’re still a bit wonky about it. The major problem is that we would not have a clue on how to be individually self-reliant. We need to exchange goods, otherwise we’d be alone, under a rock shelter, freezing to death while cooking a dead rat on a fire started by the god of lightning.

At present, we’re at a multi-pronged fork in the road…

Unfortunately, we’re too self-aware to play the natural game. Our corporations have mechanised our future and we, the chooks, are sort of irrelevant. Our future should have become our own choice, but there are too many of us to make sense of this — finding one direction. Stylistically we could do anything we want. Resourcefully we are destroying the planet. Hello? does anyone understand this? Do we need a graph to explain this in details? Do we need more of us to stop us destroying the planet?...

Plenty of people think this is the only way to go to make a buck, including some scientists, some farmers and industrialists who plan the future by … wait for it… by doubling the population of human monkeys and planning new food producing techniques to achieve this excellent amusing goal in which we become more chook-like in cages — entertained with various means like TeeVee, virtual reality and iPhones — which if all goes well should fill the coffers of banks with our manure, while government print money to fill the pockets of rich people. Beyond this doubling, we will double again and … will run out of space. This is where we have to put the lid on the saucepan sooner than later and turn the heat off. Take a cold shower in a hurry.

We cannot do individual self-reliance anymore but we need to do collective sustainability. Sustainability is not a dirty word. it means that some change can happen without threatening the survival of us and that of other species. Most of our social structures at the moment are coasting along, towards a cliff — or a big hole. Either way up or down, we’re going to be hurt.

And I do not mean changes in our moral behaviour. These are irrelevant. I mean specifically our consumption levels of resources and the resultant from this. Moral conducts could help us regulate our consumption a bit like "fat pills”, but we all know about how efficiently these work. They don’t. We need some stiff regulated tightening of the belt.

People like Abbott are dishonest. They don’t want to look beyond their lengthening pinocchioed noses and they know they are short sighted, to spite the rest of us, the sensible middle … Hum. We’re not the sensible middle. We’re the loonies. We’re the rabid placard waivers — the lollipop people with signs saying STOP. At our feet stands another sign that says: big hole ahead or something like this. Big cliff...

And this goes for Mr Coal Morrison too. Stop paying lip service to the you-know-what.

AI, properly programmed would tell us when the crash or succession of crashes would happen, including the self-inflicted one such as war.

Yet, the chances of electing more moronic leaders increase with time, as we, the chooks, gleefully thoughtlessly dance in the street like teenagers, to a meaningless, sexily intoned and rhythmical, popular pop tune.

We’re dead meat if we carry on like this.


From Zeit-Fragen (Switzerland)

The revolt of the sheep against the blood bath emanating from the all-powerful policies of "economy and commerce" is essential! 

Food security must be elevated to the level of human rights,

by Heinrich Wohlmeyer 

Why do I make this call when I am an old man (82 years old)?

Because I am surrounded by blind ignorance, even crime, facing the future of decision-makers and the "silence of the lambs”.

First, whoever is not a sheep farmer has difficulty in understanding the Biblical metaphor.

Second, unlike all other species of livestock, sheep go without protest (without bleating desperately) to the slaughterhouse.

Small-scale, diversified farmers are being sacrificed without regard to global markets under the influence of big capital, maximizing their profits in the short term and investing their expanding financial assets in land. This is an intangible, immutable and prosperous "world market" as if it were the predefined and natural form of economic exchange.

Regional foresight or deadly competition

The most recent of these criminal actions toward the future is the ratification of the CETA convention with Canada by the Commission of the European Union and its management diluted by the European Parliament as well as by national governments and parliaments. For the latter, it is intentionally that I do not use the word "popular representation" because it is clear that it is against the popular will that we take into account the major interests that are in play.

Currently in Austria, every day sees six small farmers giving up. We are presented with this as a natural "structural sanitation". In reality, we are destroying the food security of our children and our grandchildren.

And why I dare to say this: all the great civilizations from small territories have developed varied models of horticultural production and we have also assured supply in critical situations. As a child, I was confronted with the Second World War and the state of emergency that followed it, and I felt it both in my flesh and blood. Our peasants, with their self-reliance and diversified production, were able to supply the urgent necessity. Then we could still send the children back to health in the countryside, and the storekeepers could come to exchange goods for some bread, some eggs and some meat and vegetables.

Small farmers could intensify their vegetable patch. The "small family fields" of my former hosts were large gardens that required considerable work but were highly productive.

At present, "rationalized" farmers become needy beggars in the event of a crisis.

A short view of maximum productivity instead of long-term production security

If we risk using a "look backwards from the future" as a research method, we find in the global strategy and in integrated agricultural policy all the warning signs of a storm. In the near future, we will only have about 2,000 m2 of arable land per capita on land, fossil fuels and phosphate reserves, which allow the current stimulation of "modern" production systems, to affect their potential. In the end, artisanal farming techniques in difficult terrain and poor soils are lost as a result of "disposal" following the "rationalization" of smallholders. The loss of ecological diversity (biodiversity) - which is a prerequisite for the stability of the system, exploitation adapted to local conditions and intensification in case of emergency - goes hand in hand with economic affairs. imposed on us. Currently, about 75% of the diet comes from 12 plant species and 5 animal species. Only about 200 of the 10,000 edible plant species are used.

All of this is justified by the obligation to maximize labor productivity and the surplus of consumers. The fact that this short-sighted idea comes at the expense of future food security is being ignored. The central question at the economic-ecological level (how to sustainably achieve an optimal net harvest of solar energy in a usable form for humans?) is not asked.

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it's not going to happen...

Do you believe in miracles? If so, please form an orderly queue. Plenty of people imagine we can carry on as we are, as long as we substitute one material for another. Last month, a request to Starbucks and Costa to replace their plastic coffee cups with cups made from corn starch was retweeted 60,000 times, before it was deleted.

Those who supported this call failed to ask themselves where the corn starch would come from, how much land would be needed to grow it, or how much food production it would displace. They overlooked the damage this cultivation would inflict: growing corn (maize) is notorious for causing soil erosion, and often requires heavy doses of pesticides and fertilisers.

The problem is not just plastic: it is mass disposability. Or, to put it another way, the problem is pursuing, on the one planet known to harbour life, a four-planet lifestyle. Regardless of what we consume, the sheer volume of consumption is overwhelming the Earth’s living systems.


We are kept remarkably ignorant of such issues. As consumers, we are confused, bamboozled and almost powerless – and corporate power has gone to great lengths to persuade us to see ourselves this way. The BBC’s approach to environmental issues is highly partisan, siding with a system that has sought to transfer responsibility for structural forces to individual shoppers. Yet it is only as citizens taking political action that we can promote meaningful change.

The answer to the question “How should we live?” is: “Simply.” But living simply is highly complicated. In Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, the government massacred the Simple Lifers. This is generally unnecessary: today they can safely be marginalised, insulted and dismissed. The ideology of consumption is so prevalent that it has become invisible: it is the plastic soup in which we swim.

One-planet living means not only seeking to reduce our own consumption, but also mobilising against the system that promotes the great tide of junk. This means fighting corporate power, changing political outcomes and challenging the growth-based, world-consuming system we call capitalism.

As last month’s Hothouse Earth paper, which warned of the danger of flipping the planet into a new, irreversible climatic state, concluded: “Incremental linear changes … are not enough to stabilise the Earth system. Widespread, rapid and fundamental transformations will likely be required to reduce the risk of crossing the threshold.”

Disposable coffee cups made from new materials are not just a non-solution: they are a perpetuation of the problem. Defending the planet means changing the world.


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Our manufactured greed and convenience isn't going to change, unless our house is burnt to the ground — and even then we might not accept our responsibility in the caper, as we blame the next door neighbour for having ten kids.

Today one headline on page 3 in the Sydney Morning Herald says it all: 

'Revved up': Land being cleared at the rate of 14 football fields a day in northern NSW (Land clearing 'triple' after law change).

Meanwhile we worry about football boofheads showing their arse and behaving like pigs "at a venue"...

I do not believe in miracles.

George, tell your "relatives", the Lord Lawson clan and his awful friend, Lord Monckton, to fuck off.



See also: 

climate fatigue...


wearing a beige cardigan on a hot day at the beach because mum said so...


of radiative forcing and global warming...


and many more articles on this site, including:




present global warming is CO2 induced... | Your › Home › Gus's ViewThe geological record contains abundant evidence of the ways in which Earth's climate has changed in the past. That evidence is highly relevant to ...

MELTDOWN MYTH: Antarctic ice growing is just the ... - Your › Home › Gus's ViewMELTDOWN MYTH: Antarctic ice growing is just the first EVIDENCE global warming is NOT REAL... ice. This article, written by James Delingpole, a denialist,  ...

the power of rubbish spruikers... | Your › Home › Gus's ViewThis post is to expose the many con artists who have manipulated and are still manipulating the general public beliefs that the science of global warming is ...

more climate change... | Your › Home › Gus's ViewYou can tell these people about the rest of this site as well, especially those on global warming, but this article here is HIGHLY important to my life and yours ...

hot sophism for denialists of global warming... | Your › Home › Gus's ViewApr 14, 2018 - hot sophism for denialists of global warming... warmer. Top solar stats: The rollout of solar PV is surging across the globe, with record-breaking ...

of bananas, of global warming, of the planet being ... - Your › Home › Gus's ViewDec 4, 2014 - In the first 10 months of 2014, global average air temperature was about ... If global warming doesn't mean longer droughts, more bushfires and ...

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when the wave function collapse happens...

Changing the "weight" of parameters on the environment of the planet through human activities is akin to the Penrose explanation of "quantum superimposition".

Gus is pushing the envelope here, but bear with me. 

The only part of the planet we are interested in at this level is the thin surface of the earth. The whole bio-activity on this planet is a very very thin layer, at most about 13 kilometre thick (about 10 kilometres of atmosphere and an average of 3,000 metres of sea and its deepest locked-up carbon sinks). All the equations of survival and extinction are contained within this.

To say the least, it is a precarious surface that has modified, stabilised and changed again, under the vagaries of molecular development we know as life and interstellar encounters such as meteorites and comets — for at least 4.6 billion years. Presently, the molecular development know as humans is changing the surface. It would be silly not to recognise this.


Adapting the Penrose understanding of space and energy which more or less states that above a certain threshold, superimpositions of mass and energy will create gravitational distortions of space that cannot be sustained. This is how "wave function collapse" happens.


Gus is not claiming here that human activities will create "gravitational distortions". But should we consider the biosphere as a wave function, in which all is dependant of the other, the more weight added by human activities, such as CO2, poisons and rubbish, the more chance we are likely to encounter a "wave function collapse".


This is explained practically by placing objects on a cloth say held above ground by its sides or corners. One small object will create a small indentation in the fabric. Add another small object on another part of the cloth and it will do another indentation in the cloth. Make the objects heavier and there will be a point at which the TWO INDENTATIONS WILL BECOME ONE. This is when the "wave function collapses". 

The surface of the earth is like a big cloth and the many human activities have been like little pebbles on it, creating small local distortions. At this stage, human activities have INCREASED in size due to the demand of the capitalist system — and may I be brave — GLOBALISATION. There will be a time when the heavier demands by human activities on the surface of the planet will join up and the WAVE FUNCTION OF LIFE WILL COLLAPSE.

THIS IS INEVITABLE under the way we treat the place presently. The wave function collapse is a threshold, that is to say, there is a sudden tipping point.

Tell your friends ...


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ethical food standards...

Swiss voters are casting their ballots in not one, but two votes which campaigners say will promote ethical and sustainable food. 

The votes follow scandals in the last few years over horse meat in lasagne and the destruction of rain forests to make way for palm oil and cattle ranching.

And they reflect growing consumer interest - not just in Switzerland but across Europe - in where food comes from and how it is produced.

Why two votes, and what's the difference?

Switzerland's system of direct democracy means campaigners simply have to gather 100,000 signatures to ensure a nationwide vote on a political issue.

The first proposal, called "fair food", wants more government support for sustainable, animal friendly products - and more detailed labelling so consumers know what they are getting.

It also calls for a crackdown on food waste, and for imports to meet Swiss standards on workers' conditions, environmental safety, and animal welfare. 

This would mean Swiss inspectors checking foreign food producers for compliance.

The second, called "food sovereignty" goes even further, calling for much greater state support for local family farms, for higher tariffs on food imports, and for foreign produce that does not meet Swiss standards to be banned.


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dry, sententious, condescending...


Here Gus analyses JEDEDIAH PURDY's study of Thoreau who, according to Gus, was only a tiny pebble in the pond of human illusions.



In Defense of Thoreau

He may have been a jerk, but he still matters.


I've been wondering, though, whether we can't have a Thoreau for the Anthropocene, a Thoreau who is less interested in wilderness than in how to live with, relate to and value a world we have irrevocably changed, a world where nothing is really separate from us. I like this idea because the Anthropocene needs its own cultural history, its environmental texts. Whatever its limitations, Thoreau's writing contains some of the richest American reflection on humane living in a living world. It is a lot of baby to toss out with the pre-Anthropocene bathwater.

It turns out, too, that an Anthropocene Thoreau is more than wishful thinking. Actually, the wilderness Thoreau is something of a truncated distortion, what Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thoreau's friend and landlord, might have called "the dwarf of himself." It was John Muir, the founder of the Sierra Club and a giant publicist of giant, wild landscapes, who switched Thoreau's "wildness" to literal wilderness. Thoreau used "wildness" to refer to a quality he found in Shakespeare's language, Greek myth and the swamps outside Concord, just to name a few; Muir adapted the slogan so that it would later fit the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). By the time the Wilderness Society made Thoreau part of its stump speech for the 1964 Wilderness Act, he was hopelessly tied to trackless, depopulated places ― the kinds of places he hardly saw or wrote about during a lifetime in New England.

With this in mind, some time ago I re-read Walden , trying to see it through Anthropocene eyes, as a book that has to live in a world that is violently and thoroughly changed. Turns out that wilderness isn't in it. Walden takes place, quite self-consciously, in a landscape transformed by long and intensive habitation. Thoreau tells us that the woods around the pond have been cleared, that boats have sunk to its bottom, that it is regularly harvested for ice. His Concord is full of the artefacts of old and new settlement, down to the soil itself, seeded with stone tools and potsherds that tinkle against his hoe as he works his bean-field.

What was most striking, though, was finding that Thoreau's most Transcendentalist (or Romantic) moments, the ones proclaiming that the human mind and the natural world are braided in continuous harmony, are inspired by the very opposite of wilderness. These pronouncements, which made Thoreau such an apt saint for later environmentalists, come in Walden as responses to places where the world is ruptured, broken, split open by human powers. Thoreau's Romanticism, in a way, was always Anthropocene.

This is cute says Gus

But JEDEDIAH PURDY told us earlier:

Henry David Thoreau was an asshole, Kathryn Schulz tells us in an irresistibly polemical New Yorker essay. He was, in fact, a miserable asshole, a man of “pinched and selfish motives,” who was “narcissistic, fanatical about self-control,” humorless, consumed by “comprehensive arrogance,” and “as parochial as he was egotistical.”

And the writing he is best remembered for sucks.

Walden is “an unnavigable thicket of contradiction,” “fundamentally adolescent in tone,” which limps along with the weight of an eighty-page opening chapter that “must be one of the highest barriers to entry in the Western canon: dry, sententious, condescending.”

Schulz’s indictment opens with Thoreau visiting a shipwreck site just outside Cohasset Harbor, on the Massachusetts coast, where the deaths of some hundred Irish immigrants and ship’s crew members left him cold, and he found, after viewing the bloated bodies, that he “sympathized rather with the winds and waves.” She concludes with the crushing blow of pity: “Poor Thoreau: He, too, was the victim of a kind of shipwreck—for reasons of his own psychology, a castaway from the rest of humanity.”

Schulz’s deft flaying is not for the sake of sadistic pleasure, though readers who never liked Thoreau may take vicarious pleasure in it. Her essay is an ethical critique of Thoreau and of the country that put Walden in the canon and “made a moral paragon of its author.” Thoreau wrote as if avoiding emotional and practical entanglements with other people, asserting one’s own conscience and perspective against all social resistance, were high virtue.

Okay. This was a lot of stuff to read up-there and it is as important as a dead gnat in a jar. There is only one thing one can say here. Survival. 

We can develop the concept of survival though, with a few more words...

Survival at the present level is a stylistic adapted mechanism of evolution. We humans are (seems to be) the best at it because we can adapt with our special means: our opposing finger-thumb, walking upright and our intelligence — which is a stylistic extension of memory that allows us to devise protection against a cold environment, place a roof above our head as not to get wet when it rains, as well as communicate socially and have a laugh. Thoreau apparently did not laugh. I don’t know, I never met the guy.

A Thoreau for the Anthropocene? Sure, but would he be able to understand all the stupid modifications that we’ve made to the natural forces? Would he become like a Sir Walter Scott, regressing into “Champêtrism" (countrysidish romanticism in murdered french) writing about the old nobility in past decadence, while the rest of the world was becoming industrialised — or become a Sir David Attenborough, fully aware of the damage we’ve done, are doing and will do?

 The answer to this question is to realise the style and views of the "Thoreaux" of this world are long lost into the nebulous reactionary imagination rather that the reality, which, even a Sir David has to spend oodles of his time in his old age to make sure we KNOW. It keeps him busy to make us aware.

Knowing the ANTHROPOCENE is a scientific matter — not an illusion of American woods. The Anthropocene demands more precision than fluttering in transcendentalism.  The inherent goodness of people and nature isn’t such. Sure, society and its institutions have corrupted nature, but we were never pure. We have had to fight for our survival — fighting nature and fighting each others. And nature fights itself. A lion cannot exist unless it kills a wildebeest or an antelope. A lone human would loose out.

NO-ONE is truly "self-reliant" and independent, even with the best ideals. We need a protective system to bring us up, whether it is a state or a family. A female and her child would have zero chance of surviving in the wild — unlike bears — even while making a few enlightened grunts and digging with bare hands for roots. Cooking isn’t an individual discovery, but a group's acquired knowledge. 


Thus Thoreau would not get pass the first stage of survival on his own in his forest cabin. Groups of humans and individual humans evolved together — and we are still doing it. Aboriginal young men are sent on “walkabouts” in the deserts and should they survive, they are deemed fit to be part of the social group. The alternative is they die. Nature is not evenly friendly. Humans grouped together, to chase aurochs, mammoths and wolves — or grow a crop of nutritious grasses. Singularly, the task is mission impossible. 

So, whether we are mucking up nature deliberately or not, we have enough knowledge to compute that we have increased the rate of destruction and change to have created our own epoch, the short lived Anthropocene — soon to become the Finishtopissene (the time of the sixth extinction, with us, humans, being borderline in it). 
Thus Thoreau's visit to a shipwreck outside Cohasset Harbor, on the Massachusetts coast, where the deaths of some hundred Irish immigrants and ship’s crew members left him cold, is basically equivalent to our own disregard for what we are doing to nature. 

That he “sympathised rather with the winds and waves.” is deficient for survival, though not immoral. Our own way to deal with reality is deficient too. We sell our personal life to comforts that are destroying our natural quotient. Our conclusion will be the crushing blow of pity: “Poor us: We, too, are the victim of our own shipwreck — for our own mind allowed us to be the destroying castaways from the rest of nature.”
Thoreau was not an Arsehole. He was just trying to make sense of what does not have any sense: our place on planet earth, by a stroke of random molecular evolution. That we search for a moral good is essential for the survival of this planet, as long as we do not indulge in metaphysical delusions. Nature is hard core and we need to see all the relationships. 

We burn fossil fuel, we warm up the planet. Simple. 

We destroy natural habitats, we lead many species to extinction. Simple. 

We indulge in drugs, we reduce our intellectual ability by modify our consciousness. Simple.

Gus Leonisky
Cogito ergo sum, naturally.

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