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resource-wars

Small scale and massive resource fights are totally understandable while predictable. They’ve been transpiring for millennia because practically everything alive needs to steal energy, directly or indirectly, from something or someone else to continue to exist. This transfer of energy, usually, involves killing.

Imagine this happening on the African plains, for instance. There a leopard trounces on a gazelle. Sometimes before he manages to haul her carcass off to some high tree limb to secure it solely for himself, a voracious mob of hyenas, lions, wild dogs and/or vultures will amass to rob it from him. As a result, all of his energy expended in the chase will be for naught.

Not only will he lose his meal, he’ll be weakened from the hunt and more in need of energy provision than ever. Yet if he still has a sufficient reserve of strength, he’ll repeat his prior pursuit with a successful outcome or, if not, gradually become so feeble that he’ll become the next supper.

At the same time, there are reasons that terms, such as “lion’s share” and “pecking order,” developed. Usually and regardless of the species involved, the biggest and strongest (or, in the case of humans, the most brutal and cunning) individuals survive and thrive “high on the hog” at the expense of others. As onerous as this might seem, it’s all par for the course. (Forget the “Bambi” view of nature. Some of Hobbes pronouncements, Animal Farm, 1984 and Lord of the Flies are a bit more on the mark.)

Meanwhile, human resource wars, likewise, have gone on since time immemorial. Two of our current ongoing ones, to secure oil for the US in the Middle East and northern Africa, are merely emblematic of practices that are occurring everywhere else across the globe despite that painful and unjust deaths result. Yet, this ongoing pattern of gain for some at the expense of others is hardly new and the ways that it sets up are nearly always the same.

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For example, humans both create and take away habitats when housing developments, built in rural areas, displace other species such as bears, moose and many other life forms. We, also, compete with others for food sources. For example, depleting the oceans of fish ensures that a large number of whales and other animals die of starvation, and, when they die before producing offspring, ensures limits on successive generations of their kinds or cause extinction as is, by some scientists, predicted to take place for up to one quarter or more of all species during the next fifty years.

In a similar vein and while they poison the land, air and waterways — use of herbicides and pesticides, simultaneously, helps limit other species from harming (eating) our crops, gardens and lawns. Thus, we try to support some types of life on which we depend while cutting away at others in order to do so.

A very common example of this involves removal of complex eco-niches to increase farm spreads. Other times, though, we simply take the bounty from an area (such as clear-cut forestry practices exemplify, and which leaves a ruined landscape barely capable of supporting any life in its wake). Indeed, it seems unlikely that anything that lived in the former forest could survive in the aftermath.

All of this considered, life can seem to be a savage, violent process involving innumerable victors and losers. Moreover, it is obvious that this warfare isn’t only played out between species as it, also, takes place within all them. As such, a group of people classifying themselves as being similar (based on having the same skin color, religion, cultural background, nationality, genetic propinquity or some other identifying marker) competes with other groups to obtain plunder from outsider groups, and often the plunder is from the outsiders’ lands..

So, in a manner of speaking, the African plains anecdote is perfectly apt to explain humans VS. human competition.  For example, adversarial gangs on city streets duplicate competing wolf packs. Meanwhile, Palestinians VS. Israelites and Shiites VS. Sunnis are just modern versions of Athenians VS. Spartans, the Hatfields VS. the McCoys and so on. As such, the Crusades, American Indian Wars, World Wars, the Spanish Inquisition, Conquistador excursions, Roman Empire campaigns, former Apartheid in South Africa and our current battles all follow the same underlying theme. One population, carefully and methodically, denigrates another one and justification is, thus, built to decimate the rivals in order to security a territory or something of value in that territory exclusively for one’s own bunch.

There is, though, a big difference between earlier times when this contention occurred and now. This is because human population growth has outstripped the Earth’s carrying capacity to handle our onslaught of other species. In short, we simply haven’t let them sufficiently replenish themselves (through procreation) to handle our increasing consumption. Likewise, our greedy and clever capacity to use just about everything that we come across has roughly the same effect.

Accordingly, whole interactive environmental and human social systems have reached the breaking point. Consequently, quite a few researchers on the topic predict dire ultimate outcome.*

Indeed, bees provide a perfect model for this happening. ** This is because many plants, that both humans and other species use for food and shelter, are exclusively dependent on bees for pollination. So, if the bee collapse syndrome worsens, a huge number of other species will fall like dominoes in a branching or web-like (rather than linear) chain.

Add to this outcome the facts that our oceans are, at least, seventy percent devoid of life ***, global warming is taking an increasing toll on multitudinous locations (as is occurring in Australia with its water paucity) and, despite our warfare, the human numbers are expected to continue to expand. In the face of all of these multiple types of impingement, how will our environment and our economic systems remain intact?

The truth is that they can’t do so and anyone who believes in a happy fairy tale future needs only look, for example at Somalia, South Sudan or certain other regions for evidence. The depletion of basics that support survival given the human population size and conflicts arising over the remains point to a scary future for many further locations on the Earth.

The Looming Danger

All the above in mind, our capitalist system simply needs to be revamped and done so ASAP. This is because its inherent design entails our species fighting for supplies and using up ever bigger collections of resources (consisting primarily of other species and nonrenewable commodities like oil and minerals) to sell particular products to an ever expansive population of consumers at prices as high as possible (i.e., whatever the global market can bear) above the costs of manufacture.

At the same time, its most central purpose is to maximize profit for upper management and company owners at the expense of everything and everyone else (meaning the environment from which their provisions ultimately derive, the measly paid workers and the overcharged purchasers who have been manipulated, by advertisements, into thinking that they just have to have new fashions, face wrinkle cream, an ego-enhancing luxury car and/or whatever else is coveted in order to be happy). What a racket!

In other words, industrial globalization operates out of a system that harms the landscape, inhumanely preys on lower income workers (i.e., ~ $1.50/ day or so salary per worker to make WalMart jeans in Nicaragua) and takes advantage of the middle class (i.e., the jeans are sold for ~ $30.00/ pr. or so in stores). Meanwhile, the obvious outcome of this combination is assured — huge windfalls being reaped by the (often nonworking) stockholders and owners of transnational businesses.

However, the Waltons (the WalMart family, with its assets consisting of $77.9 billion in 2006 and likely more gain now) are not alone in perpetuating this unconscionable pattern of extracting ever more goods from an overwrought earth while oppressing many people. Exxon-Mobile, Nike, Disney, Gap, Starbucks and ever so many other companies and their gluttonous owners, clearly, follow suit.

One needs just to follow the money trail to see who is involved and with which business conglomerates. **** In any case, the whole backdrop is hardly a means for creating a sustainable future! So this rapacious taking of ever more needs to stop and stop NOW!

Meanwhile and most worrisome is that most people are dependent on this capitalist model to provide for their livelihoods and majority of income, as well as, indirectly, their food, clothes, homes, energy to drive to and from places of work and more benefits. So what will we use if the last remaining stands of trees are cut down for fuel, toilet paper, advertisement flyers and new kitchen cabinets?

Conversely, what will the workers reliant on wood products do when they are told that they cannot cut the last few remaining forests? How will we stock our cabinets if the last fish are plucked from the oceans and farms are all but finished due to the effects of global warming, bee collapse syndrome, Avian bird Flu, Mad Cow Disease, Swine Vesicular Disease and other factors?

Conversely, what will the displaced workers do, who once worked in food provision organizations? What will happen when the oil, coal and many other major energy sources simply disappear and renewable sources are insufficient to carry the energy load that we minimally require?

Conversely, what will happen to the workers in these latter area ( fossil fuel provision) of commerce? Last although not least, what will happen to all of the immigrants, streaming like a huge colony of ants across the globe, while utterly desperate to stay alive as they flee collapsed or collapsing regions that can no longer support them due to an unbearably heated climate, terrestrial ruin, resource wars, lack of work and other causes? How will additional employment be found for them, let alone everyone else who has been displaced out of jobs due to resources curtailment?

All the same, we already see mass migrations taking place. They are voluminously fanning out across the Middle East, Europe, the Americas and Asia. Immense throngs of people are on the move — are so because the alternative is to simply stay in place and die from starvation, lack of potable water, warfare, disease and insufficient jobs in the areas wherein they live.

In the end, we have to ask about what we going to do in light of these interconnected grave dilemmas. Are we going to quit pretending that all is, basically, well while continuing to go about life as usual in our labor, play and other aspects of daily activity? Are we going to start recognizing that our current economic patterns (relative to consumption, over-breeding and a drive toward ever greater self-serving wealth) are hurling the whole world on a disastrous course for our and other species? Are we going to collectively start realizing that we have to better learn to cooperate to address pending severe global crises? If not, we know what will happen. The perilous results are all but assured.

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We will just about all of us, except for the voracious multimillionaire and billionaire pillagers, wind up like the exhausted, spent leopard trying to muster his resolve to have “one more go at it.” Assuredly, that outcome is simply and thoroughly unacceptable! This in mind, it’s imperative that we find an alternative way forward and do so soon!

Plainly put, we, individually and collectively, are faced with a choice in terms of the way that we want to proceed ahead in life. While not entirely mutually exclusive, their orientations covered below are, basically, dissimilar.

In short, do we want to expand our exploitation of nearly everything around us for wanton self-gain, and regardless of the awful toll that our actions exact on others? Is it all right to proceed in such a fashion as long as we, ourselves, get everything that we could possibly desire since it’s all, in any case, a vicious dog eat dog world?

Instead, do we want to engage in a sense of community, mutual uplift,
inclusiveness, tolerance and protection toward multitudinous forms of life, along with the world as a whole? Do we care about our responsibility to be good stewards toward each other and the Earth, in general, so we can pass the world as a healthy intact surrounding to subsequent generations? Will we begin to better recognize the underlying interdependence, which all life requires for its continuance?

At times, it staggers the imagination to consider the bowels of depravity into which people, individually and collectively, can sink in a self-serving, rapacious desires to control, destroy and/or own all. At the same time, it greatly amazes that this orientation can exist along side of unrestrained expressions of extreme self-sacrifice, unbreakable compassion even in the most dire circumstances and extraordinary outpourings of tenderly rendered care. How contradictory the two directions are at times!

In the end, it is up to each and every one of us to decide the type of world we want to help foster. What version of the future do we want? Although there is not much, there is still some time to mend our ways so that the assault upon each other of humans, other species and the Earth as a whole can heal. So, let’s all of us choose to work harder to redirect ourselves and others onto a more positive course. Thedirection in furtherance that we, currently, have just can’t endure.

* A rather thorough and grim depiction is presented in: http://www.dissidentvoice.org/July06/Santos31.htm.
** The phenomenon is described simply and well at: Colony Collapse Disorder | Protecting Bees and Other Pollinators from ….
*** An overview of this and related matters can be found at:

https://earthwatch.unep.net:443/oceans/index.php
**** Please refer to:
http://www.jobseducationwis.org/
274%20The%20400%20Richest%20Americans.doc
.

Sally Dugman is a writer from MA, USA

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