COLUMN: Economics dependent on ecologies it destroys

Agricultural and industrial impacts on global ecosystems are now so severe scientists have given it nomenclature, the Anthropocene Epoch.

Agricultural and industrial impacts on global ecosystems are now so severe that scientists have given it nomenclature, the Anthropocene Epoch.

One of the distinguishing markers of this new epoch is human-caused extinction rates 10,000 times faster than evolution.

Overhunting, overfishing, deforestation, climate change, pollution, habitat destruction and the introduction of competitive non-native species drive these extinctions.

It was not long ago that our oceans and rivers were so full of fish it was inconceivable that humanity could ever exhaust their numbers.  Whales were so plentiful history recorded them as hazards to navigation; cod so bountiful the English referred to them as “British gold”, and rivers so swollen with salmon their biomass seemed unending.

Today industrial fishing has decimated 90 per cent of the large fish from our oceans and more than 50 per cent of our global fish come from aquaculture farms where anemic fish ingest antibiotics to survive disease and parasites.

Reflective of our throwaway culture is the annual killing of 75 million sharks, a critical apex species that writhes under the mutilator’s knife as callous hands remove their fins and toss their defunct bodies overboard, all to supply an Asian soup niche.

Massive draggers scour and destroy seabed communities only to discard most of the dead and dying catch as non-target. We dump trillions of gallons of untreated domestic, industrial, agricultural and pharmaceutical waste into our oceans and rivers because we refuse to pay for tertiary treatment or hold obscenely rich corporations accountable for their toxic discharges.

Bearing witness to our indifference to ecosystems is a Pacific Ocean that contains 48 times more plastic than life supporting phytoplankton.

The list of land-based species at risk is so incomprehensibly long (estimated at 200 species driven extinct daily), that we have had to compartmentalize them.

Biologists quantify and prioritize species into schedules, red-listed, blue-listed, at risk, endangered or extinct so they can focus inadequate funding on which species will live or die, like some kind of god squad triaging in the midst of an economic versus environmental battle where 50 per cent of the world’s animals are in decline and 25 per cent of the world’s mammals face extinction.

The tragic irony of human beings is that we introduced the concept of ethical conduct into how we should live with other species, yet we perpetrate disgraceful ecocidal behavior on them. Then we rationalize our behavior with delusional arrogance by creating tenets that presume all species are here for our use and then requisition science to predict, control and maintain it all.

We live in a paradox culture where economics exists on the destruction of ecologies, and ecologies allow economics to exist. We honour self-interest and exploitive short-term profit, pay lip service to natural justice, sustainability, and environmental ethics, and then anesthetize ourselves by disassociating from the present natural world, ignoring the future one, and focusing on what money can buy.

Evolution is subtle, conservative, brings cumulative change where selections such as extinctions occur over millennium; humankind is assertive, maladaptive, and brings extinctions within generations.

We have so rapidly overrun the planet we never took time to develop or engage a global environmental ethic, and that oversight is the legacy of loss we bequeath our descendants.


Retired Nanaimo resident Ron Heusen writes every second week. He can be reached through the News Bulletin at editor@nanaimo

Just Posted

Emergency crews on scene of a two-car crash at the intersection of Cranberry Avenue and the Trans-Canada Highway on Sunday, June 13. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Crash blocks Cranberry intersection in Nanaimo, no one injured

Incident blocks both southbound lanes of Trans-Canada Highway

Nanaimo Fire Rescue firefighters at the scene of a single-vehicle crash on Tenth Street near Southside Drive on Sunday, June 13. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Driver OK after crashing vehicle off the side of Nanaimo’s Tenth Street

Crews say wet roads a factor a crash Sunday, June 13

(PQB News file photo)
Fireworks report highlights enforcement challenges for Regional District of Nanaimo

Director: ‘I just think it’s wasting everybody’s time’

Nanaimo is the first city in Canada to subscribe to the Chonolog environment photo-monitoring system, which allow residents to contribute photos of habitat restoration projects that are converted to time lapse sequences showing environmental changes. (Chris Bush/ News Bulletin)
Nanaimo residents invited to be citizen scientists by sharing habitat restoration photos

Nanaimo first city in Canada to sign up for Chronolog environment photo monitoring service

An event on the lawn of the B.C. legislature in Victoria on Tuesday to remember the 215 children whose remains were confirmed buried in unmarked graves outside a Kamloops residential school. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Canada’s racist systems cannot ever be forgiven

Teen letter writer from Nunavut calls for truth and reconciliation

Nanaimo Fire Rescue firefighters at the scene of a single-vehicle crash on Tenth Street near Southside Drive on Sunday, June 13. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Driver OK after crashing vehicle off the side of Nanaimo’s Tenth Street

Crews say wet roads a factor a crash Sunday, June 13

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps near Nanaimo

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

A section of proposed Harbourfront Walkway between White Eagle Terrace and Battersea Road. (City of Nanaimo image)
Nanaimo’s proposed walkway extension project estimated at $25-30 million

City asking for feedback on concepts to connect Departure Bay Beach and ferry terminal

City of Nanaimo council has approved amendments for an animal control bylaw requested by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. The bylaw includes language related to quail. (Wikipedia Commons photo)
Province asks for tweaks to Nanaimo’s animal responsibility bylaw

Ministry concerned bylaw wording could create municipal and provincial jurisdictional overlaps

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo hospital district seeks help from other districts for $1-billion project

Funding for Nanaimo Regional General Hospital patient tower discussed by committee

Stuffed toys, many with donations pinned to them, are piled in the Lions Pavilion at Maffeo Sutton Park at a vigil May 31 honouring the 215 Indigenous children whose remains were discovered outside a residential school in Kamloops. (News Bulletin file photo)
Thousands donated to child and family service agency following Nanaimo vigil

Toys and money donated to Kw’umut Lelum child and family services

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Most Read