Not Climate Change, But Biosphere Trauma

We’ve all watched over many decades the various verbal spins on the changes in our atmosphere brought about by industrial human activity. We’ve bounced from Air, Water and Land Pollution to Acid Rain to Greenhouse Effect to Ozone Hole to Global Warming to the Plastic Scourge to Mass Extinction to Climate Change. Whichever is the term du jour gets the most press and attention. Each of these things has brought arguments over the scope and the reasons for why and inevitably someone says something unbelievably banal and dimwitted such as “The climate always changes” as though that somehow means anything without the how and how much and how fast parts included. Sometimes it’s the “It was way hotter on Earth before such as during the Jurassic Period” as though that was supposed to bode well for us late warm-blooded mammals that evolved in a much cooler environment. Regardless of all that rhetoric and spin, the time is past to confront the Reality of what we have wrought and to name ALL of these many things together, each of which is only increasing to add up to Biosphere Trauma.

Climate Change is not a cause but a symptom of many underlying causes. However, these causes such as carbonization of the atmosphere are not alone as insults to Nature and it is important to keep a sharp eye on all of these threats because any one of them could be our undoing, let alone all of them taken together. This includes:

  • Atmospheric carbon
  • Toxins and carcinogens everywhere
  • Plastification
  • Overfishing
  • Unsustainable farming
  • Deforestation
  • Over-paving
  • Loss of wilderness, wetlands and encroachment
  • Overpopulation
  • Resource mismanagement
  • Loss of biodiversity
  • Energy waste
  • Food waste
  • Acidification
  • Mass extinction

The biosphere is a global ecosystem composed of living organisms (biota) and the abiotic (nonliving) factors from which they derive energy and nutrients.

This is the standard definition of the Biosphere which is another way of saying “Where all life lives on Earth.” This includes our oceans and atmosphere, every forest, plain, mountain, valley, lake, river, stream, aquifer, layers of soil, tundra, marsh, swamp, wetland, desert and more. Planets without biospheres are said to be abiotic or dead. I’m not entirely sure I agree with this definition since I find it perfectly feasible that the Earth or even the whole Solar System or Galaxy is a living organism we just don’t understand yet. I’m not even so sure every atom is not in possession of some animating Life Force (animism), but that’s a topic for philosophical debate.

Regardless, we as humans have very specific biological needs and conditions which must be met for us to survive starting with a narrow temperature range. The Earth is sometimes called a Goldilocks Planet because it occupies a sweet spot in relation to the Sun where if we were much closer it would be too hot to sustain life (Venus) and much farther too cold (Mars). Other factors such as availability of certain elements in the right mix and the right gravity all conspire for optimal living conditions. Recent hunting for other such planets has not been particularly fruitful and certainly nothing for many light-years around has been found or proven to sustain similar life to Earth’s. We are an Oasis, a blue jewel in the vast void of Space.

To ruin the habitability of such a perfect home would necessarily rise to the level of a Cosmic Crime, one that is simply punished with extinction. The Earth has certainly lost count of the number of species that have come and gone like so many canceled shows on the Cosmic TV. Sure, some shows have a nice run of many millions of years and others not so long and one might even see it as one big show where various species have their own episodes, like the dinosaurs. However you look at it, the Human Show is perilously close to being canceled. But we are not alone. Our fellow mammals such as lions, tigers, bears, dogs, whales, dolphins and many others are also in danger. So are many non-mammalian species such as birds, bees, corals, fish, octopuses and many, many more. And none of it is their fault. It’s entirely OUR FAULT.

We are the only industrial strength species that runs machines, makes synthetic chemicals and burns things 24 hours per day, 365 days per year! Industrial Scale means that we have amplified our effects well beyond our small numbers (compared to say 4 quadrillion ants). We have cars, trucks, planes, trains and ships moving at all hours of every day. We create massive amounts of materials (products) that Nature can’t break down through biological processes and we spread them relentlessly to all corners of the Earth. For all intents and purposes, we behave like an infection or a parasite that is slowly killing its host.

We know that poison when taken often requires only the tiniest amount to bring our biological process to a complete halt (i.e. death). We have even made such powerful poisons that mere micrograms can kill us. But death is not the only symptom of poisons. We didn’t invent poisons. Thousands of animals use poisons and venoms to defeat their prey or defend against predators. All of those are Natural agents, however, and Nature has no trouble breaking them down. Some poisons act slowly, making us ill, sluggish or giving us cancer or other maladies. It is highly likely that our manufactured poisons permeate our biosphere in the form of chemicals, pharmaceuticals, particulates, plastics, long-chain polymers, radioactive materials, gases and more that are constantly being manufactured and moved around.

We are a short-sighted species, often living for today with few thoughts about what the future holds. The time for such shallow behavior is over! Farmers will often concentrate on this year’s harvest using pesticides, fertilizers and various unsustainable practices that often create downstream issues such as dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico or degrade the very soil they depend on making it less arable next year. This sort of thinking goes far beyond farming and applies to millions of businesses, entire governments and importantly, individuals who live for today’s comfort, delusional as to how this same comfort may very well be at the expense of future comfort.

We all keep warm in the winter, cool in the summer, travel around freely, eat food from land and sea, buy packaged goods, drugs, cosmetics, devices, doodads, upkeep lawns, you name it. Each of these things in their current forms are unsustainable. Each of these contribute to Biosphere Trauma. But they don’t need too.

Sustainability is the capacity to endure in a relatively ongoing way across various domains of life. … According to Our Common Future (Brundtland Report), sustainable development is defined as development that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Sustainability is not just a convenient word, it is an imperative. Any practice that has a net effect of degrading the biosphere is said to be unsustainable. Degradation of the biosphere is an extremely careless and egregious crime against what once WAS a perfectly operating Interdependent System that supports the Web of Life. Before humans blew up, the Earth was a specialist at sustainability. Each part of the puzzle fit with the next and each species was afforded their share of the whole and each year was equal to the next. Humans for some reason have decided to not only take more than our share but to also spoil the remaining shares for everyone else. In reality, we are taking from our future selves, our children and their children and that is a major crime.

Yes, it’s good that we have recently become more aware of our impact and we have found a term, Climate Change, to hang onto and communicate a problem but this term is far too weak to convey the dire situation. After all, people are right to point out that the climate has always changed. Climate Change IS normal. So why would we use a term that was so mild to describe an existential threat? Well we know—TOO MUCH Climate change TOO FAST. That’s the real situation. But Climate Change is a little too safe a term and can be glossed over as “normal” or “it happened before” as it often is, becoming an excuse to minimize the threat, kicking the can down the road or denial or even dismissal. It’s time to sound a louder alarm before it’s too late, if it’s not already. Rapid Climate Change is only ONE of our many Biosphere problems.

All of these things are connected as they always have been. Deforestation leads to less oxygen and more CO2 at the same time we pour billions of tons of CO2 and methane into the atmosphere. Overfishing disturbs the chain of life in the oceans, taking food away form other creatures and allowing more parasitic forms to flourish. Indeed, the real threat of Ecosystem Collapse looms before us. This is where so many threads are pulled out of what was a perfect tapestry and the whole thing falls apart and can’t be put back together, just like Humpty Dumpty, no matter of many of the King’s Horses or Men try. Not everything is recoverable and the point of no return is a VERY REAL point we are rapidly approaching.

Oh, the Earth will be quite fine. She’s well prepared to do her Planet thing with her Age Old partner the Sun. She has all the time in the world and can evolve a whole new set of creatures from the bottom of the sea over a billion years. But do we really want to make her do that when she is offering us such a wonderful, sustainable alternative? Why would we chose that path unless we were completely insane and suicidal?

We need to start looking at the WHOLE picture we are creating and not just one of its symptoms. We must be clear-minded, sober and Truthful. We must be caring, not just for ourselves but for ALL creatures and ALL generations. Therefore I strongly believe it is time to rebrand Climate Change as something far more dangerous and ominous that should be on the tongues of every activist and young person who is concerned about where we are going. It’s time to quit messing around and call it what it is—Biosphere Trauma.

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As a creative type, entrepreneur and philosopher, I write on many topics and try to offer solutions to, or useful insights into societal problems.

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Peter McClard

Peter McClard

As a creative type, entrepreneur and philosopher, I write on many topics and try to offer solutions to, or useful insights into societal problems.

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