Beyond Sustainable Economy ► 12 ►Scientific Section: Use of Energy ► Intro: A Dire Scenario

Posted: 24.08.2017

It is impossible to write in one article all things humanity is doing wrong. Libraries can be written about this. Just to set the tone of the following articles about energy use, we mention here some stunning facts, in order to frame the mind into an awareness of the urgency of the situation and the need to do something.

People are disturbers, everywhere - though if they choose, they could be saints, each of us. We have the means to outdo natural balances that have been kept in a dynamic stability for millions of years. Though a beaver can disturb a creek by damming it with a log while killing a tree, this is about the worst 'environmental disaster' caused by an animal. But is does not disturb the planet.

It is believed by some that the Earth is a living being, with a jīva of its own, and sustains its own body by homeostatic processes in which all organisms play a role. In ancient literature one can read that the Earth, annoyed by human behavior, has sometimes shed her skin in order to shed off and so doing destroy - physically - large numbers of people. Even if we happen to be occidental scientists who do not belief in a soul behind physical manifestation and matter, it has been established, foremost by the world of the British chemist James Lovelock[1]  that the planet keeps in balance by a complexity of homeostatic processes. They seem to be intelligent and predetermined. Even if they are not, like in the case of the thermostats of refrigerators or stoves, it works all fine until some 'would-be experts,' like your children, for example, try to meddle with them. Damage can be irrevocable. A frig you can replace. And the Earth - well, we can go to Mars - some say.

Did you know, for example:

That, from the point of view of available energy and resources the Earth provides a particular quantity per year. And that in that sense the USA alone uses the amount of 4,16 earths per year?

It is said[2] that:

The moment in the year when the delivered resources of the Earth are depleted, counting from January 1st - that is the moment we become mere parasites on the Earth - is called Earth Overshoot Day. In the last year (2015) this was on August 12. Every year it is a few days earlier.

We talk a lot about the greenhouse gas problem, and global warming. It is due to and increased amount of CO2 (carbon dioxide) in the atmosphere since the beginning of industrialization and population growth. Yet only 4% of this gas is caused by humans, the other 96% is natural. Throughout millions of years the Earth has kept herself a balance of about 0,30% of carbon dioxide of the atmosphere (the rest being mainly Nitrogen and Oxygen). This has now increased to about 0,38%: the cause of all climatological problems we face today.

Recent problems due to human activity, among others:

 

Global warming

Now about 1 C, global average temperature could rise to a disastrous 4 C. The Paris Conference of 2015 has set a ideal limit (if the nations keep their promises) of 2 C as absolute maximum. Above that temperature the enormous permafrost regions like those in Siberia will start melting and release big amount of methane gas (CH4) which is 30 times as effective in rising the global atmosphere than is CO2.  Results are scientifically unpredictable and temperature will rise beyond control, perhaps melting the polar caps, eventually putting New York skyscrapers halfway under water. But even if it does not come that far, islands may submerge, coastal regions flooded, moist regions can become deserts, and changing ocean streams may alter the whole climatological pattern of the planet.

If we really wish to keep the human induced rise going, we should realize that, though much greater variations in climatological and geological variations have taken place before we came here, these were all done by the planet itself, and that the planet always survived. The planet went through her own periods and cycles. Extreme balances were still balances, and became eventually adjusted to a new situation. But now it seems that we humans are causing worse disturbance then even at the end of the Jurassic age of dinosaurs - which then went extinct, probably together with millions of others whose time had apparently come. Our disturbance causes more species extension within a few decades than that this presumed meteoritic cause in Yucatan could accomplish. Is this natural? Should we go on playing Dynamite, Meteorite?

 

Ozone Depletion

Ozone (O3), especially in upper atmospheric layers, protects all living being on the surface of the earth against ultraviolet over-radiation. It is a keen balance, which, like carbon dioxide and other atmospheric and natural balances has always been a dynamic balance. But now, due to human activity, the balance variation may have become erratic. A 'thinner' ozone layer results in increased skin cancer in humans and can cause blindness in certain animals. If depletion would continue, we would 'burn to death' by ultraviolet radiation. However, too much ozone would deprive life on Earth, especially the oxygen-providing vegetation, of indispensible qualities of the natural solar radiation. The ozone balance in the atmosphere as been finely regulated by 'Gaia' (Greek for Earth) with the help of micro-organisms living in the sea water at continental flats along the coasts - and also is influenced by world-wide wet rice culture, etc. But the addition by man of artificial CFCs (chloro-fluoro-carbohydrates) used as power gases in spray bottles etc, in the atmosphere has disturbed the balance. But here we have also an example of what governments can do: due to legal regulations, this use of CFKs has been largely reduced. Still, the effects will be perceptible for at least decades.

 

Acidification

Also known as acid rain, or, better, acid precipitation, sourness of what falls from the skies - the water of Indra, the king of the gods, say the Hindus - has already diseased and killed large stretches of forests in Europe and elsewhere, and killed fish in lakes because of acidification of lakes. Some lakes are dead. The acid is mainly due to increased sulphur dioxide, which is a by product of fossil fuel burning, and nitrogen oxides with become an acid when dissolved (ionized) in water.

 

Eutrophication

Some plants flourish in environmental circumstances rich in chemical nutrients, such as nitrates, used in large quantities as fertilizer in agriculture. Other plants flourish naturally in nutrient-poor environments. These last are disturbed when extra, artificial nutrients are added to the soil and the water, what is called eutrophication 'over-feeding'. Many species of plants and animals have been driven out of their natural environments by rogue growth of nutrient-hungry species, like certain aquatic algae. In the many countries with large scale agriculture - which has become completely dominated by the inputs from chemical fertilizer, pesticide and herbicide and seed producing industries, are now very poor in natural variation of species. Once beautiful meadows are now turned into green grass lands like a billiard sheet of cattle grass, or other monocultures. Absolute monocultures do not naturally occur in nature.

 

Damaging natural soil complexes

Natural clays and clay-containing soils consist of clay mineral which form microscopic horizontal plates, between which the natural soil holds a variety of metal ions. That is why a natural soil is 'rich'. Artificial nitrate fertilizers drive out the subtle balances of these ions irreversibly, and replace them with hydrogen-ions. This destroys important physical properties irreversibly which 'good clay' has and makes it slump flat. It becomes much less useful and more nutrient-dependent for agricultural purposes. Only long-term barrenness and return of natural vegetation can restore or 'heal' the soil.

 

Deforestation

Large scale deforestation either for wood harvesting of agricultural, especially extensive cattle farming have laid large stretches of the earth barren. It is true that in moderate (non-tropical) climates, high quality ('biological' - I mean pre-artificial) agriculture has served humanity and forms the basis of the present-day economic successes of especially the western countries. This is used as an argument by tropical countries to not want to preserve their forests, because they will say that the developed would owes its wealth to just doing that. However it does not hold true for tropical soils. Rainforest soils are in general extremely poor in nutrients (because in the tropical natural cycle without winters with leaf-fall, nutrients are always kept with in the living plants, and immediately recycled by fungi, notably Micorrhiza, which process decaying leaves directly to the hair roots of trees for reabsorption), and not in compost or organic compounds in the soil, as is the case in the moderate and colder climates.) and they also have a bad soil structure for agriculture If used for agriculture these soils are exhausted within a few years. The worst us that most hot-tropical deforested lands are used for extensive (extreme inefficient) cattle farming - the meat being consumed by people, of course. Tropical deforestation is therefore a total loss of what has been called (only partly correct though) the lungs of the Earth, because tropical forest are absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen (during daytime), regulate rainfall, water flows, avoid floods and draughts and contain a near infinitude of potential useful organisms, such as medical herbs. Moreover they belong to the few habitats in which humans can live totally natural lives. A tropical forest environment contains all ingredients for healthy and happy living. Then, last but not least: life as manifested on this planet is of all ecosystems the most abundant and rich in tropical forest and other natural tropical ecosystems. But on a daily basis, a large number of species of animals, plants (and germs and other micro-organisms and molds) species are made extinct forever by ending their millions of years long cycle of self-chosen evolution by violence. We can only fancy nightmares about the karma of the causers of these problems. By deforestation of the tropics we impede uncountable quantities of souls to incarnate in the forms that would answer to their particular karmas and experiences.

 

Lateritization

A side effect of tropical deforestation is erosion due to high rainfall. The top layer washes away, down to the hard impenetrable lateritic layer or iron pan which hardens to 'stone' when exposed to the sunny atmosphere - a phenomenon only produced under long periods of tropical forest cover. These eroded or denudated soils are useless of agriculture even in the future, and obstruct natural restoration of vegetation. This kills the argument that would give tropical countries the 'right' to destroy their forests.

 

General toxicity

Our daily natural atmosphere, the water around us, the earth itself, and the smokes from fires fed by plastics etc., even the oceans and the spaces encircling the earth, have become toxic. No inhalation of air or zip of water, no piece of food we eat, no piece of 'pristine' nature we visit, like beaches and forests, hills and mountains, are without poison. Ever second we are consuming poisons which are enclosed in the tissues of our bodies, and affect our health. The last we compensate with allopathic medicine, which are again toxic and highly pollutive in their production.

 

Species extinction

So far, science has identified some 1,8 million living species of organisms on Earth. It is estimated - very coarsely - that there may be 10 to 100 million species - all of them specific karmic forms of expression, all of them earning full respect as expressions of their inner souls (jīva). Many of them may also represent values from a human utilitarian point of view: as potential medical plants, fruits, gene pools, original genetic make-ups for possibly development by future human generations, etc., etc. As said above, tropical deforestation is the main cause, but not the only one. Desertification by over-use for agriculture or cattle growing of once fertile lands is another cause of destruction of nature and large scale human misery in the relevant parts of the world.

 

Fundamental causes in our behavior that could change

Meat eating

The 'carbon foot print (the amount of carbon dioxide added in the atmosphere caused by one person) of a vegan is 58% of that of a meat eater. (A vegan is a vegetarian who abstains also from all other animal products: diary, eggs, leather, etc.)

A plant based diet reduces your carbon footprint by 50%

51% of all green house gasses are the result of cattle breeding (i.e. for meat, eggs, milk and leather and a few other products), against 13% of world-wide road, air and sea transportation.

Meat and diary production are responsible for one third of earth fresh water use

In the US the total amount of fresh water used by households is 5% of the total water consumption. Cattle industry demands 55%, so 11 times as much as a human uses at home.

An estimated 110 species of animal and insect species are lost everyday by rainforest destruction alone.

91% of the Amazon forest destruction is for meat production (cattle) only.

1 to 2 acres of rainforest is cleared away every second.

1 Hamburger costs as much of the Earth's energy then taking a daily hot shower for two months.

65% of all nitrogen oxides (NOx) artificially added to the atmosphere is due to life stock.

Life-stock covers one third of all available land on Earth.

One third of the land on earth has become desert due to life stock

The waste from a farm of 2500 dairy cows = that of a city of 411,000 people.

The surface of land needed to feed one person one year:

A vegan: 674 m2

A meat-eater: 12,132 m2

Or: one meat-eater stands for 18 vegans if it comes to the burden on our planet.

A person who follows a vegan diet produces 50% less CO2 compared to a meat-eater;

He/she uses 9% oil compared to a meat-eater;

He/she uses 7,5% water compared to a meat-eater;

He/she uses 2,1% land compared to a meat-eater;

80,400,000,000 (80,4 billion kg) of fish are pulled from the ocean each year.

In the ideal but improbable case that every person in the world became a vegan, we would reach all the goals of the Paris Agreement at once.

 

Conclusion

Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead-zones, water pollution and habitat destruction

The animal industry is the biggest problem in the world from an aparigrahic point of view.

The above was only one example. We chose our carnivorous dietary habits - which we did not inherit from the apes - as an example here. Perhaps it is the worst part of our behavior. But there are others:

 

Other problems

We could have written a comparable chapter about:

  • Industrial consumption or energy used for producing unnecessary goods.
  • Weapons production for enemies we only create with our mind.
  • Ammunition production to sooth our fear for others who have this ammunition also.
  • Medical production and its connected environmental and body pollution of medicine for diseases we would not have.
  • Transportation to places we would not have to go
  • Life-comforts that make us week: climatized buildings, cars, etc..
  • Using too much food leading to obesity, heart disease, diabetes and other ailments from artificial agriculture where we could use much less from healthy biological agriculture.
  • Living on places we should not live (i.e. the cold and wet climates in general).
  • Gadgets which dumb our mind and spirit, but make us addicted to cheap emotions.
  • Entertainment needed because of spiritual poverty due to an overdose of external impulses and a lack of subtle impulses.

And more. You yourself could also write such chapters as this. There is enough information on the internet.

But as we do only talk about 'sustainable' economy, nothing will really change for the better. We have to look at ourselves, as persons and as society. And take steps back - so that we ourselves, humanity, the planet and all that lives, will win joy.

 

If we don't want to do this,

as humanity, or a large part of humanity, if we don't have the wisdom to recognize the subtleties of Nature, the happiness of the better parts of our own psychology, the eternal forces of compassion at work, the refined taste of natural foods above the coarseness and animality of junk food, and feel happy within our present spiritual slumber, we still want to survive. Then we can choose for a sustained life-style full of our present 'comforts' and technology, and extend it - ever more, until Nature herself stops us, we can at least use those sources of energy to fuel our desires that are least harmful to the planet. I think humanity at large will follow this course, or find some middle way: not all humans are the same: they are as various as there are individuals. Moreover, wisdom is often born out of mud, they say. Anyway, if we want it, our children, or at least our still unborn great (great etc.) grandchildren, can live in a cleaner and less noisy, and more stimulating world than our generation has to suffer at this moment.

We have to choose for cleaner energy

For this purpose the following articles have been written.

Footnotes:
[1]
[2]
Share this page on:

Author

Source/Info

Title: Beyond Sustainable Economy
Authors: Dr. Rudi Jansma, Dr.Sushma Singhvi
Publisher: Prakrit Bharati Academy
Edition: 2016