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From “The Ecological Rift: Capitalism’s War on the Earth” by John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark, and Richard York, that I am reading right now:

May 9, 2013

“The causes of the five previous mass extinctions are not fully understood, but the mass extinction taking place today is clearly being driven by Homo sapiens via an economic system that operates at the global level.The constant expansion of the capitalist system has pushed environmentaldegradation to the planetary level, as habitat destruction decimates the living conditions of species and as ecosystems are radically transformed. Human civilization, under capitalism, is engaged in a process of destroying the future, as “we suck our sustenance from the rest of nature in a way never before seen in the world, reducing its bounty as ours grows.”

“Eldredge points out that as humans moved beyond isolated ecosystems, to operate at the planetary level, our alienation from nature increased. We developed the illusion that we were not dependent upon the environment. Eldredge warns that the current global mass extinction is quite different from previous ones, in that the source of the extinction remains on the scene: humans destroying habitat for the sake of profit. Thus recovery of ecosystems is not possible so long as the same forces continue to act and change the world as has been the practice.”

“The rate of speciation is caught in a time conflict, as the current rate of extinction is faster than the rate of evolution. The mass extinction being orchestrated today is a unique historic event, given that it is being driven by anthropogenic forces that continue to operate. Since 1600, the extinction rate has been 50 to 100 times the average estimated rate of extinction during previous epochs, but the rate “is expected to rise to between 1,000 and 10,000 times the natural rate.” Thus a radical change in the operations of human society and its interaction with nature is necessary to stop the ecological crisis that is taking place.”

“Humans must establish a form of social production that does not alienate people from nature and that interacts with nature in a manner that does not undermine the environment’s ability to regenerate.”


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