Climate Change, Wildlife Loss, and the Coming Ecopocalypse

Paul Tripp

The recent violence in Charlottesville and the growing political violence from the Alt Right, Antifa, BLM, and others is changing our political landscape and has many people scared for the political future of the US. But regardless of whether your sympathies lie with BLM’s opposition to the provable racist enforcement of drug laws and other victimless crimes, Antifa’s opposition to an upper class that seems increasingly disconnected from the difficulties of the lower and middle class, the Alt Right’s opposition to white replacement by left wing policies that pressure them to lower their birth rates and accept mass immigration from non-white countries with high birthrates, all of them to some degree, or none of them at all, there is a far bigger threat to humanity’s survival lurking in the background of this simmering conflict.

Climate change, wildlife loss, mass species extinction, and our other environmental problems threaten to collapse our ecosystem, make our world largely uninhabitable, and end life on earth as we know it. There are many different predictions from climate scientists and ecologists as to how long we have left before warming, ecological devastation, and other problems make our world uninhabitable, but predictions range from a few decades according to University of Maryland researchers and popular environmental blog  to a few centuries, but even the predictions that we have a century or more until a total ecological collapse acknowledge that we must make significant changes within the next few years to prevent our ecological situation from getting worse.

While the evidence for manmade climate change isn’t quite as solid as the left likes to argue, it is still pretty solid 16 of the 17 warmest years on record have occurred since the turn of the millennium, with 2016 being the hottest year so far. The global sea level rose 8 inches during the 20th century and has been rising faster so far this century, partly due to ice melting and partly due to the warming of the oceans causing them to expand (as water does when it heats up). The ocean is also slowly becoming acidic, partly due to increased carbon dioxide being absorbed by the ocean and partly due to chemicals and trash that find their way into the oceans.

But climate change from greenhouse gas emissions are not the only threat facing our ecosystem, and many estimates and models based primarily on climate change completely ignore the threats posed by wildlife loss and mass species extinction. We have essentially entered a sixth mass extinction event, with dozens of species going extinct every day at the fastest rate since the dinosaurs died. According to the World Wildlife Fund’s Living Planet Index. an ongoing metastudy of hundreds of pieces of ecological research and monitoring of thousands of animal populations, the world has lost about half its animal wildlife since 1970 and is continuing to lose more at a rapid pace. The ultimate effects of wildlife loss on our ecosystem and our environment’s ability to sustain life as we know it are far harder to predict than the effects of atmospheric carbon. For example, the removal and reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone National Park caused the rivers in the park to change shape. When wolves were removed from the park, it changed the grazing patterns of their former prey, which affected the growth patterns of plants, which affected soil erosion and river formation and the quality of the river water. When the wolves were reintroduced, areas that had lost much of their plant life due to overgrazing by deer and the wolves’ other prey animals rapidly regrew, affecting not just the ecosystem but even the physical geography of the park as the increase in plant life reduced soil erosion and changed the shape of the rivers. If the loss of one species can have such a profound effect on not just the rest of life in the ecosystem, but the physical terrain, soil, water, and air quality of their ecosystem, imagine what the loss of dozens of species every day is doing to our ecosystem’s ability to support human life. But unpredictable environmental outcomes are not limited to wildlife loss; as arctic permafrost slowly thaws due to increasing temperatures, large amounts of methane, a more potent greenhouse gas than the carbon dioxide released by gas and coal, is being released into the atmosphere, so the release of one greenhouse gas by humans is causing the release of another more potent greenhouse gas by our natural environment, and it’s hard to fully predict the effects warming will have as it continues.

Climate change and wildlife loss affect each other, but both are primarily caused by human activity. While the human impact on climate change is primarily due to fossil fuel use, agriculture is responsible for about 1/3 of manmade greenhouse gas emissions. Food production is also responsible for a majority of wildlife loss. Climate change is the fourth biggest cause of wildlife loss, responsible for about 7% of loss as warming causes ecosystem changes that make former animal habitats uninhabitable. Direct destruction and change of natural habitat are the second and third biggest causes, and since agriculture takes up and more than 1/3 of arable land (the most fertile land that’s both most suited to crop production and most suited to sustaining wildlife). Not only that, but the amount of arable land has shrunk by about 1/3 over the past 40 years, primarily due to soil erosion from agriculture. The biggest cause of wildlife loss is direct exploitation of wildlife, which includes fishing, hunting, and poaching, primarily for food. Overall, food production is responsible for a solid majority of wildlife loss.

The rapid destruction of our ecosystem by food production should give pause to many on the environmental left, especially those who consider themselves some variety of communist or socialist. The typical narrative of the environmentalist movement is one of anti-capitalism and opposing the excesses of the rich, and there’s certainly an argument to be made that the average rich person has a bigger impact on our ecosystem than the average middle or lower class person and that capitalist countries that increase their people’s wealth also increase the burden they place on our ecosystem, especially where carbon emissions are concerned. But if food production is responsible for a solid majority of wildlife loss and a significant portion of climate change, the narrative must adapt to that fact, and while the rich likely do eat better than the poor (especially when considering the global population), the difference between the food consumption of the rich and poor is not nearly as large as the difference in fossil fuel use between the rich and poor. Population size and growth also becomes more important as each additional person has to eat regardless of how much or little they consume in the way of fossil fuels.

For an example of how wrong the current climate change narrative is relative to the facts, let’s compare consumption in the US to consumption in India. India is sometimes praised by environmentalists for having a very low rate of consumption per person, while the US is often heavily criticized for having one of the highest rates of consumption per person. The average American consumes so much that if everyone on Earth consumed like the average American, it would take 4.75 earths</a> to provide for everyone, while if everyone on Earth consumed like the average person in India, it would take only 2/3 of the Earth we have to provide for them. However, India has far more people packed into a much smaller space than the US. The US has a population density a little over half the world average, while India’s population density is over 7 times as high as the world average, so India’s population density Is more than 10 times as high as the US’. If every country had the US’ population density and the same average consumption as the average American, it would take only 2.75 Earths to provide for everyone, while if every country had India’s population density and average consumption it would take 4.8 Earths to provide for everyone. In both cases, it would take more Earths to provide for people than we have, but the problems caused by India’s massive population are even bigger than the problems of America’s high consumption. We can’t simply focus on the problems of wealth and ignore the problems of population size and growth.

The mainstream left’s response to these facts is partially right and partially wrong. They tend to recognize the importance of birth control and abortion, but they tend to be most concerned about access to these things in developed countries that already have low birth rates, rather than focusing on increasing access in countries that have high birth rates or high population densities. Some left wing public figures and publications, such as Bill Nye, Gloria Steinem, and The Guardian have specifically called for reducing birth rates in the developed world while ignoring birth rates in the developing world because people in the developed world consume more per person. However, this ignores a few key facts. Immigration and aging are much bigger sources of population growth in developed countries than births. When people from poor countries who consume relatively little per person move to wealthier countries with much higher rates of consumption per person, they tend to adopt the high consumption way of life of their new country and end up doing about as much damage as a new birth would have done. The first generation of immigrants also tends to keep their high birth rates create even more children in their new country. When the same people who are telling us that people in the developed world need to reduce our birth rates to fight climate change also support large scale immigration into developed countries, not only are they being counterproductive to the goal of solving climate change and wildlife loss, they also end up feeding into the alt right narrative of anti-white population replacement that’s driving people to a political movement that largely refuses to believe in climate change (though that may be partly because of how the climate change narrative has been used against them). To solve climate change, we must contain the problem of population growth by tightly restricting immigration from countries with high birth rates and high population densities into developed countries and take action to reduce birth rates outside the developed world, especially in sub-Saharan Africa where.

Many people on the left have made the argument that high birth rates are a result of poverty and low birth rates come from wealth and security, and therefore conclude that the best way to reduce birth rates is to help developing countries develop faster and increase their standard of living through development aid. However, there is a catch 22 here – even if we can successfully improve their economic situation and increase the wealth of poor countries, and even if that does reduce birth rates, it will also increase the amount that they consume per person and likely do more damage (especially in the short term) than leaving them in poverty. If the problems of wildlife loss and climate change are as bad as the scientific evidence makes them out to be, we literally can’t afford to let the developing world develop further and consume more. Population control must come first before we can even consider helping a country develop. We may even need to eliminate any foreign aid aside from birth control to the developing world. This will upset some people as it means accepting loss of some lives in the developing world, but accepting some loss of life now may be necessary to prevent an even greater loss of life when our ecosystem collapses.

We also can’t ignore our aging population’s effect on climate change and wildlife loss. How much sense does it really make to cut down the birth of future workers while keeping people alive long past the point at which they stop working? Especially when some of those kids will grow up to build renewable power plants, run sustainable farms, and work other jobs that are needed to solve climate change, while the elderly are far more likely to deny the threats of climate change and wildlife loss and ignore the threat these problems pose to younger generations because they personally won’t be affected. In the US, Social Security and Medicare are responsible for. Medicare in particular pays many of our most intelligent and scientifically literate workers to go into health care, rather than going into fields that relate to solving climate change. While many people will argue that our retirees deserve this money for paying into these programs all their lives, this argument ignores a few important facts. Medicare costs about twice what Medicare taxes pay for. There are about 1.5 times as many retirees per worker in the US today as there were when our current retirees started working, so workers today have to work harder for less to care for them. It’s especially unfair to ask our already debt burdened young people to work harder for less to take care of retirees when young people entering the work force today are unlikely to have an ecosystem left when they retire if we don’t cut down the amount we consume. Besides, retirees in the developed world are the longest living generation in human history in the wealthiest nations on Earth in the most advanced era ever. Why should we let literally the most privileged group of people who have ever lived in the entire history of life on our planet contribute to the destruction of life on Earth for future generations long after they’ve stopped doing anything to fix the problems they’re creating?

The same argument could be made for many forms of welfare. Any form of welfare spending that isn’t aimed at getting people back to work is becoming more and more unaffordable, ecologically speaking. This doesn’t mean all government spending is bad – education, work training, and infrastructure spending can certainly have a part to play in the solution to climate change and wildlife loss. But the left will have to abandon the victimhood mentality that has come to define the social justice left and instead look for ways to empower productive workers, especially the rural working class men who will be doing most of the jobs necessary to solve climate change.

Solving climate change will require a lot of people working a lot of difficult, dangerous jobs. Nearly all of these jobs are because of the high physical requirements and risk of danger involved. Building and maintaining renewable power plants will require many construction workers and electricians, and 97% of construction workers and electricians are men. Electrical work is the 9th most deadly job and construction is the 4th most deadly industry to work in. And since it takes many times more labor to produce the same amount of energy through renewables as it does to produce that energy through fossil fuels, we will be asking more people to work harder for less at those difficult, dangerous jobs in order to solve climate change. Sustainable agriculture also takes more labor to produce the same amount of food as factory farms and monocrop agriculture. Agriculture is the deadliest industry to work in, and while agriculture’s workforce is only 77% male, most of the women who work in agriculture do relatively safe and easy jobs like picking and sorting produce, while the more difficult, dangerous jobs that play a more direct role in solving climate change have overwhelmingly male workforces – tree farming and forestry, for example, have an over 99% male work force and the highest on the job death rate of any occupation. Unless feminists are going to start stepping up and working these difficult, dangerous jobs, feminism’s demands – especially the more ridiculous demands of the third wave and intersectional feminists who want to blame men for everything while ignoring the sacrifices men make to provide food, shelter, and energy to women who contribute more to climate change and wildlife loss than they contribute to the solutions to those problems – will have to take a backseat to the needs of the men we’re expecting to risk their lives to save the world.

If there is any issue that’s so important that the left needs to be willing to make concessions and compromises to make progress on it, that issue is saving the environment. Especially when we have so little time to solve these problem before they spiral out of control, and when Republicans control the Presidency and both houses of Congress, we can’t expect to make progress on environmental issues simply by asking rural and working class men to work harder for less at difficult, dangerous jobs to provide for people who don’t work as hard as they do while pressuring them to have fewer kids and accept being replaced by immigrants from countries that outbreed them. That’s literally how we ended up with President Trump, whether the mainstream left will ever admit it or not. It is more important that we solve climate change so our species can live to create a better world tomorrow than to cling to extreme feminism, open borders, and our unaffordable welfare state and lose the only world we have.



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