Article: Climate Change and its Effects on Asia and Australia
This article addresses the exact same problems we face here in southern Thailand. Last year’s dry season was the hottest year in 65 years in Thailand (and the hottest year ever recorded) – so hot in fact that our pond completely dried out in the back – and at the time I’m writing this (beginning of February 2017) it is still raining even though usually the dry season should have started (which is nothing we complain about, but another indicator of seasonal imbalances due to climate change).
The author writes about remote villages in Cambodia:
“What strikes me most forcibly however, is their descriptions of the new insects eating their crops that they had never seen before, or their knowledge of how the dry season is extending each year with exhausting heat sucking their soils dry. They know exactly how their climate – and their world – is changing.”
Even though the author lays focus on the loss of profit which makes it seem like a slightly egoist and superficial concern to have about climate change, a good general image of the importance of stable ecosystems is given.
“Farmers live and work so closely with the environment. When they speak about the natural world – gnarled River Red gums on the creek bank or the wedgetail eagle sentry that perches near the front gate – it is with easy intimacy, as if talking about an old friend.”
“Recent studies have found nine in 10 farmers are concerned about damage to the climate. They are experiencing rapid alteration to their land and regional weather patterns. Two-thirds of farmers say they have observed changes in rainfall patterns in their life-time or time of farming.”
Next, the author does a very common mistake by taking population growth as a given, as if this is just the way things are, the natural course of things, that humans slowly take over the whole planet and in doing so, push every other species off the edge. Population growth since the Agricultural Revolution has been accelerating exponentially and there is nothing natural about it, since we humans just developed a way to trick Nature’s self-regulating mechanisms by growing ever-increasing amounts of food. Our defining challenge is not, as she says, “meeting the needs of a growing global population”, but to reduce that global population, and problems like overconsumption, waste production, greenhouse gas emissions and the concomitant climate change will be solved automatically.
We can’t “feed everyone” without harming the planet, because it is large-scale industrial agriculture that is responsible for much of the environmental destruction we cause, from top soil erosion due to monocultures the use of herbicides, over deforestation to put more land under cultivation, to species extinction because this expansion destroys the habitat of other animals.
The author realizes some of the things that are wrong with the way we live, but fails to draw the broader conclusion as to what the root of those problems are (civilization itself, which can by definition not be sustainable, as well as the anthropocentric worldview that arose from it). Yes we need to “improve our human interaction with [the world]”, but we need to do this in a radically different way from what she proposes. We need to go back to a lifestyle that works for humans and for every other species, and not trying to improve upon Nature by conquest. For getting an insight of how the “better understanding of how our world works” really looks like, maybe she should visit one of the many indigenous Aborigine tribes in Australia, who have exactly this kind of understanding for thousands of years already. No “continued research, development and extension” is needed, what we need is the opposite, since development is just a fancy term for environmental destruction. Agriculture needs to be replaced with small-scale local permaculture, and no science is needed to do this.
In the end, the author proves to have an irreclaimable anthropocentric, progressivist worldview that will NEVER change anything for the better, since it is exactly this kind of thinking that caused all the problems we face today.
The problems are described and explained well, but when it comes to proposing possible solutions, the author fails utterly.