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Guest Post: Monbiot, Attenborough and Soper on environmental collapse

Written By: - Date published: 10:14 am, December 6th, 2017 - 44 comments
Categories: climate change, Conservation, disaster, Environment, farming, food, global warming, Media, science, sustainability, the praiseworthy and the pitiful - Tags: , , ,

George Monbiot is an informed, fearless and independent journalist. This is what he has written recently about climate change.

Which of these would you name as the world’s most pressing environmental issue? Climate breakdown, air pollution, water loss, plastic waste or urban expansion? My answer is none of the above. Almost incredibly, I believe that climate breakdown takes third place, behind two issues that receive only a fraction of the attention.

This is not to downgrade the danger presented by global heating – on the contrary, it presents an existential threat. It is simply that I have come to realise that two other issues have such huge and immediate impacts that they push even this great predicament into third place.

One is industrial fishing, which, all over the blue planet, is now causing systemic ecological collapse. The other is the erasure of non-human life from the land by farming.

And perhaps not only non-human life. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, at current rates of soil loss, driven largely by poor farming practice, we have just 60 years of harvests left. And this is before the Global Land Outlook report, published in September, found that productivity is already declining on 20% of the world’s cropland.

David Attenborough is a highly respected and renowned broadcaster on the natural world.  This is what his most recent show Blue Panet 2 says about climate change.

Industrial pollution and the discarding of plastic waste must be tackled for the sake of all life in the ocean. “Surely we have a responsibility to care for our planet. The future of humanity and indeed all life on earth, now depends on us.”  He has warned that the world’s oceans are turning into a “toxic soup” of industrial waste and plastic, putting the future of humanity at risk …  

Barry Soper is a compromised corporate puppet who earns his money by writing sycophantic articles to please the financial industries who own the media in New Zealand. This is what he wrote about climate change.

In his wretched and petty little article about climate change today , he compares people (like Monbiot and Attenborough) to religious zealots, likens Al Gore to the crazed pastor Brian Tamaki, demeans Prime Minister Ardern by describing her as ‘giggling’ and finishes the article by threatening her with this statement:

Ardern would to do well to reflect on that.”

‘That’ refers to the fact that just 43 percent of Americans think climate change will harm them personally.

It is little wonder so many Americans and New Zealanders are so ignorant about climate change when their source of information for this topic are fools like Soper rather than Attenborough and Monbiot.

Ed

44 comments on “Guest Post: Monbiot, Attenborough and Soper on environmental collapse ”

  1. tracey 1

    If 43% think that climate change will harm them personally that is a good start from a nation that appears to spend huge amounts of money telling them to believe the opposite.

    The irony of Sopers comparison is that one might compare him to a Brian Tamaki follower.

    I always find such statistics interesting. In NZ about as many people get murdered each year as die in workplace accidents. Add in serious/severe impairment and the numbers climb steeply Are more kiwis worried about the rate of serious crime than their workplace? Is more spent on prisons, corrections, justice to assuage this fear when another looms larger?

    • Richard Christie 1.1

      Yes, obviously Soper’s too thick to comprehend the implications of the statistic, that 43% of the population already understand that climate change will hurt them personally.

      That is a huge figure, and it will only grow as the rest of the population catch up.

      Soper’s tactic of fallaciously equating scientific consensus with religious dogma is a tired and cheap trick straight out of every crank group’s playbook.

  2. johnm 2

    1. The sixth great mass extinction of life on this Planet is happening.
    2.Climate Change is accelerating.

    Both of the above will take us out! 🙁

    ” The Great Dying wiped out at least 90% of the species on Earth due to an abrupt rise in global–average temperature about 252 million years ago. The vast majority majority of complex life became extinct. based on information from the most conservative sources available, Earth is headed for a similar or higher global-average temperature in the very near future. The recent and near-future rises in temperature are occurring and will occur at least an order of magnitude faster than the worst of all prior Mass Extinctions. Habitat for human animals is disappearing throughout the world, and abrupt climate change has barely begun. In the near future, habitat for Homo Sapiens will be gone. Shortly thereafter, all humans will die.
    There is no precedence in planetary history for events unfolding today. For example, the near-term ice-free Arctic will represent the first such event with humans on Earth. As a result, relying on prior events to predict the near future is unwise.
    This presentation describes self-reinforcing feedback loops ( i.e. “positive feedbacks”) and other contributors to the on going and near-future global-average temperature rise. The combination of these factors indicates Homo Sapiens will join prior species of humans and myriad other organisms in the dustbin of extinction.

    Feel Free to remove this comment if too upsetting! 🙂
    You can tell it upsets the hell out of me! 🙁

  3. Macro 3

    Good article Ed.
    You know that off the West Coast of the South Island there is a garbage pit of waste in the Tasman Sea that is affecting a large population of NZ’s Marine life?
    http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ourchangingworld/audio/201768760/junk-food-plastic-pollution-is-a-growing-threat-to-seabirds
    We have banned plastic bags from our household – and I urge all readers here too to do the same. It’s not difficult. Carry a shopping bag like your mum used to do, and have some good paper bags to use to pack your loose fruit and veg. Have your own cup which you can wash and reuse when buying your take away coffee – far more cool than the paper cups which, by the way, are not recyclable.
    Little actions like these can mount up to a lot when most people practise them.

  4. Andre 4

    Fearless, independent, and informed Monbiot may be. But not enough to include overpopulation by humans in his list of threats.

    • Pat 4.1

      over population could not occur without the carbon emitting based energy systems the wealthy west (predominantly) has developed. I consequently believe over population is a symptom (albeit one that compounds and feeds back) of anthropomorphic climate change.

      Monbiot makes his case
      http://www.monbiot.com/2009/09/29/the-population-myth/

      • Andre 4.1.1

        Yet it remains a simple fact that every human needs the output of a certain amount of land for survival.

        One of the saddest moments I’ve experienced was visiting the Kakamega Forest in Kenya, one of the last remnants of an important ecosystem type. A local, basically a subsistence farmer, guided us around. Then he talked about how the forest was continually shrinking by being cleared by his neighbours. Then he talked about his six kids. I asked how his six kids would support themselves when they grew up. His response – the Lord will provide some of the forest land for them and their families.

        Even if the aliens send us an Elysium so we can offload the wealthiest mega-wastrels, say the top 10% of the world’s population (and that’s going a long way down the scale to probably include you and me), then the problems from overpopulation only get deferred a few generations at best.

      • greywarshark 4.1.2

        Oh fuck nothing can be done then.

  5. Ad 5

    Really sad to be living among Waitakere Kauri forest this morning.

  6. Tricledrown 6

    Soper a back waters media mercenary .
    As opposed to Attenborough an internationally recognised expert.
    When Royal Ditch Shell and Mobil Exxons own internal science proves humans are causing global climate change.
    It shows how easy it is to buy influence.

  7. Ad 7

    Thankfully no one in this government gives a flying fuck about Soper.

    • Ed 7.1

      Agreed.
      It is just that a lot of people read Soper in the Herald , watch Hosking on TV and listen to Leighton Smith on the radio.
      And some people believe them.

      https://m.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1404/S00081/social-media-outrage-at-seven-sharp-climate-science-denial.htm

      • tc 7.1.1

        You can’t alter the leeming mentality as there’s a sense of validation agreeing with other shallow thinkers and those easily outraged by the everyday.

        Best anecdote is to offer an alternative of trusted quality so when shits get real it acts as a source of reliable info.

        IMO that’s when the lightbulb goes on inside heads about being led rather than informed.

        • Unicus 7.1.1.1

          Let’s be realistic – geriatric trash like Soper and his low rent wife work for Fairfax to provide locally produced support propaganda in the interest of their employers political and buisiness clients

          Fairfax operates in New Zealand is a conduit of Australian capital interests – it tells New Zealanders an Australian story on behalf of those interests . As in Australia this vile monopoly devotes itself to destroying progressivism – in particular undermining the influence and power of the Labour and Green Partiys

          Fairfax is an unconscionable media monopoly which must be dismantled and banished from New Zealand

        • greywarshark 7.1.1.2

          LED lighbulbs casting brilliant beams on our dark corners.

        • In Vino 7.1.1.3

          I am not sure that Leemings would like you describing their customers as you do… (The smiley face did not come through.)

  8. mary_a 8

    Excellent article Ed. Thanks.

    Soper makes a bigger fool of himself than usual, by going up against the likes of Monbiot and Attenborough, both exceptional learned intelligent men, renowned and highly respected experts in their own fields. Whereas Soper is nothing but a distorted product of a fake news msm … still pushing the ignorant ultra Tory perspective on the future of the planet.

    “When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn …”

  9. Bill 9

    Monbiot can write some good stuff, but he also writes some trash. And I wouldn’t call him “independent” – not by any stretch of the imagination.

    Attenborough’s definitely a “Johnny come lately” (but hey).

    Al Gore’s right up there with Christiana Figueres (that’s not a good thing in case you were wondering).

    The exchange between Gore and Ardern was sycophantic and a tad embarrassing.

    Soper’s “whatever”.

    Anyway, the reason people are somewhat lackadaisical about AGW is less about which opinion column writers are given prominence and far about science being subjected to political interference and pressure such that scientific reports (not basic research) get bent over backwards to accommodate political imperatives.

    And it is the feeding back to us of the resultant rose tinted “compromise”; the deceitful fiction that gets pulled straight out from synthesis reports, that keeps us (including politicians) trucking along happily enough.

    • So your saying bill that the scientists messages are diluted politically and corporately and then shown and thrown, by a compliant media and commentariat, back to a interested but ultimately illinformed public and this is why shit all is being done about climate change.

      • Bill 9.1.1

        The synthesis reports (IPCC etc) get bent out of shape trying to accommodate political “necessities” and then media pick up on what’s in those reports.

        Kevin Anderson has given thorough explanations of how politics interferes with the science, and given many detailed examples that show how that interference leads to the publication of dangerously misleading reports….that governments then set policy by.

        So no, it’s not so much that messages are diluted. They are concocted.

        Even so, with the rosy message, governments should still be scrambling. There are many reasons as to why they aren’t – iInstitutional inertia, lack of acknowledgement for just how dire the situation is, political cowardice, lack of imagination etc.

    • rhinocrates 9.2

      (but hey)

      In the absence of any verified unicorn sightings, that’s what the world has to work with. Better to take it than leave it.

      I sometimes like to use the analogy of square wheels. Push a cart with square wheels and it’s hard to move, but keep pushing and eventually the corners start to wear off until they’re octagonal. Eventually they’re round and the cart moves smoothly./ The thing is not to give up and wait for the wheels to magically become round because the wheels are square, but to keep pushing. Accept the compromise today but only today and keep pushing.

      Maybe it’s because I’m a pessimist in the short term and an optimist in the long term.

      • Bill 9.2.1

        My “but hey” is basically in accord with what you’ve said – it’s what we got.

        Square wheels just fcking scrape btw. They never lose the corners – they just become oblongs over time. Unless…well, use some smarts and employ levers to ‘walk’ the cart instead of pushing it 😉

        • rhinocrates 9.2.1.1

          Well here’s hoping that the rabble of the left can walk and chew gun at the same time. Whatever works, so good luck whatever you do and here’s hoping that everyone else does whatever they can do.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 9.2.1.2

          How did cultures that didn’t invent the wheel move big rocks around?

          Answer: by dragging them. I can’t find the video of a bunch of archaeologists and locals and a couple of donkeys dragging a building-sized boulder along a cobbled road, but they get it up to jogging pace on the flat from a standing start (and it had been standing there since whatever happened centuries ago to make it stop).

          It can be done.

          • Bill 9.2.1.2.1

            Egyptians didn’t drag blocks of stones into position on the pyramids.

            Big ramp with however people dragging 10 tonne blocks? How much material has to go into the ramp? Much more than went into the pyramid.

            What happens when those doing the pulling come up against the pyramid? How does the block continue to get pulled?

            Well, the Egyptians didn’t have to ponder those things.

            Think ice hockey stick. That’s a lever, right? Have x number of people on each side of the block working in concert. When the levers are in position, rotate them and the block ‘slides’ forward on the movement of the ‘blades’. Think of rowing a boat, but instead of everyone acting in unison, every second person is half a turn behind or ahead of the person next to them. That block travels at a fair clip 😉

            If you want to raise it up (like up the side of a pyramid), then rotate the ‘blades’ to a vertical position and stop. Insert blocks in the gap you’ve created and let the block rest back down on the blocks. Rinse and repeat.

            (Obviously, create ‘hollows’ or ‘grooves’ so you can get the blades of the levers under the block in the first place)

            Christmas Island. Apparently locals say or said the statues “walked” to their final position. Seems we’ve kinda forgotten a once commonplace technique for moving stuff. It’s much more controlled and efficient than rollers that just crap out on uneven ground, don’t work on sand, and get out of control on inclines.

            An English guy who was an engineer ‘rediscovered’ the technique and demonstrated it (maybe in the 70s?) after becoming frustrated at the nonsense depictions of people building pyramids.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 9.2.1.2.1.1

              This was in South America: still can’t find the video, it’s part of a documentary about pre-Columbian irrigation and architecture.

              They didn’t need ramps: they had another problem altogether…

              …they moved them, dragging them with muscle power using thick ropes; nor were the roads along which they hauled them level, but very rough mountains with steep slopes over which they were moved up and down with sheer human strength.

              Garcilaso de la Vega.

              • Bill

                Yeah OAB. And if a bunch of archaeologists had approached stuff in Easter Island (I mistakenly referred to Christmas Island above) or Egypt, they come up with similar “brute force” solutions…usually including a fair dollop of slaves, whips and chains.

                Put an engineer on the case and you get an engineering solution to what is quintessentially an engineering problem.

                Read through my previous attempt to describe the workings of levers and then have a look again at the supposed problems of “very rough mountains with steep slopes”.

                Or think of Stonehenge. From Wales to Wiltshire (some 100 – 150 miles) by dragging? I’d be picking a combination of water borne barges and … levers.

                I’ll try to find some reference to their use, but not altogether hopeful. I came across the technique in a book I got from Christchurch library 20 odd years back. Apart from the author being an English engineer, the only other thing I remember is that he had a real passion for imperial measurements because they displayed a useful degree of interconnectedness and complexity that was absent from metrics (apparently).

                edit – a ten tonne block would require 2000 men hauling 50kg each. Or a couple of dozen with suitable levers.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  It took surprisingly few people (including the distinctly non-muscular, pasty archaeologists) to pull the block along. The cobbled causeway provides further evidence that this is how the stones were moved.

                  Moving the Henge stones from Wales to Wiltshire probably involved using sleds, rollers etc. At this time, the pre-Columbian people only used wheels in toys rather than engineering.

                  The reason I brought them up is that they achieved seemingly impossible feats without even so much as a square wheel.

                  • Bill

                    Peter Hodges is the guys name. I can only find book reviews.

                    There’s nothing seemingly impossible about the very precise masonry in your link btw.

                    There’s a huge difference between dragging shit over a cobbled surface and a huge range of other surfaces I can think of (friction co-efficients).

                    Rollers and sleds are crap if you don’t have optimum conditions.

                    And then there’s the description of Herodotus (from here) Under the heading “The Power to Move the World”

                    Curiously, Hodge’s idea fits with Herodotus’s description that “they raised the remaining stones by machines made of short pieces of wood” and “they removed the machine, which was only one and portable, to each range in succession, whenever they wished to raise the stone higher”

                    And for the hell of it, this short 5 min vid shows Wally Wallington demonstrating a number of techniques that allow a single pesron to shift huge loads…including his neat demonstration of him standing a 8.7 tonne slab single handed 😉

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    seemingly impossible; cf: the meaning of words.

                    I’d I thought it was impossible I’d’ve said so. The aforementioned documentary also provided evidence of how the interlocking stonemasonry was done.

                    friction

                    No shit Sherlock, hence the reference to ice and water below.

                    • Bill

                      Yeah. I got the word “seemingly”. I included it in my response. The stonework’s very impressive.

                      I also got the piece about the ice and water. It’s neat. (Works under some given conditions)

                      I can’t understand why you appear to be hanging somewhat to the notion that peoples just dragged shit around though. There are many, many ways to shift things.

                      Economicus liberalus doesn’t have any kind of a monopoly on ingenuity…n’fact there’s an argument that we’ve become so specialised and fragmented in our learning and activities that we’re quite a way aways from “ingenious” these days.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      hanging somewhat to the notion

                      I’m not. I’m saying that these specific people in this specific place at this specific time solved the problem (of transporting stone from quarry to city) by building a cobble-stone causeway, thereby reducing friction, and that live demonstrations with huge quarried blocks left in place on said causeway have verified that it’s a lot easier than might first appear.

                      This in the context of Rhino’s analogy of the square-wheeled cart: the thing is not to give up and wait for the wheels…

                      PS: neat video btw.

                      PPS: Economicus liberalus doesn’t have any kind of a monopoly on ingenuity

                      Hence “cultures that didn’t invent the wheel…”? That’s the whole point: there are so many different ways to approach the problem than “waiting for the wheels”.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  PS: The Chinese used ice and water.

                  123 tonnes: 48 men.

    • left_forward 9.3

      I’m lackadaisical about AGW but certainly not Anthropogenic Global Warming. I think there are too many acronyms polluting our planet.
      Attenborough is definitely a what? Is this irony too?

  10. R.P. Mcmurphy 10

    soper is really becoming sclerotic when he starts to point the finger and threaten. anybody.
    soper is becoming gin soaked and inane and is loosing touch with all reality

  11. Obtrectator 11

    No wonder the Herald no longer gives anyone the chance to comment on its articles, when it prints that sort of tosh.

    My personal take on things (almost certainly off the beam, but wotthehell, let’s put it out there and see) is that the planet can support only a finite amount of biomass, and that the higher the proportion of it that’s tied up in units of humankind, the less there is left over for everything else, including the lower levels of the food chain which is our foundation, not an optional extra.

    Finally, a quote from somewhere on YouTube: “Mother Nature is the ultimate quartermaster, and she ain’t got any secret reserve stores”.

  12. Grant Henderson 12

    Climate breakdown, air pollution, water loss, plastic waste – none of these apply to us folks, ‘cos we live in clean, green New Zealand.

    Well, that’s the official line, anyway,

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