Making peace with the planet by Barry Commoner
It is no news that the ecosystem that inhabits plants and animals around us is daily loaded with materials that can endanger these organisms. Even humans are at risk of diseases and all kinds of contamination form their exposure to these life-threatening environmental hazards. All forms of life are threatened everyday, every hour and every minute. The birds in the sky can not fly freely. The creeping organisms can not creep without hindrance. The swimming fishes can not swim without aspirating all kinds of obnoxious substances that reduce its life span. Man goes to work and comes back tired.
All lives of the grass draw closer to the grass.
Nature has created a conducive environment for all to inhabit. But the activities of man have polluted it. It has made life pleasurable for all members of the ecological system to comfortably occupy their niche without disturbances. But man has dealt treacherously with these plans. Man has been at the centre of this environmental deterioration. He is the mastermind that has caused the environmental imbalance that appears to stroll around like a roaring lion, devouring all the weak inhabitants of mother Earth.
This powerful book has been written by an informed biologist who has been keenly involved in understanding environmental destruction over the decades before it became an issue of international importance, deserving attention and conventions. It deserves to be read by all who want to make our planet more habitable, but more importantly those who want to do having understood the economic and political causes of this degradation.
The approach at understanding the prime causes of this degradation is divergent form the common pollutant phenomenon, as more important but subtle causes are involved.
He made attempt at passing a strange and unusual point: we can save the planet from the current degree of mess but not by the way we are going about. We can salvage the planet from destruction but not by the predominant measures aimed at eliminating the symptoms rather than the disease. This he supported by showing that many government laws and regulations have been enact and viable; yet, the results are still the same. Nothing significant has affected environmental degradation on the general scale.
He showed correctly after intensive funding of over $100 billion dollars in a space 20years, the intensive efforts at saving our environment seems to have yielded little or no lasting results. As he pointed out, government has done a lot in this regard, individuals and private organizations have been involved in this exercise at stemming the pace of environmental crisis shrinking the Earth, but all these appear futile.
He showed that this failure is basically due to an error of correction: attacking the signs and leaving out the cause; eliminating the stems and branches leaving the root. His point is that pollution is a difficult and costly commodity to eliminate. The better approach at dealing with it is to prevent or just stop the production of pollutants: preventing pollution is the way out. This is actually a tough approach politically and economically but the fact has to sink deep into the consciousness of environmental agencies and stakeholders involved.
He pointed out that this crisis has actually arisen because of the incompatibility between the ecosystem, the natural environmental, and modern technology since World War II. Modern technology in agriculture, transportation, manufacturing and energy industries have not in any way, helped matters, as they have only increased profits for the industrialists at the detriment of the environment. This poses a major challenge for the campaign for pollution prevention, as these insensitive company owners would really be affected.
What then is the way out of this? He pointed out that the major problem is the modern technology which are grossly incompatible with the ecosphere, among others including population growth, technology misuse etc. Therefore, the way out would be to adopt already existing technologies that are more environmentally-friendly. This is obviously not an advice now to embrace new technology but to return to the use of efficient and less polluting ones, which are available from the industries outlined above.
He noted that this fight against environmental pollution would be made difficult by the expatriates involved in the production of these new technologies; and the pioneering efforts of the grassroot movements. If grass root companies are ready for a compromise, bigger ones should be ready to follow in this noble fashion. It is until this compromise is made that the solution to the crisis wears a realistic outlook that would yield results.
He also emphasized third world development as another factor that must be considered seriously. It is a uniform effort all over the world that can really save the planet if our goals are to prevent local and global pollution, produce technologies that are both socially compatible and profitable.
Funding for this costly solution would be available by reducing military spending. This has to be cut by half. He showed that developing these third world nations would prevent wars that necessitate military interventions and its concomitant large spending. So, fund would be diverted to industrial reform that would be instrumental for pollution prevention.
Man’s system of production must be checked. It must be compatible with life, in the long run. These are the ways we can make peace with the planet, as stated by the amiable biologist, Barry Commoner, in his scholarly book, Making Peace with the Planet.