Friday, December 16, 2011

'Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell'

We live in a period of economic turmoil. Millions are unemployed; many will never work again. Major governments teeter on the brink of sovereign default. Is this really a time to worry about saving the whales?

It is, because an ecological infrastructure underlies and supports the economic one. Our economy almost self-destructed because of crazed financial speculation. If a storm of ghostly electronic blips could cause such damage just think of what will happen if its natural foundations crumble. This is a slower process, and harder to correct. No President can veto the laws of nature. Congress cannot amend them.

Climate change, collapse of fisheries, destruction of rainforests, a loss of biodiversity amounting to the fifth mass extinction in Earth’s long history - these can’t go on much longer without directly affecting us. To survive and flourish we must redirect our priorities. More of the same won’t work. ‘Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.’

Instead we should move to an ecologically sustainable economy. The main obstacle is that a diffuse general interest in planetary health collides with intense special interests that will do anything to keep what they have. This difficult transition requires that we abide by the rule of law; that all parties subordinate their own interests to an agreed process for the common good. Japan now threatens the authority of law with armed force. What happens in the Southern Ocean will set a memorable precedent for global ecosystem management.

The Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary is a sanctuary. International Whaling Commission Resolution 2007-1 bans Japanese ‘research’ whaling. The Antarctic Treaty forbids sending paramilitary ships south of the 60th parallel (other than on supply or rescue missions). Either these are real and enforceable laws - or just well meant suggestions.

The Sea Shepherds demand respect for the law. Japan demands respect for its power. Now the world must choose.

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