Lack of Environment

A blog on the politics and psychology underlying the denial of all our environmental problems

All things are connected…

with 8 comments

One World One Voice (1990) CD cover In 1990, the CD One World One Voice was released into a very complacent world. It was the brainchild of Kevin Godley, who instigated an unprecedented worldwide piece of musical collaboration, which resulted in the production of the CD and a “making of” TV documentary, featuring music and artists from every corner of our planet… It is one of the things that really got me interested in the Environment and, memorably, it begins with the words of an Native American Chief upon being required to surrender his land to European settlers in 1854:

“This we know – the Earth does not belong to man – man belongs to the Earth… All things are connected like the blood which unites one family… Whatever befalls the Earth – befalls the sons of the Earth. Man did not weave the web of life – he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.” …Watch and listen to it here!

So, along with the reality of the Greenhouse Effect, this is something else we have known for at least 150 years. Why do we find it so hard to learn these lessons and act accordingly?

Did you know that the main reason the tsunami that struck Indonesia and Thailand on Boxing Day 2004 caused such a high death toll is that so many mangrove swamps have been cleared to build shrimp farms or hotels? In the last 30 years, half the planet’s mangrove swamps have been destroyed. The mangroves, which are almost uniquely adapted to live in tidal water where freshwater mixes with seawater, have complex root systems that cause the build-up of thick nutrient-rich deposits of mud by dissipating the energy of water passing through them. Ponder that next time you are eating a prawn curry (and try not to choke).

Similarly, did you know that one of the reasons that the Great Barrier Reef is in such a perilous state (leaving aside ocean acidification), is that since European settlement 80% of Queensland’s rain forest (the oldest on the planet) has been cleared to make room for cattle farming and sugar cane plantations; with the resultant soil erosion causing eutrophication of – and algal blooms in – the lagoon between the coast and the main reef?

There are many other examples but I will not bore you by listing any more. Suffice it to say that the 18th Century scientific revolution of the Enlightenment gave us many good things but the belief that human beings are superior to nature and can be masters of our environment was not one of them. The sooner we accept this, the better it will be for all of the planet’s inhabitants.

For the record, this post was inspired by watching Episode 2 of the BBC’s Great Barrier Reef series; and by reading Derek Wall’s No Nonsense Guide to Green Politics (2010).

See also my earlier posts:
Can modernisation be “ecological”? – Part 1 (24 September 2011); and
The ecological challenge for Liberalism (13 October 2011).

8 Responses

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  1. Oh wow! I didn’t know about One World One Voice, but I’ve never been able to forget the words of Chief Seattle. It’s a pity there’s so much controversy surrounding what he actually said and what the screenwriter Ted Perry wrote for his film, Home. But the core of the meaning, I think, is contained in both.
    Indigenous philosophies are so rich in wisdom and knowledge. We, as a Western world, could learn so much from them.

    Sherryn Groch

    12 January 2012 at 00:26

    • Thanks Sherryn. I can’t believe it is over 20 years since the CD was produced but, as per the link above, you can watch and listen to the whole thing (albeit in pieces) on You Tube: I still remember how moved I was the first time I heard the opening words of Chief Seattle (as spoken on the CD)…


      12 January 2012 at 12:58

  2. It’s simple greed that prevents us from acknowledging the wisdom of words like those of Chief Seattle. That we haven’t, in all this time, adjusted society to minimise the impact of greed tells me that it’s unlikely that we ever will.


    14 January 2012 at 17:08

  3. […] failure of humanity to grasp that it is not superior to nature; it is part of it: In other words, all things are connected… As I said in my recent post regarding mining in wilderness areas, with me, this concern for […]

  4. […] relevant posts you may like to read (if you have not done so before): All things are connected… (12 January 2012) All things are still connected (17 January 2012) Collapse or ecocide – which will it be (14 […]

  5. […] This is what the World needs today – an environmental campaigning movement as motivated and successful as that which brought Apartheid in South Africa to an end over 20 years ago…. Today’s apartheid is a fallacy we have inherited from the Age of Enlightenment:  Humans need to stop seeing themselves as superior to Nature and, instead, accept we are part of it. […]

  6. Bill Everett

    28 August 2013 at 17:01

    • Thanks for the link to the whole video, Bill. My link (at the end of the second paragraph) just takes you to the first of 12 segments of the original TV broadcast (and does not have the polished introduction that this new YouTube publication [on DVD?] has).

      Martin Lack

      28 August 2013 at 17:26

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