Lack of Environment

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

End ecocide in Europe (and the World)

with 14 comments

I am not sure what good it will do unless the whole World decides to stop self-harming as well but…

Image credit : End Ecocide in Europe

If you live in the EU please sign-up here to help stop ecocide in Europe (thanks Pendantry).


One way to stop Ecocide in Europe would be to stop Hydraulic Fracturing from going ahead in your neighbourhood.  The best way to do this would be to form or join a local protest group:  See the Frack-Off website for details.

As a hydrogeologist who has spent many years working on Landfill sites, I am well acquainted with methane; and how it is better to burn it than to let it escape into the atmosphere.  Therefore, even if you discount all the immediate environmental hazards associated with fracking, you should be very concerned about the uncontrolled releases of methane that will occur if fracking becomes common practice.  As per my recent blog post, Stephen Leahy explains why here.

Meanwhile, on the subject of those immediate environmental risks, here is the inside story from someone who was, until comparatively recently, directly involved; environmental scientist Jessica Ernst (thanks Christine).


Ultimately, of course, ecocide will only be avoided if we stop doing the things that are causing it.  And the main thing we are doing that is causing it – is growing in numbers in the absence of predators; consuming exponentially-increasing amounts of food and water; and producing exponentially-increasing amounts of waste.  This is no idle piece of misanthropic rhetoric – it is a cold hard fact.

Louise Gray published a short article on the Telegraph website yesterday, in which she cites Sir David Attenborough as having described humans as a plague on the Earth that need to be controlled by limiting population growth.  This has attracted an  an awful lot of attention and comment; most of it negative; and some of it very unpleasant.  What I find most astonishing is the inability of so many admittedly-self-selected people to appreciate the difference between ideology and science.   Furthermore, despite little evidence of scientific training in many of their comments, they seem content to accuse Attenborough of being a bad scientist; a bad person; and of peddling bad ideology.  All this reality inversion prompted this comment from me:

Absolutely stupendous amounts of Dunning-Kruger Effect in evidence here:  Despite the fact that only 49% of the population can be better-than-average at doing anything — and a far smaller percentage are likely to know what they are talking about in this instance — the fallacy of the marketplace of ideas is clearly the intellectual fortress to which the ideologically-prejudiced retreat when confronted with the scientific realities of Nature.

A few hours earlier I had found it necessary to respond to a particularly stupid assertion (that every human could be given 1000 square feet and there would still be room for plenty more) by saying this:

You need to look up the terms “ecological carrying capacity” and “overpopulation” in a reputable scientific dictionary.  The latter is dependent on the former – which is specific to local conditions – so even one person per square mile makes a desert overpopulated.

If you think that a seven-fold increase in the human population since the Industrial Revolution is not a problem – especially as we are running out of the “cheap” energy that facilitated it – you are picking a fight with basic biological science: Populations of any species are limited by food supply and by predation.  Humans have no predators but, having ignored (or disputed) the warnings for decades, we are now beginning to see people fighting over access to clean water and food; or at very least complaining about the price of life’s essentials – hence the Arab Spring.

The writing is very much on the wall.  We ignore it (or dispute the fact that it is there) at our peril.

14 Responses

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  1. It is such a relief for me to hear and understand the voice of reason [i.e. Attenborough?]. When one raises this all-important, ideology-surpassing matter of over-population, one encounters spurious argumentation; references to human intelligence [snip]; our inventiveness (how there must be another source of energy which our superior intellect will permit us to invent or discover); the right to have children (is it not enshrined in some UNO charter or other, and are not children a “blessing”?); and – to clinch the argument – “who is going to pay for our pensions if we have no children?”

    But all ignore the maths! Do politicians or so-called “leaders” not have any mathematical ability? [They continuously talk about] growth to which there must be no end; infinite growth! Do they really consider the meaning of the words they utter? Oratory [and] rhetoric are, apparently, more important than understanding and reason! Brave new world indeed.
    [Comment edited in the interests of clarity – ML]


    23 January 2013 at 12:53

    • Thanks Duncan. I hope you will not mind the fact that I have edited your comment to make it (IMO) easier to understand.

      Martin Lack

      23 January 2013 at 13:20

  2. An excellent interleaving of many important threads.

    PS typo alert:
    “… in which she cites Sir David Attenborough hasas having described humans as a plague on the Earth that need to be controlled by limiting population growth. This has attracted an an awful lot of attention…”


    23 January 2013 at 16:10

  3. Great comments in the “plague of the earth” story! My morbid curiosity is forcing me to go read all ideologically-driven insanity that people have to say about our overpopulation and pollution problems. I know I shouldn’t, but…. I….. just….. can’t……… help…..


    27 January 2013 at 11:18

    • OK. I’m back. Good article, scary comments section! I get the feeling that people would rather remain ignorant of the problems around the world than have to make a change in how they live.


      27 January 2013 at 11:36

    • If you were referring to my comments – and even if you were not – thank you.

      Martin Lack

      27 January 2013 at 16:53

      • Glad to know you made it back here again with your sanity intact.

        Martin Lack

        27 January 2013 at 16:54

      • Yes, I was referring to your comments (sorry for not being clear). And I had to be because most everyone else made irresponsible comments that either smacked of ideology or a complete ignorance of the implications of overpopulation – as though we were concerned with the amount of living space everyone has access to! Sheeesh! If that was the case, everyone could move to Canada. Lots of space here!


        27 January 2013 at 20:50

        • That’s the Telegraph website for you! The newspaper may be the largest circulation broadsheet in the UK but the website is almost entirely populated by ideological imbeciles (or so it always appears from the comments section) who believe James Delingpole’s Watermelons hypothesis – that all environmentalists are Communists.

          Martin Lack

          27 January 2013 at 21:17

        • I find that the people who “accuse” others of being Communists do not actually know what communism is. But, it put fear in all those people who also don’t know what communism is, so I guess it works!


          27 January 2013 at 21:52

        • All true. However, the Watermelons hypothesis was not Delingpole’s idea (he is not clever enough to have them – he just came up with the name for his book). The idea (a.k.a. a myth) was the invention of the ex-Cold-War physicists: Jastrow, Nierenberg, Seitz and Singer – the Merchants of Doubt.
          See also:

          Martin Lack

          28 January 2013 at 10:34

  4. […] 2013/01/23: LoE: End ecocide in Europe […]

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