Omnicide as it might relate to the 2020 Australian bush fire devastation

Omnicide as it might relate to the 2020 Australian bush fire devastation

This is a blog about bush fires devastating Australia at the present time. Below is a quotation relating to this subject.  It was written by Professor Danielle Celermajer, who is Professor of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Sydney It is she who has contributed the word omnicide to the debate.

As part of the introduction to her presentation (accompanying a picture of forest devastation in the ABC article) the Professor says…

Quote:

All of us have conspired to create the conditions in which this mass killing of humans, animals, trees, insects, fungi, ecosystems, forests, rivers — this ‘omnicide’ — became inevitable…”

I am posting this blog as bush fires ravage many parts of our continent. Australians have mostly never witnessed nor experienced anything like this catastrophic behaviour from nature before.

Is this gross destruction and devastation of living things and property the new norm for Australians? Is this type and scale of fire destruction the new norm for all life forms on the planet?

It was as far back as 1986 that I first read about the potential climate change dangers to the earth if we did not do something about it very soon. I read this in a fringe journal or perhaps in NEXUS magazine. I certainly did not read about it in the mainstream media as then.

Over the years most of us (yes, I am guilty of this too) have elected to turn a blind eye to what global scientists have been consistently warning us might be the adverse consequences to the planet if we did not get off our butts and do something about reducing toxic air borne pollutants from factories, farms, mining activities and the like. These scientists also informed us about what the massive scale and ferocity of such fires might be. Floods, tornadoes and similar nature driven dangers came into their focus at the same time as well.

Have we all forgotten that there is such a things as a moral and social justice based ‘Precautionary Principle’ ? I quote the formal European Government policy that ‘quietly’ underpins our collective responsibility to take care of each other.

I am of the opinion that from a social and political perspective we should all now be taking a hard look at what these two words may mean with respect to the dangers these fires are now posing for all Australians and their living environment, now and in the future.

The environmental Precautionary Principle does not say that we should all suddenly drop all else and begin shutting down polluting factories, wider industry, farm activities and like. What this principle is telling us is that we should all be aware of this potential risk to the wider environment as well as ourselves and then openly and publicly talk about it. This is all without reservation of any kind. This conversation should evolve under its own weight and public opinion as did the asbestos, cigarette, ozone layer and acid rain debate that has occurred in earlier years.

The only difference today with such earlier cultural dilemmas is that it should proceed without any significant delay whatsoever!

In this blog I am calling for all Australians to keep the Uncertainty Principle firmly in mind (as it might also relate to the environment) as it proceeds with the debate and for it also to be amongst the foremost placards leading public protests with respect to the climate change issue.

Unfortunately I am not capable of writing such an eloquent and well informed piece of work on this subject as Danielle Celermaher has in the quotation that I present to my readers below. I subscribe to Professor Celermaher’s general line of thinking (not necessarily her hard line ‘lefty’ political reasoning and style of written presentation) and I hope that you may consider doing so as well. This is behind the placard of the Environmental Uncertainty Principle as well as the general definition of the Precautionary Principle that I have linked on your behalf above.

Quote:

… As the full extent of the devastation of the Holocaust became apparent, a Polish Jew whose entire family had been killed, Raphael Lemkin, came to realise that there was no word for the distinctive crime that had been committed: the murder of a people. His life work became finding a word to name the crime and then convincing the world to use it and condemn it: genocide. Today, not only has genocide become a dreadful part of our lexicon. We recognise it as perhaps the gravest of all crimes.

During these first days of the third decade of the twenty-first century, as we watch humans, animals, trees, insects, fungi, ecosystems, forests, rivers (and on and on) being killed, we find ourselves without a word to name what is happening. True, in recent years, environmentalists have coined the term ecocide, the killing of ecosystems — but this is something more. This is the killing of everything. Omnicide.

Some will object, no doubt, that this does not count as a “cide” — a murder or killing — but is rather a natural phenomenon, albeit an unspeakably regrettable one. Where is the murderous intent? Difficult to locate, admittedly, but a new crime also requires a new understanding of culpability. Indeed, one of the most serious problems with the laws against genocide is that they were written in a way that requires that the specific intent to destroy a people can be shown to have existed. Even where it did exist, such intent most often remains hidden in people’s dark hearts.

This time, though, we need to go much further. We need to understand that the responsibility for omnicide is various and layered. The role that those responsible play this time is almost always less direct, but its effect no less devastating. We are unlikely to identify anyone actively scheming the death of the five-hundred million wild animals which we believe to have died in the first month of this summer’s Australian bushfires.

We can, however, identify the political representatives who refused to meet with fire chiefs who had been seeking to warn of, and act to mitigate, the impending disaster. The same political representatives who approved and continue to approve new coalmines in the face of scientific consensus on the effect that continuing to burn fossil fuels will have on climate in general, and drought and temperatures in particular. The same political representatives who approve water being diverted to support resource extraction, when living beings are dying for want of water and drying to the point of conflagration.

We can identify the media owners who sponsor mass denial of the scientific evidence of the effects of a fossil fuel addicted economy on the climate. The same media owners who deploy the tools of mass manipulation to stoke fear, seed confusion, breed ignorance and create and then fuel hostile divisions within communities.

We can identify the financial institutions that continue to invest in, and thereby prop up toxic industries, and who support the abovementioned media owners so as to protect themselves from accumulating stranded assets. We can identify the investors who use their financial and social capital to support politicians who will protect their financial interests. We can identify a corporate culture and a legal system, populated by lawyers, management consultants and financial analysts, that incentivise or even require companies to maximise short term shareholder profit and externalise costs to the future and the planet.

And then we can identify parties closer to home. Business owners and investors whose profits depend on systems of extraction and resource exploitation. Consumers addicted to lifestyles based on resource extraction and the exploitation of the natural world. Citizens who prioritise narrow short-term interests over the sustainability of the planet. Citizens who lack the courage or fortitude to take ourselves through the social and economic transformations required to give our children and the more-than-human-world a future. Citizens who do not bother to take the time or make the effort to develop well-informed opinions, but would rather run to the comfort of the truisms of their tribe.

We can also identify the humans and human cultures that have told ourselves that we are superior to, and thus have the right to dominate and exploit, other animals and the natural world. That we are the ones who get to flourish, and that everything else that is here, is here for our use. That other beings are not life but resource.

None on this long list developed a specific intent to kill everything. But all of us have created and are creating the conditions in which omnicide is inevitable.

When I was growing up, my parents used to play a Bob Dylan song called “Who Killed Davey Moore?” about a boxer who died in the ring when he was just 30 years old. Each verse begins with some party — the coach, the crowd, the manager, the gambling man, the boxing writer, the other fighter — answering the title’s question, “Who killed Davey Moore?” They each respond, “Not I …” and then explain that they were just doing what it is that they do: going to the fight, writing about the fight, throwing the punches and so on. And of course, they each told the truth.

We too are just doing what it is that we do: ensuring that the largest political donors support our political campaigns; maximising profits; ensuring a high share price; living a comfortable life style; avoiding change; lazily buying back in to the conceit that we humans are special. But sometimes, just doing what it is that we do is sufficient to kill, not just Davey Moore, but everything.

Omnicide, the gravest of all crimes. And as with all crimes, those responsible must be held accountable”

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