According to World Wildlife Fund, China is the most important polluter of the Pacific Ocean (Economy, 2007). “A group of researchers found that trans-Pacific air pollution is a hidden price of the goods sent abroad from China” (Wong, 2014), toxic airborne particulates cross the Pacific Ocean transported by powerful winds called “Westerlies,” reaching the West coast of America in a few days (Richard, 2014). On April 15th 2014, in a special report for the Vancouver Sun written by Calvin Sandborn, Kyle Mcneill, and Rosie Jacobs, the authors disclose that “disturbing new studies have found that on some days, up to 25 per cent of Vancouver’s air pollution already comes from China, largely from coal-burning plants.” China is heavily polluting the west coast of North America.
The burning of coal releases toxic airborne particulates into the air, including both sulphur and nitrogen dioxide, which cause acid rain, and are poisonous to the human body. Acid rain falls on the ground as sulphuric and nitric acid. “Acid rain now affects about one-third of China’s territory, including approximatively one-third of its farmland” (Sanders, Chen, 2007, p.21). Atmospheric particulates travel within the ASEAN countries from eastern China to Japan and South Korea, from Shenzhen to Hong Kong and Taiwan. Acid rain deposit from sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions, of which China is the world’s leading contributor, causes destruction in both Japan and Korea (Reklev, Macfie, 2014). Today, 10 percent of China’s agricultural land is contaminated by heavy metals. China is now turning to other countries to grow food (Shiva, 2015). South Korea is also affected by sandstorms originating from China’s worsening desertification and soil erosion (Van Rooij, 2011, p.583).
“The earth and its inhabitants are facing a crisis of an unprecedented scale. Survival no longer depends only upon political stability and the control of means of mass destruction; it is now also dependent upon our ability to restore a balanced biosphere and ecosystems. The list of environmental perils is familiar: ozone depletion, climate change, desertification, deforestation, air pollution and acidification, toxic waste, water pollution, exhaustion of non-renewable resources, loss of biodiversity, species extinction” (Taylor, 2008, p.1).
In Talk to Al Jazeera, January 12, 2013, in the episode The Responsibility of Privilege, Rosiland Jordan interviews world renown political dissident, linguist and author Noam Chomsky. In this interview Noam Chomsky warns humanity about the possible collapse of the financial system and human extinction: “Actually I should say there are much worse cases than systemic risks and bringing down the financial system. That’s bad enough. But there is another externality that’s much more severe. The destruction of the species. And that’s not a joke! It’s imminent that global warming will cause major catastrophe. You can argue about the details, but there is not much doubt that it’s coming.”
In Spring of 2013, I interviewed world renown scholar and political dissident Noam Chomsky at MIT in Cambridge on the topics of the human ecological crisis and possibility of human extinction. In this interview, Chomsky describes the world’s current geopolitical trends, and acknowledges the severity of the human environmental crisis, the possibility of human extinction or rather of decent existence on Earth. Following is a brief overview of some parts of our conversation.
During our conversation Noam Chomsky explained the disturbing truth, and striking dichotomy, in the overall reactions in response to the urgency of the planetary environmental crisis. Chomsky explained that the most powerful countries in the world, Canada and the US, are accelerating the crisis. “Indigenous societies, first nations, aboriginal, tribal people, whatever you want to call them, in the countries where they are a large part of the population, and where they are actives, they are doing something about it, they are working hard to protect Mother Earth from destruction” (Chomsky, 2015). Professor Chomsky gave the example of Bolivia, the poorest country in South America, which has a large indigenous population, and has instituted rights of nature at the constitutional level. More recently, on March 20th 2017, a high court in the Uttarakhand, India, gave the Ganga and Yamuna Rivers, the same constitutional rights as a human being (Quartz India, 2017). This is a remarkable achievement, even if only in the ways in which it elevates the ecological consciousness globally. IN our conversation, Chomsky explained that Ecuador was trying to get help from the European Union to keep the country’s oil in the ground. He explained that the same patterns of indigenous people leading the struggle to save the planet was happening everywhere. In Australia indigenous people are trying to protect the land from uranium and other mining activities. Professor Chomsky was involved in Southern Columbia, were gold mining is the worst that there is. “Gold mining is the most destructive of extractive industries, corporations are attacking poor communities with impunity, destroying their water sources, and ultimately there lives.” Chomsky specifically referred to Canadian mining companies as a lethal growth around the world. He also discussed Magna Carta with me, the foundation of anglo american law. Half of Magna Carta is suppose to grant rights, and the other half is the charter of the forest, the common, nurtured and cultivated in commons, the source of foods, and fuel. He continued to say that woman’s rights, and old images of the women collecting food in the forest go back to the bible, and that the charter of the forest was an effort to protect the commons from predatory actions by the King. He referred to the Robin hood legends evoking the mythology of this struggle. Chomsky said that the political move towards privatization whipped out the commons, and turned people in wage labourers. Now we have a concept of the tragedy of the common. He defined tragedy of the commons in western doctrine as the idea that things need to be privatized to be protected, which is absolutely false he said. Chomsky explained that traditional societies exemplify the exact opposite of that, they live in balance with nature, and are stewardship of the natural world.
On December 5th 2016, for the 20th anniversary of Democracy Now!, in his address to the crowed, Noam Chomsky warned the public: “We should never overlook the fact that the threats that we now face are the most severe that have ever arisen in human history. They are literal threats to survival, nuclear war, environmental catastrophe. These are very urgent concerns, they cannot be delayed. They have to be face directly and soon if the human experiment is not to prove to be a disastrous failure” (democracynow.org, 2016). Human extinction by the end of this century is possible if war-mongering imperialism, nuclear armament, fossil fuel corporatocracy, agrochemical farming, zombie pharmacopeia-complex (modern pharmacology), the war on drugs and consciousness expending substances, mind-control, media manipulation, scientific suppression (Duck, 2015), attack on activists, indoctrinating narcissistic hyper-consumption patterns, and megalomaniac oligarchs carry on unabated.
Excerpt from «Dragon Tears: A Critical Analysis On The Political Ecology Of Planetary Survival» a thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Asia Pacific Policy Studies, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.
"We are facing an unprecedented global emergency. The government has failed to protect us. To survive, it’s going to take everything we’ve got."
Rebel For Life
For all references please visit the UBC Library to access my thesis online.