Thursday, 11 August 2011

Our Oceans - Out of Time

Our economic system never plans or stores for more than a handful of years ahead at most. Capitalism is based on the principle that demand is inexhaustable and so is supply - it is just a question of getting your hands on the necessary resources. Few companies have any plans stretching more than 5 to at most 10 years ahead. As our world becomes increasinly aspirational but also unequal, the result is more and more pressure to use up out resources faster and faster. To be sustainable, we would already need another three planet Earths. As this video points out, we don't have them - and so our resources now at a critical stage. That is why food prices are rising, along with the ever upwards spike in fuel costs.

The Oceans of the wrold have been hit massively - pollution and factory size ships that trawl several miles of sea at the same time time have emptied them of 90% of their large fish and where once people took frugally from a bountiful harvest, now we hoover up the sea-bed. Our oceans are out of time.

There are alternatives, but it will demand  changes by everyone on the planet, including a big change to our economics. It is radical and it is an urgent step, but the society that would come out of such a change would be fairer, more at peace with itself, and sustainable.

But only if we all act. What will you do?


  1. Thank you for this post. I stumbled upon it via Facebook and couldn't agree more with your analysis.

    I grew up in Pacific Grove, California and spent my childhood exploring the diverse marine life. At the time, it was considered the 3rd most diverse and rich marine environments in the world. Now I am 51 and the tide pools have been terribly depleated While I used to find 5 types of crabs on a given day, now I find only two: hemigrapsis nudis and packgrapsus crasipis. It appears that the warming ocean temperature is largely to blame.

    So what am I doing about it? Changing my eating and shopping habits, supporting good organizations and taking as many kids as possible to the ocean. We need more people to know and to love the ocean. Even if it's already too late.

    What am I doing about it?

  2. Capitalism is based on scarcity, study economics..

  3. Capitalism is based on an assumption of an equilibrium price for supply and demand which continues as long as something is available to sell and a buyer exists. It has no other moral compass - if something can be sold, it will be. It is based on scarcity in the sense that by commodifying resources, it makes it necessary for people to purchase them and hence they are in a sense scarce. And the scarcer, of course, the greater the price and potential profit - hence the reluctance of oil companies to invest in clean alternatives that offer cheaper energy than increasingly scarce (but also increasingly profitable) oil and gas. So capitalism does not offer any long term solution to resource crises, but rather creates and prolongs them to its own ends.

    If your point is that I am wrong to say capitalism is based on inexhaustible supply and demand, I am afraid that is precisely how it operates - in order to compete, companies must maximise the exploitation of resources, otherwise in a capitalist system, someone else will and put them out of business.

    So there is no effective conservation or longterm planning - capitalists are shackled to a process that demands they just keep going, or perish economically. Sadly, by doing this, they are driving the rest of us to a point where our own and many other species are or may perish biologically.