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DeGrowth & Conservation; Lessons from Pre-Industrial Societies
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DeGrowth & Conservation; Lessons from Pre-Industrial Societies

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  • 1. DeGrowth & Conservation: Lessons from Pre-Industrial Societies Debal Deb Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies Kolkata, India www.cintdis.org
  • 2. Humans began migrating across the Beringia land bridge ca. 12500 YBP. Humans did not manufacture advanced spearheads until 13000 YBP. Cave bear and Woolly mammoth declined 14800 YBP. Bison populations crashed 37000 YBP. “It's unlikely that a few thousand humans running around thecontinent with pointed sticks in hand could eliminate more than 130 big mammals in less than 400 years.”
  • 3. Ancient Hunters experienced incidents of RESOURCE CRUNCH resulting from imprudent resource use modes until ca. 8,000 YBP Ever Since 8000 YBP,  No Extinction Event Recorded  Until the Advent of Modernity.
  • 4. Pre­Industrial Societies  * Remember Consequences of  Their Resource Use Modes * Learn from Past Mistakes * Design Cultural Restraints on    Individuals Community Memory is contained in Folk tales, Mythologies, Proverbs, Omens & Auguries in Pre-Industrial Cultures.
  • 5. Customary Protection of Useful Species • Hunting Ethics e.g. Specific Life History Stages • Closed Seasons (for hunting/fishing) • Ritual Domestication • Cultural Restraints on Harvest e.g. Customary Quotas of Harvest
  • 6. The Indigenous Worldview recognizes (in symbolic and metaphoric terms) * the Intrinsic Value of Many Species, regardless of Their “Utility” * the Future Potnetial Value of Many Species that are Currently of “No Use”
  • 7. Totem and Tabu
  • 8. Sacred Species
  • 9. Sacred Habitats – as Groves, Ponds, Rivers, Hills and Landscapes were Once Widespread on All Inhabited Continents Europe ro ves – in ri ca, North Sacred G in Asia, Af Ves tiges of scapes – a nd Land a acred Groves Americ S th rica and Sou ustralia. Ame p es – in A Landsca Sacred
  • 10. Sacred Habitat - An Element of the Cultural Landscape
  • 11. Ventilago sp, A Rare Liana in a Sacred Grove, W. Bengal
  • 12. Casearia varica, a Rare Tree from a Sacred Grove in Bengal
  • 13. Turtles in Baneswar Sacred Pond, Cooch Behar
  • 14. Sacred Heronry
  • 15. When “scientific” forestry takes over...
  • 16. Industrial Societies Have No Community Memory. Therefore, They Allow No Restraint A Centralized Information Industry  entails:  * Generation of Selective Information * Selective Information Dissemination * Selective Public Attention to Events
  • 17. “Rational” Harvest for Individual Profit Leads to Exhaustion Big-Fish Stocks Fall 90 Percent Since 1950, Study Says National Geographic News May 15, 2003 Only 10 percent of all large fish—both open ocean species including tuna, swordfish, marlin and the large groundfish such as cod, halibut, skates and flounder—are left in the sea, according to research published in today's issue of the scientific journal Nature. "From giant blue marlin to mighty bluefin tuna, and from tropical groupers to Antarctic cod, industrial fishing has scoured the global ocean. There is no blue frontier left," said lead author Ransom Myers, a fisheries biologist based at Dalhousie University in Canada. "Since 1950, with the onset of industrialized fisheries, we have rapidly reduced the resource base to less than 10 percent—not just in some areas, not just for some stocks, but for entire communities of these large fish species from the tropics to the poles.” Ref: R. A. Myers & B. Worm 2003. “Rapid worldwide depletion of predatory fish” Nature 423: 280-3.
  • 18. Community Memory is Essential to ensure (a) Restraint over Resource Use (b) Intergenerational Equity Hence, the Community is Anathema to (a) Private Profit (b) Industrial Growth
  • 19. Eppur si Muove… Despite the Advent of Modernity, • Communities continue to exist • Customary management systems • persist • Biophilia remains alive …. in remote villages of South Asia
  • 20. Biophilia in Practice
  • 21. Rescuing a Bat
  • 22. Recognition of Intrinsic Value of Nature Hunting Ethics Seasonal Restrictions Sacred Species Sacred Groves Myths & Totems Omens & Auguries Conservation for Future Generations
  • 23. Recognition of Intrinsic Value of Nature Obviates DISCOUNTING of Natural Resources in all Pre-Industrial Societies Discounting is a Tool of Neo-Classical Economics to Boost Growth of Capital
  • 24. The Spurious Arithmetic of Discounting If we take a discount rate of five percent, then the cost to society of a $100,000,000 cleanup in 250 years' time (at today's value) is just $270. At an eight percent discount rate, the cost drops to just nine cents! Through discounting, then, future environmental problems of immense size can be made simply to fade away. – Mario Petrucci 2002. “Sustainability – long view or long word?” Social Justice 29: 106.
  • 25. Zero Rate of Interest /Discounting Entails Conservation Price = Rent ÷ Interest rate With interest rate → 0, price → ∞  Nobody can buy [the right to destory] any ecosystem.
  • 26. The Red Queen Race for Happines ‘What matters is not how much they have but how much more they have than others’ – Barry Schwartz 1986. The Battle for Human Nature. Norton. New York, p. 165. * The difference between ‘need’ and ‘want’ is never transcended. * The perception of want is governed by the desire to attain material well-being relative to all others. * The horizon of want perpetually recedes with techno-industrial progress.
  • 27. Signs of Prosperity?
  • 28. Bhopal: Genocide for Development
  • 29. Global Carbon dioxide Levels (800 - 2000AD)
  • 30. Another Form of Civilization:  Existing and ALIVE ! A Civilization in which • The individual’s right to deprive others of Nature’s services is abrogated; • The intergenerational right of all community members is upheld; • Natural “resources” cannot be price- tagged; • “Enoughness” prevails over “Moreness”.
  • 31. 10 0 De-growth phase 80 60 40 20 No-growth phase 0 ▬ ▬ ▬ ▬ ▬ ▬ ▬ ▬ T e im →
  • 32. Tenets of Eco-Socialist Society 1. Zero Rates of Profit and Interest Natural objects will be conserved for future generations; will preclude accumulation and wealth inequity. 2. Civic democracy Participation of all members of society; accountability for all actions that affects the rights of community; access to information and choice for all; consideration of rights of all members, including future generations.
  • 33. Tenets of Eco-Socialist Society 3. Cooperative individualism Encourage rational cooperation among individuals to align with civic democracy; foster growth of personal knowledge, enhance individual creativity and facilitate dialogue between the individual and the community. 4. Inclusive Freedom Truncate certain exclusive individual freedoms and ensure inclusive freedom of the whole community and intergenerational social and environmental justice.
  • 34. Civic Democracy Eco-Socialist Ethics Biophilia & Communitarian Ecocentric Ethos Ethos
  • 35. “The defects of formal parliamentary democracy result from the delegation of power. To make democracy effective, power must always be vested in the people, and there must be ways and means for the people to wield the sovereign power effectively, not periodically, but from day to day. “Economic democracy is no more possible in the absence of political democracy than the latter is in the absence of the former.” M N Roy (1954)
  • 36. Villagers United to Protect their Sacred Groves
  • 37. Power to the Community