What is Artifice?

Sheep field next to the River Wye, nr Hay. Photo by me.

There seems a renewed and furious human chauvinism by some, rejecting the material reality of ecological processes to the extreme, including the principle of Rewilding (Soule, et al).

The fury seems based on NGO dominance in the field (they are certainly not democracies), plus purchasing power without local consent or participation. NGO’s aside, because alternative treaties for collective and local management are possible, without ecological succession we are talking about the proliferation of anthropogenic urbanization, suburban expansion, farming, fishing, and forestry as the default position on a central plank of Human Rights.

In reaction, particularly to the question of urbanization and suburban expansion, the legally trained and culturally-influenced capitalists (though they would deny the latter), are persisting in claiming the Rights for Nature. All arguments are, therefore, sucked into the realm of the Courts, to mainly White Eurocentric judges, lawyers, and clerks. Rights are important agreements of equality between ourselves as human individuals, there is no doubt, and they are judged in Courts by other humans versed in the language of humans and the Law. All of these Human Rights should be firmly based upon ecological and physical material reality because that is the ultimate responsibility. But let us not forget that ecological processes are incommensurable with complex Laws evolved for one, single species ~ Homo sapien. One could call the Courts an “artifice” in ecological terms.

Terribly oversimplified, there are three main interconnected effects that drive suffering and extinction of human and teresapien life.

a. Global human inequity (to include extreme capitalism, arms trade, neo-colonialism, GDP Growth, racism and poverty, nationalism, conflict and migration, et al)

b. Ecological depauperation and biodiversity declines (critical to existence)

c. Climate crisis (volatile, extreme, and includes sea level rises)

Inequity has a great deal to do with depauperation and climate, but without ecological resilience, quite frankly, we (all life) face armageddon. Food and clean water depend mainly upon b. And c. contributes to a. and b.

We are, indeed, nature. But we are not the sum of all ecological processes. We must understand moments when letting things go is as important as when, where, and how to intervene. In not allowing succession and a plethora of other life-sustaining processes–some of which we have no idea–to re-instate their own evolutionary force, we are continually arresting ecological growth, interfering with ecological cycles of entropy, and preventing niche opportunities for life to flourish. Disturbance can drive evolution over time, but planetary dominion by our species has all the features of a catastrophic, continued extinction event (pain and suffering). As Chomsky said, “we are the asteroid,” more accurately, the conscious asteroid.

Ecological processes are core to ‘life.’ Indigenous cultures greatly understand this, and we in the Westernish have a full opportunity to learn from these people and their wisdom. I agree, that without consent or agreement, all interventions, passive or active, are forms of oppression. But the most oppressed of all, we have to remember, don’t speak human.

Ecological disturbance (that’s what we are, ecological disturbers, primary and secondary consumers), is now so vast as to arrest and even undermine evolutionary succession across all biomes. Climate change is fundamentally linked by the nature of this dominion, especially in the destruction of ecosystems for the extraction and burning of fossil fuels.

There must be room for ecological succession without heavy human disturbance. Setting up Rewilding v Traditional Pastoral is a non-starter. There’s no pulling the past out of a bottle like a genie, but we can learn from all, science and indigenous wisdom, moving forwards.

What if.

What if it’s not the last 50 years of human interventions that have caused the crash in living systems here in the UK, but the last 200 years? What if it’s not the last 200 years of human intervention but the last 10,000 years? These are still relevant questions in ongoing geological discussions as to when the Anthropocene began. They are also relevant to how we perceive a need for change.

Without the development of farming techniques over the last 10,000 years, there could not have been an industrial revolution in the last 200+ years. Without the industrial revolution in the last 200+ years, there could not have been intensive development and farming over the last 50 years.

People are considering we must again, at least, adopt the traditions of, say, 50 or 200 years ago, but in many ways, these are assumptions based on an emotional but often warped sense of comfort that stems from nostalgia. Human Rights? I have outlined before and above the problems of Rights, and believe in a fundamental Responsibility for all life in all we do. Ecologies have changed, the climate has changed/is changing. Our numbers have changed. And all kinds of social patterns have changed. We need to look at each place, case by case. We are in crisis.

Urban agriculture, urban ecology, community gardening, produce share is totally underestimated here in the UK. These are lands already heavily occupied by our species. To most people, rural land is utterly unavailable. To them, rural land may as well be the deep blue sea or the rocky mountains. Cities and suburbia offer, at least, a chance to form strong community bonds with a critical mass of political will in order to form gardens, homesteads, and varying organic horticultures: Reclamation of the public place. Why do we continue to allow ourselves to be dominated by landowners, NFU, supermarkets, NGOs, and/or corrupt state politics interested only in maintaining the status quo? Bring back food/ecology into local control, where the majority of people reside, including distribution, and let locacede happen where it can be agreed and will be welcome.

Above all, we are making choices now. Claiming successional processes, or re-introducing trophic species, are an “artifice” in favour of Homo sapien farming practices 50 or 200 years old is a broken concept, because all we do about living within resilient ecologies from now on could, therefore, be classed “artifice.” Remember, and for Earth’s sake, the real “artifice” is pouring tons of chemicals onto the land, draining rivers and water tables, forcing seasonality, and being exclusive about who manages the land, whether it be farmers, rewilders, developers, or industrial biochemical and genetics companies. We can do better and for all life.