Profound ignorance is clearly the reason Westerners allow their governments
and corporations to get away with brutal environmental murder. It is not
merely that the culprits do it surreptitiously. There is that. Much of
the assault on man's only source of livelihood is concealed – ignored by
the corporate media.
But this only contributes to the more important kind of ignorance, unawareness
of what constitutes ecological death and degradation of the human habitat
and what that portends for humanity.
That is why, only a few weeks after he took office, US President George
Bush does not feel embarrassed or threatened when he publicly reneges on
an election campaign pledge. His administration has rejected all of the
international treaties recently made to protect mankind from a habitat
He can go back on his word because he knows few Americans will challenge
him on it. Apathy feeds on the ignorance, daily encouraging the political
system – acting chiefly for a deliriously greedy corporate family – to
perperate heinous crimes against mankind.
For the state and the pachyderms called corporations are but the head
and tail sides of the same coin. The President comes from a Texas family
so avarious for oil that in 1991, when his father was the occupant of the
Oval Office, the state squandered huge public resources to brutalitalise
the Middle East to secure oil to feed the maws of corporate industry.
Of course, the big media – being part of that family – could not put
it that way. Bryan Appleyard comments in Brave New Worlds: Genetics
and the Human Experience: "Even when the real justification for warfare
is economic or strategic, the rhetoric of war is invariably moral. In the
Persian Gulf War of 1991, the Allies did not free Kuwait from Iraq...with
cries of 'Oil!' but rather with cries of 'Freedom!'..."
Apologists often argue that the corporations do not do it wilfully,
that, if they cause any destruction, it is only because they cannot foretell
the environmental consequences of deploying any technique.
Here, for instance, is Barry Commoner in The Closing Circle:
"Driven by an inherent tendency to maximise profits, modern private enterprise
has seized upon those massive technological innovations that promise to
gratify this need, usually unaware that these innovations are often
instruments of environmental destruction."
To which Herbert Schiller retorts as follows in Communication and
Cultural Control: "The basic factor in the introduction of new technology
is obviously the quest for profitability. The 'unawareness' of the consequences
is usually [only] an indifference to the social costs – the ensuing environmental
degradation that affects society, not the producer."
This is obvious. Environmental law is flouted deliberately and often
defiantly. The White House, especially when occupied by a "neo-con", routinely
appoints well known anti-conservationists to head the National Environment
Take the ozone layer and hear what scientist Carl Sagan says in his
Broca's Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science: "By accident
a few research groups in atmospheric photochemistry discovered that halocarbon
propellants from aerosol spray cans will reside for very long periods in
the atmosphere, circulate to the stratosphere, partially destroy the ozone
there, and let ultraviolet light from the sun leak down to the Earth's
surface. Increased skin cancer for whites [my italics] was the most
widely advertised consequence."
How did halocarbon producers react? Ask Sagan: "DuPont Company, the
principal manufacturers of halocarbon propellants, for example, took the
curious position in public debates that all conclusions about halocarbons
detroying the ozonosphere were 'theoretical'.
"They seemed to be implying that they would be prepared to stop halocarbon
manufacture only [after] the conclusions were tested experimentally – that
is, when the ozonosphere [has been] destroyed."
You can fully test this "theory" only by attacking the ozone to the
last atom, by which time there will be no DuPont because all living things
will have been killed by ultraviolet. But profit hunters think only of
the present. They are never really interested in the future, even of their
That is the point Sagan is making on cancer. It is that when ultraviolet
hits the earth full-blast, white people will be the first to go because,
in his words, "...blacks are neatly adapted to increased ultraviolet flux..."
For they contain more eumelanin, the stuff that darkens the skin
against ultraviolet, than Caucasians.
But, as I say, overnight profit is what makes corporations tick. These
is no thought for posterity even where they know their present activities
mean sure future death for their own children. That is why they would rather
destroy the environment now to heighten their profits than conserve it
Such utter irresponsibility – epitomised by US corporations – fills
one with trepidation. How can individuals with the biggest stake in the
world seek to push that world to the brink of extinction just to surfeit
It may be redeeming that, on this issue, their political spokesman,
the US government, is voting increasingly alone in all international councils.
But how can that help the world when by far the richest and most powerful
state contumaciously refuses to co-operate?p
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