Scorched Earth, Sick Bodies
The Necessity of Destroying Industry
While one part of the Earth is ravaged by fires and the other part struggles against being flooded, we are threatened from another angle: Covid-19. But the still-ongoing Corona Pandemic is really just the beginning of a new Era of Pandemics.
As climate change and demands for environmental protection become ever more “Mainstream,” the urgency of pandemics has increased. The current situation has taught the people a clear lesson: deathly pathogens are an equally big and global threat to human and other beings.
Over 15 years ago, the sociologist Mike Davis pointed out that due to mass livestock farming we are on the way to a global age of pandemics and it will lead us to catastrophe. Industrial livestock production is a sort of particle accelerator. More bodies in less space means more chances for the emergence of mutations or hybrid viruses and for their spread, regardless which virus it is. Global supply chains of giant transnational corporations with branches in half a dozen countries and markets in a thousand cities, alongside urbanization, do the rest. The most threatening ones are the Bird Flue Viruses, and we know today that we are only a single mutation away from one of the deadliest strains of Bird Flu becoming pandemic. These epidemics, created and spread by agroindustry, finally strike with particular devastation in the places which have already sunk into poverty through colonialism and capitalism. The combination of a lack of healthcare and high urbanization eventually leads to serious distress, in which pandemics can wreak devastation with full force.
Speaking of devastation: the consequences of climate change are being felt with full force all around us. The toll of the devastation is endless. Forests are turned to lumber, after which greater and more intense heatwaves lead to a rise in forest fires, droughts, and desertification. Soil is eroded and farmland is turned into desert. Fertilizer, herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides contaminate the food supply. Landfills overflow with synthetic waste. Power plants fill air, land, and sea with cancerous particles. A chemical smog fills the streets in the cities and poisons human and other beings at every turn. Plastic waste breaks apart into billions of tiny microscopic pieces, infecting every living organism. Chemicals are dumped in the oceans, seas, and rivers. Toxic waste oozes into the ground water. The rise and warming of the seas leads to stronger rainfalls, more powerful floods, more frequent mega-storms, and the inundation of coastal regions.
In addition to warming, the ocean is experiencing acidification and a loss of oxygen. A deadly trio which is steering us towards a sixth mass extinction of life on our planet, one where the rate of species extinction is 1000 times faster than usual. As the oceanographer Sylvia Earle held: “Our lives depend on the living ocean – not just the rocks and the water, but stable, resilient, diverse living systems that hold the world on a steady course favorable to humankind.” The ocean covers some 70% of the Earth and is central to enabling life. Aquatic plants produce half of the breathable oxygen in the world. If the ocean dies, we die too.
Agroindustry doesn’t just destroy communities, it spreads into the wild, destroying the diversity and balance of the natural ecology and replacing it with vast monocultures. Half of the habitable land on Earth is today used for agriculture, joined every year by millions more hectares. A majority of this cultivated area is used to produce feed for hundreds of millions of pigs, cows, sheep, and poultry, fattening them up for the world-spanning logistics chains.
Alongside this come ever greater social, economic, and political aggravations. Famines and water shortages. Heat-sickness and death. Epidemics and the destruction of more vital habitats. Wars over disappearing resources and usable territories. Climate change destroys livelihoods, strengthens sickness, and scatters people. Together with the Era of Pandemics, a global cascade of suffering results.
Wherever we find ecological destruction, we find industry. Industry is not neutral and there can be no adequate solution for climate destruction so long as industry still exists. Ending the suffering requires the complete collapse of industry. Or as it was aptly expressed in 2019 in the 43rd issue of Revolte, an Anarchist newspaper in Vienna: “For the destruction of Industry, Work, and Exploitation! For Sabotage and Direct Attack!”
Sustainable, Green Industry?!
While habitat destruction strides onward, industry (which is responsible for all of this suffering) wants to sell us the answer: sustainable and renewable energy.
At this point of ecological, social, and bodily catastrophe we need to critically question green solutions like the falsely named Renewable Energy Revolution and identify them for what they really are: a perpetuation of the status quo. Supposedly green energy sustains ecological devastation and global inequalities.
The destruction of human and non-human habitats is implied in the mass-production infrastructure of “renewable energy,” whether solar, wind, bio-fuel, hydro, nuclear power, or other alleged renewable energies. One destructive norm is replaced by another. These energies, like fossil fuels, have their roots in colonial extractive raw material industries. Once again the “solution” is exactly the problem.
For battery technology we can look to Bolivia (Lithium) and Congo (Cobalt). With both resources, the ecological and humanitarian costs are inexcusable: the destruction of habitat, child slavery, and death through dangerous work. Naturally, the E-waste is scattered everywhere in South America, Africa, and Asia. Lithium is today called “white gold” and its extraction requires massive quantities of water, drastically shrinking the available supply for Indigenous communities and wildlife. Vast quantities of toxic tailing are also produced. Chemical leaks have poisoned rivers, and with them humans and non-humans, time and again.
Massive dams for hydroelectric power have in the past likewise had catastrophic consequences on Indigenous peoples and their lands.
Industrial wind-parks, whose blades hack up migratory birds in the sky, require colossal resources for their production and implementation. Not just for the wind turbines but also the infrastructure. They destroy migrating wildlife like bats and birds, which are important for a healthy ecosystem and some of which are endangered.
Solar energy requires the erection of massive solar industry complexes, which lay bare the land by clearing out human populations and the migration routes of animals and people for giant solar fields, substations, and access ways. All of these require unusually high-carbon concrete. Wind and solar energy as well as the production of bio-fuels all require 100–1000 times the land area as the production of fossil fuels.
Fuck the Chinese subsistence farmers who have carcinogenic industrial waste dumped on their lands everyday from those solar panel factories. They’re just not thinking ecologically enough. And forget the Ghanaians who complain when worn-out solar panels are piled into mountains in their backyards with the rest of the West’s obsolete tech. They are just impeding ecological progress.
Whether oil wells, coal power plants, or megalithic “green” projects – all are rooted in an unprecedented destruction of habitats for human and other beings. Therefore it cannot be the goal to replace one destructive technology with another. The goal should be a massive and radical reduction in energy consumption.
Anarchists who only struggle to free industry from capitalism must finally face the brutal reality. Down with industry, down with work. To use the words of the Indigenous Anarchist ziq: Seize the Means of Destruction! And fucking burn it to the ground…
What comes next depends on what we do. The necessity of getting active has never been so great as today.