yes but what and why of the environmental damage

Daniel A. Foss (U17043@UICVM.BITNET)
Fri, 30 Sep 1994 02:02:24 CDT

so you lucked out, I am about to go home, or I'd discern some more.
(1) Pollution and contamination of the ecosphere as a byproduct of human
production and consumption. That is, the costs of disposal are not assumed
privately nor have been socialized; or disposal is impossible; or damage
takes the form of depletion such that the means of measurement or assessment
are unavailable. Example of the latter is the falling level of an aquifer, if
you can dig a well deep enough without knowing where the water is coming from.

(2) Exhaustion of natural resources due to surpassing of relative carrying
capacity or murderous working conditions. Carrying capacity refers to the
maximum population which can be supported off the resources available. The
actual population which is supported is always lower than this level, because
(a) Population limitation methods known to the peasants as transmitted in
the culture. These methods are ubiquitous, and include contraception, abortion,
marriage rules, birth-spacing by deferred weaning, and infanticide. The birth
control and birth spacing techniques need not be as effective as those of the
Euro-Americans, but they are on the average effective enough that where
population explosions do occur, these must be explained.
(b) Reservation of some potential agricultural land for elite uses, such
as luxurious estates with pleasure parks (from the Persian word for the latter
is derived "paradise"); hunting grounds, including protected forests with
corresponding Forest Laws; animal pasturage unrelated to peasant consumption
or traction-animal pasturage, eg, sixteenth century English enclosures for
grazing sheep, also, the even earlier privilege of the Castilian graziers'
guild, the *mesta*. In the same category are the lands set aside for war
horses. Frankly, I don't know how to treat "cities" here.

Abundant labour supplies conduced to slavery verging on genocide by Rome,
the Spanish exposure of Peruvian forced labour to deadly mercury fumes in
the silver mines, and other familiar atrocities. Paradoxically, where labour
shortages did not loosen forced-labour ties to particular estates or enhance
the bargaining power of the peasants vis a vis landlords, they also conduced
to intensified serfdom, slavery, and other harshly repressive forced labour
systems: Emancipation from servile obligations in Western Europe had the
opposite effect in Eastern Europe. Shortage of labour conduces to heavier
tax burdens per capita on the remaining peasants by encouraging more careful
enumeration of inhabitants (this having set off the English Peasant War of
1381 after three registrations for poll tax had been conducted in rapid
succession), hereditary fixing of occupational status by legislation as
part of state regimentation of the economy, and where standing armies exist,
more careful surveillance of rural areas for conscription purposes.

What is most rare is the state's or the landlords' investment in basic food

(3) Reversible or irreversible changes in an ecosystem by introduction of
new species or extermination of preexisting ones. Sudden population declines
may create false impressions of untouched wilderness: At the height of the
European demographic crisis in the first half of the fourteenth century, all
too much of the cultivated land was marginal, or should that say, all too much
of the marginal land having been under cultivation, with average yields
declining and famines getting longer and more serious. Then, with the arrival
of the Plague, much of this land went out of cultivation and reverted to
forest or waste, with only aerial photography to prove the existence of
vanished settlements.
In what is now the Southeastern United States, the sixteenth century
Spanish explorers reported dense agricultural populations, social hierarchies,
and autocratic states; see David Stannard, American Genocide. Later English
settlers could not imagine that the thin Native American populations they
encountered represented the vestiges of several waves of disease, that is,
the populations were ever much larger.

Permanent changes in ecosystems result from the introduction of new plant
and animal species by conquerors and settlers. The distribution of flora and
fauna rapidly attains the stature of time-immemoriality, and is often omitted
from considerations of environmental degradation.


These matters should be kept conceptually separate. Unfortunately, I am
falling asleep at this time and cannot possibly have kept them as separated
as I should have. So tomorrow you think maybe you can help me identify which
is the main Thingie here?

Thank you,

Daniel A. Foss