An Interview With Dr. Glen Barry of Ecological Internet

The Mongabay web site has recently published a thought provoking interview with Dr. Glen Barry, the head of Ecological Internet.

Dr Glen Barry, Ecological Internet

Dr. Glen Barry, Head of Ecological Internet. Photo courtesy of Ecological Internet.

Ecological Internet specializes in the use of the Internet to achieve ecological science-based environmental conservation outcomes and provides information retrieval tools, portal services, expert analysis and action opportunities that aid in the protection of climate, forest, ocean and water ecosystems.  Dr. Glen Barry was the first political blogger (and may have been the inventor of blogging).

The interview covers a number of topics, including Papua New Guinea, the Forest Stewardship Council, REDD (Reducing Emissions Through Forest Degradation and Deforestation) and global issues such as climate change and water shortages.

Some quotes from the interview:

“You know, there’s a recent scientific paper out that identifies various tipping points, and this [logging of primary forests] is one.  In my scientific opinion there is just no more justification for industrial logging of primary forests.”

“If it’s given the choice between allowing softer toilet paper for a growing population or keeping the Canadian boreal forest intact, we have to choose intact forests, because these are the sponges of water, these hold tremendous amounts of carbon.  We’re at the point where we are breaking off pieces of our house to burn in the fireplace to keep ourselves warm.”

“It is a consumption issue. It’s a population issue as well.  But it’s the old IPAT equation: the impact is the population times the affluence and the technology.”

Forest destruction in Papua New Guinea by R.H. Ramu Logging in 2009

Forest destruction in Papua New Guinea by R.H. Ramu Logging in 2009. Photo courtesy of Ecological Internet.

“We’re going to have to in the over-developed world consume less, way less; we’re going to have to become way more efficient; we’re going to have to debunk the meaning of life being consumption; and find meaning in other things like community, ecology, hard work, and friends, within living sustainably and within ecology.  But then there’s a lot of the world that is actually going to need more consumption just to meet their basic human needs.”

“We’re getting ourselves into an area – I consider myself an expert in the global ecological system – where we’re not only talking about ecosystem collapse of a community or maybe a region, but we’re talking about continental-scale and global-scale ecological collapse.”

“We can’t even keep the invasive zebra mussels out of the Great Lakes and now we are going to engineer a biosphere?  We’re going to engineer the system that makes life habitable for all of us? It’s just nonsense and it’s dangerous.”

“What we need to do is take a hard turn and go back to nature.  We need to understand that the human endeavour has to exist within a context of intact ecosystems.”

And what gives the Dr. Barry hope for the future?  “Ecology.  The Internet.  The merging of human rights and environmentalism.  And the realization, together, what those three mean to us in terms of realizing that we’re all one people.  We’re global citizens; we’re all in this together, and I believe that there is a movement growing that is committed to doing what has to be done to sustain Gaia.”

As ever with Dr. Glen Barry, a fascinating read even if you do not agree with him 100%.

David M. Davison

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