Ocean exploration and development are and have always been human-centered anthropocentric quests for information and resources



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Ocean exploration and development are and have always been human-centered anthropocentric quests for information and resources.



Ramirex-Llorda et al, 11

(Eva, “Man and the Last Great Wilderness: Human Impact on the Deep Sea,” http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0022588)



By the end of the 20th Century, the deep sea was recognised as the largest environment on Earth containing numerous sub-habitats, with unique abiotic and biological characteristics and supporting a particularly high biodiversity [24]. However, the deep sea has remained rather remote from public consciousness and the first exploitations and anthropogenic activities did not have any major social impact. The deep sea was (and still is) perceived as a service provider at two levels: (1) it served as a convenient site for disposal of waste, especially where land options were not politically and “ethically” attractive and (2) it was seen as a source of potential mineral and biological wealth over which there was no national jurisdiction. In the last decades, decreases in the amount of land-based and coastal resources combined with rapid technological development has driven increased interest in the exploration and exploitation of deep-sea goods and services, to advance at a faster pace than the acquisition of scientific knowledge of the ecosystems [25]–[27]. Evidence of this is found, for example, in the boom and bust cycle of many deep-sea fisheries in the 1970s–1980s [e.g. 28], [29], the disposal of sewage waste in deep water in the 1980s [30] and the dumping of chemical wastes and munitions [25]. Furthermore, human activities on land have promulgated a third and perhaps more dangerous level of impact: increasing atmospheric CO2 emissions that have resulted in climate change [31] – including the warming of the ocean, stratification and the generation and expansion of hypoxia – and ocean acidification [32]. A study by Halpern et al. [33] indicates that no area in the ocean is completely unaffected by anthropogenic impact and that most areas (41%) are affected by multiple drivers. Their model shows that coastal ecosystems receive the greatest cumulative impact, while polar regions and deep waters seem to be the least impacted [33]. Previous studies have reviewed different aspects of anthropogenic impact in the deep sea [25], [29], [34], [35], but to date little information is available on the direct and long-term effects of human activities in bathyal and abyssal ecosystems. The deep-water ecosystem is poorly understood in comparison with shallow-water and land areas, making environmental management in deep waters difficult. Deep-water ecosystem-based management and governance urgently need extensive new data and sound interpretation of available data at the regional and global scale as well as studies directly assessing impact on the faunal communities [27].

Anthropocentrism leads to a genocide of the biosphere with mass die-offs and eventually extinction of all life – this o/weighs their impacts which are based solely on human extinction.



David Watson, 97, the author of “How Deep Is Deep Ecology?” and “Beyond Bookchin: Preface for a Future Social Ecology”, Endangered Species Issue 288, March 1997, “Empire of Extinction”, http://newint.org/features/1997/03/05/empire/, GH

For me these two smugglers exemplify a narrow self-interest driving both individuals and international institutions toward the abyss. But they were the only ones intercepted, not the 50, perhaps even 100 who got away. In a world where humans are the measure of all things and sole repository of value, every unique manifestation of life becomes merchandise and rare butterflies have little chance of living out their own evolutionary destiny. Sadly, such macrocosmic insults as dam construction, logging, the use of biocides, and urban sprawl dwarf the collector as a threat to butterflies and their habitat. And as a single moth goes, so may a flower, and other members of a small and complex community of life utterly indivisible, and invisible to us. Those moths and butterflies that do eventually succumb will join an accelerating dance macabre of extinction brought about by our clever species during the last few centuries, especially the last few decades. Some victims are already gone: the Great Auk, Passenger Pigeon, Woodland Bison, Eskimo Curlew, Dodo (and with it a plant dependent for its germination on the passage of its seed through the Dodo’s digestive tract). Others are sliding irrevocably toward the chute: rhinoceros, elephant, tiger, piping plover and countless other creatures vanishing before we even know of them. Like the Auk, so utterly extinguished by the mid-1800s that some thought it apocryphal, these creatures will one day be considered as fabulous as we today consider the unicorn. It will matter little to our grandchildren whether they once lived or were mere inventions. It’s easy to find scientists and lay people who consider this sense of loss mere sentimentality unworthy of our status as ‘the lords and possessors of nature’, to repeat Descartes’ unhappy phrase. After all, extinction is natural and inevitable; they are quick to remind us. Trying to save species that have lost in the competition between the ‘fit’ and ‘unfit’ is to turn back an inexorable clock. There is little room for such beautiful losers in the ongoing march of progress. Extinction may be natural. But today countless species are more like the victims of Latin American death-squad regimes, being made actively to ‘disappear’. Rising human population is widely considered an underlying cause of the contemporary die-off along the bulldozer’s blade and chainsaw’s teeth. Ecological collapse is typically represented by a landless peasant slashing the forest with his machete, or a tribal woman carrying a bundle of sticks on her head and a hungry child on her back. To be sure, the ascending J-curve of rising human numbers, accompanying the vertiginous obliteration of countless other species, leaves a stunning impression. Yet sheer numbers do not totally explain the current mass-extinction spasm. We need to look beyond the numbers, at social structures, at an energy- and commodity-intensive development model and the social and historical causes of extreme poverty. While they comprise only 25 per cent of the world’s population, industrial nations account for 75 per cent of energy use and consume 85 per cent of forest products. US per-capita energy consumption is 250 times greater than in many poor countries. Obviously daily life in the North contributes far more to ecological destruction than population growth in the South. On a global scale, according to one US official, the impact of the world’s poorest people is ‘probably more akin to picking up branches and twigs after commercial chainsaws have done their work’. There is a wide divergence of opinion about planetary carrying-capacity and the human numbers that can adequately be supported (though there are copious signs that our ability to feed ourselves is declining due to abuse and over-exploitation of our food sources). But even if some believe we can provide a decent life for twice the number of people now living, no thoughtful person could possibly doubt the disastrous effect such numbers will inevitably have on other species. How many people the earth can support is the wrong question. We also need to think about what kind of life we want: crowded into an urbanopolis with a landscape entirely marshaled to meet our ever-expanding needs; or in community with other species in a green world at least something like the one in which we evolved. The latter is the kind of planet that will make it possible for all species to flourish, along with essential wilderness and diverse land and ocean habitats. That will be the best world for us too, but it will necessitate fewer of us. There is a ‘nature-red-in-tooth-and-claw’ idea that human depredation and consequent mass extinction are entirely natural. According to this view even Palaeolithic humans, being an intrinsically murderous lot, carried out their share of mass extinctions: for example, supposedly wiping out many large mammals in North America. Yet there is little hard evidence, and much reason to doubt – except in obvious cases of extinction on islands, like that of the flightless Moa of Aotearoa/New Zealand – that mass extinctions were caused by prehistoric foragers and hunters. Farley Mowat, in his book Sea of Slaughter, gives us a dizzying description of the carnage perpetrated on the animals of the North American eastern seaboard by explorers and entrepreneurs. He points out that the Great Auk co-existed with human hunters for millennia. But it succumbed in a couple of hundred years to the mechanized, market-driven empire that was only a quaint precursor to our own. We can remain agnostic about whether or not our distant ancestors foolishly fouled their nest. It is pretty much irrelevant to the reality we face now: an immensely brutal and thoroughly anthropocentric civilization ravaging the earth, ostensibly in our interest. The scale and scope of such devastation is unprecedented in the history of our species. This civilization’s arrogance is evident in our scientific tradition’s urge to expand what Francis Bacon called ‘the empire of man’. But it goes back even further. The Judaeo-Christian biblical edict granted us ‘dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.’ Now many animals mentioned in the Bible are going the way of the Dodo – Jonah’s whale, the Persian Wild Ass on which Jesus rode into Jerusalem, the Nubian Ibex, the Arabian Oryx which Isaiah tells us was trapped in nets. Human dominion has done these creatures little good; most have fallen forever into our nets. The image of a human imperium oppressing the rest of nature is no mere metaphor. It conforms to an actual pattern of imperial conquest, plunder, eventual exhaustion and collapse. Our century has given a privileged layer of humanity an industrially organized life more opulent, more wasteful yet also more frenetic, alienated and depressed than that of any ancient hierarch. We’ve transformed the earth into a giant mine and waste pit, its forests and meadow lands into enormous feed lots for billions of stock animals, its waters into cesspools devoid of life, its skies into orbiting junkyards of contaminated rocket debris. The world’s tallest mountains are littered with expedition trash. Ships at sea do not go a single day without seeing plastic garbage. Giant nets 30 miles long drag the oceans killing millions of sea creatures, including birds and mammals. These are simply ‘by-products’ to be tossed overboard. The whole planet has become a war zone generating a bio-crisis not just for individual species, but for entire webs of life. Human beings are now altering the basic physiology of the planet. Industrial smog can be found everywhere over the oceans, and weather patterns are so distorted that climatologists now discuss ‘climate death.’ Industrial contamination is pervasive, even in the fat cells of Antarctic penguins. The rain is not only acid but toxic. Whether industrialism warms or cools the atmosphere, its unprecedented chemical experiment threatens to reconfigure life in ways barely imaginable, but undoubtedly for the worse. All empires turn out to be relatively short-lived enterprises that finally betray their own subjects. Despite its enormous cost to the rest of life, modern civilization has engendered a mode of existence that fails to provide even the barest essentials for a fifth of humanity or to satisfy the fundamental psychic needs of the rest. Strangely, our very anthropocentrism may be our own undoing. Pragmatic self-interest alone should teach us that we must change before nature exacts inevitable revenge. And nothing can be done, North or South, without social strategies that create institutions to provide practical alternatives and thus opportunities for people to change.

The alternative is to reject the aff in favor of a “trans” ethic that recognizes humans and non-humans are interconnected and entirely dependent on one another. Only by submersing ourselves in the nonhuman world can we overcome the anthropocentric divide that threatens the entire globe. Oceans are a unique opportunity to interrogate our human entanglement with the rest of the natural world.



Alaimo, 11

(Stacy, “New Materialisms, Old Humanisms, or, Following the Submersible,” NORA- Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research 19.4, 2011, arc)



Like Karen Barad, I would argue that material feminisms and other new¶ materialisms should embrace a post-humanist ethics by “taking account of the¶ entangled materializations of which we are a part” (Barad 2007: 384). In Bodily¶ Natures: Science, Environment, and the Material Self, I argue that the literature, film,¶ photography, and activist web sites of the environmental justice and environmental¶ health movements manifest epistemologies that emerge from the material¶ interconnections between the human body and the environment. By emphasizing¶ the movement across bodies, trans-corporeality reveals the interchanges and¶ interconnections between various bodily natures. But by underscoring that “trans”¶ indicates movement across different sites, trans-corporeality also opens up a mobile¶ “space” that acknowledges the often unpredictable and unwanted actions of human¶ bodies, non-human creatures, ecological systems, chemical agents, and other actors.¶ Acknowledging that material agency necessitates more capacious epistemologies¶ allows us to forge ethical and political positions that can contend with numerous late¶ twentieth/early twenty-first century realities in which “human” and “environment”¶ can no longer be considered separate. Trans-corporeality, as a theoretical site, is¶ where feminist theory, environmental theories, and science studies intertwine.¶ Furthermore, the movement across human corporeality and non-human nature¶ necessitates rich, complex modes of analysis that travel through the entangled¶ territories of material and discursive, natural and cultural, biological and textual. As¶ the material self cannot be disentangled from networks that are simultaneously¶ economic, political, cultural, scientific, and substantial, what was once the ostensibly¶ bounded human subject finds herself in a swirling landscape of uncertainty where¶ practices and actions that were once not considered in ethical or political terms¶ suddenly become the very stuff of the crises at hand. Activists, as well as everyday¶ practitioners of environmental health, environmental justice, and climate change¶ movements, work to reveal and reshape the flows of material agencies across regions,¶ environments, animal bodies, and human bodies—even as global capitalism and the¶ medical-industrial complex reassert a more convenient ideology of solidly bounded,¶ individual consumers and benign, contained, products. At the conclusion of Bodily¶ Natures I call for an ethics “that is not circumscribed by the human but is instead accountable to a material world that is never merely an external place but always the¶ very substance of our selves and others” (Alaimo 2010: 158). Although trans-corporeality begins as an anthropocentric moment, it unravels the¶ Human as such, by tracing the material interchanges between each human body and¶ the substances, flows, and forces that are ultimately global in nature. The current¶ crisis in ocean ecologies calls us to examine human entanglements with the far reaches¶ of pelagic and benthic zones—the very limits of trans-corporeality. It is difficult—¶ scientifically and imaginatively—to trace how terrestrial human bodies are¶ accountable to and interconnected with as yet unknown creatures at the bottom of¶ the sea; moreover, even the Western conception of the ocean as “alien”, or as so vast¶ as to be utterly impervious to human harm, encourages a happy ignorance about the¶ state of the seas. Nonetheless, the ocean creatures themselves embody something akin¶ to the ontologies that new materialisms and post-humanisms advocate. Take, for¶ example, the jelly-fish, which seems barely to exist as a creature, not only because it is¶ a body without organs but because it is nearly indistinguishable from its watery¶ world. Seemingly flimsy and fragile, these gelatinous creatures are nonetheless¶ thriving, provoking fear of a clear planet in which jellies over-populate the degraded¶ oceans, causing harm to fisheries, mining operations, ships, and desalination plants.¶ More generally, the nekton (swimming organisms) in the oceans may be considered¶ “ecosystem engineers”, because, as they transport themselves, they “take a portion of¶ their original environment with them”, and thus they “actively support the chemical¶ and biological processes on which they depend” (Breitburg et al. 2010: 194). Thinking¶ with marine life fosters complex mappings of agencies and interactions in which—for¶ humans as well as for pelagic and benthic creatures—there is, ultimately, no firm¶ divide between mind and matter, organism and environment, self and world.¶ Thinking with sea creatures may also provoke surprising affinities, from Elizabeth¶ Brown Blackwell’s feminist musings on the parenting duties of male sea-horses¶ (Brown Blackwell 1875: 74) to Eva Hayward’s recent exploration of what her own¶ “being transsexual knows about being starfish” (Hayward 2008: 82). Submersing ourselves, descending rather than transcending, is essential lest our tendencies toward Human exceptionalism prevent us from recognizing that, like our hermaphroditic, aquatic evolutionary ancestor, we dwell within and as part of a dynamic, intra-active, emergent, material world that demands new forms of ethical though and practice. I would like to invite feminists, queer theorists, new materialists, and post-humanists to follow the submersible.
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