Everyday entropy: pressure people and space


In any given week, the news about deforestation is at once novel in detail and broadly identical to the news from any other week. 

Python eats palm oil plantation worker

Floods caused by deforestation

World cannot afford the cost of deforestation

Deforestation leads to droughts that lead to additional forest loss. 

While some countries like Brazil have leading forest monitoring systems, controversy remains over whether tropical deforestation rates are going up or going down. The problem of “leakage” – whereby deforestation slows down in one location but rises in another nearby location, is an issue which further clouds our efforts.”

Is it even possible to control deforestation?

Policy makers have failed to address the significant levels of carbon dioxide emissions caused by rainforest degradation, which amount to one-third of the emissions arising from deforestation and are five times greater than total emissions from the global aviation sector.” 

Deforestation comes roaring back. 

There is no denial around deforestation, at least not on the order of climate change denial, just  the suggestion that maybe it’s not quite as bad as some people say it is.  

Projects like the sustainable forest alliance and the cocoa alliance are not wrong, but they only touch on information space. A bit like trying to charge your phone with fridge magnets, the theory is sound, but disconnected from the entropy of the problem. Deforestation is about pressure and people, not intentions. 

What unites deforestation and the refugee crisis is that both are functions of space, energy, pressure and number, which means they are driven by entropy, not intent. Also, no one has the faintest idea how to cope with or counter them. Organized people have glommed on to efficiency to counter climate change, which may be fantasy, but at least it’s plausible and coherent. When it comes to refugees and deforestation there are no ideas. They don’t have any handles in information space. 
Pastoralist civilizations have always driven others off the land and cut down trees to domesticate their territory, but the present civilization has the capacity to harvest all of the forests and displace every indigenous population on the planet. 
Because forest and refugee are not things, but states of being, they can’t be counted in the same way that thermodynamic entropy can’t be counted. They only exist in relation to people and trees in other states. If a forest were a collection of trees, the suburb where I grew up would count as a forest. A person could become a refugee in the house where they were born if the society around them disintegrated. 

And like deforestation, the news about refugees is consistently novel and familiar:

New York Times, report from Niger 
Tens of thousands of refugees camp on Niger’s National Route 1, a sleek, paved highway that is, quite literally, a road to nowhere. It ends abruptly, connecting to nothing but more desert.

The Chinese artist Ai Weiwei recently unveiled his largest ever artwork in the Czech capital Prague – a 70-metre long inflatable black boat, complete with 258 oversized figures representing migrants.

10 countries with the most crushing refugee crises

Refugee crisis a sign of planet in trouble

The point is not that deforestation and refugee crises are hopelessly complex, but that they share all of the qualities of thermodynamic entropy. They are not complicated issues of law and economics, but simple consequences of isolation and pressure, masses of people prohibited from moving to the money. The solutions involve space motion, not order and violence. 

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