Jayawardena 9 (Asitha, London South Bank University, “We Are a Threat to All Life on Earth”, Indicator, 7-17, http://www.indicator.org.uk/?p=55)
Sloep and Van Dam-Mieras (1995) explain in detail why the natural environment is so important for life on Earth. It is from the environment that the living organisms of all species import the energy and raw material required for growth, development and reproduction. In almost all ecosystems plants, the most important primary producers, carry out photosynethesis, capturing sunlight and storing it as chemical energy. They absorb nutrients from their environment. When herbivores (i.e. plant-eating animals or organisms) eat these plants possessing chemical energy, matter and energy are transferred ‘one-level up.’ The same happens when predators (i.e. animals of a higher level) eat these herbivores or when predators of even higher levels eat these predators. Therefore, in ecosystems, food webs transfer energy and matter and various organisms play different roles in sustaining these transfers. Such transfers are possible due to the remarkable similarity in all organisms’ composition and major metabolic pathways. In fact all organisms except plants can potentially use each other as energy and nutrient sources; plants, however, depend on sunlight for energy. Sloep and Van Dam-Mieras (1995) further reveal two key principles governing the biosphere with respect to the transfer of energy and matter in ecosystems. Firstly, the energy flow in ecosystems from photosynthetic plants (generally speaking, autotrophs) to non-photosynthetic organisms (generally speaking, heterotrophs) is essentially linear. In each step part of energy is lost to the ecosystem as non-usable heat, limiting the number of transformation steps and thereby the number of levels in a food web. Secondly, unlike the energy flow, the matter flow in ecosystems is cyclic. For photosynthesis plants need carbon dioxide as well as minerals and sunlight. For the regeneration of carbon dioxide plants, the primary producers, depend on heterotrophs, who exhale carbon dioxide when breathing. Like carbon, many other elements such as nitrogen and sulphur flow in cyclic manner in ecosystems. However, it is photosynthesis, and in the final analysis, solar energy that powers the mineral cycles. Ecosystems are under threat and so are we Although it seems that a continued energy supply from the sun together with the cyclical flow of matter can maintain the biosphere machinery running forever, we should not take things for granted, warn Sloep and Van Dam-Mieras (1995). And they explain why. Since the beginning of life on Earth some 3.5 billion years ago, organisms have evolved and continue to do so today in response to environmental changes. However, the overall picture of materials (re)cycling and linear energy transfer has always remained unchanged. We could therefore safely assume that this slowly evolving system will continue to exist for aeons to come if large scale infringements are not forced upon it, conclude Sloep and Van Dam-Mieras (1995). However, according to them, the present day infringements are large enough to upset the world’s ecosystems and, worse still, human activity is mainly responsible for these infringements. The rapidity of the human-induced changes is particularly undesirable. For example, the development of modern technology has taken place in a very short period of time when compared with evolutionary time scales – within decades or centuries rather than thousands or millions of years. Their observations and concerns are shared by a number of other scholars. Roling (2009) warns that human activity is capable of making the collapse of web of life on which both humans and non-human life forms depend for their existence. For Laszlo (1989: 34), in Maiteny and Parker (2002), modern human is ‘a serious threat to the future of humankind’. As Raven (2002) observes, many life-support systems are deteriorating rapidlyand visibly. Elaborating on human-induced large scale infringements, Sloep and Van Dam-Mieras (1995) warn that they can significantly alter the current patterns ofenergy transfer and materials recycling, posing grave problems to the entire biosphere. And climate change is just one of them! Turning to a key source of this crisis, Sloep and Van Dam-Mieras (1995: 37) emphasise that, although we humans can mentally afford to step outside the biosphere, we are ‘animals among animals, organisms among organisms.’ Their perception on the place of humans in nature is resonated by several other scholars. For example, Maiteny (1999) stresses that we humans are part and parcel of the ecosphere. Hartmann (2001) observes that the modern stories (myths, beliefs and paradigms) that humans are not an integral part of nature but are separate from it are speeding our own demise. Funtowicz and Ravetz (2002), in Weaver and Jansen (2004: 7), criticise modern science’s model of human-nature relationship based on conquest and control of nature, and highlight a more desirable alternative of ‘respecting ecological limits, …. expecting surprises and adapting to these.’
Dollar Sell off causes trade war and protectionism
Legrain, Special Advisor to WTO Director General Moore, November 3, 2003
(Phillipe, The New Republic, Lexis)
If China, the second-largest buyer of U.S. Treasury bonds, sold off some of its vast holdings, it could force U.S. interest rates up, undermining the U.S. economic recovery. Beijing might also retaliate with sanctions against U.S. exports or by taking away U.S. companies' licenses to operate in the Chinese market, major blows for multinationals that view China as the world's biggest emerging market and export base. As Ronald Reagan's attacks in the 1980s on Japan showed, such commercial conflicts can quickly spiral out of control, seriously impeding trade. Indeed, according to a study by the Cato Institute, by the end of the Reagan years, one-quarter of U.S. imports were affected by trade restrictions.
Trade war goes nuclear
Taaffe 05 [Peter Taaffe, “China, A New Superpower?,” Socialist Alternative.org, Nov 1, 2005, pg. http://www.socialistalternative.org/news/article11.php?id=30]
While this conflict is unresolved, the shadow of a trade war looms. Some commentators, like Henry C.K. Liu in the Asia Times, go further and warn that "trade wars can lead to shooting wars." China is not the Japan of the 21st century. Japan in the 1980s relied on the U.S. military and particularly its nuclear umbrella against China, and was therefore subject to the pressure and blackmail of the U.S. ruling class.
The fear of the U.S., and the capitalists of the "first world" as a whole, is that China may in time "out-compete" the advanced nations for hi-tech jobs while holding on to the stranglehold it now seems to have in labor-intensive industries.
As the OECD commented recently: "In the five-year period to 2003, the number of students joining higher education courses has risen by three and a half times, with a strong emphasis on technical subjects."
The number of patents and engineers produced by China has also significantly grown. At the same time, an increasingly capitalist China - most wealth is now produced in the private sector but the majority of the urban labor force is still in state industries - and the urgency for greater energy resources in particular to maintain its spectacular growth rate has brought it into collision on a world scale with other imperialist powers, particularly the U.S.
In a new worldwide version of the "Great Game"- the clash for control of central Asia's resources in the nineteenth century - the U.S. and China have increasingly come up against and buffeted one another. Up to now, the U.S. has held sway worldwide due to its economic dominance buttressed by a colossal war machine accounting for 47% of total world arms spending. But Iraq has dramatically shown the limits of this: "A country that cannot control Iraq can hardly remake the globe on its own." (Financial Times)
But no privileged group disappears from the scene of history without a struggle. Donald Rumsfeld, U.S. defense secretary, has stated: "Since no nation threatens China, one must wonder: why this growing [arms] investment? Why these continuing large and expanding arms purchases?"
China could ask the same question of the U.S. In order to maintain its position, the U.S. keeps six nuclear battle fleets permanently at sea, supported by an unparalleled network of bases. As Will Hutton in The Observer has commented, this is not because of "irrational chauvinism or the needs of the military-industrial complex, but because of the pressure they place on upstart countries like China."
In turn, the Chinese elite has responded in kind. For instance, in the continuing clash over Taiwan, a major-general in the People's Liberation Army baldly stated that if China was attacked "by Washington during a confrontation over Taiwan... I think we would have to respond with nuclear weapons."
He added: "We Chinese will prepare ourselves for the destruction of all of the cities east of Xian. Of course, theAmericans would have to be prepared that hundreds... of cities would be destroyed by the Chinese." This bellicose nuclear arms rattling shows the contempt of the so-called great powers for the ordinary working-class and peasant peoples of China and the people of the U.S. when their interests are at stake.