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(本文作者為英國斯旺西大學環境人文學研究員)

The latest Living Planet report from the WWF makes for grim reading: a 60% decline in wild animal populations since 1970, collapsing ecosystems, and a distinct possibility that the human species will not be far behind. The report repeatedly stresses that humanity’s consumption is to blame for this mass extinction, and journalists have been quick to amplify the message. The Guardian headline reads “Humanity has wiped out 60% of animal populations”, while the BBC runs with “Mass wildlife loss caused by human consumption”. No wonder: in the 148-page report, the word “humanity” appears 14 times, and “consumption” an impressive 54 times.

由世界自然基金會發布的最新地球生命力報告,讀來讓人寒心:自1970年以來,野生動物種群數量減少了60%,崩潰中的生態系統,而且很有可能人類步其后塵也不會太久。該報告反復強調,物種的大規模滅絕要歸咎于人類的消費,而那些記者們很快就發酵了這條訊息?!段辣ā返拇蟊晏饈欽餉蔥吹?,“人類已經消滅了60%的動物種群”,與此同時,BBC的說辭是,“人類的消費導致野生動物大量消失”。怪不得在148頁的報告中,“人類”這個詞出現了14次,而“消費”這個詞驚人地出現了54次。

There is one word, however, that fails to make a single appearance: capitalism. It might seem, when 83% of the world’s freshwater ecosystems are collapsing (another horrifying statistic from the report), that this is no time to quibble over semantics. And yet, as the ecologist Robin Wall Kimmerer has written, “finding the words is another step in learning to see”.

然而,有一個詞卻一次都沒能出現:資本主義。當全世界83%的淡水生態系統都在崩潰(報告中另一個恐怖的統計數據),似乎沒功夫去挑剔什么語義了。然而,正如生態學家羅賓•基默里所言,“找準詞匯,便是在學會洞察上又進了一步”。



Industrial agriculture, an activity that the report identifies as the biggest single contributor to species loss, is profoundly shaped by capitalism, not least because only a handful of “commodity” species are deemed to have any value, and because, in the sole pursuit of profit and growth, “externalities” such as pollution and biodiversity loss are ignored. And yet instead of calling the irrationality of capitalism out for the ways in which it renders most of life worthless, the WWF report actually extends a capitalist logic by using terms such as “natural assets” and “ecosystem services” to refer to the living world.

工業化農業這種活動被該報告認定為造成物種滅亡的最大單一因素,受到了資本主義的深遠影響,尤其是因為一小部分“商品”物種被認為有價值,還因為對利潤和增長的追求是其唯一的目標,污染和生物多樣性喪失之類的“外部性”被無視了。然而,世界自然基金會不僅沒有因為資本主義使大部分的人生變得沒有價值而去大聲疾呼資本主義的不理性,事實上還照搬了資本家的邏輯,用上了諸如“自然資產”和“生態系統服務”等術語來指稱這個活生生的世界。

(譯注:外部性又稱為溢出效應、外部影響、外差效應或外部效應、外部經濟,指一個人或一群人的行動和決策使另一個人或一群人受損或受益的情況)

By obscuring capitalism with a term that is merely one of its symptoms – “consumption” – there is also a risk that blame and responsibility for species loss is disproportionately shifted onto individual lifestyle choices, while the larger and more powerful systems and institutions that are compelling individuals to consume are, worryingly, let off the hook.

靠著“消費”這個術語,其實不過是資本主義的癥狀之一,來掩蓋資本主義也是存在一種風險的,也就是責備物種滅亡乃至為其負責被不成比例地推卸給了個體生活方式的選擇,與此同時,更宏觀也更強大的系統和制度迫使個體去消費這件事,卻令人擔憂地被蒙混過去了。

Who is ‘humanity’, anyway?

“人類”到底指誰?

The WWF report chooses “humanity” as its unit of analysis, and this totalising language is eagerly picked up by the press. The Guardian, for example, reports that “the global population is destroying the web of life”. This is grossly misleading. The WWF report itself illustrates that it is far from all of humanity doing the consuming, but it does not go as far as revealing that only a small minority of the human population are causing the vast majority of the damage.

世界自然基金會的報告選擇“人類”作為其分析的單位,而這種總稱式的用語被媒體爭先恐后地拿去做文章了。比如,《衛報》的報道說,“全世界的人口正在毀滅生命之網”。這可是非常誤導人的說法。世界自然基金會自己已經闡明進行這種消費的還遠不是所有人類,但它并沒有更進一步地去揭示正在造成絕大部分傷害的只是一小部分的人類。



Global map of Ecological Footprint of consumption, 2014. Although the WWF report highlights disparity in consumption, it says nothing about the capitalism which produces this pattern.

(圖解:2014年度,全球地圖之消費的生態足跡。盡管這份世界自然基金會的報告強調了消費上的差距,對于炮制出這種模式的資本主義卻什么也沒有說)

From carbon emissions to ecological footprints, the richest 10% of people are having the greatest impact. Furthermore, there is no recognition that the effects of climate and biodiversity collapse are overwhelming felt by the poorest people first – the very people who are contributing least to the problem. Identifying these inequalities matters because it is this – not “humanity” per se – that is the problem, and because inequality is endemic to, you guessed it, capitalist systems (and particularly their racist and colonial legacies).

從碳排放到生態足跡,帶來最嚴重影響的是最富有的10%的人。而沒有人承認的是:第一批感受到氣候影響和生物多樣性崩潰的是最窮的人,而造成這個問題擔責最少的也正是他們。確認這些不平等還是很重要的,因為問題不在于“人類”本身,也因為,你猜對了,不平等是資本主義制度特有的(尤其是其種族主義和殖民主義遺產)。

The catch-all word “humanity” papers over all of these cracks, preventing us from seeing the situation as it is. It also perpetuates a sense that humans are inherently “bad”, and that it is somehow “in our nature” to consume until there is nothing left. One tweet, posted in response to the WWF publication, retorted that “we are a virus with shoes”, an attitude that hints at growing public apathy.

“人類”這個大包大攬的詞掩飾了所有這些裂痕,阻礙了我們如實地看清形勢。這也使“人類天性就是‘惡的’”這種感覺,以及消費是“我們的本性”直到什么也不剩的這種感覺永遠延續了下去。有一條推文對世界自然基金會發文作出了回復,它反駁稱“我們是穿著鞋的病毒”,這種態度暗示出公眾不斷增長的冷漠。

But what would it mean to redirect such self-loathing towards capitalism? Not only would this be a more accurate target, but it might also empower us to see our humanity as a force for good.

但是重新導向這種針對資本主義的自我厭惡意味著什么呢?此舉不僅能給出更準確的目標,也許還能讓我們視自己的人性為向善的力量。



The WWF report urges that a “collective voice is crucial if we are to reverse the trend of biodiversity loss”, but a collective voice is useless if it cannot find the right words. As long as we – and influential organisations such as the WWF, in particular – fail to name capitalism as a key cause of mass extinction, we will remain powerless to break its tragic story.

世界自然基金會的這份報告敦促“如果我們想要逆轉生物多樣性喪失的趨勢,發出共同的聲音就至關重要”,但如果找不到對的詞,共同的聲音也就沒什么用了。只要我們以及諸如世界自然基金會等有影響力的組織不能把資本主義提為物種大規模滅絕的關鍵原因,我們在報道這個悲劇故事的時候,就仍會無能為力。