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(本文作者为英国斯旺西大学环境人文学研究员)

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.

由世界自然基金会发布的最新地球生命力报告,读来让人寒心:自1970年以来,野生动物种群数量减少了60%,崩溃中的生态系统,而且很有可能人类步其后尘也不会太久。该报告反复强调,物种的大规模灭绝要归咎于人类的消费,而那些记者们很快就发酵了这条讯息。《卫报》的大标题是这么写的,“人类已经消灭了60%的动物种群”,与此同时,BBC的说辞是,“人类的消费导致野生动物大量消失”。怪不得在148页的报告中,“人类”这个词出现了14次,而“消费”这个词惊人地出现了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,有一个词却一次都没能出现:资本主义。当全世界83%的淡水生态系统都在崩溃(报告中另一个恐怖的统计数据),似乎没功夫去挑剔什么语义了。然而,正如生态学家罗宾•基默里所言,“找准词汇,便是在学会洞察上又进了一步”。



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.

工业化农业这种活动被该报告认定为造成物种灭亡的最大单一因素,受到了资本主义的深远影响,尤其是因为一小部分“商品”物种被认为有价值,还因为对利润和增长的追求是其唯一的目标,污染和生物多样性丧失之类的“外部性”被无视了。然而,世界自然基金会不仅没有因为资本主义使大部分的人生变得没有价值而去大声疾呼资本主义的不理性,事实上还照搬了资本家的逻辑,用上了诸如“自然资产”和“生态系统服务”等术语来指称这个活生生的世界。

(译注:外部性又称为溢出效应、外部影响、外差效应或外部效应、外部经济,指一个人或一群人的行动和决策使另一个人或一群人受损或受益的情况)

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.

靠着“消费”这个术语,其实不过是资本主义的症状之一,来掩盖资本主义也是存在一种风险的,也就是责备物种灭亡乃至为其负责被不成比例地推卸给了个体生活方式的选择,与此同时,更宏观也更强大的系统和制度迫使个体去消费这件事,却令人担忧地被蒙混过去了。

Who is ‘humanity’, anyway?

“人类”到底指谁?

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.

世界自然基金会的报告选择“人类”作为其分析的单位,而这种总称式的用语被媒体争先恐后地拿去做文章了。比如,《卫报》的报道说,“全世界的人口正在毁灭生命之网”。这可是非常误导人的说法。世界自然基金会自己已经阐明进行这种消费的还远不是所有人类,但它并没有更进一步地去揭示正在造成绝大部分伤害的只是一小部分的人类。



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.

(图解:2014年度,全球地图之消费的生态足迹。尽管这份世界自然基金会的报告强调了消费上的差距,对于炮制出这种模式的资本主义却什么也没有说)

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).

从碳排放到生态足迹,带来最严重影响的是最富有的10%的人。而没有人承认的是:第一批感受到气候影响和生物多样性崩溃的是最穷的人,而造成这个问题担责最少的也正是他们。确认这些不平等还是很重要的,因为问题不在于“人类”本身,也因为,你猜对了,不平等是资本主义制度特有的(尤其是其种族主义和殖民主义遗产)。

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.

“人类”这个大包大揽的词掩饰了所有这些裂痕,阻碍了我们如实地看清形势。这也使“人类天性就是‘恶的’”这种感觉,以及消费是“我们的本性”直到什么也不剩的这种感觉永远延续了下去。有一条推文对世界自然基金会发文作出了回复,它反驳称“我们是穿着鞋的病毒”,这种态度暗示出公众不断增长的冷漠。

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.

但是重新导向这种针对资本主义的自我厌恶意味着什么呢?此举不仅能给出更准确的目标,也许还能让我们视自己的人性为向善的力量。



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.

世界自然基金会的这份报告敦促“如果我们想要逆转生物多样性丧失的趋势,发出共同的声音就至关重要”,但如果找不到对的词,共同的声音也就没什么用了。只要我们以及诸如世界自然基金会等有影响力的组织不能把资本主义提为物种大规模灭绝的关键原因,我们在报道这个悲剧故事的时候,就仍会无能为力。