Sunday, January 24, 2016

A river in Egypt

Hey, you,
get off of my cloud
    - Rolling Stones

We don't need no education
     - Pink Floyd


          Denial comes in many colors and flavors.    Plain  vanilla, I suppose is to deny the problem.  "There is no climate change, or if there is its not human caused"   That's pretty straight forward.  But,   there are also  more sophisticated methods.  .   "Yes, there's a problem but we can easily fix it, without disturbing economic growth". That's a little more insidious.   Here's a nice article from new scientist about the Paris accords.  While asserting both that the goal should be 1.5 or 2 degrees, it also repeats the view that there is "some way" to accomplish this while still maintaining the current level of affluence.

           We can't seem let go of the view that that technology  (renewable energy and efficiency)  will save the day.  That the "T" in I=PAT, will counter balance the continually growing "P" (population) and "A" (affluence) .    This faith gives us the psychological cover to go about our daily business.    A recent speech by William Reese on Degrowth, ( partially transcribed here ), explains in some detail how, we can easily be distracted by shining technological "green growth solutions".

        So, if green growth is not likely to reverse overshoot, and de-growth, ( for all its benefits)  is a political non starter,  what then?  

        Here is an NYT op ed piece from the front lines of our future, by Roy Scranton.   Interestingly, he served in Baghdad, and New Orleans (Katrina).  Unfortunately, he sees similarities.  His message is simple  "This civilization is already dead".  We just don't know it.  We refuse to recognize it.  Things will never be the they were.   We should probably face the fact.  What to do? It's not that we should give up and "Do nothing".  But we should do what is appropriate, considering what is really happening. 
"The biggest problem climate change poses isn’t how the Department of Defense should plan for resource wars, or how we should put up sea walls to protect Alphabet City, or when we should evacuate Hoboken. It won’t be addressed by buying a Prius, signing a treaty, or turning off the air-conditioning. The biggest problem we face is a philosophical one: understanding that this civilization is already dead. The sooner we confront this problem, and the sooner we realize there’s nothing we can do to save ourselves, the sooner we can get down to the hard work of adapting, with mortal humility, to our new reality.
The choice is a clear one. We can continue acting as if tomorrow will be just like yesterday, growing less and less prepared for each new disaster as it comes, and more and more desperately invested in a life we can’t sustain. Or we can learn to see each day as the death of what came before, freeing ourselves to deal with whatever problems the present offers without attachment or fear.."

   Or here is most recent one

" There is little reason to hope that we’ll be able to slow down global warming before we pass a tipping point. We’re already one degree Celsius above preindustrial temperatures and there’s another half a degree baked in. The West Antarctic ice sheet is collapsing, Greenland is melting, permafrost across the world is liquefying, and methane has been detected leaking from sea floors and Siberian craters: it’s probably already too late to stop these feedbacks, which means it’s probably already too late to stop apocalyptic planetary warming. Meanwhile the world slides into hate-filled, bloody havoc, like the last act of a particularly ugly Shakespearean tragedy.
"Accepting our situation could easily be confused with nihilism. In a nation founded on hope, built with “can do” Yankee grit, and bedazzled by its own technological wizardry, the very idea that something might be beyond our power or that humans have intrinsic limits verges on blasphemy. Right and left, millions of Americans believe that every problem has a solution; suggesting otherwise stirs a deep and often hostile resistance. It’s not so much that accepting the truth of our situation means thinking the wrong thought, but rather thinking the unthinkable.
Yet it’s at just this moment of crisis that our human drive to make meaning reappears as our only salvation … if we’re willing to reflect consciously on the ways we make life meaningful — on how we decide what is good, what our goals are, what’s worth living or dying for, and what we do every day, day to day, and how we do it. Because if it’s true that we make our lives meaningful ourselves and not through revealed wisdom handed down by God or the Market or History, then it’s also true that we hold within ourselves the power to change our lives — wholly, utterly — by changing what our lives mean. Our drive to make meaning is more powerful than oil, the atom, and the market, and it’s up to us to harness that power to secure the future of the human species.
We can’t do it by clinging to the progressivist, profit-seeking, technology-can-fix-it ideology of fossil-fueled capitalism. We can’t do it by trying to control the future. We need to learn to let our current civilization die, to accept our mortality and practice humility. We need to work together to transform a global order of meaning focused on accumulation into a new order of meaning that knows the value of limits, transience and restraint.
Most important, we need to give up defending and protecting our truth, our perspective, our Western values, and understand that truth is found not in one perspective but in their multiplication, not in one point of view but in the aggregate, not in opposition but in the whole. We need to learn to see not just with Western eyes but with Islamic eyes and Inuit eyes, not just with human eyes but with golden-cheeked warbler eyes, coho salmon eyes, and polar bear eyes, and not even just with eyes at all but with the wild, barely articulate being of clouds and seas and rocks and trees and stars.
We were born on the eve of what may be the human world’s greatest catastrophe. None of us chose this, not deliberately. None of us can choose to avoid it either. Some of us will even live through it. What meaning we pass on to the future will depend on how well we remember those who have come before us, how wisely and how gently we’re able to shed the ruinous way of life that’s destroying us today, and how consciously we’re able to affirm our role as creators of our fated future.
Accepting the fatality of our situation isn’t nihilism, but rather the necessary first step in forging a new way of life."

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