In December, the 21st “Council of Parties” to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change took place in Paris. Almost everybody seemed to understand that we are in “no more fooling around” territory, with some notable exceptions, like, f’rinstance, India and Saudi Arabia. Ironically, these are two of the countries with the most to lose from further climate change–like, their inhabitability. Even so, it has become common knowledge that climate change denialism has largely been, um, fuelled by oil companies who did the research in the 70’s and 80’s and, like the tobacco companies before them, realized that their product was lethal, and who nonetheless chose to elevate their short-term bottom line over the long-term survival of not just their customers, as with the tobacco companies, but of the human race, along with most other species on the planet. I could be snide and sneer about the oxymoronic quality of the phrase “corporate ethics,” but it’s not just corporations that prioritize reaping short-term benefits over preventing long-term threats. It’s a fairly common human trait, it turns out, and one that is plaguing our efforts to stop doing things that release more carbon and accelerate climate change, and to start doing things that will capture carbon and reverse our ever more tightly spiralling spin into planetary oblivion. In order to reverse climate change, we must reverse our own conditioned responses. The outer depends on the inner, as always.
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Tags: China, Clarksville Highway, coal, Columbia Pipeline Group, COP 21, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, fracking, Godot, India, Joelton, John Kerry, Karl Dean, Megan Barry, methane, Metro Council, Metro Planning Commission, Middle East, NAFTA, Nashville Next, natural gas, No New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure, Paris, President Obama, Saudi Arabia, Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership, Transcanada Corporation, United Nations, White's Creek, World Bank, World Trade Organization, Yemen
Categories : climate change, environmental issues, financial, international relations, local politics, local self-sufficiency, peak oil, the war for oil, transition
What, then, of the climate change activist who says, “Certainly, inclusivity, exposing unconscious racism and classism, giving voice to the marginalized, nonviolent communication, deep listening skills, and so forth are all worthy goals, but we are talking about the survival of our species here. We need to achieve CO2 reduction by whatever means necessary. These other things can come later. None will matter if we don’t stop the six or eight degree temperature rise that our present course entails. Therefore, to devote oneself to these things, or indeed to most social issues, is a bit frivolous.”
It may not be obvious, but this view buys in to another version of the Story of Separation, in which the universe comprises a multitude of independent phenomena. In it, an environmental leader’s neglect of his family or contracting of minimum-wage janitorial services has no bearing on global climate change. Quantum mechanics, with its collapse of the self/other, object/universe, observer/observed distinction, offers us a new set of intuitions about how reality works. I won’t say that it “proves” that by changing your beliefs or relationships you will remedy climate change. It does, however, suggest a principle of interconnectedness that implies that every action has cosmic significance. But even without sourcing that principle in quantum mechanics, we can get there simply by asking, What is the real cause of climate change? CO2 emissions and other greenhouse gases, perhaps? Okay, what is the cause of those? Maybe consumerism, technological arrogance, and the growth imperative built in to the financial system. And what is the cause of those? Ultimately it is the deep ideologies that govern our world, the defining mythology of our civilization that I have called the Story of Separation…..
….Yes, my friends, the conceptual revolution we are beginning goes this deep. We need to rediscover the mind of nature, to return to our original animism and the ensouled universe it perceived. We need to understand nature, the planet, the sun, the soil, the water, the mountains, the rocks, the trees, and the air as sentient beings whose destiny is not separate from our own. As far as I know, no indigenous person on Earth would deny that a rock bears some kind of awareness or intelligence. Who are we to think differently? Are the results of the modern scientific view so impressive as to justify such arrant presumptuousness? Have we created a society more beautiful than they? In fact, as the example of the quantum particle suggests, science is finally circling back toward animism. To be sure, scientific paradigms that countenance an intelligent universe are mostly heterodox today, but they are gradually encroaching on the mainstream. Take the example of water. Emerging from the shadows of homeopathy, anthroposophy, and research by marginal figures like Masaru Emoto and the brilliant Viktor Schauberger, the idea that water itself is alive, or at least bears structure and individuality, is now being explored by mainstream scientists like Gerald Pollack. We still have a long way to go before anything like the sentience of all matter can be accepted, or even articulated, by science. But imagine what that belief would mean when we contemplate mountaintop removal mining, polluting aquifers with fracking fluid, and so on.
Whatever the mechanism—greenhouse gases, deforestation, or solar fluctuations—climate change is sending us an important message. We and Earth are one. As above, so below: what we do to each other, even to the smallest animal or plant, we do to all creation. Perhaps all our small, invisible acts imprint themselves upon the world in ways we do not understand.
music: Brother Martin and the Intangibles, “We Are Water,” “Molecules” (“Molecules” can also be heard here, and both songs are on the Brother Martin and the Intangibles Facebook page, which you will find if you click the “Intangibles” link)
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Tags: Charles Eisenstein, CO2, quantum theory, The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible, water
Categories : book review, climate change, environmental issues, local self-sufficiency, transition
(This is a slightly edited version of a blog post that first appeared in my candidate blog, “Holsinger for House.” You can read the original here.)
Al Gore called his landmark presentation on climate change “An Inconvenient Truth.” I think he chose the word “an” very purposefully, He’s a smart guy, and he knows that climate change is not the only “inconvenient truth.” There are many “inconvenient truths,” subjects and realities that conventional American politics carefully avoids or glosses over. Gore explored this in a subsequent book, “The Assault on Reason,” a volume that most Democrats seem to have chosen to ignore. I believe American politics would benefit from greater public awareness of and dialogue on these “inconvenient truths. ” Here are some that come to my mind. If you have any other ones you would like to nominate, feel free to comment!
GROWTH IS THE PROBLEM, NOT THE SOLUTION
Conventional politics is religiously dedicated to the proposition that fostering “economic growth” will solve all our problems, and that anything that halts or slows “economic growth” is a Bad Thing. This theory has been most notoriously promulgated as “trickle-down economics,” AKA “Reaganomics,” but its practice is not confined to the GOP. The fallacy of economic growth as a solution to our problems is that we live on a finite planet, with finite resources, and our dedication to “growth” is running up against the limits of those resources, whether we are talking about fossil fuels, phosphates, clean water, fish, other foodstuffs, arable land, oxygen, or anything else tangible. If we use up all of these things, even over the next few hundred years, what will people (and other animals) do to substitute for them in a thousand years? Ten thousand years?
The notion that “whatever increases the Gross National Product is good, “is gross. Hurricane-caused damage increases the GNP. Diseases that require expensive treatment increase the GNP; frequently, diseases are caused by other activities, such as environmental degradation, that increase the GNP. Lots of things that increase the GNP make us less happy. Happiness comes from a sane state of mind, not the possession of a mountain of toys.
“Economic growth” has tended to benefit those who are already wealthy more than those of us who are not. That leads to another inconvenient truth, which is that
AMERICA IS AN OLIGARCHY
The wealthy and powerful, the people the Occupy! movement refers to as “The One Percent,” are the people who call the tune in this country. It doesn’t matter what is best for most people, whether it’s an open internet, a sane health care system, a decent neighbourhood, or a clean environment. Our government will do what benefits the wealthy. Read the rest of this entry »
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Tags: Al Gore, Assault on Reason, automobiles, Barack Obama, blue dog Democrats, China, Gross National Product, growth, jobs, Obamacare, oligarchy, public transportation, Reaganomics, Republicans, schools, the one percent
Categories : climate change, environmental issues, financial, friends and family, peak oil, politics