Category Archives: A Mature Culture

Responding To The Social Issues

It has been a while since my last post. Amongst other aspects, I decided to drastically limit my attention to email and other distractions. For about two months now, I am only opening emails from those whom I know personally — all the others are trashed immediately. As a result, I find myself more relaxed with more available time, which of course I have already filled with (more beneficial) activities. Being “retired,” I am actually at least as busy as when I was in practice, perhaps more so (as I am more actively responding to the social issues of the day).

Yet it also leaves me somewhat unclear as to how to contribute. I am still active in promoting the skills of managing polarized conflict and I am still invested in a variety of other social contributions. On the one hand, I am not certain that I have missed anything important in the news by trashing most of my emails; nevertheless I still have mild guilt and overwhelm that I am missing vast quantities of good information in books and other more reliable sources. It is so difficult to manage the information age!

As noted in the last link attached to this post, I strongly believe that every intelligent response is important (and hopefully these posts are regarded as intelligent). The changes required of our culture are massive — here, an interesting link is the first one. It notes that intractable conflict, a major issue that has become much more prominent in the past twenty years, is the central issue preventing our effective response to climate disruption. This parallels my own thoughts concerning cultural acedia as the major issue.

And so I truck on!

Beyond Intractability

A very interesting site with many resources. They name themselves as “Providing support to those working to address the intractable conflict problem, as well as those struggling with the many tractable, but still troublesome, disputes that characterize everyday life.” and note that “Destructive Conflict is the Most Serious Threat to Our Common Future. It ruins personal lives, prevents us from solving common problems, and underlies dystopian trends toward authoritarianism, chaos, and large-scale violence.”

What is Extinction Rebellion and what are its demands? (20191008)

A brief description of a movement that is making a difference in challenging for government action — British based originally, it affiliates with The Climate Mobilization group in the States.

Yes, the Climate Crisis May Wipe out Six Billion People (20190918)

This is an extreme yet entirely feasible scenario of our future.

XR and the Defence of Necessity (20191019)

An excellent analysis of the legal difficulties that will underlie civil disobedience, especially when associated with any degree of violence/violation.

No Accounting (20191009)

As with the previous link, this is another from Dave Pollard’s blog, this time on advertising and the media. As mentioned on other occasions, I do not subscribe to Dave’s fundamental philosophy (which I find nihilistic), I continue to value his depth of thinking about issues related to global collapse.

Corona Becomes First Major Beer Company to Adopt Edible 6-Pack Rings that Feed, Rather than Kill, Fish (201911)

An interesting and important response. Although small in the overall need, every intelligent response is important.

The Shift Is Happening

This post repeats what for me may be prominent news stories, or at least need to be. If you have not seen them, they need to be seen. The shift is happening, slowly.

Our culture is going to change, one way or another. The hope of many is that the changes can be accommodated, but the process of change will be daunting. This past week, around the world, many millions have been demonstrating in the request for such change.

If the changes cannot be accommodated, they will still happen, only then we will have economic collapse, mass conflict, and mass loss of life.

It does not yet appear what we shall be!

Greta Thunberg was right: There is an alternative to ‘eternal economic growth’: Don Pittis (20190926)

Greta Thunberg has been a tipping point in mobilizing young people — after all, they are the people who will need to live the ensuing culture. The issue is not knowledge — we know what to do, or at least we are gradually finding the models and resources to change the culture. The issue is willingness to do the work.

Managing Without Growth: Slower by Design, Not Disaster (20130415)

From the same source, an economic growth model that we could adapt.

Yet we still exist at a knife edge.

Flooded cities, vanishing sea life forecast in new UN-backed report (20190927)

As many know, the IPCC is a scientific think tank based on consensus, thus sensitive to presenting comments to which all essentially agree. Thus, its predictions are generally on the low side. Gradually their assessments are becoming more dire yet need to be read as the minimal risk of what may occur.

Tackling climate change means purging privilege from politics (20190925)

We must find ways to eliminate, or at least markedly reduce, the discrepancies that keep our society equitable.

And we do a very poor job of assessment.

Make debate great again: How bad political argument is undermining democracy (20190926

As I hope is obvious, a major part of my work is that of presenting skills to diminish polarization in conflict. Here, two philosophers comment on the mechanisms whereby our democracy is failing.

A Knife Edge

Slowly our culture is responding yet we are at a knife’s edge, balanced between the collapse of civilization and the transformation to a more healthy society. It is not yet clear what we shall be. An interesting reflection of a significant day in our modern culture.

How To Transform Apocalypse Fatigue Into Action On Global Warming (201709)

Practical ways of transforming how to shift our defense mechanisms into more productive responses to climate disruption.

Carbon capture: What you need to know about catching CO2 to fight climate change (20190902)

A good summary of the pros and cons of carbon capture. My major reservation is that it is another tool for maintaining our current culture without addressing the need for system change.

7,000 Colleges and Universities Declare Climate Emergency, With a Plan to Fight It (20190711)

Gradually society mobilizes with regard to climate disruption; I only hope for action rather than words. On note, of the 7000 institutions, there is this comment on who is engaged: “The individual institutions that have joined the declaration include five in the continental U.S” — a paltry five from the country which likely has the greatest influence!

Let the children vote? (20190828)

The suggestion is to lower the voting age to eight. Given that many children have significant wisdom, and that they will need to deal with the inefficiencies of the adults of our current society, it may well be a good suggestion.

Great Books: Jim Garrison, PhD on Plutarch’s Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans Part 1 (20190723)

Great Books Webinar Jim Garrison, PhD on Plutarch’s Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans Part 2 (20190828)

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. (Santayana, 1905)” Jim Garrison is President of Ubiquity University and a brilliant historian as well as public speaker. In these two videos, he compares our present culture as reflected in the Presidency of Donald Trump with the lives of Alcibiades (Greek) and Sulla (Roman), two individuals who respectfully precipitated the ending of Athenian democracy and the Roman Republic though their hubris and aggressiveness.

The Climate Movement: What’s Next?

In June 2019, the Great Transition Initiative (GTI) organization sponsored a major forum The Climate Movement: What’s Next? which “takes stock [of] and debates strategy for a vital new phase in the struggle for a livable, resilient planet.” From my perspective, the organization is highly reputable, and I believe the contributions to be very valuable, worth repeating at least in brief précis form.

The contributors were asked to “weigh in on three core questions”:

  • What is the climate movement’s state of play?
    What has worked, and where has the movement fallen short?
  • System change, not climate change?
    Does defusing the crisis require deep structural and value changes, or can “green capitalism” get us there?
  • Do we need a meta-movement?
    Does the climate movement need to build overarching alliances with environmental, peace, and justice movements?

Although they are all available on the single website, I have decided to list them individually to highlight the scope of the discussion.

The Climate Movement: What’s Next?

Opening Reflections, Bill McKibben

A good summary of the shift from naiveté to the strong emergence of the climate justice focus of modern environmentalists. If we are to survive as a species, major changes are needed.

The Larger Struggle: Mitigating Capitalism, Hans Baer

A discussion of the complexity of many players at the table, with a major emphasis on the need for a new type of socialism offering true reform of the huge issues facing our civilization.

Charting how we get there, Guy Dauncey

A very good summary of the many steps (via a developmental model) that will be required for us to move to a healthy outcome, recognizing how grim the situation actually is and yet focused on solutions rather than despair.

Life-affirming carbon capture, Neva Goodwin

A response to the growing consensus of the need to remove massive amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, some methods very positive (mainly orientated to soil restoration), others very dubious and dangerous (mainly promoted by the fossil fuel industry).

Report from the European front, Virág Kaufer

The climate debate in most European countries is at a crossroads, caught between progressives and political agendas, many of which are “hostage to the corrupted and corporate-captured national governments.”

Bringing the force of the law, Hermann Ott

A hard look at the need for strong assertion against those who “suffocate new developments and prevent them from growing,” implementing compliance with existing regulations together with writing new and better laws for climate protection.

Being the change, change the world, Karl-Ludwig Schibel

“[T]he only way to win is to act on the changes we want to see in the world.”

The dramaturgy of transformation, Mimi Stokes

A fascinating description of how we, as well the ancient Greeks, have failed to address our hubris, and how our cultural hopes of colonialism, capitalism and technology have reversed into tragedy, for all, including elites and deniers. Using the modern theory of tragic fates, we need to turn our wounds into gifts, creating a new global culture and planetary civilization.

Planetizing the movement, Tom Athanasiou

“I have been asking people what they think has changed in the last year, and why. Most seem to agree that something has definitely shifted. . . . We are in very serious trouble, and there is no way forward unless we admit it.” Yet, we need a meta-movement — we need to get serious about transitional justice, a truly international justice system.

The movement enters a new phase, Jeremy Brecher

“The climate movement in the US and around the world has gone through two main phases and is entering a third: . . . [first] the confirmation of man-made global warming. . . . [and second] a direct action movement . . . using civil disobedience targeting fossil fuel infrastructure to mobilize opposition.” The third “represent[s] a shift to using direct action techniques against governments and politicians, and expresses the massive activity around the Green New Deal (GND) in the US and Leap Manifesto in Canada. The article explores the strengths and weaknesses of the GND, the possibility of a meta-movement that will unite the various disparate parties.

A caring economy is key, Riane Eisler

“[T]o bring about systems change and effectively address climate change requires a closer look at the question of change from precisely what kind of system to what kind of system. . . . Through today’s technologies of destruction and exploitation, traditions of domination may lead to our species’ extinction. But we can change our course and bring about a Great Transition if we focus on root causes rather than symptoms.”

Renewables are not enough, Kerryn Higgs

“The biggest obstacles to success in limiting global warming to 2°C above pre-industrial (or, even more hopefully, 1.5°C) are the vested interests that oppose this endeavor. The problem is political. . . . No real solution can be established while corporate capitalism remains the dominant economic system almost everywhere on earth. It’s a system that demands consumption for the sake of expansion rather than serving actual human needs.”

On personal and political agency, Karen O’Brien

A brief yet comprehensive description of the nature of system change.

Moving from resistance to repair, Vicki Robin

“The climate movement has excelled at resistance but is missing a crucial, essential element: a focus on repair. It is clear about what it is against, but largely mum on a restoration project equal to the scale of climate change damage. . . . we humans act upon the earth for our benefit, but we do not act with the earth for healing all life. What is the earth healing path?” We need a justice movement that repairs for future generations.

Imploding the carbon economy, Gus Speth

“[S]omething is happening here today. The level of public, media and political attention is not nearly where it should be, but there some hopeful signs of movement in the right directions.” We need “an induced implosion of the carbon economy. , , , Our job is to make it happen, using all the tools we have.”

A climate emergency plan, Anders Wijkman

“While the tone of the debate has changed, people in general—here I include most policymakers—do not fully understand the difference between “incrementalism” (the weak mitigation policies so far pursued) and “transformation” (the deeper mitigation we desperately need).” Major actions in multiple domains are needed.

Our Uncertain Future

Anxiety2Resilience.org has recently presented an excellent forum entitled Uncertain Future Forum (20190715-20190726) highlighting “If collapse is imminent, how do we respond? Each is short, succinct, and pertinent to the issues.

Dancing with Grief, Dahr Jamail, 20190715

I have the greatest respect for Jamail as one of the most authentic writers of the issues of climate disruption. For me, this essay is one of his best.

Turning Toward Each Other, Meghan Kallman, 20190716

The need for community is our highest need, yet we are so poor at cooperation in this culture. We have a long way to go.

The Disabled Planet, Taylor Brorby, 20190717

An excellent comparison between individual health-disability and planetary health-disability, our need to recognize the huge inequalities inherent in modern capitalism.

The Seventh Fire, Winona LaDuke, 20190718

There is a huge need to access indigenous knowledge and skills, but for me, the risk is that they will simply become part of the capitalist system.

Responding to Collapse: Uncertain Future Forum’s First Week, Daniel Lerch, 20190719

The bottom line: collaborate with others, be in community, tend to yourself.

On Listening to the Earth, Dahr Jamail, 20190722

How do we list for truth, our own truth of how to respond to the coming crisis?

Three Practices for a Time of Crisis, Meghan Kallman, 20190723

We need new practices: the practice of grieving so as to make space within, the practice of holding painful paradox, the practice of effective hope (somewhere between idealism and pragmatism where what we do might matter).

Biting the Hand That’s Fed Me, Taylor Brorby, 20190724

It is time to stop the insanity that has been so beneficial to us.

Find Your Mettle, Winona LaDuke, 20190725

Courage is needed.

Responding to Collapse: Uncertain Future Forum Wrap-Up, Asher Miller, 20170926

We have an obligation!

We Are Failing As A Culture

What follows are a multitude of links to the many aspects of how we are failing as a culture. Each is well written from my perspective.

I am aware that more and more we are talking about the climate crisis, yet we are still mainly at the stage of talking; we still fail to come together in collaborative ways, and as has been said many times, the window of opportunity is closing.

The first notes we have only 14 months to respond! The 2018 UN IPCC Panel indicated (in its highly conservative mode) what we must respond within 12 years; however, if the US does not get on board within the next election period, that window is likely not achievable, thus we only have 14 months to respond.

Not a good picture.

We don’t have 12 years to save the climate. We have 14 months. (20170726)

Leadership from the United States is required if the crisis of climate disruption is to be challenged — and this depends on the political state of the next presidential election, with all its consequences of dissension. What a mess!

We’re Failing Our Kids – Climate Emergency, 20190521

Asher Miller, Post-Carbon Institute Executive Director, presents a deeply vulnerable presentation of his fears for his children, together with the need for collaboration.

Do Americans Know How Much Trouble They’re In? (20190604)

An excellent article on the survival of democracy: a leader above the law, the abrogation of political access, the development of a pariah state all point to a potential tipping point in the continuing existence of political freedom for all.

Austerity and inequality fueling mental illness, says top UN envoy (20190624)

An excellent article — if we are to heal as a species, we must begin to address the overwhelming discordances created by capitalism, especially neoliberalism. Amongst other issues, the inequity of poverty fuels the many problems related to mental health.

Shifts in tourists’ sentiments and climate risk perceptions following mass coral bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef (20190624)

The varied responses to the impact of climate disruption on the world’s largest barrier reef point to the complexity needed in our response to this crisis.

Seeing Isn’t Believing: The Fact Checker’s Guide To Manipulated Video (20190625)

An interesting attempt by the Washington Post to identify and categorize the sophistication of modern misinformation. Technically I find the article difficult to follow (I would need much more detail and time) but I applaud the intention to clarify the many ways of distortion.

Fighting climate change may be cheaper and more beneficial than we think (20190710)

CBC News in Canada is gradually identifying features of climate disruption, often with a positive spin. There is certainly some benefit to this. However I have been deeply influenced by what I call The Force Field of Change, wherein change takes into account both positive features that move us toward a vision and negative forces that stop us. Unfortunately, until we deal with the negatives (our profound fear of climate disruption and our unwillingness to identify it), the impact of the negatives generally blocks the effect of the positives. I also believe that it is truly disrespectful of the vast majority of human beings to “protect” them from the painful truth that is climate disruption, on the assumption that it will overwhelm them — we need to deal with our grief!

Finally, I am aware of a number of significant forums in the past few months, forums that are willing to name the hard truths of what we face. I will be summarizing these in the next few weeks. I have had my own struggles with the painful truths over the past month or so.

More to come!

What Will It Take?

acedia1For the most part, I have given up reading about the political gyrations of politics — for the most part, they are simply a distraction that hides the larger picture that faces our species. This post looks a few of these larger issues, unfortunately with a degree of pessimism, of what will it take for us to mature as a species,.

My current mantras remain:

High intention; low attachment.

Be at peace; come back tomorrow.

Nature is in its worst shape in human history, UN report says (20190506)

We are in the middle of the sixth great extinction crisis, but we don’t call it this because we are not yet at the level of 75% species loss. What insanity!

We must reverse biodiversity loss to save ourselves (20190515)

The title speaks for itself — I totally agree with its conceptualization. Nature is an incredibly complex interrelated whole such that our attention to saving individual species is not likely to be effective. I am reminded of a book I read a few years ago questioning “of the many issues we need to address, which is most important, most urgent?” The fundamental answer: “All of them!”

What Will It Take? (20190509)

Dave Pollard’s blog post of 20190509 to how to save the world, this time on Non-Violent Direct Action (NVDA) is one with which I strongly agree — it is not at all likely that the dominator powers of our world will stop until massive NVDA resistance occurs, such that “the economic viability of the destructive activity falls apart.” Yet it is also very likely that the final outcome will not change. And the falling apart of the economic models of capitalism and neoliberalism will not be pretty. Sad! I hope otherwise, and I act into the possibility of significant maturation of our species.

A Plague (20190525)

Another of Dave’s posts is intriguing as it draws parallels between the occurrence of plagues (“a destructively numerous influx or multiplication of a noxious animal; an epidemic disease causing a high rate of mortality”) and the activities of the human species. Although I do not subscribe to Dave’s pessimism, I find he writes thoughtfully and well.

 

To What Do We Devote Ourselves

Acedia3As readers of this blog will know, I am a member of The Climate Mobilization. I strongly believe that we face an existential crisis as a species, and that we are at risk of extinction, especially if we delay action for too long a period. Gradually major organizations, cities, and countries are coming to this realization; gradually our culture is shifting. But, as with most big issues, confusion abounds and many fuzzy feel-good statements flourish. The bottom line is to what will we devote ourselves.

I personally work to alleviate suffering as this is where my skill set lies. And I work to open  discussion of what to do — that is the purpose of this blog.

The following links address some of these issues.

UK Parliament declares climate change emergency (20190501)

Slowly the world is waking to the need to respond. Hopefully the waking is associated with definitive action.

Don’t say ‘climate emergency’ in vain! (target setting in the climate emergency) (20190505)

An excellent summary of the confusion that can arise when we are not clear as to what we mean by ‘climate emergency.’ And it truly is an emergency!

The battle against climate change by Paul Kingsnorth (20190426)

Worth watching. Simply one intelligent man attempting to cope, he having been a major activist in his youth. The whole basis of my PhD dissertation was that climate disruption is not a technological issue; it is a psycho-spiritual issue. I am heartened to see it identified as such in this video.

Climate Crisis Forces Us to Ask: To What Do We Devote Ourselves? (20190506)

A journalist whom I respect asks “From this moment on, knowing what is happening to the planet, to what do I devote my life? A moment by moment issue!

Climate Vision

GreenNewDealI think this animated video is important because we need a viable vision of the future. Like most US productions, it is orientated to the US — the message needs to be global.

We only have a few years in which to transform, so a video like this brings the message home — we can transform if we are willing to do so. We are story-makers — this video is a story!

The Green New Deal, both US and Canadian, is a stepping stone to the future. It will not be easy; hopefully it is possible. It certainly promises justice!

The Intercept: A Message From The Future With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (20190417)

More Climate Truth

Problems2This post is a series of articles I have found recently that illustrate for me the complexity of what we must deal with as a culture. I shake my head in wonder, and sometimes struggle to stay out of despair. Even in despair, I choose to be function in contemplative action.

A Look at Past and Future Climate Change in Less Than a Minute (20190218)

Two graphics that illustrate the changes in average temperature over the 20th and 21st centuries. Simple, impressive.

re: Generation (20190218)

An excellent article regarding our failure as a generation to respond to the existential crisis of climate disruption — we need now to support our youth as they stand up to our acedia. Hopefully they will manage better than we have done.

Rethink Activism in the Face of Catastrophic Biological Collapse (20190304)

The second in a series (the first is also online). Both express the vulnerability needed to come to terms with the possibility of our collapse as a species.

The strongmen strike back (20190314)

An excellent article on the rise of authoritarianism throughout the world. I am currently in a small group exploring issues of Power & Privilege; what I recognize from this article is that I am currently only exploring the tip of the iceberg.

The Gentrification of Payments (20190317)

The complexity of the issues whereby power infiltrates systems astounds me.

Here’s Why America Is Dumping Its Trash in Poorer Countries (20190309)

I assume it is also likely true of Canada. The denial of garbage is another illustration of the complexity we must overcome if we are to survive, let alone thrive, as a species.

Deep Earth: A Subterranean Galapagos Expands The Tree Of Life (20190203)

An amazing description of life existing in places where I would not have thought possible. The resiliency of life astounds me such that I imagine that even if we destroy ourselves, life will persist. Who knows — maybe in another billion years archeologists will wonder who we were.