Category Archives: My Stance to Global Warming

Who Cares?

Compassion4I have recently begun to explore Unitarian-Univeralism (UU), a very inclusive “church” structure that requires no dogmatic belief system and yet recognizes the human need for community and the search for meaning, the need for caring and the questing of “Who Cares?” In particular, I invite the reader to view a recent sermon at the local UU church A Big Tent with Even Bigger Dreams[1] (20180506), one that I thought was profound (as well as very humorous).

For my part, UU (in its profound inclusivity) represents the possibility of mature community, an essential component of cultural transformation (of which I have written many posts in this blog — see this series). I find a number of aspects of the local church, the North Shore Unitarians, to have deep appeal for me; I also have the intuition (and hope) that these aspects are to be found throughout the UU system.

  • They are deeply inclusive. In particular, I have found them very welcoming, and very open to diversity, especially the LGBTQQIP2SAA community and any other source of divisiveness in community.
    • A significant quote from the above sermon is “we honor this truth by encouraging our members to reflect on the Light through whatever set of windows they find most illuminating. We only require that this same freedom be honored for others.”
  • They recognize the incredible destructiveness that “religion” has played in the world.
    • I have a friend who is atheist and strongly against religion, yet from my perspective he does not seem to recognize “religion” as simply a cultural lens, and that its implications range from the very immature (including much of Christian history as well as modern fundamentalism, both Christian and Muslim) to the very mature. I totally agree with him in his disparagement of Christianity when expressed via fundamentalism, and I also deeply value the mature expression of religion when I find it. Mature religion for me is not a set of beliefs, rather it is a way of approaching life with compassion to all its complexity.
  • They are very open to questioning the meaning of life.
    • For the past year, the Church has been running a series of discussion groups called Wounded Words (words such as sin, salvation, god, prayer) in an attempt to recognize how divisive these words have been (and continue to be).

The main emphasis that I have seen is that UU encourages the recognition that we all search for meaning and that we are all in the same boat! We must learn to value “making sure there’s room for another to come sit next to me, even if, especially if, they make me uncomfortable . . . . with such a big tent [that] we don’t even agree on the words to use to describe it.”

There is for me something deep within the heart of all human beings that searches for meaning; maturity for me means that of being willing to sit in the mystery that this represents. Those who claim certainty are at high risk of fundamentalism, and the abuses of religion — this I distrust.

To give my answer to the basic question of this post, those who care are those who continue to search, allowing others also to search. I honor all who do, including the UU church.

[1] Hartlief, M. (20180506). A Big Tent With Even Bigger Dreams,–Aa5KWo, published 20180507.

Witnessing The Process

nvcd2I’ve just returned from a planning session on how to resist the Kinder-Morgan pipeline expansion in the Vancouver area; typical of me, in my uncertainty as to how to contribute, I was mainly witnessing the process.

For those unfamiliar with the Kinder-Morgan project, it is a $7.4-billion construction project of pipeline expansion over a 1,100-kilometer route, and will increase pipeline capacity from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels of oil per day. It will end at Burrard Inlet at the northern edge of Burnaby and Vancouver, and will require construction through both cities. The fuel will then be transported internationally via the Salish Sea between Vancouver Island and the BC mainland (an environmentally sensitive area). It also represents a major addition to the fossil fuel load created by Canada, although that carbon source will then be transported to other Pacific countries, and thus does not appear as a direct load on Canada.

The pipeline passes through many indigenous lands (actually unceeded territories since for the most part no “treaties” have ever been signed) — many or all of which communities object to the project. The cities of Burnaby and Vancouver also object. To my knowledge, the federal and provincial governments have approved the projects despite these objections, and many court challenges are current. For my part, I was deeply disappointed by the duplicity of the Liberal government which initially promised major revision of the issues of global warming — as such there has been far more talk than action.

I believe that there is a huge need for non-violent civil disobedience in these kinds of issues, but I am also somewhat discouraged by this. For the most part, although we have advanced in many ways as to how we value human beings (feminism, racism, education, et cetera), most of the advances have only been on the surface — we have not done the deeper shift in maturity that will be necessary to overcome our latest challenge, that of world degradation as manifest by global warming, let alone the other issues. I have long been impressed by David Suzuki’s honesty in naming the fundamental failure of environmentalism, although I imagine others have written equally honestly about our other failures.

In my discouragement, I believe that much of non-violent civil disobedience merely serves to provide a mechanism to release the emotional tension felt by the oppressed. For the most part, the interplay between oppressed and oppressors simply becomes a game of chess as each party maneuvers to achieve advantage in a never-ending game of duplicity. Certainly on the part of the oppressed, there are many well-intentioned and intelligent persons, but I am not convinced that we achieve a great deal. Meanwhile the bulk of people stand back in apparent apathy. Sad.

Carlos Castaneda, a “cult” writer of the 70s, once presented a great concept (amongst others) for me: A warrior stands in the middle of the road, waiting. By that, I believe he meant that we each must do our personal best, and then let life do what it will. I’m learning to just trust that — in my language, if Creator wants me to do other than Witness, the opportunity will come. Despair, for me, then becomes a waste of energy, attempting to push the river – it flows by itself.

Some interesting links for the week:

The Transformative Power of Climate Truth (201710)

A comprehensive and important document from the only organization (to my knowledge) truly committed to cooperative mobilization on the scale necessary to resolve the issues of global warming.

U.S. climate report leaves little room for doubt (20171109)

As David Suzuki points out, the report did not receive much attention — presumably, simply another report as to the state of the disaster — a non-issue in the current political scene. Sad.

America is facing an epistemic crisis (20171002)

Initially this article is confusing, but it then presents a fascinating study of the question: “What if Mueller proves his case, and it doesn’t matter?” Another suggestion in support of the theme that civilization is about power, and who wields it.

100% renewable electricity in reach by 2050 (20171108)

We are capable of resolving the issues. Will we?

Paleo Politics (20171101)

An interesting link supporting the contention that “civilization” is fundamentally an issue of power dynamics, something I have written about in other posts.

The Need For A Coup, Part 1

Complexity3I said in my last post that I would consider the possibility of a coup. At some level, I truly accept that the need for a coup is the only way in which humanity will survive. I’m not a historian, nor a philosopher, nor do I have a military background, so what follows will simply be my random thoughts regarding the issues that confront us as a civilization.

First, as noted in my original first post of this blog (see my home page), Laszlo (in Evolution: The General Theory, 1996) wrote that we are in a cascade of crises, and that we must extend ourselves into a new maturity, else we will likely perish as a species (or at least as a civilization). I also recall from my PhD research, Toynbee in A Study Of History (1946) considered that in the failing of civilizations, new ones arise at the periphery (of the old collapsing civilization) wherein a small group arises who both represents a new energy of purpose while espousing a new religion, meanwhile opposed by the old tyranny. In my dissertation, I suggested that the small group was the Cultural Creatives and the new religion was our maturing relationship with ecology. The current difficulty with both the Cultural Creatives and the ecology movement, though, is that they are disorganized, and do not present a coordinated front to oppose the oppressive forces of our current civilization. Furthermore, this past century is the first occurrence in which we as a species have come to be both a global village and a power dynamic capable of altering the dynamics of the entire ecosystem of our world; there is essentially no periphery for a new civilization — we must confront the center of the old.

I also noted in my posts about power (beginning 2016-08-16) that civilization(s) arose because the human species came into relationship with power, a relationship different from that of all other previous species. Schmookler in The Parable Of The Tribes[1] indicated that “our destructiveness as a species and of our current culture . . . is a simple consequence of our creativity, a tragedy representative of the inevitable options for power” — and that there is “no way to return the dangerous djinni of human power back into the bottle.” In addition, “The laws of man require power, for power can [only] be controlled with power. The challenge is to design systems that use power to disarm power. Only in such an order can mankind be free.” Perhaps mankind will evolve to “control the actions of all to the degree needed to protect the well-being of the whole.”

Schmookler mentions a number of relevant definitions:

  • system: an aggregate the elements of which interact (and therefore no element of the system can be understood in isolation)
  • synergy: a pattern whereby each part functions in a way that enhances the welfare of the other parts as well as its own
  • viability: the ability to maintain without diminution whatever it is upon which its continued existence depends

Our civilization is definitely a system, yet it is neither synergistic nor viable. Our civilization is based on power, not synergy and viability. We compete rather than cooperate. We control by short-term domination rather than by consideration of the long-term. We demonstrate immense creativity, but we do not consider the impact of our creativity on future generations (in either our consumerism or our technological advances).

To be continued

Links suggestive of our cultural insanity

Heartless world watches while Rohingya nightmare continues (20170928)

An example of the inability of our species to deal with power.

Trump doesn’t get it on Puerto Rico. He just proved it by lashing out at San Juan’s mayor. (20170930)

I am suggesting this link, not as a critique of Trump (which it is), but as an indication of the need for definitive action in stopping this kind of tribalism, a stance that likely results in major deterioration of justice and viability. The current system is not healthy.

Homeland Security to monitor social media accounts of immigrants and citizens (20170926)

Where does surveillance stop? When is it effective? Here we seem to be moving to a police state, again with a major deterioration of justice and vitality.

Even This Data Guru Is Creeped Out By What Anonymous Location Data Reveals About Us (20170926)

So easy, and with enough computer power, likely also easy to cross-map details of how groups of people interact. Truly, Big Brother is watching.

[1] Schmookler, A. B. (1995). Parable of the tribes: The Problem of Power in Social Evolution. New York, NY: State University of New York.

A Number of Interesting Articles

Technology: dazzling, but distracting

There have been a number of interesting articles have come across my desk in the past few months (some technological, one on civil disobedience), so I thought I would describe them briefly. I recommend that the interested reader explore them all from the original sources listed.

First, some fascinating technological results:

20161128 A way to turn our carbon emissions into rock

As regular readers of this blog will likely know, I do not accept that global warming is a technological issue. However, we have been so resistant to deal with the problem, that our major current need requires technological solutions. Most importantly, we need to stop the production of the greenhouse gas sources of climate disruption. And at this stage, we likely also will need ways in which to safely remove carbon dioxide (amongst other gases) from the atmosphere; most of the possible means of geoengineering a cooler planet as simply too unexplored, and consequently of high risk to unexpected, and dangerous, outcomes.

This article describes a process that is still in the developmental stages, but likely can be safely scaled up to global levels for safe permanent removal. Unfortunately, part of the developmental process is currently through the US Department of Energy, and thus will likely require approval by the new Trump administration.

20170109 The Vertical Farm

One of the major needs of our growing world population will be reliable food production. This article describes a fascinating process, utilizing aeroponic farming (more efficient than hydroponic) in vertical layers, again likely one that can be scaled to global levels. To quote from the article:

a complex of two hundred buildings, each twenty stories high and measuring eighty feet by fifty feet at its base, situated in some wide-open outlying spot . . . could grow enough vegetables and rice to feed everybody who will be living in New York City in the year 2050.

The footprint of such an buildings would only be a few city blocks, yet provide food for many millions. Amazing. (Incidentally, typical of The New Yorker, there are a number of cartoons scattered throughout the article. Enjoy.)

20170111 Your Breakfast Is About to Take a Weird Turn

Again in the line of food production, this article describes some of the many ways in which genetically-modified organisms are contributing to our culture. Although I have some reservations concerning GMO processes (the underlying safety is still poorly explored — but for me it will take several hundred years to have adequate information; I also recognize that modern technology offers fascinating opportunities.

GMO yeast are now able to produce what is likely to be an adequate “milk,” with 98% less water consumption and 65% fewer greenhouse gas emissions. It remains to be seen as to what such substitutes will offer, but as indicated earlier, it is one of the fascinating technological advances that may offer considerable relief of the consequences of our culture.

Now some comments.

From my perspective, the problem of technology is that it is both potentially part of the solution and part of the problem. Modern technology is both dazzling, and distracting from the issues with which we need to deal.

Even one hundred years ago, many major philosophers (Bredyeav, Ellul, Lewis — see my book Acedia for details) recognized that technology was dehumanizing and took on a life of its own, distracting from the issues of how to have a mature culture. Even at its best, technology is a means to reduce greenhouse gases, perhaps also to reduce cultural impact in other ways — but technology does not manage our incessant need for consumer products, nor over-population. On the force field of change, technology moves us away from negativity, but does not move us to a vision of who or how we want to be as a culture.

A final reference, then, on some cultural movement — an interview with several individuals who are engaged in civil disobedience, to which I append an open letter to former President Obama written by one of these individuals.

We have a choice as to how we live our values. As indicated earlier, I believe that civil disobedience is a necessary exploration in our current cultural psychosis.


What Will It Take To Recognize Danger

The Dangers of Climate Change

The latest estimates of carbon utilization show that we are over-budget regardless of what we do regarding new sources of fossil fuels.

We are still playing with fire!

A new study from Oil Change International reveals how we are doing so. Bill McKibben [comments on]: Trudeau can’t charm his way around the mathematics of climate change, reflecting on The Sky’s Limit: Why the Paris Climate Goals Require a Managed Decline of Fossil Fuel Production (a 20160922 summary of a downloadable pdf article available as a link at this site).

The key findings:

  • The potential carbon emissions from the oil, gas, and coal in the world’s currently operating fields and mines would take us beyond 2°C of warming.
  • The reserves in currently operating oil and gas fields alone, even with no coal, would take the world beyond 1.5°C.
  • With the necessary decline in production over the coming decades to meet climate goals, clean energy can be scaled up at a corresponding pace, expanding the total number of energy jobs.

As such, McKibben points out the duplicity of the Canadian government in its current fossil fuel plans; it simply is not compatible with a healthy world, despite the rhetoric of the Paris goals.

And McKibben is not even as aggressive in his suggestions of “war-time mobilization” as is The Climate Mobilization of which I am an advocate.

What will it take for a wide-spread demand for effective responses? More super-storms? A national/international catastrophe? Likely Canada will not act until the USA acts.

At this time in history, we need states-persons, not politicians! States-persons look to what is needed in the future (not simply what is wanted); politicians look to the next election!

The Climate and The American Election


Another article worth reading: The Climate Emergency and the Election: A Pathway to WWII-Scale Mobilization in Common Dreams by Ezra Silk. Ezra is co-founder of The Climate Mobilization, and has spent the past year researching what is needed for management of climate change, and how it can be accomplished — by the equivalent of a world war II mobilization pattern. Achievable, yes; difficult, also yes; necessary, also yes.

Although focused on the America election, it is likely that this election will determine the fate of our civilization. The policies of Donald Trump as President will almost certainly doom our civilization, if not our survival as a species. As President, Clinton will not likely be fully proactive, but will almost certainly be responsive to public outcry, eventually instituting the necessary mobilization.

And if the Americans institute this mobilization, Canada is not likely to be far behind.

At the moment, I am significantly disappointed in the Liberal stance. As mentioned in Living In Vancouver (20160916), the likely approval of three massive contributors (the Kinder-Morgan pipeline, a LNG plant, and a coal processing plant) to greenhouse gases in the Vancouver area is, for me, totally inconsistent with the Paris Accord. Similarly, the recent carbon pricing policy (Canada releases plans for a nationwide carbon tax, where 80% of Canadians already as subject to carbon pricing) is, for me, a form of tokenism — needed, but it will not accomplish much.

Life goes on, for now!

Living In Vancouver

When will we end our investment in this?

Vancouver is proving to be an interesting city within which to live in the era of global warming and its challenges.

As noted in Metro Vancouver: competing visions fight for the city’s soul, the global fossil fuel industry wants to develop Vancouver as a major shipping port for exportation of fossil fuel products: expansion of the Kinder-Morgan pipeline complex (300K barrels per day to 890K), shipping of U.S. coal from Surrey Fraser Docks, and expansion of a LNG processing plant at Tilbury, Delta, BC (on the Fraser estuary). There is of course the usual rhetoric as to how beneficial all this will be for B.C., and there is probably some truth in this — it will certainly make money for some people.

All of these projects are apparently dependent on a range of political scenes, from federal to provincial to municipal. For example, the word amongst people I know in the climate activist scene is that they expect the Liberal Government to approve Kinder-Morgan expansion. Such a move by the Canadian federal government is regarded as inappropriate, deceptive, and a betrayal of the principles that the government is supposed to be representing in its promises to the people during the last election.

Various polls suggest that a majority of individuals are opposed to these expansions, the extent of opposition largely dependent on how directly people would be affected by breakdowns in the transport systems, systems that in the past few years have demonstrated how unsafe they are. Residents of Burnaby (the site of the Kinder-Morgan terminus), for example, are highly opposed.

And, I have my usual difficulty deciding if any one set of information is reliable. It is very easy to get into data overload, and I have to fall back to “what do I trust?” (Two of my recent posts were on this topic.) I concluded that basically “I trust myself” — which is not a good source for externalities, but is very useful when it comes to decision making as to what I support.

So, what do I think of all this.

Very simple. If we are to survive as a species, we must shift away from fossil fuels. This will require major shifts in economies, ranging from local to international. It will certainly require major reorganization of ways of community living as well as massive retraining of those individuals who are employed in industries dependent on fossil fuels.

Thus, to support the expansion of the fossil fuel industry in any way is simple adding another nail to the coffin of our species. Even if the risks were acceptable, the basic proposal is flawed.

The Climate Mobilization Pledge

We are at war, and we are losing! (Bill McKibben, 2016 Sep 6)

I’ve indicated previously that I have joined The Climate Mobilization (TCM). What follows is the pledge I am making as part of this process.

I’ve joined TCM because I strongly believe that our civilization is on a suicide course regarding Climate Change, and that the only hope for our survival (in any form of effective civilization) is to engage in a massive political mobilization. Actually, it may be our only hope for survival as a species.

The planet will survive. Life will likely survive. We may not!

All of this will not likely occur in my lifetime. But I/we will be leaving a degraded world for our children and grand-children. I would like my grand-children to know that I am doing what I can to create a better world.

Climate Change is a problem of our entire civilization, not a national issue. The Pledge is international, and can be adapted for any nation.


Climate change is causing immense human suffering and damage to the natural world. It threatens the collapse of civilization within this century. Confronting this crisis is the great moral imperative of our time.


  1. Immediately commence a social and economic mobilization to restore a climate that is safe, stable, and supportive of human civilization. This heroic campaign shall be carried out on a vast scale, transforming our economy at wartime speed.
  2. Reduce our country’s net greenhouse gas emissions 100 percent by 2030 at the latest and implement far-reaching measures to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
  3. Enlist a multitude of citizens in efforts to rapidly expand our carbon-neutral energy and agricultural systems, conduct groundbreaking research, and implement large-scale adaptation measures. Full employment will be achieved.
  4. Conduct this mobilization in accordance with the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights and ensure that the essential needs of the civilian economy are met during this time of transition.
  5. Establish the following imperatives as our nation’s top foreign policy priorities: A 100 percent reduction of global net greenhouse gas emissions at emergency speed, and the deployment of comprehensive measures that remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere until a safe climate is restored.

I will enlist fellow citizens from all walks of life in this campaign. If sitting politicians fail to mobilize, we will elect leaders with the courage and foresight to enact these demands.


  1. Vote for candidates— on every electoral level — who have signed the Pledge to Mobilize over those who have not.
  2. Advocate publiclyfor an emergency climate mobilization in the halls of government and in the media.
  3. Mobilize my skills, resources, and networks to spreadthe truth of climate change and the hope of this movement to others. When I spread the Pledge to Mobilize, I will do so with respect, truth, focus and courage.

Thus I pledge to mobilize, in defense of civilization and the natural world.

MY INTENTION (in the next four months)

  1. Initiate a Vancouver-based chapter of Climate Mobilization.
  2. Organize a support group within System Change Not Climate Change – North Vancouver regarding anger and burnout within the spectrum of Climate Change
  3. Present workshops on Anger Management (Blowing Out The Darkness) and Burnout (The Bottom Line) as a supplementary support.
  4. Present an online Anger Management program: Angry? Change Your Life in 90 Days (a free email program).

Any interest: contact; any support welcome.


I’ve chosen to focus on TCM because I believe that TCM has an effective vision, and an effective platform. From my work as therapist (using the concept of the force field of change), I know that change requires three things:

  • an effective vision of the future,
  • an honest appraisal of the present, and
  • a shift in the balances of forces that maintain the present
    • augmenting the positive forces, and
    • reducing the negative forces.

As TCM notes, their immediate vision is that of full-scale climate mobilization; they are less clear of the long-term vision, but at least they allude to the need for long-term cultural change. Their appraisal of the present as a suicide mission is correct for me.

I agree that their focus on augmenting political will is accurate as to what must happen in shifting the culture. And they recognize the need for dealing with the negative forces, the Climate Lie. Finally, although heavily Americanized in their language, they attempt to build coordinated cooperation between agencies.

Thus for me, TCM covers all the bases — so this is where I want to put my energy of making a difference. At the personal level, my strength is in reducing the negative forces, especially in dealing with issues of anger and burnout (long-term, I do want to find a way to utilize my strengths — which will almost certainly be necessary in the coming years).

For now though, my need is to build a local organization within TCM, one that can make a difference. I’m new to being an activist, but I have (I hope) relatively few illusions as to how difficult it is to shift the system. As necessary I fall back on the adage of how does one eat an elephant — one bite at a time.

Reflections on Hope, Part 2

Focus on what you can control about what matters.
It is easy to become overwhelmed.

In the last post, I reviewed the negative forces that I believe impact the likelihood of catastrophe as the outcome of global warming. I want now to reflect on the positives concerning my hope for a mature culture.

As stated, I strongly believe that, if we are to survive as a species, we must more towards maturity; we must move towards:

  • the many features of justice and love that have been advocated over the centuries (the features that represent our greatness as a species), and
  • the ability to have power over the processes of power (the nemesis that has plagued our civilizations for thousands of years).

In the past few years, I have often stated that, as individuals, human beings are capable of incredible greatness, but as a species we are psychotic.

There are many positives, but unfortunately they are not as easy to describe as the negatives. My struggle in this post is to organize the positives in such a way as to convey hope. Here I define hope as “evidence in the present for what I seek in the future.”

The positive forces include:

  • large numbers of people and organizations making headway in technology, social justice, and other forms of cultural transformation.
    • In particular, Gilding in The Great Disruption (2011) notes of human beings: “They were slow, but not stupid.”
  • the huge diversity in the creative ways in which change is beginning to occur in our civilization, thus increasing the possibility of self-organizing systemic change.
    • major advances in science and technology.
    • much better understanding to complex systems, leading to better understanding of resilience and sustainability.
    • much more powerful theological understandings and challenges, with an emphasis on community and correction of systemic injustice.
    • many examples of the convergence of science and spirituality. For example, Shinzen Young[1] notes: “the world of rigorous science and the world of deep meditation have begun a courtship dance.. . . a new knowledge powerful enough to rapidly alter the course of human history for the better.”
  • numerous social challenges by diverse organizations, ranging from to native communities, seeking greater attention to ecology and the dangers of global warming.
    • It is essential that these forces affiliate, but it is equally important that they provide diversity, so as to provide the opportunity for creative resolutions to difficult issues.
  • the recognition that profound change usually comes out of left field. It is not predictable how and when it will happen. As example, I think of the many times in my life that major change occurred in a day or less when events came together in synchronistic ways. This was true of the mystical experiences I had, and it was also true of both my decision to settle in Orangeville Ontario (1992) as a therapist, and my developing a day retreat center (1996) for anger management — profound change within hours.

When I look over the above, it does not look like much in the way of evidence! Much of it is very subjective.

I am also influenced by my own mystic experiences that have been transformative of my life, especially that of a three-year period of Cosmic Consciousness, an experience of profoundly knowing that “all shall be well,” a trust in the goodness of the universe.

Furthermore, I am very aware that to live into the power of the negatives is to create a self-fulfilling prophesy that we are all doomed anyway, so why bother? I am not willing to do this; thus I choose to be active in response.

However, each person will have to struggle with their own despair in this horrendous issue. I have deep compassion for this struggle — in my dissertation, I noted a statement of the 17th century scientist-philosopher Blaise Pascal: “those who study acedia do not come away unscathed.”

It is helpful to me to remember that the Chinese pictogram for crisis is a combination of the symbols for danger and for opportunity. There is also the Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times!

I believe that my primary journey as a human being is to become more loving — and the issues of global warming certainly provide that interesting opportunity. I hope we will survive (and thrive in) these dangerous times, but I also recognize it seems like a coin toss as to what will really happen.

Onward — what are the blocks that stop human beings from maturing.

[1] Unsolicited email, 2016 September 9, Shinzen Young on The Science of Enlightenment.

Reflections on Hope

Focus on what you can control about what matters.
It is easy to become overwhelmed.

I want now to reflect on my hope for a mature culture. For more than twenty postings, I have suggested my ideas for a mature culture, not as a blueprint, but as a point of discussion.

I strongly believe that, if we are to survive as a species, we must more towards maturity; we must more towards:

  • the many features of justice and love that have been advocated over the centuries (the features that represent our greatness as a species), and
  • the ability to have power over the processes of power (the nemesis that has plagued our civilizations for thousands of years).

If we do not learn to manage these issues, we not only are not likely to survive, but we probably do not even deserve to survive.

As I reflect on what I know of the human species, and of the characteristics of civilization, it is very easy for me to feel discouraged.

  • We are at the brink of destruction of our world as a result of the complexity of global warming; we have knowingly been moving in this direction for at least 50 years, and we are only now beginning to mobilize our resources (probably ineffectively as yet) to combat these forces.
  • And what we are just starting to confront are only the symptoms of the hubris and acedia that underlie the processes whereby we have created global warming. Especially, we have yet to begin the conversation regarding the two major issues of overpopulation and the management of power.

It is not easy to read about, or to write about, these matters. I began to look at them in a serious way about five years ago, and as a result, I was in major despair for a number of years. I am through that struggle now, and as a result, I choose to live into hopefulness. But I have major empathy and compassion with those who are in denial or who give up — it is not easy to live with ongoing concern of these issues.

So, to begin, I see many forces arrayed against this possibility of maturity.

  • As a species, we are pain avoiders. We tend not to deal with issues until they are fully in our faces, such that we must deal with them.
    • Given the laws of physics as applied to global warming, this tendency does not bode well for survival. We are reaching, if not exceeding, irreversible tipping points that will change our world in major ways.
    • And there is the acedia of the general population, many of whom are almost certainly overwhelmed by the complexity of these problems. The difficulty here is to get others to respond; the problems are so complex and so difficult to prove, especially in the face of frequent disinformation. But silence maintains the Climate Lie.
  • We are the world’s top predator, and we are deeply in denial of this role. David Suzuki, in “The simple-minded nature of human super predators” (2016 Sep 06) notes: “When judged by this dynamic of upholding natural balances, humans are failing terribly as predators” — as compared to other predator-prey systems which are symbiotic, human beings degrade the system rather than stabilize it. We interfere, often with good intentions.
  • Between global warming and overpopulation, we are likely approaching Malthusian limits that will present themselves as famine, plague, or war, all of which have some basis in present reality.
    • Famine: Lester Brown in World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse (2011) has written: I had long rejected the idea that food could be the weak link in our twenty-first century civilization. Today I think not only that it could be the weak link, but that it is the weak link.”
    • Plague: The emergence of antibiotic-resistant superbugs presents major challenges in disease management.
    • War: The increasing numbers of failed states such as Syria, and the testing of nuclear weapons by North Korea, are potentially only the beginning of struggles over resources such as water and food.
  • There is also the immense sabotage of democratic systems by processes that, for me, can only be understood as greed and evil.
  • Consistent with the adage “Powertends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” there is much in the modern legal system that does not reflect justice, but merely legal maneuvering — a sad state of affairs with respect to the possibility of a mature culture.

Given all of this, many give up. I have not. In the next post, I will look at the positives.

To be continued.