A number of links that I have found especially powerful in my recent perusing of the issues of global warming. The final two links emphasize what to do, both for your own contribution and how to respond to others; they give a semblance of hope. Paul Gilding especially emphasizes “follow your passion” and resolve your own grief — be honest with yourself and others.
The graphs says it all. And if more than half of Americans are certain global warming is a major concern, what is it going to take for action? I imagine the data for other countries is similar. Action, not just talk, is needed.
I love snorkeling, having been to the Virgin Islands many times, yet I no longer do so; I have been so disheartened by the devastation I have seen in my lifetime. One of my ambitions used to be to go to the Great Barrier Reef — another dream I have let go. Sad!
An excellent video discussion of the many issues of global warming, and how they might come together in effective resolution. Worth watching in its entirety (66 minutes). I am a strong advocate of the work of The Climate Mobilization organization.
Such a fascinating week, with many reflections. I mentioned last post a number of books I am currently reading. They tend to be rather heavy, and periodically I need something lighter. On this occasion, I found Stories and Legends by Leo Tolstoy. Apparently Tolstoy, after he had written his major novels (War and Peace, Anna Karenina, et cetera), started writing short stories — as a master of literary skill, his style is delightful (clear, concise, sensory-based), well worth reading.
The Failing State of the World
Most notably for this week, my reflections have been on the failing state of the world. Jack Kornfield sums it up for me in his blog Living Mindfully in Modern Society (2017), which I assume is recent but he does not give a specific date.
The world is spending its wealth in the trillion-dollar arms market, yet only 10 percent of what’s spent annually could feed all our children—every hungry person on earth. We have seen that our growing groundwater pollution affects every one of us. Indeed, with care and attention we recognize that some of the riches we enjoy in modern Western society come at great costs, which include the exploitation of other cultures, the economic colonization of much of the world, the ecological devastation of habitats and species. Every time we drive, we contribute to worldwide pollution and global warming. Every time we fly, our jet fuel is secured through the politics of power in the Middle East. Our desire to eat imported food as inexpensively as possible can have terrible consequences for the environment as well. Human and natural realms are not separate. Whether in contemplating the responsibility of our lifestyle for global warming or the pollution of our rivers or in considering the sources of our food, our eyes must open to this interdependence.
In particular, I was astounded by an Oxfam report I found from 2016: Richest 62 people as wealthy as half of world’s population, says Oxfam (20160118); at the annual World Economic Forum, Oxfam called for action to reverse the trend in inequality, but said “words had not been translated into action.” It also reminded me of a recent TED talk (2017, viewed live, not yet available for the internet) indicating that likely the most effective way to irradicate the complexity of poverty would simply be a guaranteed income for everyone. My belief is that people want authentic work, and in today’s high tech world, it would be possible to do so; meanwhile a guaranteed income would eliminate much of the education and health care issues that also sustain poverty. This economic discrepancy is not only sad; it is criminal.
Normally I do not pay a lot of attention to the media buzz around American politics, but this week in particular has been astonishing, what with the firing of James Comey as FBI Director. I find it very difficult to sort out the details of what is happening, but regard it as very important, possibly the beginning of a process that may lead to the impeachment of Trump as President. The following stand out for me as useful:
Trump’s staff reportedly feeding him Internet hoaxes on climate (20170515), Joe Romm. I normally would not pay attention to this kind of report, but I have had some direct contact with Joe Romm, and know him to be a very reliable reporter. To accept that the most powerful man in the world is receiving, and acting on, fake reports is horrifying.
Two other reports feed into this concern of the deterioration in appropriate investigation:
Finally, women’s reproductive rights, in particular, are a disaster in the states. Check out To Understand the Cost of the War on Women, Look to Mississippi (20170505). I know many mature men and I know many more mature women. I truly believe that the next century belongs to women — if we ever actually do something about our failing civilization.
Such an interesting world, interesting in the sense of the Chinese curse.
 Tolstoy, L. (1943) Stories and legends. Trans. L & A.Maude, New York, NY: Pantheon.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
Hi folks. It is my intention to engage in the issues of climate change, especially those related to the emotional maturity of our culture. One of my struggles in retirement has been that of what do I do with my skills, my proficiencies gained over 25 years of being a therapist. We are so badly in need of maturing as a culture — frequently I feel powerless in the face of the cultural pressures that keep us trapped in the obvious duplicity.
Many people are focused on moving us to health; I want to be one of them. My skill set is that of encouraging emotional growth. So …
Once I get better organized, on most days I will make a comment or two. Sometimes I will link to articles I believe to be important. Here is one: “Off-shore fracking will have no significant impact …” What insanity to disturb the earth’s crust in an area where the risk of earthquakes is high! And even if the risk is not significant, why ignite such controversy in a world that must become carbon neutral?
This post was originally on my Facebook of 20160601