Tag Archives: democracy

12 Years, Much Less Actually

Uphill1We are running out of time. The 2018 IPCC report, for example, indicates we have until about 2030 (12 years, not 11) before we exhaust out climate budget for staying below 1..5°C, our best chance of avoiding major tipping points. Many believe that to be an optimistic assessment, such that we have perhaps much less time. Even then, the need of political action (not talk!) will take significant time,, such that we likely need to make major changes within the next 18 months (especially with the coming US elections being a major player here).

Even if we are able to do so, we still face the immense task of dismantling our entire capitalist based civilization to create processes of equity, together with all the other consequences of our over-population and how we have mismanaged our world. A lot of work, yet necessary.

Recent links that I recommend.

Greta Thunberg speech in Assemblée Nationale (20190723)

An excellent talk by Greta Thunberg! Complete honesty, brevity, and a very good command of the relevant facts from the IPCC report, 2018.

Climate change: 12 years to save the planet? Make that 18 months (20190724)

Another recognition that we only have a very limited time to establish the appropriate polity for safety of our species and many others.

Deniers deflated as climate reality hits home (20190807)

Progress is slow and the world is gradually coming to recover from the disinformation issues. In time? Who knows?

In order to understand the brutality of American capitalism, you have to start on the plantation. (20190814)

A detailed and disturbing account of how the brutality of modern (American) capitalism is a direct outcome of the processes that began with the accounting systems of slavery in the 17th and 18th centuries. Sad. Essential reading, very disturbing. What narrative will allow us to value ecology over economics; what narrative will allow us to value the intrinsic richness of what God (by any name) offers. I have no idea!

From dumpster to diesel: How a pilot project in Whitby is turning plastic waste into fuel (20190813)

On the lighter side, more positive. An interesting use of plastic waste by converting it to diesel fuel and gasoline. The article also names that the reduction of plastic usage and/or the complete conversion to recyclable plastics is essential to our future. Certainly something needs to be done with the incredible accumulation of plastics. I have two major reservations with the current process: first, how much energy (i.e., other fossil fuels) is used in the conversion, and second, usage of the newly converted fuel simply goes into the environment as any other fossil fuel usage. A more ecologically appropriate means of plastic usage is 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!

Canada Fails

ClimateChange7

An email received (20190621) from The Climate Mobilization, an organization I support, has this description of the Canadian response to climate disruption: “Canada fails on Climate Emergency.“ This portrayal is consistent with my own experience of Canadian and international politics.

The grassroots Climate Emergency Movement in Canada has been a global leader, with 404 governments adopting climate emergency resolutions at the local level. However, shortly after its House of Commons took up and passed a weak national climate emergency declaration, they failed to make it count.

The non-binding resolution was tied to an old, gradualist timeline rather than moving at emergency speed. It recommitted Canada to their commitments under the Paris climate accord without even on additional goal or legally binding commitment. Then, two days later, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government approved the expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline project, which is intended to vastly accelerate the extraction of Alberta tar sands oil, nearly tripling the capacity of the existing pipeline and locking in billions of dollars in investment in fossil fuel infrastructure and untold megatons of carbon emissions from the extracted oil.

The hypocrisy of these two parliamentary decisions demonstrates the gap between the will of the people and the power of the fossil fuel industry in the industrialized world. Declarations of Climate Emergency are a start — these declarations can unify the shared commitment of the movement, clarify the truth of the situation, and put lawmakers on record. But they are not enough — only a sustained global movement focused on winning power, launching a mobilization, and bringing the fossil fuel industry to heel, will give us a chance at survival.

The Trans Mountain Pipeline will negatively impact the entire globe, but it most seriously threatens the land rights of numerous Indigenous communities in its path. After the pipeline announcement, the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) reaffirmed the commitment of leaders from across British Columbia, stating that they “remain staunchly opposed” to pipeline expansion, and “have vowed that it will never get built.” You can support the UBCIC’s efforts here.

Also, the following links speak to these issues.

Climate Change: Why is it So Often “Sooner than Predicted”? (20190619)

A reasonable article listing the many factors within the predictions. My personal experience is consistent with this: every major report I have seen has indicated the previous report was such that global warming is worse than previously reported.

Temperatures leap 40 degrees above normal as the Arctic Ocean and Greenland ice sheet see record June melting (20190614)

Consistent with “Sooner Than . . .” I would never have expected this in my lifetime, in spite of the fact that I had briefly lived and practiced in the Arctic when I was a general practitioner. Given that the northern coast of Canada is the Arctic Ocean, high temperatures here likely have a major influence on the climate in North America (in more ways than geographic).

My Thoughts On The Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion (20190617)

Although in a sense limited to British Columbia, this is a well-thought-out exposition of the complexity of organizing in response to climate disruption. Unfortunately, as the article delineates, the overall political discussion is one of dissention rather than cooperation; this is one of the main reasons I have joined the Suzuki Elders and put my effort into a Salon entitled “Climate Change Conversations: Unpacking The Problem Of Conflict.”

What Would 3 Degrees Mean? (20100901)

An old link but one that is still pertinent. We are easily on a path to 3°C warming, and the outcome will not be pretty. My guess is that we are almost certain to reach 2°C even with massive effort.

Is Humanity Dying? (20190617)

The question is at some level meaningless — we either will or will not survive the coming apocalypse. Yet the sooner we start to take effective action, the less catastrophic will be the consequences. In any event, the world of my grand-children will be very different from the current one.

A Strange Culture

Acedia3My news sources have recently been dominated by American politics related either to a) what to do about the Mueller report or  b) speculation about presidential promises of the hopeful. For the most part, I have lost interest in both of these as I have no way of discerning important information from speculation. Canada is also gearing up for election so Canadian news also has lots of promises. However a small number of articles have attracted my attention, so I offer a potpourri on this occasion — we live in a strange culture of fearfulness, laziness, and self-righteousness.

Leading the Public into Emergency Mode: Introducing the Emergency Climate Movement (201905)

A well-written statement of what needs to happen for our civilization to survive the coming apocalypse. As evidenced by the Extinction Rebellion success in the UK and the increasing number of cities throughout the world who are at least espousing a climate emergency, we are gradually moving in this direction.

Scared About City Chemicals? Don’t Be. She Did Every Test in the Book. (20190528)

An excellent article on the complexity of our exposure to toxic chemicals within our environment. The title unfortunately belies the seriousness of the issue; in particular, the article names our cultural ignorance of a) at what level do we consider chemicals to be toxic as well as b) our even greater ignorance of synergistic interaction between toxins.

The Wealth Detective Who Finds the Hidden Money of the Super Rich (20190523)

A fascinating description of how much money is hidden, and how it is hidden, by the world’s wealthy. As of 2016, the top 0.1% hold 20% of American wealth and the top 1% hold 39%, surging (more than doubling) after the economic decisions of the 1980s. For me, these are staggering figures, and an indictment of the ills of capitalism.

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.

Climate Truth

PostTruth2This post presents a number of the links I have recently encountered, articles I think are important in speaking truth to what I perceive. And as usual, I am hesitant to post them — it is so easy to be overloaded with too much information these days.

I find also that the climate conversations are evolving. I attended a webinar a few nights ago by Smart Politics (https://www.joinsmart.org/) — overall I was impressed. It is American, based mainly in California (I think), and presented a good process for engaging, followed by a good discussion — certainly I would recommend to anyone in the States. It is different from yet similar to the process I will be leading with the Suzuki Elders at the end of this month (Climate Change Conversations: How To Have Them Without Everyone Walking Out Of The Room, Vancouver, 20190228).

On the positive side —

The Transformative Power of Climate Truth (20190204)

An excellent summary of the power of speaking the truth, especially in the nature of climate disruption. As readers of this blog will know, I am an advocate of The Climate Mobilization; momentum for this organization and its partners is evolving.

Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal Is a Product of Youth Uprising (20190208)

The need for major overhaul of the political situation is being recognized. Perhaps it is the beginning of transformation of capitalism and neoliberalism. Perhaps. Will we do so in time to avert disaster?

On the other side —

When Europeans Colonized the Americas, They Killed So Many That the Earth’s Climate Cooled (20190203)

A fascinating interplay between colonialism and global warming. Sad.

There’s a Big Hole in the World’s Most Important Glacier. Yes, It’s a Problem. (20190205)

As usual, things are worse than we thought.

The World Is on the Brink of Widespread Water Wars (20190211)

Another way in which things are worse. We are so close to collapse. As noted above, will we create a new cultural process in time to make a difference?

Plummeting insect numbers ‘threaten collapse of nature’ (20190211)

Yet another. What else can I say?

Predominantly neutral (is anything neutral in this theme?) —

How the greenwashing campaign works (20190212)

How can we measure the climate risk of methane gas emissions- (20190212)

What the methane industry doesn’t want you—or lawmakers—to know (20190212)

This series of articles on methane, the principle component of natural gas, speaks to the complexity of assessing data as well as the interpretation of data, some of which is almost certainly disinformation.

I’m Right!

How we polarize!

The past three blog posts have been fueled by James Hoggan’s book I’m Right, And You’re An Idiot[1]. In conversation with Hoggan, David Suzuki (Canada’s leading environmentalist) asked: Why aren’t people demanding action on environmental issues? To address this question, Hoggan set out to interview a large number of some of the world’s leading thinkers, specifically individuals who study human communication, to gain their perspective on this failure.

As mentioned in Ways To Contribute, I am involved with the Suzuki Elders in exploring how to use this information in the management of difficult conversations. In Finding Common Ground and How Conflict Escalates, I proposed a simple (perhaps difficult?) methodology for this. Yet I also want to give credit to Hoggan for the immense amount of exploration he undertook.

The following are some of the major points with which Hoggan grappled. Most are from his Epilogue, and all are direct quotes, with the interviewee named (JH denotes Hoggan’s commentary). [Square brackets are minor changes I have added, hopefully without changing the meaning.]

  • Few of us are truly evil — and good people sometimes [strongly disagree] for good reasons. (JH, p. 215)
  • Democracy works only if reasoned debate in the public sphere is possible. (Jason Stanley, p. 98)
    • While contention lies at the heart of democracy, it must be constructive contention. (Marshall Ganz, p. 115)
    • [People] don’t need not agree on the solution or on the problem. They don’t need to understand each other, trust each other or even like each other. But they do have to recognize that the only way to move forward is together. (Adam Kahane, p. 123)
  • It is through narratives . . . that people learn to access the moral and emotional resources we need to act with agency in the face of danger, challenge, and threat. . . . [This] is one of the most important lessons set out in I’m Right. (Marshall Ganz and JH, p. 174)
    • At its most basic level, I’m Right is about how we tell stories and how we treat each other. (JH, p. 115)
    • To create powerful persuasive narratives, our starting point must be rooted in an attitude of empathy, respect, and compassion. (The Dalai Lama, p. 211).
  • People don’t start out mired in hostility. The situation evolves. . . . Our defense mechanisms kick in . . . and this provokes . . . eventual gridlock. (JH, pp. 214-215)
    • It is hard to know who and what to trust. (JH, p. 216)
    • An important key is to hold our beliefs lightly [so that we are open to new possibility]. (JH, p. 215)
  • Facts and reason are fundamental to healthy public discourse, but in our overheated adversarial public square, facts are not enough. (JH, p. 217)
    • The initial strategy . . . must be inquiry, . . . [exploring] what truly matters to people [the emotional energy]. (JH, p. 218)
    • We must appeal to people’s values and speak from a moral position, . . . encouraging debate about matters of concern. (JH, pp. 217-218)
  • A well-crafted . . . narrative helps tear down barriers of propaganda and polarization. This theme of emotional communication is grounded in the Golden Rule of treating others the way we want to be treated. (p. 219-220)
    • If we seek change, we should learn to use speech for its highest purpose — moral discourse. (JH, p. 222)

I propose that the methodology I suggested in earlier posts satisfies what Hoggan has identified, especially in providing narrative and compassion, and provides constructive contention.


[1] Hoggan, J. (2016).  I’m right, and you’re an idiot: The toxic state of public discourse and how to clean it up. Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers.

The Power Of Doubt

Doubt1

I have gotten into a bit of a funk since a recent David Suzuki article: Caribou science denial cripples conservation efforts (20180628). It underlines the power of doubt for me. The story links to a research article From Climate to Caribou: How Manufactured Uncertainty is Impacting Wildlife Management and discusses the many agencies (well beyond wildlife management, starting with tobacco and psycho-pharmaceuticals) that “employ a ‘multi-pronged strategy of denial’: deny the problem exists, deny its key causes, and claim that resolving the problem is too costly.”

What it raises for me is: Whom do I trust? And what is the nature of Doubt?

In the last couple of posts, I’ve discussed the nature and limitations of meaning, noting in particular that information is not the same as meaning and that too much information interferes with meaning. And as indicated earlier, one of the major ways we deal with this is to seek corroboration from a trusted group (the TIC process).

Another way we deal with meaning is by doubt, critically assessing the information as to whether or not it is consistent with what we already accept. Skepticism (specifically methodological skepticism) is an approach that subjects all knowledge claims to scrutiny with the goal of sorting out truth from falsehood. In many respects, getting uncomfortable and willing to be uncertain, to not know, to ask questions, to err and to fail, is the best and only way to learn, and move forward. It is so much easier to be certain, and for some, being uncertain is a major source of anxiety — the underlying issue of fundamentalism of any kind.

The Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy notes “Doubt is often defined as a state of indecision or hesitancy with respect to accepting or rejecting a given proposition. Thus, doubt is opposed to belief. But doubt is also contrasted with certainty.” Both aspects, belief and certainty, are fundamental to my concern. Doubt has been a basic structural component of the major ways by which we as a species have valued knowledge, especially in the past 400 years, that of reason (philosophical study) and expiricism (scientific investigation). Doubt was also a major vehicle whereby Socrates sought wisdom, and thus doubt as a useful process has extended throughout our recorded history.

The major difficulty however is that doubt require honesty! The essential problem of dishonesty is that it grossly exaggerates doubt, and thus the deliberate creation of doubt can become a weapon of discouragement. In our current Age of Information (and Duplicity), doubt fails us when our premises are distorted by dishonesty. We become overwhelmed by too much information, at the very least by the inconsistencies inherent in the processing of dishonest information.

I know of no way through this dilemma. I have also found it incredibly difficult to encapsulate this blog — an expression of how doubt impacts.

doubt2

I will fall back on two people:

  • Voltaire: Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd!
  • Christian de Quincey, especially his book Radical Knowing where he talks of other ways of knowing beyond rationalism (the way of philosophy) and experientialism (the way of science): that of participatory feeling and direct mystical experience.
    • Both of these other ways are disparaged in our culture of scientific materialism, yet for me, both offer a way of knowing beyond doubt and certainty.
    • I highly recommend the writings of Christian, a philosopher of great integrity and wisdom, and like those who step out of the box, not well recognized.

Enough.