Tag Archives: problems and difficulties

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.

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.

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!

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.

How conflict escalates

I mentioned in my last post Finding Common Ground that people “argue conclusions,” and more readily relate to sensory experiences. In this post, I want to explore the mechanisms involved. If we are to find common ground, it is important that we understand mechanisms whereby conflict escalates — there is an adage: “Give a man a fish and he will feed for a day; teach a man to fish, and he will feed for a lifetime.”

That very adage is sensory. I can almost guarantee that in reading it, you had memories that engaged with the adage. Similarly in this post I want to teach how conclusions provoke conflict. Then I hope you may be able to take the skill into your own conflicts.

My operational definition of conflict is “difference in a closed space” — that closed space is a relationship of two (or more) people. One of Joe Schaefer’s fundamental premises was “the conflict is not the relationship,” the conflict is only part of the present relationship.

First, a diagram of importance, an emotional triangle. Imagine a triangle consisting of two people (me and you) and an issue (a conflict). Most people will say: “Let’s resolve this conflict so we can feel good about each other.” They put the conflict in the middle of the relationship. Instead, Joe said: “Let’s feel good about each other as we resolve our conflict.” Note the difference. The emotional triangle makes it clear that the conflict is not the relationship; it is part of the present difficulties of these two people, only a part of the relationship.

There are some fundamental principles of emotional triangles that are important here. First, each person of the triangle can directly influence the other person plus their own connection to the conflict. But they cannot directly connect to the other limb, the so-called 3rd Limb of each person (relative to the person).

Second, healthy exchange in communication is direct. It may not always be pleasant (for example, the healthy expression of anger) but the long-term outcome is potential health. Unhealthy exchange crosses into the third limb; it generally is not cooperative (although the individual impacted may choose to cooperate, e.g., an employee being told what to do by an angry boss).

A major example here is the distinction between feedback and criticism. In feedback, I give you information about myself that you cannot obtain in any other way — I tell you my experience. There is no requirement that you be different; it is simply a description of what I am experiencing, and generally I tell it in the hopes that our relationship will improve. In criticism however, I want you to be different — you should be different (according to me). The operational word here is should!

So what do conclusions do? Think of your response to any significant issue in your life, and what you concluded is the appropriate course of action to resolve the as-yet-unresolved issue. How did you language this conclusion? Again, I can almost guarantee that your conclusion contained some euphemism of should (have to, must, et cetera). Now, state your conclusion aloud, and feel your intensity. To what extent are you focused on the other being different (and perhaps yourself also)?

Thus, on most occasions when conclusions are stated in conflict, they become an implied criticism of the other. And who enjoys being criticized? What enjoys being told what they should be doing?

Hence, escalation!

The methodology of describing experience without stating conclusions minimizes this, as described in the previous post. We respond best to lived experience or metaphor that encapsulates experience. We generally do not fight with the narrative descriptions of others — we might disagree with the conclusion, but we usually trust that the other is telling the truth of their experience. And we share their reality.

Also, perhaps when we tell our own stories, we might be able to step into our own limited experience and the humility of uncertainty.

Can we go on feeling good about each other as we resolve our differences? Yes, we can!

Finding Common ground

A friend of mine sent me a link a few days ago to a TED talk on resolving conflict: Julia Dhar: How to disagree productively and find common ground (201810). My friend is part of a group who are exploring how to manage difficult conversations, the ones where people are almost certain to argue without resolution. Their premise (and mine), and the premise of the Julia Dhar talk, is that “Contempt has replaced conversation.” Dhar suggests that the resolution for all parties is to learn the skills of debating.

Yet, I think there is an easier way that I will describe shortly. The skills of debating are still part of the process — it is the preliminary steps that make it easier, and likely more effective.

First, to look at Dhar’s comments:

  • the nature of debate is that there is a big topic on the table, an idea that is controversial. One side argues in the positive; the other in the negative.
  • the foundation of debate is rebuttal, face to face, as the participants present structured arguments appropriate to their positions. For most people, rebuttal is difficult — it feels like attack. But if the personalities are minimized, it becomes tolerable, perhaps stimulating.
    • in a formal debate, it may be that the sides are assigned beforehand, independent of the debaters — to a certain extent, this removes the personalities of the debaters from the debate. Debaters learn to argue from either perspective.
    • Dhar notes that the “only winning strategy is to engage with the best, clearest, least personal version of the idea.”
      • of note, Dahr also identifies that “listening to someone’s voice as they make a controversial argument is literally humanizing. It makes it easier to engage with what that person has to say.”
  • she notes that powerful debaters do not seek to attack; they seek to find common ground. They create  what is called shared reality, and Dahr suggests that shared reality is the antidote of alternative facts.
  • most important of all, Dhar notes that the structure of debate, especially the ability to argue from  either side, is such that we “open ourselves, really open ourselves up to the possibility  that we might be wrong. [We encounter t]he humility of uncertainty.”

I agree with all these points yet, as noted, I think there is an easier way.

A former friend of mine (I lost track of him when he moved to Turkey) Joe Schaefer was a cultural anthropologist who engaged in community building. He talked about creative communication as that of “going on feeling good about the other while we resolve our differences.” And the way to do this was to talk about how you learned to hold the stances what were important to you.

I remember a process that Joe led us through. Thirteen pairs were asked to pick a topic upon which we strongly disagreed (issues like “Smoking should be entirely prohibited” or “Young offenders should be treated as adults for serious crimes” or “Gay partners should have the right to adopt children”), and then to take turns telling personal stories to each other of how we learned our attitudes to the topic. We used a standard format of “I remember when . . .,” telling the sensory details of something we remembered as being important to how we came to our conclusions related to the topic: a memory, an intuition, something seen or read, any source of meaning. These conclusions were what we were exploring, yet we were instructed to never state a conclusion during this exercise as to what we learned.

We exchanged memories for ten minutes only, and then had two minutes to explore to what extent we had reached a resolution between us — twelve minutes to explore a tough issue wherein we strongly disagreed. The outcome: ten dyads were completely satisfied in their resolution; two knew they had a resolution but needed a few more minutes; one pair knew they had no resolution possible yet were satisfied that they could be friends about it. I was astounded — I had never seen conflict handled this way and so successfully.

 So what is important here:

  • first, we stayed away from conclusions, and focused on sensory details of the memories. Details like “I remember walking into Tim Horton’s to get a cup of coffee. The place had a glassed-in smoking section. I saw a friend in the smoking section and went in to talk to him. I was amazed that, within ten minutes, my eyes were burning and my throat was burning.” Period — no conclusion.
    • People do not argue sensory details or memories. They argue conclusions.
    • Sensory details create shared reality. If you are Canadian,I can almost guarantee that when you read “I remember walking into Tim Horton’s,” you accessed your own memory of walking into your favorite Tim Horton’s — a shared reality in progress.
      • Although Dhar talks about shared reality as the antidote of alternative facts, there are fundamentally no such thing as facts. What we call “facts” are our memories of agreed-upon experiences. For example, [fact] I weigh173 pounds because [experience] I remember stepping on the scale this morning and noting that the scale displayed 173.4 (pounds). Even if we together watch me step on the scale, within a few minutes we only have the memory of the event to denote as “fact.”
  • the sharing of memories, without conclusion, allows each of us to learn about the “reality” of the other, to step into and feel their experience. Since no conclusion is stated, we do not have anything to bump against.
    • we also learn about our own reality. Once we begin to recognize the scanty information that forms the basis of most of our cherished beliefs, we begin to entertain the possibility of being wrong. We again encounter the humility of uncertainty.
    • in this humility, we can each step into the experiences of the other and “go on feeling good about the other while we resolve our differences.”
      • rather than putting the personalities aside, we actually increase our awareness of the humanness, and the personality, of the other.
  • from this place of connectedness, we might then choose to go on to “debate” the topic, recognizing that there are important “facts” within both sides of the “debate.”
    • and that if we are to resolve the issues, we must take all these “facts” into a common ground that works for all concerned.

Thus, for me, Dhar’s process is simply the end point of this more simple approach wherein we become familiar with and learn to respect each other, working to common goals.

Does this work for everyone in all circumstances. No, nothing does.

The other must be at least willing to listen to me at the beginning. The beauty of Joe’s methodology is that in most areas where I might argue, I can introduce this approach with fair ease, and often invite a dialogue rather than a debate.

The major limitation always occurs where the other is simply not willing to engage. Even there if I stay strictly with descriptions of my own sensory details, I can minimize argument. People cannot easily argue sensory details, especially if I tell something true that cannot be challenged (e.g., “Wow. I notice how tightly I am clenching my teeth because I so want to argue with you, and yet I am also stopping myself — I don’t want to argue. Does that ever happen to you?” — using the questions perhaps to invite common reality!)

There are so many ways to handle argument, ways that engage rather than separate. As Dhar notes, the skill is to invite common ground.

The Issues Of The Day

Trauma2As noted previously, I am not posting a lot, but it seems time. So, some posts on what I think are the issues of the day: political insanity, the impact of consumerism and neo-liberalism, and the fears (generally hidden) concerning the coming trauma to our planet.

One definition of trauma is “a deeply distressing or disturbing experience.” I often think of trauma as physical injury, yet if I reflect on one of the most common expressions of the day — post-traumatic stress disorder — the trauma is more often not the direct result of injury; rather it is the psychic impact of impending injury. I suggest that these three issues are sign-posts of the impending injury.

They are the unnamed indicators of distress. I have yet to see significant advances that will shift the issues of the day.

The presidency survived the Watergate, Iran-contra and Clinton scandals. Trump will exact a higher toll. (20171221)

The article is for me a good summary of the similarities and differences amongst various presidencies. To quote the article, “The expectation of integrity has given way to a cynical acceptance of deceit. As much as anything Mueller uncovers, this is the scandal of our time.”

Consumer society no longer serves our needs (20180111)

As usual, David Suzuki presents a reasoned argument, in this case, “How can we have serious discussions about the ecological costs and limits to growth or the need to degrow economies when consumption is seen as the very reason the economy and society exist?”

How Do I Reassure My Children About the Future When the Future Is Terrifying? (20180113)

An excellent summary of the fears of a parent, reflecting my own fears for my grand-children, and the many children of this planet. I am currently working part-time in a homeless shelter, and thereby see the cost of what we have already created on our planet — the coming costs will be immensely greater.

An Economy That Works

Economy1I mentioned last post that I am no longer posting. However, every once and a while I come across a link that I think is so important that I believe it needs to be acknowledged (and disseminated) — this one is: an economy that works.

We are badly in need of a way to understand the nature of modern economy such that we develop a maturing of our culture. I think this is: it explains the impact of neoliberalism and the changing nature of our economy, especially the rise of gross dissatisfaction in how we live our lives. It also strongly advocates, amongst other suggestions, the need for a guaranteed basic income, a concept and process that is gradually being shown to markedly improve living conditions, despite the fears that it will encourage people to become lazy.

Having researched laziness as part of my PhD, I strongly believe that people are not naturally lazy, that they only move in this direction when they become overwhelmed with their lives and give up, conditions that are being augmented in major ways by our current economy. What is suggested here is actually a prescription to reduce laziness while improving human lives in many ways, perhaps ending the insane ways in which we create poverty and dissatisfaction in our lives, even reducing global warming via an effective stance to our culture.

Guy Standing on an Economy that Works for Everyone (20161126)

It is a long article, and well worth reading.

The Time Required To Scan

SystemChange2

This will be my last blog for a while — I am over-extended in too many areas, and need to cut back on some things. It takes a significant amount of my time to scan and briefly review the various news sources I look at, most of which are high anxiety in their content (which I mainly ignore), and I am not convinced of any significant shift in the issues.

For now, I am will simply focus on those areas of my life where I feel I can make a difference.

Climate Issues

We’re not even close to being prepared for the rising waters (20171110)

For years now, I have been aware that almost every new estimate of the consequences of global warming indicates that our current assessment is inadequate and that the dangers are worse than previously thought. This is another in this series. Our choices are immediate wartime mobilization (as advocated by The Climate Mobilization) or adapt to irreversible changes (with high cost). Rationally we could do the first; politically we are stumbling to the second. Good luck!

More than 15,000 scientists from 184 countries issue ‘warning to humanity’ (20171114)

What will it take? When will we listen?

Humans cause growing heat wave danger (20171112)

The likelihood of death as a direct consequence of heat is increasing; interestingly (at least to me as a physician) is the elucidation of 27 different physiological mechanisms whereby life is threatened.

Miscellaneous

Security Breach and Spilled Secrets Have Shaken the N.S.A. to Its Core (20171112)

The world of technology at its core! One of my favorite expressions is “technology is wonderful, when it works!” When it does not, it is dehumanizing and deeply destructive of what I value of the greatness of our species.

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.