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Changing Everything


#1

Changing Everything

Steven Gorelick

Among climate change activists, solutions usually center on a transition to renewable energy. There may be differences over whether this would be best accomplished by a carbon tax, bigger subsidies for wind and solar power, divestment from fossil fuel companies, massive demonstrations, legislative fiat or some other strategy, but the goal is generally the same: replace dirty fossil fuels with clean renewable energy.


#2

"If all these groups connect the dots to see the corporate-led economy as a root cause of the problems they face, it could give rise to a global movement powerful enough to halt the corporate juggernaut."

B, b, but the corporations write the textbooks, and this is why.


#3

Some very good points in this article . . . but you did not address the most pressing issue that we are faced with at this moment:

Does the presidential election matter and if so, who do you endorse?


#4

Addition to my comment above:

Thank you Steven for pointing out what is happening to the Zapotec communities in Oaxaca and many other places throughout the world where “policymakers ram through industrial-scale wind farms and sprawling… solar arrays without local participation or consent.”

(http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/tag/zapotec/)

Many realize the importance----the necessity ----of scaling down the corporate led economy. Many people also realize the necessity for big picture activism. I worked with environmental groups who sadly, seemed to care only about their funding and their own specific issue. Even though the term “partnership” was bantered about ad nauseam, the reality was each group was competing for funding from the same pot of donors and in some cases funding from corporations who used the green groups to push through not so green agendas.

Old story. And a frustrating one at that.

In the meantime, we are hovering around 406ppm CO2 and getting closer each day to social and ecosystem meltdown.

Can we do the things you suggest in time? Do we need leaders to help with this and if so, who/where are they?


#5

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#8

Yes indeed--entirely correct!
Let Chris Hedges, Avi and Naomi Lewis, and Steven Gorelick willingly give up their condos or McMansions in some gated community and "become one" with whatever topography surrounds them.
At that point I will be more convinced that the notions they promote are other than a prospectus for their next profit-making "project".


#9

This review captures my own reaction to seeing This Changes Everything a couple months ago. i was expecting the film to "connect the dots" as the book does, but i found the movie to be far less holistic, and far less realistic than the book.

i appreciate the examples Gorelick gives to emphasize the false "green tech will save us" propaganda pushed by capital. We need a massive reduction in overall economic impact on the ecology.

Indeed we need to "change everything" about the economy and society. Let me make one simple but key edit to Gorelick's closing phrases:

"If all these groups connect the dots to see the capitalist economy as a root cause of the problems they face, it could give rise to a global movement powerful enough to halt the capitalist juggernaut. And that really could change everything."


#10

Seeing how the likes of the Waltons and Kochs are focused on monopolizing the renewable energy industry the author's assumption that they "won't be more socially responsible than fossil fuel companies" is spot on.


#12

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#14

One aspect of the failing economic model is the extent to which it is and always has been highly exclusionary to protect "most favored status" - not simply a 'trade agreement' criterion. We name it in any variety of ways, mostly unspoken as 'consumers' of promises of status/security so coveted by advertising strategies for 'market share'.

Emblematic of our shared human condition is the Green Revolution (sic) ushering in GMOs with a collapse of 'free, prior and informed consultation' of virtually all human beings by corporatized identity. Of note is the value of the concept of this explicit quality of consultation being codified by the asserted struggle of indigenous peoples worldwide for decades (not to mention centuries) in Convention 169 of the ILO. The scope of implications are worth becoming familiar with as this is where interests of populations in developed countries meet the criteria in common with indigenous peoples the world over in our struggle for "sustainable development".

The days of constant growth have peaked with disastrous consequences, and we come full circle to the indigenous admonition, among others, to live, think and consider together actions with the concerns and well being of 7 generations hence. The condition of the commonweal, the common wealth, well being, are unfolding each and every day.

One measure of liberty is the internal capacity to nurture this, to look for it and share - because the mass media is not going to offer it, despite the essential value that it represents. It is in connections with community, community to community, region to region, peoples to peoples. Deep ancient wisdom is food for this. Personally, the Tao te Ching, the Bible, the Koran, the poets of all cultures and increasingly indigenous artists, intellectuals, ethnographies available - the vast wealth of truly great works challenge us to LOVE and espy the true strengths of humility, giving, awareness of our short time here on this earth as human beings. These are treasures we dismiss at our own peril, and recognize in celebration.

"Armies of angels could rise up out of the waves, but if you are looking for a one-eyed giant, you could sail right through them without feeling so much as a freshening of the breeze." DORIS LESSING

Edit addition: Code Pink has posted a petition for protection of Palestinian Human Rights Defenders - for anyone who might want to sign.


#15

i agree completely with your points. Let's actually put EVERYTHING on the table, including all the ways consumerism has shaped our consciousness and our experience of what it means to be human, most importantly in relation to all human impacts on the ecology. The quest for the "easy answer" runs deep, but instead we need to sit with a lot of very hard questions.


#16

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#18

The quote is from one of the prefaces written by Lessing, I think to Shikasta or Briefing for a Descent into Hell - but could be wrong, it was many years ago. The quote bowled me over and I've kept it.
I interpret the 'monster' as my own fears and fear dynamics and a reference to the legend/mythos that includes the cyclops. The reference being post-Tiamat and as specifically a 'one eyed' giant - the gender mythos had already hardened into patriarchy. But true, you could spend a lifetime exploring the ins and outs of the implications there as the cyclopes were born of the Nereids. I know of no reference to female cyclopes - but I'm no expert by a long shot.


#19

Ever start out to fix a leaky faucet and end up deciding to replace the plumbing because it's old and then to remodel the whole bathroom because now that you've started you might as well after the mess you've made and wouldn't this be a good time to paint? Pretty soon you are doing five different jobs and none of them are getting done? A job that would have taken a couple of minutes and a new rubber washer will now consume all your spare time and money and won't be finished until you are reincarnated as the new buyer of a house that was advertised as a fixer upper?

Why is it that people see the success of one way and decide now that it is finally starting to succeed that this is the perfect time to change gears and do something else but something or a method that hasn't been succeeding before?

Getting off fossil fuels is the emergency that we all desperately need to deal with!!! Sure we need to change everything but FIRST we need to prevent climate change. It is bizarre that someone would write against efforts towards getting off fossil fuels. Yes there are problems but not with wind turbines but with the political system in Mexico that screwed people. There should be a better way that would have benefited the locals instead of antagonizing them. Where even more of the same wind turbines would be welcomed. It wasn't the turbines but corruption that made enmity.

That is not to say that things shouldn't change. We don't need incandescent bulbs for example. We do need home solar and more efficient building insulation etc. but asking people to accomplish what this writer wants would take how many decades and a unity of purpose across the whole world which doesn't exist.

If you say to people that they have to change everything, the task is so impossible that nothing will get changed. Please let us accomplish the possible first before we attempt to change everything else. Let's fix the leaky faucet first before we begin remodeling the house!

Caroline reminds us that the window before the worst happens is short. We don't have the time to change everything because we've waited so long that we barely have time to fix what is absolutely necessary first. Focus first on getting off fossil fuels and then you'll have the time and ability to change things!

Do things like we usually do them except without out fossil fuels is only the first step... But it is the only step that is required to be done first.


#20

Story theoldgoat the above comment was supposed to be a general response to the article.


#21

Hey - it got my attention and I agree. Make a choice. Choose one change and see how community interdependence can develop. Everything is interconnected - we simply been forced to ignore it because of the extractive 'derivative' focus of the system - which is simply not sustainable

I frequently think of the translation options for the famous admonition in the Tao te Ching: "The journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step". My preferred translation albeit sort of subtle is: "The journey of a thousand miles starts from where your feet are". To me it indicates cognizance of condition prior to the first lifting of foot and attention to personal experience rather than outside forces. By extrapolation it seems to me to empower 'lending a hand' as well. I gave up owning a car about 7 years ago - never regretted it, except when a friend is in need. It has taught me to appreciate other folks and systems too.

Regarding plumbing - I'm in a 120 year old apartment building. I've learned to listen for hot water use. Being at the far end of the system it takes about 3 gallons of water running through the system until hot. Whenever my time is open I wait until I hear use and pop in the shower (with a flow restricter) and frequently sponge bathe if not going out. A lot of little things in lifestyle shifts. Cut the heat back from 68 to 58 at night - and sleep like a baby. Buying clothes second hand at a local church fund raising shop; serve on the gleaning crew for local organic farms to help stock the community kitchen.
Joined the food co-op and eat local seasonal - less and less meat. Red wigglers and creating 'black gold' from vegetable and paper compost indoors.
A bit of my mind is now always looking for the challenges of recycling, flow-through, reduction, simplification. Its an aesthetic that is its own reward.


#22

There's a mighty difference between being green in the broadest sense, and seeing green (the color of money) in the narrowest sense.

You can't solve our global political, economic and environmental crises by enlisting the same forces that have promulgated them.

But I'd go further than Gorelick, who seems to think that the scale of capitalism is the source of our looming dystopia, rather than the idea itself.

A system based on profit and competition will perforce lead to inequality and commodification. Its "logic" demands it. There must be winners, and therefore, losers.

Cooperation and community have no place within its catechism. "Good intentions" are sacrificed on the altar of "success", which brooks no deviation from its text.

When the system stinks, it really doesn't matter how much you bathe.


#23

Well as far as that goes I think all decent people do the same. Most people are aware of the many small contributions they can do to help fight global warming. I agree that every little bit helps but that was not the gist of the article.

This article is throwing out the baby with the bath water. This writer trashes the growing world wide effort to switch from fossil fuels in favor of what exactly? He wants first to promote a book/website/organization that touts a revamping the system that barely can support the seven and a half billion of us but we aren't told how other than we need a global wide movement to stop the corporate juggernaut. How about some specifics of how do you feed everybody like the hundreds of billions who are not farmers and who want various foods even when they aren't in season. How about rice with that sushi up in Vermont. No local rice. How about coffee? See many coffee plantations up in Vermont? Going local would take a few decades of planned growth and even then it would be limited local anyway. Yet this Person says that we aren't supposed to concentrate on renewables because they are just trying to get off fossil fuels and they are still corporate. Climate change is only part of the problem but we need to change capitalism? Global warming apparently isn't the priority according to this writer and his group. A form of denialism I think! Maybe it is anti corporate but it is still denying that the problem has reached emergency status.

Aside from going local does he say how this would happen? No... I guess we should buy his book to find out how to change the system. In effect this person is a type of climate change denier in that he must think we have plenty of time and we do not. He seeks to make converts to his opinion which flies in the face of scientific consensus that we are in a rapidly advancing emergency. It isn't possible except for cranks to believe that the world can go small. Corporations need real regulation but telling apartment dwellers to grow their own food is all fine and good but with what land? One person told me once that there were local gardens available. 30 years ago I enrolled my kids in a garden program sponsored by the city where a few plots of land would be devoted to children to start a garden. There were only a few dozen tiny spots and they went fast. There are several million people who live in my city and where would they grow food may I ask? Oh and keep a job too. It all sounds real nice and maybe helps book sales in a farm filled state with plenty of room like Vermont. Meanwhile the window that we have to prevent catastrophic climate change is rapidly closing. Who cares if the system stays the same as long as it runs off something other than fossil fuels. Getting off fossil fuels is priority one out of simple survival.

First survival ... Then we try fixing that leaky faucet.


#24

An excellent article making many excellent points. And I agree with your point (and really Steve's also) that it's a fairy tale to think wind turbines and solar arrays will somehow make NY state sustainable. Windmills and solar panels don't produce food. But responding to your (andoarike) specific point about Africa: I believe the only economy in the world currently functioning at a relatively high level of civilization utilizing resources sustainably is Cuba. They have not done so out out of choice but because of US policies and being basically left to their own devices after fall of Soviet Union. They were forced to learn to grow food organically and w/o industrial level farming. They are fortunate to live in a relatively benign climate. It's certainly not a paradise on earth but it's not hell either.

I think we'll be lucky if the rest of the planet is functioning at their level 100 years from now.


#25

Add in the world's female peasant farmers who, according to Vandana Shiva, understand how to reconstitute soils in ways that will act as major absorbers of CO2. In other words, starting at GROUND zero, the atmosphere can be gradually restored... through ancient farming practices.

You are correct! The people who know and have acted as wise stewards are not the ones consulted.

Amy Goodman interviewed a number of very cool Indigenous people who traveled to the Paris summit from South America. They weren't even allowed inside or given ANY voice or any chance to share what they knew!

Yet WE are all impacted by climate chaos. On the other side of the coin, WE don't get to decide the ways to alter it!