My feelings exactly. Thanks for the awakening.
Klare closes with:
To adapt a phrase from the Cold War era, what humanity may need to do is institute a new policy of “peaceful coexistence” with Mother Nature. This approach would legitimize the continued presence of large numbers of humans on the planet but require that they respect certain limits in their interactions with its ecosphere. We humans could use our talents and technologies to improve life in areas we’ve long occupied, but infringement elsewhere would be heavily restricted. Natural disasters – floods, volcanoes, earthquakes, and the like – would, of course, still occur, but not at a rate exceeding what we experienced in the pre-industrial past.
Implementation of such a strategy would, at the very least, require putting the brakes on climate change as swiftly as possible through the rapid and thorough elimination of human-induced carbon emissions – something that has, in fact, happened in at least a modest way, and however briefly, thanks to this Covid-19 moment. Deforestation would also have to be halted and the world’s remaining wilderness areas preserved as is forever. Any further despoliation of the oceans would have to be stopped, including the dumping of wastes, plastics, engine fuel, and runoff pesticides.
The coronavirus may not, in retrospect, prove to be the tipping point that upends human civilization as we know it, but it should serve as a warning that we will experience ever more such events in the future as the world heats up. The only way to avert such a catastrophe and assure ourselves that Earth will not become an avenger planet is to heed Mother Nature’s warning and cease the further desecration of essential ecosystems.
Ok, but it goes much further than this. Stop airline travel. Close airports. Vastly reduce automobile travel. Spend human lives locally, not traveling, and do ecological restoration work where you are. End industrial agriculture, and practice agroecology to produce food without spreading toxic chemicals through the environment or burning any fossil fuels, and without industrial meat factory “farming.” Stop producing endocrine disrupting chemicals – including pesticides but also many other common industrial chemicals like fire retardants. Require that “consumer products” be produced without such chemicals, and that consumer products themselves be returnable to nature without toxic effects. Etc!
Also key is to ABOLISH THE LOOTING CLASS and the investor-owned, limited-liability corporation. Operate “the economy” without greed and profit as the engine. Transform “accounting,” and subordinate financial accounting to ecological and social accounting. Replace capitalism (greed and profit-driven, creating and empowering a looting class to run society and the economy) with eco-socialism (prioritizing ecology and society over capital and the individual).
Oh – and END WAR, militarism and the MIC, and the nationalism, racism and capitalism that fuel it. Simple, yes?
IF – very very big IF – we can get humanity on the same page, and start practicing ecological restoration and stewardship in every community, and move a couple billion people into hands-on, low-input agroecological food production, and stop the endless corporate and nationalist propaganda and “entertainment” and media manipulation of public dialog and public consciousness, and build society on the basis of “Care for the Earth, Care for the People, Fair Share for All” – then we would actually have a great chance of averting the onrushing, accelerating, multi-catastrophic synergistic ecological and civilizational collapse that is underway and plainly obvious.
This is something which really screws up my relationships. USAmericans don’t care to know the depravities their tax dollars support, domestic or imperial. Just try engaging your typically oblivious USAmerican (practically everyone I see, for instance) on the concept of USAmerican transgressions (to their ears, an impossible contradiction), past, present, or future. If your experiment turns out like mine, the response you hear will resemble “La la la la la not listening la la.”
My problem is the moral strangeness. I’m not here to judge anyone, but I can’t even start to relate when people have no interest in moral questions. People I meet, and people I’ve known all my life, express such a patriotic moral vacuity, I feel estranged, outside their way of thinking or not-thinking.
Thank you Michael Klare for this highly informative, thought provoking, extremely important piece!
Thanks too for linking the “Enlightenment” (and Industrial Civilization) to our current disastrous predicament. I choose to call it a “predicament” because I do not see any solutions to stop abrupt climate change and ecosystems collapsing.
I too believe the Enlightenment began the process by which human’s attitude to nature fundamentally changed from being something to live in accordance with to being something to be conquered by man-----we can see well that is turning out.
But schools today still teach the Enlightenment as something wonderful for humans.
The name alone is disgustingly misleading.
Question: Can the Enlightenment can be held directly accountable for the human induced ecosystem destruction we are witnessing today?
If so, I hereby move to rename the “Enlightenment” to----" Age of Benightment" (state of intellectual darkness)!
On another note:
One issue that I was hoping to see addressed in your piece was the looming— if not present----- threat of methane release. It may be THE tipping point that brings about abrupt warming and near term life extinction.
James Kennet, paleoclimatologist (a name that is not frequently seen in the press —unfortunately) focused his research (for decades, since the 80’s if not earlier) on processes that drive rapid climatic shifts.
He formulated the Clathrate Gun Hypothesis and published this in 2003:
Methane Hydrates in Quaternary Climate Change: The Clathrate Gun Hypothesis
Kennett stated: “Methane hydrates have and will continue to play a key role in climate change,” he predicts, but the climate community has largely not accepted the idea of a role.”
Others such as Natalia Shakhova and Igor Semiletov have been sounding the warnings about abrupt, devastating methane release for years. For the most part, they have been silenced by MSM and others.
And there are those in the science community that have declared the clathrate gun hypothesis “officially” debunked.
I would like to know the truth regarding methane and what is happening in the arctic now.
From what I have deduced based on my own citizen science research, methane releases could dwarf any other threat we are facing today. However it is hard to find an accurate account of what is going in the Arctic regarding the factual numbers of methane release.
And very few are addressing global dimming. These potentially catastrophic (for life on earth) are not covered by MSM or main stream science pieces.
Robert Hunziker wrote of his concerns in counterpunch recently:
Lastly, as much as I love the concept of Mother Earth and Gaia, much of the time I am in the camp of Stephen Hawking who felt earth could go the way of Venus (see last link below)
Note: being in this camp leaves me with immense grief and ongoing existential crises!
Somehow i blipped past Klare’s reference to the “Enlightenment,” which i have been pointing to for some time as a key moment in human history that has led us to the predicament we now face. Most times when i reference it as a key problem – or also liberalism – people react as though i’m just nuts, anti-human, anti-progress, anti-civilization.
i guess it depends on what we think is “human” or how we define “progress” or civilization, but i think i love humans and humanness and humanity, just that we – growing from the European “Enlightenment” and Scientific Revolution and Industrial Revolution and liberalism – took some very seriously wrong turns into “human supremacy,” leading pretty directly to the onrushing ecological collapse that is now underway.
Anyway, good to see Klare make that simple connection, and thanks for pointing it out.
As a devout Vegan for the last 40 years it is my humble opinion that America is spreading disease around the world with the advent of our Fast Food Industry.
The entire World wants to emulate the novel American Diet.
We are Exporting the Putrefied Corpse of Dead Animals in the form of Hamburgers, Fried Chicken and Pork Products.
The Unnatural Practice of Eating Dead Animals loaded with steroids and antibiotics instead of Fresh Fruit & Vegetables has in my opinion contributed to an extremely Unhealthy Obese Artery clogging Population in America, which is now being copied by Every Country around the World.
Raising Animals for Food is an Environmental Disaster and contributes to Climate Change far more than the Fossil Fuel Industry and the Combustible Engine.
Humans, like our closet DNA relative in the wild, the Gorilla, were meant to subsist on a Plant Based Diet.
Personally I have not seen a doctor or taken even an aspirin in over 40 years.
I derive Mouth Watering Sumptuous Meals entirely from the Plant Kingdom.
Do a Google search to find Healthy Vegan Recipes that do not endanger the Planet or cause Pain & Suffering to Sentient Animals.
There is No substitute for a Healthy Body and a Strong Immune System to fight off harmful Bacteria.
I am 80 years old and have absolutely no fear of dying from the Disease of the Month Club, in 2017 the Flu supposedly killed about 80k Americans, this new epidemic is just another result of a Worldwide faulty diet, created by the Fast Food Industry and the consumption of Dead Animals.
Go Vegan, for Personal Health, for the Health of the Planet and to put an end to the barbaric cannibalistic practice of Factory Farming of our Fellow Mammals.
Thanks for your condolences, but I really don’t like feeling special just for giving a shit. There’s a massive self-righteousness hazard, when I can definitely be recognizably shitty myself, at times. Maybe it’s a USAmerican cult-of-individuality thing and not human nature: There’s a persistent undertow aimed at persuading me that I’m better than others. Very toxic stuff for me: that soul-crushing rip-tide.
Maybe I’m just saying conscientious USAmericans will always be uncomfortable, and not much more. Sorry. My cosmic loneliness spurs aimless verbal perambulations once again.
i was introduced to another Thoreau quote i appreciate, by Bruce Gagnon at the Global Network:
“Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth.”
Also, people with a superficial interest in Buddhism wind up chasing after Enlightenment, when there’s no such thing in either case (except when discussing sources of actual light, such as the Sun, which you should avoid staring at, to preserve your eyesight).
At the risk of progressive heresy, is any of the wishful thinking in this article remotely possible? It isn’t that I don’t want a better humanity, a saner less environmentally destructive humanity because I do. I just think that maybe it is about time to stop saying “if only we did this or that? If only we did the things that we could do but yet we don’t seem willing to do.” and start dealing with the fact that we probably won’t do many of things we really should and will have to live with it getting pretty bad… and getting bad pretty fast too because we didn’t. I wish we could keep the oil in the ground but look at us even when we don’t need it we buy it and put it in storage for later use to protect the industry rather than thinking of ways to take the opportunity of lowered demand/use and do something else in the future.
All I am saying is that a severely overpopulated and environmentally challenged future is on the horizon and just maybe we should all start thinking about how to survive our being the way we are and talk less about how we could be if only we tried? These may be the last of the good times for humanity. I can imagine shanty town slums spreading across a highly automated world where human labor is a surplus and jobs universally scarce. Yes the greed of those at the top is condemning us to a dystopian future but that is very likely the reality unless that can be changed.
Just keep in mind that they know. The powers that be are fully aware of global climate change and they simply do not care. Huge shanty town slums that exist now in several parts of the world are not going to disappear in the future but only grow larger and competition for jobs and resources greater. The world has the wealth and resources now to fix our problems but it won’t have those resources later.
Yes we could if we only tried but it sure looks like we had better start planning for us not having tried. Look at Trump. It matters what he and the oligarchy class do because they know but they don’t care.
Much to think about in your small— but philosophically/intellectually large— response Aleph Null!
Yes wereflea, we had better start planning. Not sure what that entails at this point.
Wish I shared your confidence that our problems are fixable.
Thank you for responding without the hostility I expected from others. That habitual heresyism (Lol) of mine sometimes spurs antagonism. I do think we could but in all honesty I don’t think we will. Maybe new technologies will save us despite our increasing billions. New solutions to old problems is the formula. I look at the selfish arrogance of greed and it is dismaying. A very urbane and even genteel individual possessing huge power and wealth can be a horror ‘by remote control’. He may not get down in the mud but he pays people who will gladly do that for him. The results are no different. I see Trump’s willful ignorance where it is virtually impossible for anyone in our technological society not to know the dangers of climate change or what have you. Even during this crisis I keep getting the sense that Trump is ‘not knowing’ as if on purpose things he should. The ‘I don’t want to hear about it’ excuse for not knowing what he should have. Look at how he keeps flip flopping on dealing with the virus. It’s like he is saying iI just don’t want to hear that’ or ‘we don’t talk about that kind of thing happening in here’ etc. I call it implausible deniability.
People like Trump are in power around the world and when push comes to shove about climate change then they will start pushing and shoving in earnest. I think people should start talking about what we need to do … if ‘nothing’ is done that should have been done? What do we do if things get real bad real fast?
I attribute this to their unexamined absorption of patriarchy.
Thanks for providing this information on veganism. I am 77 years old and have been vegan for almost 20 years. While my first concern is animal suffering, I also know that being vegan is the best thing you can do for the environment.
Obviously, Thoreau did not foresee the advent of the airplane.
Me too. Unexamined Absorption of Patriarchy, or UAP, should be a DSM diagnosis. Bingo!
Social organization creates delayed consequences of behavior making it difficult to learn or learning the wrong thing. Even something as obvious as a sickness relationship with wild animals and humans. For this I say, well duh.
Just because you’ve observed some wildlife that managed to adapt and survive in a city of 11 million people doesn’t make it a viable observation.
To channel your deservedly admired David Cantor, we live in infinities of stupidity, conformism and amorality
Seriously, I too cannot grasp amorality. Ever since I was a teen I was aware that even many of those in the antiwar movement were on power trips or had deficits of compassion. Everyone had a hierarchical place on the pecking order, irrespective of the egalitarian ideology that everyone professed to support. It’s as small as walking down a narrow sidewalk and the people walking towards you refusing to compromise by moving a little to the side, as I always do. But as they used to say, the personal is political, and how people treat each other on that mundane level is going to be reflected on the macro- (political) level. Only over the course of decades have I come to acknowledge the reality that, because of most people’s amorality, lack of sensitivity and compassion, their self-absorbtion, and their herd behavior – that they are dangerous. Welcome to the alien planet!