I didn’t vote in the pivotal American election of 2016. Thirty-five years ago, in that unseasonably warm month of November, I was in Antarctica’s Allan Hills taking ice core samples with a hand augur. The pictures I have from that time show my team drilling deep into the blue ice, but what we were actually doing was digging a million years into the planetary past to gaze upon the panorama of climate change. The election was a bad soap opera playing out far beyond my field of vision.
Clinton or Trump the result would likely be the same. If correct, the only question is what is an intelligent response in the face of this kind of hopelessness.
It is really impossible to see the future in detail (general physics is the exeption). The instability of our political system has a physical analogy in Chaos Theory which is deterministic but not predictable...it deals with such phenomena as Is the Solar System stable?
The fact that our worldwide politics swing from left to right indicates political instability which is pretty much always the precuser to change. And real change is traumatic. I'm thinking about actionable change, not simpliy an administrative tinkering
What is the change? It is that more of us know more about ourselves and the world than ever before, thanks to technology and the time it gives to know these things (IMO).
Out of disaster, beauty can arise. Surprises happen all the time.
Trying even harder. The worst thing we can do is sit still while the people who headed this situation in the first place, the .01%, make our lives even harder.
I've been reading CD for about 15 years or so, but this article finally prompted me to make my first comment. It took a while to get over the whole "set in the future" scenario, which wasn't done very well, but I was able to keep reading.
Why? Because I wanted to make sure I didn't miss the "just kidding" comment, which never came.
I mean, to blame Trump for what's coming down the pipe is absolutely ridiculous. Like Hillary would do anything different. Plus, her wars aren't very good for the environment. Just ask the people in Libya, Syria, and Honduras. ...Oops, no war in Honduras, just a nice, little coup.
Remember Obama in 2007? The "fierce urgency of now" turned into "hang on, we have one president at a time." I knew it was over when he rolled out his lame-ass cabinet.
His best line was about healing the oceans. Ha! Like when the Deepwater Horizon was gushing oil into the Gulf of Mexico and he went down and... wait for it... took a few pictures. That's only one example of many.
To be honest, we needed to turn the ship around a long time ago. Maybe 1980 or so would have been enough time, but it's too late now.
Google the world population clock. Then try and figure out how you can have infinite growth on a finite planet. HINT: You can't.
Oh yeah, and why is he writing as if he's a woman? This piece needed a strong edit.
"To be honest, we needed to turn the ship around a long time ago. Maybe 1980 or so would have been enough time..."
Following the publication of Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring in 1962, the first Earth Day in 1970, the publication of Barry Commoner's book The Closing Circle in 1971, and the publication of The Limits To Growth by the Club of Rome in 1972, humanity had the chance to turn aside from the rapacious industrialization of everything, toward an ethic and an economy that prioritized the living systems and the ecology of the Earth, and the social systems and communities of humanity, as the obvious highest values.
Many people worked for such a transition. Many people still work for such a transition. But instead, the rapacious and arrogant looters not only did not "turn the ship around," but instead amplified their ethic of greed and human exceptionalism. Thatcher was elected in 1979 and Reagan in 1980, cementing the looting class firmly in charge in "the West" and averting the "threat" of social and ecological transition.
The acceleration toward ecological dis-integration and civilizational collapse has itself continued to accelerate, ever since. (Of course the seeds of the present horror were planted far earlier, with colonialism, the invention of the corporation, the rule of capital which was built on those foundations, and the relentless privatization and "owning" of everything on Earth that has continued to this day.)
Only a mass movement of informed and stalwart communities, acting with deep resolve, humility, and solidarity, to confront and take power from the looting class, could ever accomplish the needed transition. Such solidarity and resolve have always been subverted and dismantled by propaganda, violence, and sophisticated social manipulation and divide-and-conquer tactics by agents of greed and power. Consumerism, "entertainment," and "the middle class," promoted via propaganda, advertising, marketing and "public relations," have worked in concert with war, nationalism, racism, sexism, subversion and police violence to undermine and destroy any elements of genuine social solidarity and ecological ethics that ever began to grow in any community or society.
We are all limited, social and emotional creatures. For all our love and brilliance, humans have proven incapable of organizing and maintaining the necessary education and resolve to take the great personal, social and community risks necessary to understand, and act on, real social solidarity and real ecological ethics, to remove power from the looting class and restructure society and the economy to avert the great ecological dis-integration and civilizational collapse that are now clearly underway.
Even now, it is possible that if a shock of understanding swept through human consciousness worldwide, and led to a pretty much immediate end to the fossil-fueled economy and industrial agriculture, and the institution of real social solidarity and ecological agriculture everywhere, we might yet avert the swiftly accelerating ecological dis-integration that has begun, and restabilize the ecology. The likelihood appears vanishingly small, and perhaps "tending ones own garden" makes a lot of sense, as in Feffer's tale above.
But it seems to me that the effort must still be made.
Sorry John Ffeffer, but when sea-level rose by that critical 1 metre, 80 million Vietnamese, 120 million Bangladeshis, and 400 million Chinese all got together and sailed across the Pacific to take over the USA, and your Arcadia is a figment of your anthropogenically heated imagination.......But thanks for the thought.
I support the author's attempt to bring the future closer so we can feel the fear that our present-centered brains currently miss. I have always hoped that science fiction + religious leadership focused on saving Creation would awaken the masses. Looks like a long shot these days.
The momentum of 7.5 billion humans desiring to eat and half that number demanding cell phones and half number again requiring material conveniences beyond the earth's capacity to provide is much like the certainties of mechanics. While I agree there is a level of detail that we cannot knowingly surmise, still the "movement" of 7.5 billion can only lead to a collision with biophysical reality.