AuthorTopic: 🌳 Greenwashing the Climate Catastrophe  (Read 455 times)

Offline RE

  • Administrator
  • Chief Cook & Bottlewasher
  • *****
  • Posts: 39379
    • View Profile
🌳 Greenwashing the Climate Catastrophe
« on: February 09, 2019, 01:24:09 AM »
https://www.greanvillepost.com/2019/02/08/greenwashing-the-climate-catastrophe/

Greenwashing the Climate Catastrophe


HELP ENLIGHTEN YOUR FELLOWS. BE SURE TO PASS THIS ON. SURVIVAL DEPENDS ON IT.

by KENN ORPHAN

“At its core this is a system that is incapable of even beginning to address climate change or biospheric degeneration. Its principles are based upon the exploitation of the environment for the material gain of the ruling class, kept alive through institutions of repression and corporate state violence…”

    “With “capitalism in danger of falling apart” (a rare, cryptically honest quote from Al Gore), and years of stagnant global economic growth now in a free fall, the Greta campaign must be understood for what it is. An elaborate distraction that has nothing to do with protecting the natural world, and everything to do with the manufacturing of consent. The required consent of the citizenry that will unlock the treasuries and public monies under the guise of climate protection.” –

    – Cory Morningstar and Forest Palmer, from The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – For Consent: The House is on Fire & the 90 Trillion Dollar Rescue, 2019

    “One might think that if someone were conscious enough to recognise that global ecology was compromised and that pollutants were destroying fresh water, and the land, and that global warming was quite possibly going to make huge swatches of land non arable — you might think that person would look for solutions in a political frame. After all it was global capital that had brought mankind to this historic precipice. But instead, many if not nearly all the people I speak with, frame things in terms of personal responsibility. Stop driving big diesel SUVs, stop flying to Cabo for vacation, stop eating meat, etc-. But these same people tend to not criticize capitalism. Or, rather, they ask for a small non crony green capitalism. I guess this would mean green exploitation and green wars? For war is the engine of global capitalism today. Cutting across this are the various threads of the overpopulation theme. A convenient ideological adjustment that shifts blame to the poorest inhabitants of the planet.”

    – John Steppling, Trust Nothing, 2019

    “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.”

    – Noam Chomsky, The Common Good, 1998

    “Modern business must have its finger continuously on the public pulse. It must understand the changes in the public mind and be prepared to interpret itself fairly and eloquently to changing opinion.”

    ― Edward L. Bernays, Propaganda, 1928


It is hard not to notice a stirring of consciousness regarding humanity’s dire ecological predicament beginning to seep into the mainstream these days. How can it not? Year after year records are shattered. Month after month scientists continue to be shocked and demoralized by more and more evidence of rising seas, a climate careening into a chaotic and terrifying unknown, and countless species succumbing in a biosphere perpetually under siege. Even the corporate media which has been designed as a mouthpiece of capitalist interests cannot completely veil our collective crisis. Unsurprisingly, the ruling class has begun to react, not in a way that meaningfully addresses the death cult of the current socioeconomic order, but to ensure its survival albeit with a greener face. Their cynical approach to what is the biggest existential crisis of our age is using youthful optimism and justified outrage and terror to cloud their machinations.

Thunberg

One such prominent youth these days is Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish girl who delivered a rousing speech at the UN Climate Change Conference and before the world’s wealthiest at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Indeed, her speech was inspiring and I do not doubt her passion or honest devotion to climate activism for a minute, but to ignore the powerful machine looking to co-opt her message would be a grave mistake. For instance, Thunberg has been given interviews in the corporate press, has been endorsed by a tech start-up company (We Don’t Have Time), and has been lauded by industry for promoting “sustainable development.”

Now certainly Thunberg is not the one manipulating any of these actors, and she should not face any kind of criticism for her part in addressing the greatest existential issue of our times. But it should be clear that most people who get interviews in the corporate media are generally not deemed to be a serious challenger to the status quo political/economic order. Corporate approved dissent is a form of censorship that gives the illusion of a lively debate, but essentially establishes a firm line in the sand when if comes to radically questioning or opposing the capitalist framework itself. And if finance companies are behind something we can be pretty sure that they are primarily in it for the money. In addition to this, the term sustainable development is a meaningless on a planet that is literally on the edge of a cliff, but under the dominant economic dictatorship of money the co-opted mainstream environmental movement has pumped out these tropes making them a form of collective social conditioning.

    The hell with “sustainable development”…we need honorable, necessary and ecologically positive work. Get rid of the idea that compulsive, chaotic, indiscriminate growth is the key to societal well-being.

And this ties into the notion of personal responsibility. Solutions to our environmental crisis have been reduced to “life style changes” which have also become the en vogue activism of the day. It is a line of thinking that is accepted and even endorsed by corporations, banks and neoliberal governments because it poses no real challenge to their power or their ongoing destructive practices. To the mainstream, tweaking one’s lifestyle is all that is needed. Buy an electric vehicle or use a bicycle. Don’t take a plane on your vacation. Buy reusable bags. Choose organic only. Go vegan. Buy reusable straws. While there is nothing wrong with doing these things in general, they must be understood as individual choices that are based on privilege and that have little impact in addressing urgent crisis our biosphere is facing right now.

What they do manage to do is deliver an added punishment on the poor and working class, people who are struggling to make ends meet. It places an unfair level of guilt on ordinary people whose impact on the environment is relatively negligible compared to the enormous destruction caused by the fossil fuel industry, mining companies, plastic and packaging production, shipping and the military industrial complex. Seldom (if ever) questioned are the basic foundations of the current economic order which is driving the decimation of the biosphere for the benefit of the wealthy Davos jet set.

It has in fact become only about “sustainability” despite the contradiction of sustaining a system that is at its core omnicidal. Corporations have been actively branding themselves with empty greenwashing euphemisms like “green” or “earth friendly” in the decades following the first Earth Day. It is as if our species were somehow alien visitors to this planet and being friendly to it was merely a diplomatic concern. Certainly a handful of corporations did in fact change some of their practices under public pressure and for the sake of image. Some of those changes had beneficial effects for certain species and areas. But the primary engine of capitalism that has led us to the brink of devastation is never questioned. It is sacrosanct.

With this in mind political solutions, like the Green New Deal, are being trotted out by democratic socialist and neoliberal politicians that merely cloak the problem, never identifying the root of it all: Capitalism. In fact, many of these policies are weak on protecting nature and are simply designed to keep capitalism afloat. At its core this is a system that is incapable of even beginning  to address climate change or biospheric degeneration. Its principles are based upon the exploitation of the environment for the material gain of the ruling class, kept alive through institutions of repression and corporate state violence. Under this rubric environmental causes may be soothed for some; but the poor and working class are continually battered and raped by industry and the corrupt governments that house and protect them. Indigenous peoples, who face the worst exploitation, continually see their lands desecrated and denuded by state policing factions at the behest of powerful corporations. And militarism, which is of course wedded to capitalism, ensures that all of this exploitation can continue and expand virtually unopposed by bourgeois society.

It may be a hard pill for many to swallow, but there are simply no viable answers to be found in Washington, or the hills of Hollywood, or the board rooms of Wall Street, or even at the United Nations which generally capitulates to the demands of the ruling class. They have molded each of these institutions, media industries and government bodies to fit their censorious narrative in order to suppress dissent against the current economic order, under which they so handsomely profit. And one would be wise to approach whatever they offer with great caution. After all, they have been labouring for years to dismember the commons, grow their inordinate wealth through plunder, and maintain their dominance through corruption, militarism and distraction. The sacredness of the public sphere has been defiled by the inviolable liturgy of free market dogma. And they have manufactured a culture of cruelty, devoid of character and predicated on colonization and the commodification and exploitation of everything and everyone that exists. In this way neoliberalism, the last and most ruthless stage of capitalism, has become the most elaborate and successful form of brainwashing and social control the world has ever known, convincing hundreds of millions of people of the absolute necessity of its economic tyranny and omnicidal madness.

But despite the machinations of the ruling class to obfuscate, infiltrate and co-opt movements, there remains a genuine longing for connection to the ever besieged living planet and solidarity with one another that transcends the indifferent and sadistic brutality of the capitalist order. This is especially true as capitalism begins to implode and the biosphere continues to degrade. Therefore the most coherent response to what we are witnessing will always come from ordinary people in community, especially the poor and especially indigenous peoples who are on the front lines of a war being waged by governments serving the interests of the wealthy ruling class and global capitalism. But we can be assured that anything that emanates from the halls of power will be merely another ploy to maintain their control and fill the coffers of the uber-rich at the expense of the rest of us and the living earth itself. And they have no problem using the innocent passion of a 16 year old girl to hide all of their crimes.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
  Kenn Orphan is an artist, sociologist, radical nature lover and weary, but committed activist. He can be reached at kennorphan.com.
Save As Many As You Can

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 13177
    • View Profile
Re: 🌳 Greenwashing the Climate Catastrophe
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2019, 04:49:18 AM »
https://www.greanvillepost.com/2019/02/08/greenwashing-the-climate-catastrophe/

Greenwashing the Climate Catastrophe


HELP ENLIGHTEN YOUR FELLOWS. BE SURE TO PASS THIS ON. SURVIVAL DEPENDS ON IT.

by KENN ORPHAN

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
  Kenn Orphan is an artist, sociologist, radical nature lover and weary, but committed activist. He can be reached at kennorphan.com.

  I agree that we are trapped by the mega banks, and stopping the continued destruction of the planet. But, there are some large movements building that are going to protest capitalism's stranglehold on global warming adaptation. The "Extinction Rebellion", seems the be the largest, I think there are like 30 countries joining . The US has hundreds of chapters, and they are hitting the streets in April all over the globe. They are non-violent but are very intense on the targets they protest. Like they shut down 5 London bridges one day. They want to go right to the line of getting arrested or not.  Then there is the teenage movement, I think I posted about it here in my news yesterday, that are swarming. Civil unrest might be a way to get mass attention to this critical time we are in right now.
Everything, I mean EVERYTHING, is a BIG FUCKING MESS!!

Offline AJ

  • Waitstaff
  • ***
  • Posts: 253
    • View Profile
Re: 🌳 Greenwashing the Climate Catastrophe
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2019, 05:09:45 AM »
https://www.greanvillepost.com/2019/02/08/greenwashing-the-climate-catastrophe/

Greenwashing the Climate Catastrophe


HELP ENLIGHTEN YOUR FELLOWS. BE SURE TO PASS THIS ON. SURVIVAL DEPENDS ON IT.

by KENN ORPHAN

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
  Kenn Orphan is an artist, sociologist, radical nature lover and weary, but committed activist. He can be reached at kennorphan.com.

  I agree that we are trapped by the mega banks, and stopping the continued destruction of the planet. But, there are some large movements building that are going to protest capitalism's stranglehold on global warming adaptation. The "Extinction Rebellion", seems the be the largest, I think there are like 30 countries joining . The US has hundreds of chapters, and they are hitting the streets in April all over the globe. They are non-violent but are very intense on the targets they protest. Like they shut down 5 London bridges one day. They want to go right to the line of getting arrested or not.  Then there is the teenage movement, I think I posted about it here in my news yesterday, that are swarming. Civil unrest might be a way to get mass attention to this critical time we are in right now.
I also agree but am unsure if the "Extinction Rebellion" is just too little too late to save the climate or the planet :'(. Without a drastic lowering of consumption AND a drastic lowering of population nothing will get us to any sustainable civilization. I think the critical time was 30 years ago. It's too late to do anything about capitalism save watch it collapse and hope for our individual survival. Slow collapse is unsustainable to life on this planet. Fast collapse might allow some of humanity to make it.
AJ
Nullis in Verba

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 13177
    • View Profile
Re: 🌳 Greenwashing the Climate Catastrophe
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2019, 05:57:47 AM »
https://www.greanvillepost.com/2019/02/08/greenwashing-the-climate-catastrophe/

Greenwashing the Climate Catastrophe


HELP ENLIGHTEN YOUR FELLOWS. BE SURE TO PASS THIS ON. SURVIVAL DEPENDS ON IT.

by KENN ORPHAN

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
  Kenn Orphan is an artist, sociologist, radical nature lover and weary, but committed activist. He can be reached at kennorphan.com.

  I agree that we are trapped by the mega banks, and stopping the continued destruction of the planet. But, there are some large movements building that are going to protest capitalism's stranglehold on global warming adaptation. The "Extinction Rebellion", seems the be the largest, I think there are like 30 countries joining . The US has hundreds of chapters, and they are hitting the streets in April all over the globe. They are non-violent but are very intense on the targets they protest. Like they shut down 5 London bridges one day. They want to go right to the line of getting arrested or not.  Then there is the teenage movement, I think I posted about it here in my news yesterday, that are swarming. Civil unrest might be a way to get mass attention to this critical time we are in right now.
I also agree but am unsure if the "Extinction Rebellion" is just too little too late to save the climate or the planet :'(. Without a drastic lowering of consumption AND a drastic lowering of population nothing will get us to any sustainable civilization. I think the critical time was 30 years ago. It's too late to do anything about capitalism save watch it collapse and hope for our individual survival. Slow collapse is unsustainable to life on this planet. Fast collapse might allow some of humanity to make it.
AJ

The best we can hope for is adaptation to the coming Global warming. No, it won't save all of us, (I can see a culling of 80% of humans making it through. At least that is what my own vision tells me, so I act on it. Everyone sees this chaos differently, which complicates things that much more.
Everything, I mean EVERYTHING, is a BIG FUCKING MESS!!

Offline RE

  • Administrator
  • Chief Cook & Bottlewasher
  • *****
  • Posts: 39379
    • View Profile
Re: 🌳 Greenwashing the Climate Catastrophe
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2019, 06:27:14 AM »
The best we can hope for is adaptation to the coming Global warming. No, it won't save all of us, (I can see a culling of 80% of humans making it through. At least that is what my own vision tells me, so I act on it. Everyone sees this chaos differently, which complicates things that much more.

My vision tells me we are looking at a 99.9% Knockdown.  So of say 8B when the Great Dying begins in earnest until it finally stabilizes, the population of Homo Saps living on Planet Earth will be reduced to 8M.  That is an undershoot in my estimation, and eventually the population will climb again, although never again to the levels that were supported by fossil fuels.

RE
Save As Many As You Can

Offline AJ

  • Waitstaff
  • ***
  • Posts: 253
    • View Profile
Re: 🌳 Greenwashing the Climate Catastrophe
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2019, 02:49:44 PM »
Don't know where to put this but I'll try here.
http://consciousnessofsheep.co.uk/2019/03/06/the-green-deal-is-hopium/
Home / Environment / The green deal is hopium

The green deal is hopium


The immediate urgency of Brexit has helped the UK avoid much of the “green new dealism” that is currently exercising our cousins on the other side of the Atlantic.  Along with school students around the world, ours are taking time out from classes to protest the imminent arrival of an environmental collapse that we were warned about half a century ago.  But few of our political leaders are taking their protests seriously; and none of the few who do can offer any serious solution.

In the USA, meanwhile, what purports to be a debate about the environment has been largely co-opted on both sides of the growing political divide into a debate about the economics of public spending.  The Democrat Party version of the green new deal is little more than a debt-based job-creation and public healthcare scheme with some windmills and solar panels providing a veneer of greenwash.  The Republican Party – or at least the minority who don’t think climate change is a hoax – in contrast, seek to cut public spending and green energy subsidies in favour of carbon taxes and free market pseudo-solutions.  Neither side inspires much confidence in addressing the full scope of the human impact crisis that is breaking over us.  As Julia Adeney Thomas explains*:

“The phrase ‘Earth System’ refers to the entirety of our planet’s interacting physical, chemical, biological, and human processes. Enabled by new data-collecting technologies like satellites and ever more powerful computer modeling, Earth System science reframes how we understand our planet. Climate is just one element of this system; if we focus on that alone, we will misunderstand the complexity of the danger. The term ‘environment’ helps us understand ourselves as part of ecosystems, but fails to capture the newness of our current situation. We have always lived in the environment; only very recently, just as Asia began its skyrocketing development, did we begin living in the altered Earth System of the Anthropocene…

“Reducing our problem to climate change, then to CO2, and finally to measuring emissions only at the point of energy production is a dramatic misrepresentation of our dilemma. An Anthropocene perspective is needed to keep the totality of the predicament in view.

“Slowing climate change is crucial but navigating its challenges is only possible if it is understood as one facet of planetary overshoot. The challenges of our altered, unpredictable Earth System cannot be met by technological tinkering within the very systems that pushed it over the edge in the first place. There’s nothing for it but to roll up our sleeves and begin the hard work of transforming our political and economic systems with the aims of decency and resilience.”

A large part of green new dealism is a product of affluent privilege within the developed economies of Europe and North America; and it is no accident that those most attached to it come from what remains of the affluent middle class within those states.  Their part of the global economy has been set up, through centuries of imperialism, to obscure the violence and destruction at the heart of our way of life.  The sanitised meat aisle of the local Waitrose allows affluent shoppers the luxury of not thinking about the horrors of industrial meat processing.  Clothing aisles offer few clues about the impoverished third world labour that keeps prices affordable.  The electronics aisle provides no reference to the Congolese children whose health is destroyed by hand mining the cobalt that is an essential component of the batteries that make the technology possible.  We, in the developed states, enjoy (relatively) clean air and water because we long ago offshored our pollution to the developing regions of the planet.

When we think about an energy revolution, we think only about swapping out the electricity that is currently generated using fossil carbon fuels.  Even then, we treat the alternatives as if they are conjured into existence with no impact on the planet when, in fact, they are the product of fossil fuels – they are not “renewables” in the sense of something that can be infinitely renewed; merely non-renewable technologies that happen to harvest renewable (for all practical purposes) flows of energy.  This, for example, is the waste and pollution generated from the manufacture of the non-recyclable rare earth metals that make so called “green energy” possible… “Out of sight out of mind,” as the old saying goes.

The UK is a world-leader in renewable energy farming (not surprising given its location in the path of the Gulf Stream) with a third of its electricity coming from wind and solar.  But even here, and despite a big fall  in car ownership, electricity makes up just a fifth of the energy we consume; the remainder coming from fossil carbon fuels that power our agriculture, industry and transport systems and that provide domestic households with energy to heat their homes and cook their food.

As is the case with oil producing states around the world, Britain’s apparent green energy revolution is actually about electrifying as much of the domestic economy as possible in order to maximise the amount of oil and gas available for export – an amount, by the way, that has fallen more than 60 percent since peak production in 1999.  Herein is a clue to another – often unacknowledged – dimension of the human impact crisis: resource depletion.  Although the developed states began burning coal back in the eighteenth century, oil – our main fossil carbon fuel today – only arrived in the 1860s.  Even then, it was only in the post war economic boom (1953-73) that oil production rose exponentially toward modern levels.  Indeed, more than half of the fossil carbon fuels that humans have ever produced were consumed in the three decades after the United Nations began to take climate change seriously… and there is absolutely no chance of global consumption even standing still for the foreseeable future.  As Andrew Freedman at Climate Central reported back in 2013:

“Of the renewable energy sources, the [IEA] report projects that wind and hydropower will see the fastest growth, with wind dominating in developed nations, and hydropower projects more limited to developing countries. By 2040, the report projects, renewables’ share of world energy use will be 15 percent, up from 11 percent in 2010.

“Importantly, though, the report projects that, despite robust growth in renewables, fossil fuels will continue to supply nearly 80 percent of world energy use through 2040.”

Even this is likely to be optimistic, since most of the best hydroelectric power locations have already been developed.  Moreover, by “renewables” Freedman is largely talking about wood burning – something that has a higher pollution footprint than coal, and would – if scaled up – require massive deforestation or the use of large swathes of current agricultural land being turned over to growing trees.  The technologies that we might refer to as “modern renewables” – upon which the green deal is supposed to be based – have barely scratched the surface of global energy demand.  As energy expert Kurt Cobb has pointed out:

“I recently asked a group gathered to hear me speak what percentage of the world’s energy is provided by these six renewable sources: solar, wind, geothermal, wave, tidal, and ocean energy.

“Then came the guesses: To my left, 25 percent; straight ahead, 30 percent; on my right, 20 percent and 15 percent; a pessimist sitting to the far right, 7 percent.

“The group was astonished when I related the actual figure: 1.5 percent. The figure comes from the Paris-based International Energy Agency, a consortium of 30 countries that monitors energy developments worldwide. The audience that evening had been under the gravely mistaken impression that human society was much further along in its transition to renewable energy. Even the pessimist in the audience was off by more than a factor of four.”

It is, of course, precisely this sluggish take up of modern renewable energy harvesting technologies that the various forms of green deal are supposed to address.  Some appeal to landing humans on the moon, the Manhattan Project or mobilising the economy to fight World War Two are enlisted as examples of what we humans can achieve if only we put our minds to it.  This, however, is simply naïve.  As Mark P. Mills recently pointed out in evidence presented to the US Congress:

“This popular rhetorical analogy is in fact another profound category error. Transforming the energy economy is not like putting a dozen people on the moon a handful of times. It is like putting all of humanity on the moon —permanently. To do the latter would require science and engineering that doesn’t exist today…

“To be blunt: there is simply no possibility that more government funding for wind turbines, silicon solar cells or lithium batteries will lead to a ‘disruptive’ 10-fold gain. All those technologies are approaching physics limits, just as aviation engines have.”

As with any other oil-based technology, wind turbines and solar panels are subject to diminishing returns which leave green deals dead in the water.  But resource depletion is an even greater problem simply because humanity consumed all of the cheap and easy fossil carbon and mineral resources in the two-decade long blowout of the post-war boom.  Our problem is not just that we cannot improve the technologies we currently have, but also that we no longer have access to the resources to re-fight World War Two or to purposelessly launch humans anywhere beyond a low earth orbit.  As Tad Patzek explains:

“To compare the WWII industrial effort with the global dislocation necessary to ameliorate some of the effects of climate change is surprisingly naïve… This comparison also neglects to account for the human population that has almost quadrupled between the 1940s and now, and the resource consumption that has increased almost 10-fold.  The world today cannot grow its industrial production the way we did during WWII.  There is simply not enough of the planet Earth left to be devoured.”

As the energy and resources available to us become increasingly expensive (in energy terms) our scope to use them to maintain the wider economy – which includes the life support systems (like food and clean water supplies) that we take for granted – diminishes.  This can be offset with efficiency/productivity gains – essentially using technology to maximise the amount of useful work we get from energy – but not to anything like the extent required to maintain our fossil fuel economy without burning even more fossil fuels.  As Mills explained to Congress:

“We know from history that revolutionary discoveries happen. We also know they come from basic research that unveils entirely new phenomenologies and not from deploying R&D funds to improve or subsidize yesterday’s technologies. The Internet didn’t emerge from improving the rotary phone, nor the transistor from subsidizing vacuum tubes, nor the automobile from subsidizing railroads. An energy revolution requires we focus on basic science.”

The vain hope that by shovelling vast amounts of fiat currency at lithium ion batteries we will somehow transcend the laws of physics is a siren song that takes us even further away from even mitigating the crisis before us.  Indeed, the ability of states and banks to continue to create fiat currency out of thin air is itself only possible because of the illusion that there will be sufficient additional energy and mineral resources available in future to repay the debt we are running up today.  When that illusion is shattered – as it very nearly was a decade ago – the resulting stagflation will put paid to any chance of deploying a fraction of the windmills and solar panels required even to maintain the standard of living currently endured by a growing precariat in the developed states.

The biggest failing of all within the new green deal movement is that it requires a faith in government that is entirely misplaced.  When our school students call upon government to “do something” to address climate change (itself a mere subset of the growing collapse) they must engage a high degree of denial to overlook the fact that the government they are calling upon is made up of rank incompetents epitomised by the current UK Transport Secretary together with a sprinkling of full-blown psychopaths who will happily destroy the planet provided that they are offered enough of a bribe by the corporate lobbyists.

The truth, though, is that the grown-ups that our school students are hoping will save the world with some kind of green deal are little more than frightened children who have been around long enough to learn to put on a brave face.  Even the cleverest of the adults struggles to understand the full complexity of our predicament.  And among those who do understand, the majority long ago decided to lie about the severity of the crisis so as not to discourage potential supporters.  Green parties and environmental charities continue to promote a bright green vision of perpetual economic growth on a finite and largely depleted planet.  But behind closed doors they continue to argue about the relative merits of letting the public know the full horror which is already breaking upon us.

To express our predicament as simply as I can, it is this:

In order to prevent environmental collapse bringing about the death of more than six in every seven humans on the planet, we (all of us) simply have to stop using fossil carbon fuels today.
But if we stop using the fossil carbon fuels that currently provide the world with 85 percent of its power, our highly complex and interconnected oil-dependent economy will crash; resulting in a global famine that will kill more than six in every seven humans on the planet anyway.
There are two courses of action available to us; and neither of them is anything like a green deal.  The first is the one that Mills offered to the US Congress:

“Fundamentally, APRA-E [Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy] should have a clear focus on basic science and resist its drift towards the near-term, and projects that duplicate other agencies or the private sector. While it is often tempting and perhaps more politically comfortable to fund projects with obvious utility, that fails the ‘transformational’ science challenge set out for ARPA-E. And it won’t bring about a revolution.”

This is the most difficult path to follow since it admits not only that we currently have no clue as to how to maintain energy growth without using fossil carbon fuels; but that also, most of us can do nothing but sit back and hope that the “experts” come up with some transformational (i.e. yet-to-be-invented) technology to save the day.  The second course of action available to us is, however, even less palatable to most people since it involves letting go of most of the things that we currently take for granted.

If we leave matters to Mother Nature – assuming no energy breakthrough arrives to save the day – then the collapse of the environment just as our critical infrastructure fails is going to result in a massive cull of the human population via some combination of war, plague and starvation.  We might mitigate this, however, by embarking upon a managed de-growth that begins with a radical shrinking of our material consumption to bring us (in the developed economies) to the standard of living of sub-Saharan Africa.  In the process, we will have to take some seriously unpleasant decisions in order to shrink the population back to a more sustainable level – for example, rationing healthcare to the under 50s (I’m 58 by the way) and enforcing birth controls far more draconian than China’s infamous one-child policy.  I have no expectation that anyone is going to vote for this; I just put it forward as a slightly more benign alternative to sitting back and waiting for nature to put an end to most of our species.

In the end, we are going to go with Mills’ option simply because it is the only one that fits with our underlying quasi-religion of progress.  If material science provides us with the hoped for technological breakthrough – most likely one that unlocks the full potential of the atom (simply because of the vast potential energy within the nucleus as opposed to that released by breaking electron bonds) – then the kind of technologies available to future humans will be about as puzzling to us as a smartphone or a GPS satellite would have been to our Neolithic ancestors.  If, as is far more likely, the technological breakthrough fails to put in an appearance, then irrespective of how many windmills and solar panels we manage to erect before our resources run out, this civilisation and possibly our entire species is done.

 

* My objection to Adeney Thomas’ use of the term “Anthropocene” is that it implies a geological age measured in millions of years.  In reality, the impact of industrial society upon the geological record is more likely to be akin to the thin layer of dust left around the planet by the comet that wiped out the dinosaurs… a brief release of energy followed by a few centuries in which the web of life recovers from the pollution released before an entirely new ecosystem – one that does not contain humans – emerges.  Not an age; but a mere blink of an eye in geological time.


AJ
Nullis in Verba

Offline RE

  • Administrator
  • Chief Cook & Bottlewasher
  • *****
  • Posts: 39379
    • View Profile
🌳 The Last Act of the Human Comedy
« Reply #6 on: September 04, 2019, 03:40:58 AM »
CH is getting progressively more Doomerish.

RE

https://www.truthdig.com/articles/the-last-act-of-the-human-comedy/

The Last Act of the Human Comedy
comments


Mr. Fish / Truthdig

There is nothing new to our story. The flagrant lies and imbecilities of the inept and corrupt leader. The inability to halt the costly, endless wars and curb the gargantuan expenditures on the military. The looting of a beleaguered populace by the rich. The destruction of the ecosystem. The decay and abandonment of a once-efficient infrastructure. The implosion of the institutions, from education to diplomacy, that sustain a functioning state. The world has seen it before. It is the familiar disease of the end of a civilization. At first it is grimly entertaining, even amid the mounting suffering. But no one will be laughing at the end.

Human nature does not change. It follows its familiar and cyclical patterns. Yes, this time, when we go down the whole planet will go with us. But until then we will be mesmerized by fools and con artists. What are demagogues like Donald Trump and Boris Johnson, positive psychologists and Candide-like prognosticators such as Steven Pinker other than charlatans who insist the tragedy facing us is not real? What are the technocrats and scientists arguing that education and Western civilization can turn us into rational beings other than shamans? What are the corporate titans who make their fortunes off the arms, chemical, fossil fuel and animal agriculture industries that are destroying the natural world other than high priests demanding human sacrifice?

There is one human story. Dressed in new clothing and using new tools, we endlessly relive it. If we still read philosophy, literature, history, poetry and theology we would not be surprised that greed, hedonism and hubris have easily defeated empathy and reason. But because we do not, because we spend hours each day getting little bursts of dopamine from electronic screens, we think we are unique in human existence. We are unable to see that the climate conditions that allowed civilizations to flourish during the last 10,000 years will soon be replaced by a savage struggle to survive.

Human beings have inhabited the planet for about 200,000 of its 4.5 billion years. For most of those 200,000 years, humans did not radically alter the ecosystem. But the Industrial Revolution, which began about two and a half centuries ago, saw human beings extract fossil fuels, tapping into a hundred million years of sunlight stored in the form of coal and petroleum. The energy from fossil fuels provided unparalleled wealth and military superiority to the planet’s industrialized north, which used its power to subjugate most of the rest of the globe to cheaply extract resources and abuse cheap labor. The human population rapidly climbed to over 7 billion. The air, water and ice have seriously degraded under the onslaught as the planet shifts from one climate to another, a climate that will no longer be hospitable to human habitation.

The only existential question left is how we will choose to wait out the finale. But to pose that question is to defy the cultural mania for hope, the yearning for collective self-delusion. If reality is grim, you banish it. You invent impossible scenarios of inevitable salvation. Which explains how we ended up where we are.

Most of the climate activists and operatives of democracy see themselves, like the wider consumer culture, as being in the business of selling hope. Without hope, they argue, people would succumb to despair. People would not resist the looming catastrophe. Of course, the opposite is true. Hope, or rather false hope, exacerbates despair and lethargy. It infantilizes the population. Carbon emissions may continue to rise, the polar ice caps may continue to melt, crop yields may continue to decline, the world’s forests may continue to burn, coastal cities may continue to sink under rising seas and droughts may continue to wipe out fertile farmlands, but the messiahs of hope assure us that all will be right in the end. Only it won’t. We will not be able to adapt. Those who sell you the false hope that we can adapt are as self-deluded as those who brand global warming a hoax. And, at least subconsciously, many people know it.

The longer we publicly deny the bleak reality before us and privately cope with our existential dread and pain, the more crippling despair becomes. This schizophrenic existence is a form of emotional abuse. It is imposed on us by a dominant culture that will not allow us to speak this tragic truth. This censorship forces us to struggle with reality in solitude, eroding our confidence in our perceptions and judgments.

Andrea Dworkin in her essay “A Battered Wife Survives” wrote of effects of sustained abuse, saying that “one’s mind is shattered slowly over time, splintered into a thousand pieces. The mind is slowly submerged in chaos and despair, buried broken and barely alive in an impenetrable womb of isolation. This isolation is so absolute, so killing, so morbid, so malignant and devouring that there is nothing in one’s life but it, it. One is entirely shrouded in a loneliness that no earthquake could move.”

She went on to ask “What is reality?” and then answered.

    The woman who was a battered wife and has escaped knows the answer: reality is when something is happening to you and you know it and can say it and when you say it other people understand what you mean and believe you. That is reality, and the battered wife, imprisoned alone in a nightmare that is happening to her, has lost it and cannot find it anywhere.

Compared with the earth, none of us are around for very long. We are, to the cosmos, ephemerons. Our little lives blink on for a moment and then go dark. Nothing truly important can be achieved in a single lifetime. We must work toward something greater than ourselves. We must live fully, as Dworkin did, by summoning the courage to confront the starkness of the human condition and demanding justice, not because it will be achieved, since in its perfect form it will never be achieved, but because it defines us as distinct and sentient individuals. Justice cannot be fought for in the abstract. It must be grounded in a concrete confrontation with power—which is almost always embedded in white, male patriarchy—on behalf of the oppressed. This means sustained acts of defiance and civil disobedience that shut down city roads, airports and pipelines. Corporate capitalism and imperialism, which created the ecological debacle, will be destroyed or these forces will kill us in an unprecedented global genocide.

“The struggle for climate justice is a struggle at the crossroads of historic and present injustices and a looming disaster that will prove to be, if allowed to unfold unchecked, the mother of all injustices,” writes Wen Stephenson. “Because the disaster that is unfolding now will not only compound the suffering of those already oppressed (indeed, is already compounding it); it may very well foreclose any hope of economic stability and social justice for current and future generations. Why, then, does the term ‘climate justice’ barely register in the American conversation about climate change? Lurking in that question is a tension at the heart of the climate struggle: a tension between the ‘mainstream’ climate movement (dominated by largely white, well-funded, and Washington-focused green NGOs) and those—most often people of color—who have been fighting for social and environmental justice for decades.”

Resistance grounded in action is its own raison d’être. It is catharsis. It brings us into a community with others who are coping with the darkness by naming it but refusing to submit to it. And in that act of resistance we find emotional wholeness, genuine hope and even euphoria, if not an ultimate victory.

“The certitude that there is no salvation is a form of salvation, in fact is salvation,” wrote E.M. Cioran. “Starting from here, one might organize our own life as well as construct a philosophy of history: the insoluble as solution, as the only way out.”

As the Grand Inquisitor pointed out in “The Brothers Karamazov,” those who possess the emotional and intellectual fortitude to face what lies before them will always be in the minority. There is a numbing comfort that comes with surrendering moral autonomy for abject servility and obedience, and this comfort is especially attractive in a crisis.

“No doubt there will be free societies in the future as there have been in the past,” writes the philosopher John Gray in “Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals.” “But they will be rare, and variations on anarchy and tyranny will be the norm. The needs that are met by tyrants are as real as those to which freedom answers; sometimes they are more urgent. Tyrants promise security—and release from the tedium of everyday existence. To be sure, this is only a confused fantasy. The drab truth of tyranny is a life spent in waiting. But the perennial romance of tyranny comes from its promising its subjects a life more interesting than any they can contrive for themselves. Whatever they become, tyrannies begin as festivals of the depressed. Dictators may come to power on the back of chaos, but their unspoken promise is that they will relieve the boredom of their subjects.”

And yet, no more than 3% to 5% of the population need be engaged to challenge despotic power. This means, first, naming and accepting reality. It will not be easy. It means grieving for what is to come, for there is certain to be mass death. It means acting, even if defeat is certain, to thwart those who would extinguish us. Extinction Rebellion plans to occupy and shut down major city centers around the globe in October. This is a good place to start. By defying the forces of death, we affirm life.
Save As Many As You Can

 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
14 Replies
4681 Views
Last post July 07, 2014, 01:30:39 PM
by Randy C
1 Replies
773 Views
Last post May 16, 2015, 03:32:07 PM
by azozeo
27 Replies
3382 Views
Last post March 15, 2017, 04:43:40 PM
by JRM