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Dying in the Anthropocene

by Crazy Horse Mon Nov 11th, 2013 at 03:27:23 PM EST

Is it possible for today's busy humans to grok the catastrophe they're creating. I don't mean the fact that we barely have democratic governments any more, much less trustworthy or even visionary leaders. I don't mean neo-feudalism at the hands of global banks. I mean the real problems.


This March, Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, the commander of the United States Pacific Command, told security and foreign policy specialists in Cambridge, Mass., that global climate change was the greatest threat the United States faced -- more dangerous than terrorism, Chinese hackers and North Korean nuclear missiles. Upheaval from increased temperatures, rising seas and radical destabilization "is probably the most likely thing that is going to happen..." he said, "that will cripple the security environment, probably more likely than the other scenarios we all often talk about.''

Locklear's not alone. Tom Donilon, the national security adviser, said much the same thing in April, speaking to an audience at Columbia's new Center on Global Energy Policy. James Clapper, director of national intelligence, told the Senate in March that "Extreme weather events (floods, droughts, heat waves) will increasingly disrupt food and energy markets, exacerbating state weakness, forcing human migrations, and triggering riots, civil disobedience, and vandalism."


Eye stumbled upon this editorial today, in the online version of the NYT, which shook me to the core... as I'd been pondering similar thoughts.

Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene


Two and a half years later, safe and lazy back in Fort Sill, Okla., I thought I had made it out. Then I watched on television as Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. This time it was the weather that brought shock and awe, but I saw the same chaos and urban collapse I'd seen in Baghdad, the same failure of planning and the same tide of anarchy. The 82nd Airborne hit the ground, took over strategic points and patrolled streets now under de facto martial law. My unit was put on alert to prepare for riot control operations. The grim future I'd seen in Baghdad was coming home: not terrorism, not even W.M.D.'s, but a civilization in collapse, with a crippled infrastructure, unable to recuperate from shocks to its system.

I realize people will be debating the science behind global warming for generations. With good cause, as the world we live in is far more complex than most can fathom. Models are good. They remain models.

We even had a debate or two here at ET, where the accuracy of the IPCC, and even more, "climate activists" was put in question, particularly about increased heavy storm frequency.

We were reminded that the IPCC doesn't yet see any evidence of increased frequency of major tropical storms. Fitting then, that the biggest storm ever recorded, just hit.

Just another data point, where common sense trumps science.

Remember, the Philippines are used to typhoons since the beginning of time, they average 20 per year since we've kept records. Haiyan was the 25th this year. But with such frequency, they would be ready, because they understand what happens during bad storms, right?


And today, with recovery still going on more than a year after Sandy and many critics arguing that the Eastern seaboard is no more prepared for a huge weather event than we were last November, it's clear that future's not going away.

Please don't misunderstand me, eye'm aware that our advanced civilization would never site emergency generators in a tsunami zone, especially not one to power a dangerous technology, especially not in a land which gave us the word tsunami.

For the moment, let's leave aside the FACTS that we're poisoning and depleting our aquifers, a non-renewable resource. Let's leave aside that the oceans are dying, the topsoil and even forests are disappearing, that our air is already unhealthy. That there are carcinogens everywhere.


On the civilian side, the World Bank's recent report, "Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts, and the Case for Resilience," offers a dire prognosis for the effects of global warming, which climatologists now predict will raise global temperatures by 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit within a generation and 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit within 90 years. Projections from researchers at the University of Hawaii find us dealing with "historically unprecedented" climates as soon as 2047.
....
This chorus of Jeremiahs predicts a radically transformed global climate forcing widespread upheaval -- not possibly, not potentially, but inevitably.* We have passed the point of no return.* From the point of view of policy experts, climate scientists and national security officials, the question is no longer whether global warming exists or how we might stop it, but how we are going to deal with it.

Of course it's important to continually refine the data. But that pales against what common sense has already told our Jeremiahs. As the world looks to Germany, watching its attempt at a partial solution, hoping to learn from the political potato Energiewende, they discover the world's most advanced renewable energy industry being destroyed by the coal lobby's hold on small-minded, environmentally criminal politicians. (Don't get me started.)


We face the imminent collapse of the agricultural, shipping and energy networks upon which the global economy depends, a large-scale die-off in the biosphere that's already well on its way, and our own possible extinction. If homo sapiens (or some genetically modified variant) survives the next millenniums, it will be survival in a world unrecognizably different from the one we have inhabited.

Should we quibble some more with the stats, and their interpretation?


The human psyche naturally rebels against the idea of its end. Likewise, civilizations have throughout history marched blindly toward disaster, because humans are wired to believe that tomorrow will be much like today -- it is unnatural for us to think that this way of life, this present moment, this order of things is not stable and permanent. Across the world today, our actions testify to our belief that we can go on like this forever, burning oil, poisoning the seas, killing off other species, pumping carbon into the air, ignoring the ominous silence of our coal mine canaries in favor of the unending robotic tweets of our new digital imaginarium. Yet the reality of global climate change is going to keep intruding on our fantasies of perpetual growth, permanent innovation and endless energy, just as the reality of mortality shocks our casual faith in permanence.

A few nights ago, I commented on a surprising film I had just seen, and asked who had seen it, with no response.


Film Surprise (none / 0)

Eye have a delightful habit of buying films and CDs, putting them in the digital drawer, and forgetting i've purchased them. Upon discovery, the surprise can be such a joy.

Have no idea when i bought Home, a film by Jann Arthus-Bertrand, but discovered the unopened DVD last night. Of course I watched it.

Interview w/ Bertrand.

Home is a primer on the ecstasy (almost spiritual) which one discovers through exploration of the marvel that is the creation of the world on this planet. The dynamic interconnectedness. The downright beauty.

The film is also a documentary on how badly we've fucked up the surface of the planet, including its lifeforms and ourselves. How quickly, how dangerously, and how remarkably little known by the majority.

One could quibble here and there, and someone else might quibble with my quibbles. But Home is brilliant, beautiful and strong.

Didn't research when it came out, but i expect many here have already seen it in theaters. Comment?

(almost the entire film is aerial photography of such a high order of quality and beauty.)

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

Roy Scranton writes:


The choice is a clear one. We can continue acting as if tomorrow will be just like yesterday, growing less and less prepared for each new disaster as it comes, and more and more desperately invested in a life we can't sustain. Or we can learn to see each day as the death of what came before, freeing ourselves to deal with whatever problems the present offers without attachment or fear.

If we want to learn to live in the Anthropocene, we must first learn how to die.

To be reborn, you must first die. That could just be understood as attaining a new level of global consciousness... fully interconnected. To live fully, you must first let go.

Eye profess no answers. But eye know something has to change, rapidly, and all the evidence points to continued blindness.

Perhaps HOME is a piece of the puzzle, a chance for a sleepwalking humanity to wake for a brief moment. For those who haven't seen the film, it's on youtube in its entirety.

From this vantage point, humanity's inability to understand the marvel of our complex interconnectedness is becoming devastating. What will bring a more evolved consciousness, and the attendant policies, into being?

Display:
I find the "semi-positive" ending to Home uncomfortable, partly because I believe the co-existing poisons and depletions can barely be undone. Humanity needs some serious shaking, and the current efforts range from pathetic to criminal.

Deep inside me, however, resides the memory of my own period aged 18-30, and what we as a global generation awakened and accomplished. and still fell way short.

I'm not trying to shift my own responsibility to the current young generation, but I'm expecting them to provide some of the action. Perhaps eye should be ready to be a true Elder, and be there to help point out the stars which show us the proper direction.

PS. Roy Scranton's writing is strong, and his view, coming from a front-line soldier, evinces great power. I'm glad he woke me.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Mon Nov 11th, 2013 at 05:23:01 PM EST
Typhoon Cast Pall Over Climate Talks


WARSAW, Poland (AP) - The devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan cast a gloom over U.N. climate talks Monday as the envoy from the Philippines broke down in tears and announced he would fast until a "meaningful outcome is in sight."

Naderev "Yeb" Sano's emotional appeal was met with a standing ovation at the start of two-week talks in Warsaw where more than 190 countries will try to lay the groundwork for a new pact to fight global warming.
....
"We can fix this. We can stop this madness. Right now, right here," Sano told delegates in Warsaw.

Choking on his words, he said he was waiting in agony for news from relatives caught in the massive storm's path, though he was relieved to hear his brother had survived.

"In the last two days he has been gathering bodies of the dead with his own two hands," Sano said.

You see, when discussing climate (and environmental) politics, eye don't use the word criminal lightly.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Mon Nov 11th, 2013 at 05:34:07 PM EST
"Die shall I in order to live." it says in Mahler's second symphony. Goes to show how deeply the theme of resurrection is embedded in our culture. Everything on this planet is mortal, especially our civilizations. This particular one too will perish over the course of many decades and centuries due to a confluence of problems, of which climate change is one.

There are three 'channels' of climate change: mitigation, adaptation, and suffering. I'd place a heavy bet on the latter two. Everything that can be burned will be burned because it is just so convenient. The only 'hopes' are (1) there isn't that much left that is practical to burn (which brings its own problems and is unlikely) and (2) that changes will be slow and non-catastrophic enough for civilization to successfully adapt.

As to a new consciousness evolving before disaster strikes: don't count on it. Humans only learn through pain and lessons are easily forgotten. Grabbing short-term opportunities and inertia are hard-wired in our brains. Remaking human brains [consciously] seems to be a difficult prospect.

This diary's mention of the nexus of natural disaster and violence brought me back to an interview from a few years ago. The subject is Dr. Thomas MŘller, a prominent forensic psychologist, who had talked to scores of serial killers. (Watch the interview here in German) After holding forth on mass murderers and the mental mechanics of crime, he is asked the following:

Q: If you look at our blue planet, macroscopically, where are today's, the 21st century's biggest sources of crime?

A: In the destruction of nature. But humans don't think long-term. Usually, they think very very short-term, in fact, extremely short-term. And let me conclude this with a single sentence: Even the longest human life is only a blink of an eye of nature, but don't forget how much a single human can wreak during the course of his life.

Don't worry about nature and 'the planet' though. They will survive and adapt. And mankind will survive too. Just how many of us?

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Mon Nov 11th, 2013 at 07:44:48 PM EST
The Mahler that leaps to my mind is Das Lied von der Erde. A housemate had a copy of the Bruno Walter recording in '62 or 63 and we played it over and over on a pretty good sound system. It also made me a fan of Li Po's poetry, such as it is in translation. I memorized much of Das Trinkleid in German from the recording and the libretto and still (mis?)recall it. It seems appropriate to this diary.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Nov 11th, 2013 at 08:25:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The sound quality is not as good but this one has everything:



Schengen is toast!

by epochepoque on Wed Nov 13th, 2013 at 06:08:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
epochepoque:
Humans only learn through pain and lessons are easily forgotten. Grabbing short-term opportunities and inertia are hard-wired in our brains. Remaking human brains [consciously] seems to be a difficult prospect.

painfully self-evident your point is. great comment.

nature should be offering an antidote to such a poison.

oh, wait...

science is just figuring out how our gut has a kind of intelligence of its own, the corner will be turned when we realise the same thing about our hearts.

after millennia of religions telling us how powerless we are, (and such a relatively small number of souls who unstuck their heads from the interior of such boxes), i deduce that we cannot rationally work our way out of an irrational problem, let alone multiples of such.

the concept that our actions, en masse, can alter the biome is perceptually -and thus cognitively- dissonant with the learned helplessness induced by mentally subjugating ourselves to superstition, learned race-hate and better-than-they-are programs that have gulled the many to benefit small sociopathic, thanatic groups skilled in the dark arts of guile, who then attempt to upend, overturn and reverse-engineer natural impulses of collaboration into ego-jockeying contests by sheer force of robotic repetition at impressionable age backed up by implied and often overtly institutionalised thuggery.

this incorrect and abusive use of the intellect to separate more than unify has sliced a hemorrhaging wound into our collective psyche that will take much collaboration to heal.

collaboration that has been discouraged in our hyberbolic quest for randian heights of individual-uber-alles accomplishment, our 'education' a factory for devo freakshows like cheney, rummy, dymon and diamond.

this atrophy of compassion has left us ethically rudderless, easy prey for hucksters promising us the Next Big Thing while selling us the handbasket we ride through hell in.

these aberrant social, even institutionalised forces have left us cerebrally weak, our critical faculties cauterised instead of nurtured to the point where we have trouble wrapping our heads around this global responsibility, that our otherwise insignificant lives, magnificently banal in their apparently granular, atomised pointlessness, might conceivably not have to be that way for ever.

enough people getting that memo will introduce a new Fitness Landscape more closely patterned on observable reality.

shorter version: we need to grow up out of our evolutionary adolescence stat and get over blowing shit up and puerility aka epochepoque:

Everything that can be burned will be burned because it is just so convenient

stewart brand used to say "we are gods, we may as well get good at it", which when confronted with the climate conundrum could be a mantra we need to hear, tallying nicely with that other saliently hardwired feature of ours, megalomanic grandiosity to the point of mythomania.

except this time it ain't no myth...

as for the human race diminishing in quantity, i'd say there is an even greater risk of diminishing returns in quality. nature overcreates, why shouldn't she seeing how time and biodiversity are on her side at least for a few billion more years? i am all for numbers once we rechannel the distribution of goods and services to benefit the common weal more um, serviceably... eliminationism is the lowest form of species self-hatred, but nature culls all herds somehow, sometime, no harm preparing one's psyche for that horrible possibility, hopefully not dwelling there too long.

because equally possible is a global urge to re-collaborate when in the face of a previously unimaginably powerful counter-force to our hubris, the anger of an ecosystem hacked by pubertal idiot geniuses. a fly tured of its wings being casually pulled off that morphs into hypercane Godzilla on steroids.

a good drama that leaves you cheering both sides.

if cockroaches turn out to be the 'meek that inherit the earth', it will be because they were less bloody-minded than we were. we seem to have needed such a fat dose of mental perversity to get this far, but as models for development go, sustainable it ain't.

time to shed some ( a lot, maybe most of our collective) cultural ballast if we want to get to higher ground.

epochepoque:

There are three 'channels' of climate change: mitigation, adaptation, and suffering.

there is a fourth subset of the second: migration.

thanks for a thought-provoking comment, epoque-to-the-power-of-two.

 

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Nov 12th, 2013 at 01:35:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
epochepoque, i understand (i think i understand) that humanity is hard-wired to not change, to remain asleep to the wonder surrounding us. That the current neo-feudalism prevents awakening, and we're back to adaption and suffering.

I'm not at all sure that "the changes will be slow and non-catastrophic enough for civilization to successfully adapt." Right now i'm watching a glorious mottled red sky at sunrise, the fast moving speckled clouds turning toward stormy pink and yellow and back to red. (red sky at morning, sailors take warning.) i do see catastrophic changes coming.

The military harbingers in the NYT opinion piece saw it coming as well, as in water wars. Bechtel Corp. saw it coming, as they go around the world buying up water rights. I see the future as Mordor bringing it's belching industrial poisons into the Shire, and I see it already here, since decades. (Watch Home.)

But I also saw a mass rebirth of higher consciousness take place in my generation's coming of age. I saw new tools developed, which directly stimulated higher consciousness. And there are now many more, specifically tailored chemicals available. They build strongly upon the shamanistic experience of the history of humanity, but with modern precision.

So to me, the possibility to change consciousness does exist. Because I've already seen it.

I've worked hard my entire life to try and become mature without losing the childhood sense of wonder. Some would say I worked hard trying not to grow up. (Both likely true.)

There's already too much suffering, especially when compared to what else is possible. So let's end it.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Tue Nov 12th, 2013 at 01:56:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
humanity is hard-wired to not change, to remain asleep to the wonder surrounding us

Those are products of civilization and culture. They're not intrinsic.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Tue Nov 12th, 2013 at 03:33:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good catch, thanks... as i show later when discussing entheogens.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Tue Nov 12th, 2013 at 05:18:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for this CH. I will watch the film, but not tonight. Tonight is the first freeze so I have been busy draining hoses, setting up drip lines, etc. outside while the F@*#ing IRS is on my case because a bank did not properly report an IRA roll-over and now they want a 1040 that I will likely have to file in order to prove I didn't have to file. And all the while the last week of class for my most engrossing course in Money and Banking is rolling on without me. But I think you know where my feelings are on the science and politics of climate change.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Nov 11th, 2013 at 07:54:40 PM EST
Hope you drained hoses on the IRS, who then froze. good luck.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Tue Nov 12th, 2013 at 02:26:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think one of the problems is this:

"...let's leave aside the FACTS that we're poisoning and depleting our aquifers..."

You're writing it in the present tense, but it has already happened. It Is Already Over. People can't get their heads around what is actually going on.

Here's my favorite recent demonstration of how screwed we are:

by asdf on Tue Nov 12th, 2013 at 12:12:11 AM EST
People don't understand simple exponential growth.  For the use of something to "grow" it has to use the sum of all previous years - that is, after all, what 100% means - plus a bit, the growth in that time period.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Tue Nov 12th, 2013 at 01:24:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My advisor, AA Bartlett, died recently. He was big on the Youtubes for his lecture on exponential growth.

Five million views!

by asdf on Tue Nov 12th, 2013 at 01:00:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Showing off your advisor, I like that :D

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Nov 12th, 2013 at 01:04:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Haha let me tell you about  my uncle.
by asdf on Tue Nov 12th, 2013 at 01:17:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Archdruid Report has a nice word for these times: Biophobia.
... that's biophobia: the pervasive fear and hatred of biological existence that forms the usually unmentioned foundation for so much of contemporary culture.

Does that seem too strong a claim to you, dear reader? I encourage you to consider your own attitudes toward your own biological life, that normal and healthy process of ripening toward mortality in which you're engaged right now. Life in that sense is not a nice clean abstract existence It's a wet and sloppy reality of blood, mucus, urine, feces, and other sticky substances, proceeding all the way from the mess in which each of us is born to the mess in which most of us will die. It's about change, growth and decay, and death -- especially about death. Death isn't the opposite of life, any more than birth is; it's the natural completion and fulfillment of the process of being alive, and it's something that people in a great many other cultures have been able to meet calmly, even joyfully, as a matter of course. Our terror of death is a good measure of our terror of life.

There is no need for nanny Nature, right?
by das monde on Tue Nov 12th, 2013 at 10:00:12 AM EST
Am I to believe no one on ET saw Home when it was out? Or disliked it so much then no comment?

From Roy Scranton:


"The biggest problem we face is a philosophical one: understanding that this civilization is already dead. The sooner we confront this problem, and the sooner we realize there's nothing we can do to save ourselves, the sooner we can get down to the hard work of adapting, with mortal humility, to our new reality."


"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Tue Nov 12th, 2013 at 01:58:16 PM EST
I suspect it was spectacularly under-promoted. Perhaps the money people watched it and were afraid. After all, you got a copy without really knowing what it was and, thus, sat on it for you don't know how long.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Nov 12th, 2013 at 02:19:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It was a big deal in France when it was released. Arthus-Bertrand was already a star as aerial photographer, everyone had his calendars. And yes, it kicked off quite a bit of popular consciousness-raising.

I confess I haven't seen it, I don't go to the cinema much. And it would be a shame to see it on small screen.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Nov 12th, 2013 at 03:05:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Assuming your screen is relatively modern, no it wouldn't be a shame. There are HD versions, on vimeo perhaps as well.

This should be shown to the outgoing and incoming Yurpeen parliament, as well.

The granddaughter said it changed her life. That is, after all, what we need to hear.

Actually, i wish to know if such an understanding is possible without entheogens. Like to think so.

Still bothers me that many of my friends agree, understand, and go on as if we still weren't delivering a death sentence.

To my original question, hard to believe Bertrand's film didn't get more traction. Perhaps that's a signifier that the "civilization" is indeed dead.

There are many of us who are not at this moment fighting off armed thugs taking food and water, as in the Pacific desolation area, but still.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Tue Nov 12th, 2013 at 08:16:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My switch was flipped to this view at some point during the deep water horizon spill.

I don't embody it very well but my intellectual response has been to enjoy what time I have and try to do little positive things for the people around me.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Tue Nov 12th, 2013 at 05:39:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fine. Good. even noble.

What about your responsibility to unborn generations?

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Tue Nov 12th, 2013 at 08:18:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Tell me what you think my responsibility is and I will tell you what I think of it.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Tue Nov 12th, 2013 at 08:28:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
First, to do what you can to assure that there will be a world in which those generations can thrive.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Nov 12th, 2013 at 11:55:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's not different from what I said.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Wed Nov 13th, 2013 at 12:20:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"...try to do little positive things for the people around me" doesn't necessarily imply doing anything to positively impact the future. In fact, spreading awareness of the future consequences of present actions can often be viewed as being negative by those who would rather remain in the present and just 'be happy'. But it could, and I assume that is what you intended. I also am aware of the need to strike a balance, which requires judgement.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Nov 13th, 2013 at 10:53:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Part of what I meant by "not different" is that both our statements on their face are simple platitudes.

I've never seen a take on "you need to positively impact the future" that doesn't appeal to narratives that have to be swept away if we're going to survive more than X hundred years into the future. Of course it's hard because in order to "win" you have to beat those with power at their own game, and that means playing power politics, and humanity can no longer survive power politics. Thus to get from A to B there are going to be some dice rolls involved that humanity is not going to be a part of, or more specifically, that will be made with no human agency.

But we can send ideas forward that may or may not slip through the outcome of the dice rolls. What I've got on a personal level (or working on, anyway): empathy, the power of touch, relating to others cooperatively rather than competitively. On an intellectual level I am trying to scratch the surface on how to synthesize the best of pre- and post-agricultural societies. We need the spiritual, intuitive, and ecological skills of the former, and the knowledge of the latter.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Wed Nov 13th, 2013 at 11:51:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
MillMan:
What I've got on a personal level (or working on, anyway): empathy, the power of touch, relating to others cooperatively rather than competitively. On an intellectual level I am trying to scratch the surface on how to synthesize the best of pre- and post-agricultural societies. We need the spiritual, intuitive, and ecological skills of the former, and the knowledge of the latter.

this...^^^^^^!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Nov 14th, 2013 at 01:37:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So high-tech stonings?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Nov 14th, 2013 at 02:40:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
hopefully not! though cyber-bullying does come to mind...

i was thinking more along the lines of digitally literate peasants, small-holders, cottage industries etc etc.

hoi polloi online, no more divide.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Nov 14th, 2013 at 06:42:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
humanity, after years of patient craftmanship, has been spiked with cognitive koolaide, and now cares more about cyrus miley than climate change.

i feel like we are trying to wake up from a hypnagogic state during which our wills have been hijacked into auto-lesionism.

the horror of what we have allowed to happen is dawning on us, and making many want to burrow back deeper into the unconsciousness that permitted this all to happen.

as for the movie, i haven't seen it, because my heart is already breaking, and the fact of some genius photographer burning all this fossil fuel to take pictures of the wonders of our planet so we can cry bigger tears... well, i already know how beautiful this planet is, and my tears already threaten to flood the world, as daily i see the madness continue, and notwithstanding the amazing intelligence and vision we humans are blessed with, we are chained in the galleys on a ship of fools heading for the reef of reality, which the drunken captain is playing with his new rolex up on deck and swigging from his tanqueray bottle.

fuck...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Nov 13th, 2013 at 04:28:42 AM EST
You tell us that the problem is not undemocratic governments, or untrustworthy or myopic leaders. Or financial neo-feudalism. But then you tell us that the German Energiewende is being derailed by incumbent lobbies.

Our problems are political. Are our political problems a consequence of our lack of awareness, or is the lack of awareness a consequence of dysfunctional politics?

It's all about power, and how power shapes culture.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 13th, 2013 at 04:45:43 AM EST
Migeru:
Are our political problems a consequence of our lack of awareness, or is the lack of awareness a consequence of dysfunctional politics?

that's a chicken-egg question.

seems like you can't replace politics with anything better unless you change your awareness first, in spite of politics.

sure beats a bunch of unaware peeps hacking at the political system as is...

though it is deeply unsatisfying to folks raised on instant gratification looking always for the easy way out.

... like most of us!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Nov 13th, 2013 at 09:06:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As Socrates said, humans are political animals. The question is whether you can nudge a society out of a toxic cultural "equilibrium".

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 13th, 2013 at 09:50:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think humans are political in the sense it's usually meant.

The real issue with politics, business, and economics is that they're simple - but somewhat disguised - instantiations of competitive Darwinian self-interest.

And that's all they are.

So there's no rational logic to any of them. They're simply action reduced to the human version of animal instinct, hidden under various layers of misdirection.

You can't expect a herd with a few alphas battling it out for resource control to act rationally. The big lie of politics, business and economics is the nonsensical suggestion that animal self-interest is the definition of rationality, when in fact it's its opposite.

But as individuals and collectively, we are capable of assessing, planning and acting in truly rational ways that aren't limited to simple animal brutality.

So the challenge is to make politics more human, and to move it past the stage of dumb animal self-interest - not just sporadically, as has happened in the past, but consistently and institutionally.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Nov 13th, 2013 at 10:32:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]

(h/t LeftyMathProf)

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 13th, 2013 at 12:23:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Every corporation is a hierarchy, with shareholder's interests at the top. How do we move those pyramids?
by das monde on Thu Nov 14th, 2013 at 03:42:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Redefine their role in law as suggested by about 10 gazillion business academics. There's lots of perfectly reasonable work on fixing problems with corporate governance, much of it championed (ostensibly at least) by the assorted accounting and management bodies, but not transposed into law.

The core problem is that under US law (in particular) the sole responsibility of a public corporation is to maximise shareholder returns (barely) within the law. And that shareholders will successfully litigate the living fuck out of the directors personally if they can figure out a way you haven't done that.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Nov 14th, 2013 at 03:57:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks to Milton Friedman, I heard. Was the US corporate law the same before the 70-80s? So how would you convince hardcore shareholders to relax their positions? Or defeat them?
by das monde on Thu Nov 14th, 2013 at 04:34:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm fuzzy on the process: i'm not sure if it was judicial activism or legal changes.

You change the law so that directors can't be held hostage by possible shareholder action or use it as an excuse. And you regulate more. And change the tax laws where they're unfairly being taken advantage of.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Nov 14th, 2013 at 04:44:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But first we get TPP, TTIP...
by das monde on Thu Nov 14th, 2013 at 12:23:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Which on the political side, are comparable to environmental disaster. Why shouldn't we throw accountability out the window, to be decided by the next round of corporate courts?

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Fri Nov 15th, 2013 at 12:06:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Meidner plan was an interesting idea: progressively making worker unions as shareholders. The corporatists were quick to deflect it.  (H/T Talos)
by das monde on Fri Nov 15th, 2013 at 08:00:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It wasn't Socrates, it was Aristotle:

    Man is by nature a political animal.

        Politics, Book I

But, against the noble, individualist image of Socrates, he exemplified Aristotle's point in a very bad way, according to I.F. Stone (great, independent US journalist) in his very convincing book "The Trial of Socrates". From his self-interview about it:

I believe the case against Socrates was political and that the charge of corrupting the youth was based on a belief - and considerable evidence - that he was undermining their faith in Athenian democracy.

If so, why wasn't the charge brought earlier? He had been teaching for a long time. A quarter century before the trial, Socrates had already been attacked in Aristophanes's play "The Clouds" for running a "think thank" whose smart-alecky graduates beat their fathers. If they thought him the source of such subversive teaching, why did the Athenians wait until 399 B.C., when he was already an old man, before putting him on trial?

Because in 411 B.C. and again in 404 B.C. antidemocrats had staged bloody revolutions and established short-lived dictatorships. The Athenians were afraid this might happen again.
...
Who was Critias?

He was the bloodiest dictator Athens had ever known, a pupil of Socrates at one time, and a cousin of Plato's. Aeschines was saying in effect that the antidemocratic teachings of Socrates helped to make a dictator of Critias, who terrorized Athens in 404 B.C. during the regime of the Thirty Tyrants and just five years before the trial of Socrates. Critias seemed to have been the most powerful member of the Thirty.

aw2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/socrates/ifstoneinterview.html

This is usually omitted from the dominant reverential discussions of Socrates as a kind of secular saint killed for questioning religion.

The same class wars were taking place then and Plato was a great anti-democratic propagandist.

Aristotle:

Men ... are easily induced to believe that in some wonderful manner everybody will become everybody's friend, especially when some one is heard denouncing the evils now existing in states, suits about contracts, convictions for perjury, flatteries of rich men and the like, which are said to arise out of the possession of private property. These evils, however, are due to a very different cause -- the wickedness of human nature.

However he also said:

If liberty and equality, as is thought by some, are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be best attained when all persons alike share in the government to the utmost.



Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Wed Nov 13th, 2013 at 04:59:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can readily believe that Plato was an anti-democrat, that was already my opinion from what I had read. To me the question also involves a distinction between who Socrates was and how Plato portrayed him. Aristotle was obviously a servant of power, but not just that.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Nov 13th, 2013 at 11:06:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Politics is mostly the art of keeping disproportionate power and wealth (or helping to keep it). Very really a genuine egalitarian populist move makes a wave. More often than not, progressive populist agencies are convenient surrogates. Julius Cesar started as a populist, for example.
by das monde on Thu Nov 14th, 2013 at 03:30:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
New Spiegel article finds another answer to the question of "where did the warming go?"

Klimawandel: Die Erde erwärmt sich laut Hochrechnung doch

I haven't seen the study or read conclusions, but the article does not discount previous theses finding the oceans, sun and volcanoes affecting the past 15 year pause. The scientists used a new algorithm to estimate ground temp over the Arctic, where no ground measurements are taken. The method was tested in places where both data sets are present.

The data is quite controversial already, as some believe the temp differential is different over land than over water or ice.


Nachdem die Datenlücken der Arktis auf diese Weise gefüllt wurden, lautet das Ergebnis: Die globale Temperatur in Bodennähe steigt mit einem Trend von 0,12 Grad pro Jahrzehnt - dem Wert entsprechend, den der Uno-Klimarat IPCC als Langzeittrend seit Mitte des 20. Jahrhunderts angibt. Das Resultat überrasche ihn nicht, erklärt der Klimatologe Gavin Schmidt von der Nasa. Schließlich zeige das starke Schmelzen des Meereises in der Arktis, dass die Erwärmung dort fortschreite und den globalen Mittelwert nach oben treibe.

Andere Forscher sind nicht überzeugt. Sie sehe zwar ebenfalls Indizien für eine sich erwärmende Arktis, räumt Judith Curry vom Georgia Institute of Technology ein, die ebenfalls Temperaturdaten der Arktis auswertet. Die Methode von Cowtan und Way trage jedoch "nichts zum Verständnis bei". "Sie ergibt physikalisch keinen Sinn", meint die Atmosphärenforscherin. Das Übertragen von Temperaturunterschieden vom Festland aufs Meer oder aufs Eis sei nicht erfolgreich erprobt worden.

Curry bezieht sich unter anderem darauf, dass Messstationen der Arktis vor allem an Land stehen, die nun berechnete Region des arktischen Datenlochs aber meist von Meereis oder Wasser bedeckt wird. Die Frage ist, ob sich die Luft über den unterschiedlichen Landschaften in ähnlicher Weise mischt, so dass die Temperaturunterschiede zwischen Boden und Höhe zwischen den Regionen übertragbar wären. "Immerhin", sagt Curry, "hat die neue Studie das Thema aufgebracht, dass wir einen Weg finden müssen, die Temperaturen in der Arktis zu ermitteln."

Scientifically, this study underscores that holes in the global data must be filled faster than ever, if our understanding is to grow. Including far more research into the ocean.

Meanwhile, the politicians and the handlers put the brakes on renewables the world over (more or less). Please wake me from this nightmare.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Fri Nov 15th, 2013 at 02:30:45 PM EST
Anyway, i thought that data was a key development in ending denialism. Makes the premise of the original NYT article in the diary carry some weight.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Sun Nov 17th, 2013 at 04:34:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why read the Spiegel when you could read this?

(Curry is a liar-for-hire. Which is why the Spiegel sought her out)

 

by mustakissa on Sat Nov 23rd, 2013 at 05:56:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Felt this statement belongs here. It's about humanity's relationship to our globe, not just about Fukushima.

Indigenous Elders and Medicine Peoples Council Statement on Fukushima


Yet, our concern goes far beyond this single threat. Our concern is with the cumulative and compounding devastation that is being wrought by the actions of human beings around the world. It is the combination of resource extraction, genetically modified organisms, moral failures, pollution, introduction of invasive species and much much more that are
threatening the future of life on Earth. The compounding of bad decisions and their corresponding actions are extremely short-sighted. They do not consider the future generations and they do not respect or honor the Creator's Natural Law. We strongly urge for the governmental authorities to respond with an open invitation to work and consult with us to solve the world's problems, without war. We must stop waging war
against Mother Earth, and ourselves.

     If Yoda Was An Indian --  Bunky Echo Hawk, Pawnee/Yakama

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Sun Nov 17th, 2013 at 04:46:36 PM EST
Pope being visited by Italian anti-fracking activists.

He should come to a sweat lodge ceremony.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Sun Nov 17th, 2013 at 04:59:57 PM EST
You're getting it
by mustakissa on Sat Nov 23rd, 2013 at 06:00:09 AM EST
ET Thread on Fukushima Films

For documentation purposes, so some very important links don't get lost.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Mon Nov 25th, 2013 at 06:02:31 PM EST


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