I hate to be the curmudgeon on this point Mike, but I’m thinking we better just forget about a (voluntary) comprehensive mind shift on population growth. We’ve all been fighting a delaying action of applying increasingly extravagant fixes to achieve ever decreasing marginal returns. (For the love of Pete, I heard a guy on the radio lately talking about growing meat in the laboratory) If we conserve resources in one place, they will be gobbled up in another by others who finds the slack. This is what organisms do. The only possible mind-shift, as I see it, is that imposed from above, a la Red China. Anyone eager to live there? No? Me neither.
So, instead: Bottom of the 9th, two outs. Coming to the plate with a .999 average this season is number 1 on this team, Ma Nature. There’s the 3-2 pitch…..and this one is well hit…..going, going…..
As I’ve said a few times here before, the fact that it is a futile act doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be tried, but we’ve all got to acknowledge that the single highest act we can offer up for the health of this planet is to just snuff ourselves. Yeah, right. You first. I’m just happy if nobody gets the idea to snuff ME instead of themselves, thus achieving the same net result.
Plowboy — Your lack of optimism is not ill founded. We find ourselves in a really tight corner. Nevertheless, black swans pop up at the most unlikely moments. Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity, etc. Like the physicist who imagined himself swallowed into the heart of a super massive black hole, only to find that the detailed plans needed to reconstruct himself had been holographic-ally projected onto the huge curve of space at the ends of the Universe. Now his only problem was how to get out there to reassemble himself and make the journey back to his comfy armchair back home. So, maybe the worse it gets, the better the eventual answers will be. Someday it might dawn on us that we are going about our lives on Earth a whole wrong way. That will be the day….
Gotta tell ya Mike, smart money says there is about “zip” chance of us pulling up.
Mssr. Jensen’s rage is fueled by just this idea: That humans have the potential to transfer our exquisitely and finely tuned appreciation for individual preservation (or the preservation of a small group) to the entire world’s population and the health of the planet at large, and make daily, selfless, altruistic choices. He’ll tell you that, no, these ARE selfish choices that impact the individual the most, but that is not a pitch that has any legs. We as a species can’t grok proximate cause attenuated to those distances. He stomps his foot and wags his finger in anger each day we don’t come around to “getting it.” It is not as if I don’t understand his rage, that despair, that abiding sorrow. It is not a hard attitude to cop to, once you’ve lived long enough and paid attention.
So you hold out a forlorn hope that “something” will trigger this awakening, not triggered already by two world wars, extinction of species, nuclear holocaust, THE holocaust, global warming, Salk vaccine, standing on the moon…to list the missed best opportunities is essentially to recount only the most recent history of mankind and all of its recurring tragedies and inspiring triumphs.
And, aside from righteous rage, Jensen’s belief in the possibility of this transformation is fueled by what, exactly?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not espousing nihilism as a response, but anyone who might be deferring or avoiding facing his own plans to deal with the impending outcomes, well, they are only a chicken with his head on the block, wondering when the butcher is going to see the light and become a vegetarian. They’ll be just as surprised too.
Wade — I don’t think our situation demands a choice between compassion for our sickening world and concern for one’s own survival. You can do both. Render unto Caesar etc. Besides, if I had to give up my hopes and dreams for our world in order to save my own sorry ass, I don’t think I would care that much to stick around anyway….
I am certain that holds true for you Mike, and many others here. I’d like to think it applies to me too, but I’m doubting that I’ve ever been put to an adequate test. I will say that the ideals of the childless are much easier to hold to when the rubber hits the road. I speak only from my experience in the matter, of course. There is nothing like having children to care for to turn what was once a clear imperative into extremely muddy water. You fight each day to balance what might be expedient in the short term, while balancing for their future, and everyone’s future. I’m sorry to say that most days the exigency of the circumstances trump most everything. It is this essential human failure that we are bucking, because I sure ain’t alone in that behavior. As a matter of fact, on looking around me, I’d say I’m pretty far to the conservationist end of the scale in my community. The vast numbers of peeps on this planet don’t even have this equation in mind, at all. This is the paradox we’re all facing, and have always faced: The species, as represented by billions of individuals, will always choose to exploit short term gain over long range benefits….even if such choices ultimately result in overall decline of habitat, depletion of essential resources and, ultimately, the population itself.
We are the locust horde, and we won’t stop until we hit that wall. In the meanwhile, we will continue to eat the planet…until it finishes eating us. One big hell of a fix, to say the least.
Great question, Wade. Your query is one of the very best I have seen in long, long time. Thank you for it. Let me begin with a quote and end with a comment.
“Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.”
—- A. Einstein
Perhaps a transformation of human consciousness will give rise to a new manner of thinking about the world God has blessed to inhabit as well as to able responses to the human-driven global predicament that appears to render ‘the brightest and best’ of my generation mute regarding what really matters. We elders appear trapped in upside down thinking such as ‘greed is good’ and unsustainable lifestyles based upon outrageous per capita overconsumption and hoarding. Perhaps change toward sustainability could be in the offing.
I love that Albert Einstein quote (I used it in the 4th comment in this thread).
Here’s another appropriate one:
Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.—Mahatma Gandhi
Comment below is posted by Orion on behalf of Ian M, whose blog is http://ondisturbedground.wordpress.com/
‘Spot on, Derrick.
The way Monbiot and other mainstream ‘green’ commentators have begun cheerleading nuclear power depresses me profoundly: “I have this guy’s books - he’s supposed to be on MY side!” Here’s Mark Lynas, another ‘environmentalist’ writing the nuclear industry’s PR for them in the wake of Fukushima:
‘Without the large-scale carbon-free [sic] option of nuclear generation, there is much less chance that industrialised and industrialising societies alike will be able to keep the lights on without significant and increasing use of coal. [...] We need nuclear power. If what happens at Fukushima dims the prospects for increasing the world’s use of it, then the battle against climate change will be infinitely more difficult to win. (http://www.marklynas.org/2011/03/what-does-the-japanese-quake-crisis-say-about-nuclear-power/)’
The priority is crystal clear: keeping the lights on - that is to say keeping extractive industrial society up and running (preferably with as few CO2 emissions as possible) - at the expense of the biosphere. In the comments Paul Kingsnorth calls this ‘supply side environmentalism’:
‘[...] the issue of the tech is almost irrelevant, because the problem is the paradigm, not the technology. This was, after all, the original driver behind the green movement. If you are pursuing a progress-and-growth paradigm, a kind of ‘supply side environmentalism’ if you like, then you are limited in your discussions to a [simple] argument about which form of big, centralised tech you need to power your society. Whichever you choose, it will lead to a lot of destruction, because the paradigm is the destroyer, not the technology. That applies to nukes, coal, big wind and big solar. If you don’t change the model and the assumptions behind the model, then you don’t solve the big problem.’
(For more on this I recommend Kingsnorth’s ‘Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist’: http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-kingsnorth/confessions-of-recovering-environmentalist and his work with the Dark Mountain project: http://www.dark-mountain.net/).
I think I’m going to have to start ignoring commentators in the corporate media, even the token dissidents (whose place, safely sequestered in the newspaper back pages, might act to reinforce the illusion that the viewpoint they express is marginal). They have to carve a niche for themselves within that system - itself a profit-driven capitalist enterprise - which inevitably imposes a limit on what they can say. I’m going to have to learn to speak for myself, and find a way to make my voice (and the voices of those around me) count for something. A raft of truth and sanity in a sea of lies…
Thanks to Derrick for showing that it’s possible.