Discuss: Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist
Obviously temperatures are rising, and carbon is more evident that it used to be.
The climate is warming back to times when it was even warmer, before it was colder. The North Pole may become completely liquid ... but then, it has been before, and all of Coca-Cola’s polar bears made it anyway.
What we don’t know is everything else, like how much carbon is too much, what happens at what stage and will that be a bad thing, etc.
So far in the Obama age, we know that trying to have government promote solar or wind power production is just one more crooked way to pay back donors and bundlers of political money. Obama nad Steven Chu have blown through maybe 50 Billion dollars and gotten us next to nothing.
I feel about this effort exactly how I feel about long-distance space travel or the next nifty airplane or defense system:
We now know how to do things REALLY expensively. Now, let’s figure out a way to do it sustainably - that is, to not wreck the national or global economy in doing a good thing, unless everybody here likes hoeing gleen bean plants and milking cows ala the 1800 economy.
We are nature, and our relationship with nature has changed and is changing (as Paul Kingsnorth states). Just like our relationship with each other,our relationship with everything has various shades of utility and interpretation, including our relationship with nature (ourselves and each other). Changing that relationship to one that benefits us more equally is essential for well being and even survival (as Kingsnorth suggests) as well as well as for the well-being of the rest of the world we are part of. Understanding ourselves as a fluid entity and not a consumer or other market-driven identity benefits our entirety. No need to constrain this reality with the “environmentalist” go-words and popular concepts that Kingsworth calls into account in his article.
Very good essay. I’ve been feeling similar angst lately. I think it was Wendell Berry who said in an interview that you’re really not a conservationist until and unless you live as one. Very few of us are and very few of us do. To think otherwise is just blowing more smoke and carbon.
This is an astounding article. Astounding because it gets to the heart of the matter that has been forgotten in the last 30 years. We are animals, dependent on a habitat that we are quickly destroying. It is too late to do anything of consequence about climate change. The renowned biologist Edward O. Wilson has stated that forces have been set in motion that will take centuries to play out and we can’t stop it. What we can do is save some of the wild places that will be needed in the future to remind us of what we are. If we are still around. Chief Seattle said it best for me: “The Earth doesn’t belong to us. We belong to the Earth.”
Bravo! Coincidentally, I very recently read a 1996 interview with Kirkpatrick Sale when his book about the Luddites came out in paperback. He emphasizes that “sustainable development” is a “most odious oxymoron”.
Thank you for an exquisitely written essay…so beautiful… and sad.
This is a wonderful essay. But an important fact is left out, and that is that wind turbines do little to nothing to reduce CO2 emissions. In fact, WIND TURBINES DO NOT PROVIDE RENEWABLE ENERGY! Not one coal or gas plant the world over has been decommissioned because of IWTs…and eliminating our dependence on fossil fuels is their raison d’etre. To quote an expert: “Because wind blows intermittently, electric utilities must either keep their conventional power plants running all the time to make sure the lights don’t go dark, or continually ramp up and down the output from conventional coal-or gas-fired generators (called “cycling”). But coal-fired and gas-fired generators are designed to run continuously, and if they don’t, fuel consumption and emissions generally increase.”