"We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking
we used when we created them."
- Albert Einstein
Among many, including conservation biologists and artists, popular dialogue is thankfully shifting from global warming to ensuring healthy habitat, aka community, and protecting and healing individuals. This shift is in recognition that healthy individuals cultivate healthy proximate communities, which in turn temper global warming and allay mass species extinction.
Still, there is increasing militarization of species conservation efforts, ongoing illegal and legal sport killing, and many innocents dying at the borders of grace designed to refuse human child refugees. And reading requests for a WWII-scale climate mobilization has my heart is sink at the same rate it wants to leap from my chest screaming, NO.
Global warming is Earth signaling an imbalance initiated by human insecurity and violent human intraspecies and interspecies competition. I find intolerable any suggestion that there should be a battle against Earth's warning that the era of violent human competition and the excessive consumption of materials and fuels has reached the end of the course. Rather than battle, there is a call to surrender.
Systemically, violent competition is inspired by heat and produces more heat. A WWII-scale extraction and production pulse plays the part of natural force toward greater warming, not the will to refrain from activity that produces greater heat. So, I'm rather stunned by narrow and incomplete focuses on manufacturing and disseminating improved technologies when efficiency and frugality go further faster toward reversing global warming. The top solutions for reversing global warming are to do with reviving biodiverse forest and field communities and empowering women.
I'm finished choosing sides. And want nothing more than to let trees, flowers, and grains grow in the blood-rich soil, perhaps seeding a proper monument to the monumental loss we've endured collectively.
"These and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself,
may be suggested as the only way to the road
we wish to travel. But each proposal must be weighed
in the light of a broader consideration.
The need to maintain balance between the private and the public economy...
balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable..."
- Dwight D. Eisenhower, Farewell Address / 'Military Industrial Complex' Warning
The underlying tone and intent of wholesale action determines the process, which determines the outcome. Mine is neither to question the messenger nor those who profit from ruthless competition, but the profiteering of war logic itself. And I do not claim to know what is actually required on the ground in and for any given community's thriving, by way of togetherness, in light of the present planetary transition. Such is the proximal knowledge of community members, who are themselves challenged with foreign seasons.
My concern is war logic that justifies using, raping, and killing children while spoiling ground and waters in the name of survival. Warring is the logic of enemies and numbers applied to the incalculable value of innocence and life itself. It is a logic grounded in insecurity of fatal consequence. My concern is with the origin, implication, and power of the word. Most of the climate dialogue long going includes 'fight' and 'battle'. And the enemies to be defeated are global warming and those perceived to be in denial of global warming.
Divisiveness Furthers Imbalance
Ruthless competition over non-essentials and essentials, and excessive use and misuse of substances, materials and fuels, brings Earth to the present state of extreme imbalance and continues to exacerbate imbalance.
Activity produces heat. Over-activity lends to overheating.
Hate begets hate. Violence begets violence.
Right rapid response to global warming and mass species extinction is not more of what initiated and continues to aggravate the condition.
Rather, global warming, as Earth's systemic response to overheating and acidification, calls for the deep healing of rest and changes in consumption and daily habits to resolve the energy imbalance .
If humanity's intent is to thrive and prosper - to live well - within the present or any near generation, WWIII is not an option whether that war be human to human combat over what are common - provided for all species equally - waters and soils, or a unified war on global warming. The solution to generations of 24-hour production that serves a fraction of human beings, some favored pets, and livestock is not more hyper-productivity.
Earth Overshoot Day, August 8th, arrived earlier in 2016 than in 2015, as the day arrived earlier in 2015 than it did in 2014. The date for Earth Overshoot shifts because the timing is determined by the point at which humanity has consumed more from Earth's global community than the community can provide in a year. Calculating Earth overshoot daily rather than annually, by 2:30 PM every day, Earth's community is done producing for that day. And I can think of little more appealing as a solution to global warming than a daily universal siesta!
The sense and forgetting of seasons while killing oneself in pursuit of excess material wealth is running its harsh course. As Bill McKibben notes in his article A World At War, after WWII much business shifted from military production to industrial food production, machines to make the cooking and household chores faster and easier, decorations, toys, and other stuff. Lots and lots of stuff that a wise and quite talented Dr. once called 'thneeds'.
Yep, the boomer babies, Bill McKibben and my parents among them, were born to parents who worked their days away to build their own compounds, small and large. Many only to have the bulk of their reward stripped in 2008. Like me, I imagine the boomer babies grew up imagining they needed those 'thneeds' to be attractive - to be loved. The glamour game had been going for centuries before but not within reach of so many and with such force as the technological revolution allowed.
And when Bill writes, “But instead of paying heed and taking obvious precautions, we chose to strengthen the enemy with our endless combustion; a billion explosions of a billion pistons inside a billion cylinders have fueled a global threat as lethal as the mushroom-shaped nuclear explosions we long feared.”, there is part of me that wants to look at the informed boomers, all of them, with a straight-up, WTF? You knew. And you kept driving full speed ahead.
But the judgment is unfair and I'm as guilty of falling prey to materialism having been bred to this. And this why I now show my son that I know what I say I know regardless of immediate personal cost to both of us.
Humans are no more "a plague on Earth" (David Attenborough) than is climate change an evil force to be defeated. Those who are still throwing people of color and some other white people under the bus in the name of species conservation and saving the planet are simply driven by a desire to preserve themselves and a standard of living at least somewhere near to as close as what they've enjoyed during the 20th century. They're scared.
Scared of the desperation witnessed throughout the world as consequence of this insecurity-driven greed. Most, I imagine, will do anything to avoid desperation, including killing or denying other human beings their rightful way of living and prey. To blame global warming on those who have benefited most extensively and temporarily from extraction is to avoid acknowledging one's own fear of losing a very convenient, albeit physically and spiritually weakening, way of survival.
Humans are big-brained highly sensitive mammals with hands that enable us to manipulate materials. Humans are, as some other primates, curious, capable of becoming addicted to substances, and, during scarce seasons, prone to defending our immediate family's survival even if that means denying or killing someone else's child. And this tendency to defend has grown too dangerous given the 20th century's exponential human population growth and technological developments. One desperate human with a gun is one too many. And I do not dare estimate the number of desperate hands holding loaded guns today. That number is at least one more than one.
SOLUTIONS EVERYONE CAN AFFORD
In 'Pandora's Terrifying Promise: Can Nuclear Power Save the Planet', a dialogue between Mark Herstgaard and Terry Tempest Williams, Mark notes that "the work of Amory Lovins and his colleagues at the Rocky Mountain Institute has demonstrated [energy efficiency] is by far the quickest, safest and most cost-effective route to reducing consumption of fossil fuels." (see Pandora's Terrifying Promise / The Nation July 8-15, 2013 Issue)
One untold potential catastrophe of the climate war cry, particularly when offered narrowly in the scheme of alternative fuels and improved technology, is an immediate and great increase in consumption of materials and fossil fuels in the process of "mobilization". Risking this potential is hardly wise when what is most urgently needed is a reduction in consumption of fossil fuels, trees, minerals, water, and others commonly lumped into the abstraction "natural resources".
In light of Earth Overshoot and the total cost of raw material extraction, the climate mobilization must first prioritize communities suffering the worst of materials extraction, production, and disposal. Most important is to empathize with rather than protect oneself from the immediate and long-term adverse health effects financially impoverished individuals and whole communities endure.
United States consumption patterns are traced globally in ongoing genocide and rapidly decreasing biodiversity. Financial poverty in the United States is the most dangerous poverty in the world. This nation houses the rich poor who spend what means they do have on cheap products manufactured by people who work for less pay and endure similar hazardous work environments with next to zero community health protections.
When I searched 'neodymium mining', this January 2013 post by Mike Ives at Yale Environment 360, appeared at the top of the list, "Boom in Mining Rare Earths Poses Mounting Toxic Risks: The mining of rare earth metals, used in everything from smart phones to wind turbines, has long been dominated by China. But as mining of these key elements spreads to countries like Malaysia and Brazil, scientists warn of the dangers of the toxic and radioactive waste generated by the mines and processing plants...Contrary to their name, the 17 rare earth elements are relatively common — their rarity comes from the labor involved in separating them from surrounding rock. The process requires a cocktail of chemical compounds and produces a “tremendous amount” of solid waste, according to the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency. China’s rare earths mines have used only a fraction of the world’s total supply, and substantial untapped reserves are found in Australia, the United States, parts of the former Soviet Union, and other countries...Market pressures for cheap rare earths may lead managers to skimp on environmental protections."
All Together Now
Pointing to another's behavior as the culprit of common woes is generally unwise. More so if I am somehow and in any way participating in and benefiting extensively from that behavior. The transition away from fossil fuels, hyperactivity, and extravagance requires personal systemic change that fosters collective systemic change.
To accomplish reduced consumption soon enough and on a grand enough scale, the narrative must change to that of the 'mothering culture'.
Open-mindedness, curiosity, and creativity, sharing, and rooted, or original, imagination deserve employment.
Frugality, the non-violent aspect of WWII's mobilization that my Grandmother Miriam lived to her dying day, will carry us further and faster toward the goal of decreased fossil fuel extraction and combustion, avoiding a pulse of increased consumption "to build a hell of a lot of factories to turn out thousands of acres of solar panels, and wind turbines the length of football fields, and millions and millions of electric cars and buses". Even if we're talking humane factories and 100% recycled post-consumer waste in these new products, there is a certain negligence in a focus on mass production when communities suffer health crisis and existing infrastructure fails as extreme weather events occur with greater and greater frequency.
What some call thriving is to others starving. And it's all suffering because no one really thrives on another's starvation. So long as there is fear for one's own life and liberty, so long as self is one's primary concern, the imbalance will be. The few who truly desire that others should suffer and die are truly lost to themselves by way of enduring trauma that comes naturally with being raised in a ruthlessly competitive and punitive culture.
We've seen enough muscle. And there's plenty of muscle work to be done in repairing and improving what's already been built, while ensuring everyone is well sheltered and fed. In 2013 37% of 610,042 documented persons experiencing homelessness on any given night in the United States were in family groups, and unaccompanied children and youth made up 8% of overall homeless persons on any given night.
There have long, if not always, been fires, famine, and floods in the human story. These events in themselves simply represent great change. Great change is experienced more readily as crisis when one feels alone because they are socially outcast.
Getting families and children off the street is not just a matter of getting them jobs. Many of them have jobs. Rather, community and connection needs restoring. Extreme weather events have a knack for doing this in the short term. When this connection is harnessed and maintained at a viable pace, the momentum of the first response to loss leads the way out of what gives rise to crisis, namely disconnection and abandonment.
Working again by daylight. And by evening, or through mid-day on the long summer days or where the days are balanced in the high heat or steady rain, winding down yet with enough energy to prepare a fine treat for sharing with family members and friends. Imagine enjoying each day rather than anticipating the weekend only to find that you're exhausted from pulling the week and the house is a mess, so you wind up sleeping one day and cleaning the next.
Imagine turning the lights out after the dishes are washed each evening or not ever turning the lights on because dinner was late afternoon and you've already been in bed awhile making love and drifting off to wake just in time for the most spectacular sunset you've ever seen, just the same as it was yet a touch more splendid than yesterday. And as the last bit of light slips from the horizon, you roll over to make love again before sleeping through the night.
The pleasure of siesta is the freedom that's been lost through the course of ruthless competition, a freedom stolen yet today moment by moment, singularly and wholly in each man, woman, and child, denied, raped, and murdered in the course of maintaining something that has not ever worked in everyone's interest and threatens to destroy all possibility unless the dream changes. Pleasure is the freedom that the American Dream does not fulfill, but rather strips away.
What is it that innocent human children and other species are invited to endure and what is risked of that innocence by calling for battle at this hour?
Let the underlying assumptions of the words be understood. The necessary mobilization is one of power, not force. The action is of the heart, not the mind, which can be as dangerous a tool as any bomb ever imagined, built, and dropped.
There is something essential in friendship and fidelity. Let's see what the call to action looks like when every aspect of one's life, personal and professional, is rooted in trust rather than insecurity. Generous models exist and are readied to scale. Unified benevolence is happening!
Change always wins. As cancer in the human body can be cleared through a radical change in thinking, diet, and activity without the assault of chemical weapons that further compromise the entire system. So too, global warming, the equivalent in planetary imbalance, can be effectively and efficiently addressed by a radical change in human diet, material consumption, and activity. Alternate energy sources represent a small fraction and the greatest ecological-economic expense of this radical change in diet and activity, which, as for the individual body, is a deep healing - a cure for disease rather than treatment of the symptom.
Just as diagnosis and dietary prescription vary by body type and systemic state, so too there is no one-size-fits-all for community resilience. There is an intelligence to intra and interspecies dynamics that uprooted human beings have forgotten, though we're learning. With political, economic, and ecological climates all in transition, past experience-based knowledge hardly serves decision making and clinging to false securities as others starve is not just simply cruel, but dangerous.
Rather than purchase a more fuel-efficient vehicle, a capable person may very well choose to drive less and ride more, improving their health and saving on fuel, while offering to help their neighbor with a mortgage payment, medical bill, trashed roof, or total rebuild after a flood or fire.Frugality may not have sex appeal or it may. Surely though, there's no one to appeal to when you are the last one standing. Might as well rest a bit and return to the origins of human kindness and compassion. At least then, we do our best in the eyes of the child.
Change is forced if not willed. What doesn't work for everyone is necessarily short-lived.
Please consider this Vow 2 Act.