US coastal growth continues despite lessons of past storms
|Here comes Maria - NASA satellite image|
This is denialism in the extreme - and I don't just mean the climate science deniers. I mean all of us who continue to live outside the reality of it, which is most of us in this capitalist consumer world of ours.
Everyone who believes that they can live beyond the biocapacity of the Earth and still have a habitable planet, everyone who resists seeing clearly that those who live outside the margins of what is sustainable in a regenerative sense for the ecosystems of the Earth is in denial.
The economic system, the institutions that are co-dependent with it (including cultural, religious, academic, political, financial, social, etc.), the lifestyles we live that support it, the aspirations we have that can only be reached within that system - all of that is cloaked in the mantel of denial, denial that the Earth itself cannot support it any longer and is already in the process of numerous manifestations of collapse.
The choice is inescapable, and so the resistance (especially among the supposedly knowledge-based economic and scientific cultures) is fairly stupefying the more obvious the crisis becomes:
We will either live within the limits of reality, or we will crash our world and reality will force what remains back inside those limits.That's it. That's where we are. And the more it is said out loud, the more we squirm and wish the planet would stop insisting on this truth.
I read this stuff all the time - the studies, the reports, the data that show how impossible this has all become. We need 1.6 planets to continue as we are - but we aren't continuing "as we are." We are going to add 2-3 billion more humans to the planet by 2050, a planet that is seeing rapid depletion in all the most basic things we need for life, especially arable land and water.
However, we are not just talking about the most basic things of life. We are talking about high-rise buildings and industry and housing developments and air conditioning on an increasingly hotter planet and smart phones and SUVs and pickup trucks and giant sports stadiums and arenas and mining for the planet's last remaining minerals and metals and pipelines for oil, gas, water, and sewage and more concrete to twice the amount of concrete used over the past two centuries and on and on. How?!
Reality, my friends, not fantasy. We don't get to live in a fantasy world. No matter how hard we try, reality smacks us in the face - in Southeast Texas and Florida, and in the burning forests of the northwest and around Los Angeles, in the 106 degrees in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago and temperatures in the 70s in Milwaukee last February and Chicago's snowless winter. Millions of ticks are spreading throughout the nation carrying deadly or crippling diseases, a tiny insect raging through all those comforting fantasies.
From Forbes: "The world’s population is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050... How do we expect to feed that many people while we exhaust the resources that remain?"
"...large corporations are able to continue engaging in increasingly environmentally exploitative behaviour by obscuring the link between endless economic growth and worsening environmental destruction." ~ Professors Christopher Wright and Daniel Nyberg, in their book, Climate Change, Capitalism and Corporations, as quoted in the Forbes article.And that, my friends, is a terrific summary statement of the foundational fantasy of our time.
By the way, this is the Forbes article, Unless It Changes, Capitalism Will Starve Humanity By 2050. It's from Feb 2016. Didn't have much impact, did it...
Now here's the thing - my own thing. I actually do not want to depress you or anyone else. Instead, I would like to see humans dig deep to find out some deeper meaning in life than this economic world that has created this false reality, the one that has separated us from what Fr. Jon Sobrino, SJ, liberation theologian from El Salvador, used to call "real reality."
|Complexity of life - Lake Michigan shore|
From Richard Heinberg of the Post Carbon Institute:
Downsizing the world’s energy supplies would, effectively, also downsize industrial processes of resource extraction, manufacturing, transportation, and waste management. That’s a systemic intervention, of exactly the kind called for by the ecologists of the 1970s who coined the mantra, “Reduce, reuse, and recycle.” It gets to the heart of the overshoot dilemma—as does population stabilization and reduction, another necessary strategy. But it’s also a notion to which technocrats, industrialists, and investors are virulently allergic...Honesty and soul-searching.
Any systems thinker who understands overshoot and prescribes powerdown as a treatment is effectively engaging in an intervention with an addictive behavior. Society is addicted to growth, and that’s having terrible consequences for the planet and, increasingly, for us as well. We have to change our collective and individual behavior and give up something we depend on—power over our environment. We must restrain ourselves, like an alcoholic foreswearing booze. That requires honesty and soul-searching.
~ Museletter #303: Climate Change Isn't our Biggest Environmental Problem, and Why Technology Won't Save Us
You see, our situation is not hopeless, even if we are headed for a very painful transition. It is only hopeless if we cling to what is breaking down our world. It is only hopeless if we try to preserve the fantasy. Once we let that go, things become clear, what we have to do, and even more, who we have to become.
If the fantasy had brought happiness and joy for everyone, seeing this would be difficult. But when we look at the world and see the pain, the suffering, the anger and depression, the violence in our streets, our homes, our world, the hunger, the hatred, the resurgent tribalism, the inequality, the loss of soul - you have to wonder why it is so hard to rid ourselves of this economic paradigm and reach into something deeper, more meaningful, more worthy of the dignity of the human spirit.
This work, this project to wrest ourselves from the crisis of inevitable collapse - now that is a journey more worthy of us. And that is the challenge we face now - to claim lives of far deeper meaning than the one that has consumed our world, being at the service of global corporate powers that are the real energy behind the loss of hope.
|Photo: M Swedish|
Yes, it will be shattering to many of the myths and fantasies that have supported our sense of self and purpose. But they are collapsing in any case, so it's time to find a new vision for the human journey. This one hasn't worked out very well. It's time to have the courage to face the emptiness of this economic path, to release ourselves from its addictive powers, to journey back into relationship with the planet, into its reality, the one from which we emerged and on which we are completely dependent. Maybe by doing that we can begin to discover (or rediscover) the sense of a deeper meaning and purpose in our lives, and thereby bring about a rebirth of the human species.
We have to. We have no other choice - if we want to keep living here.
~ Margaret Swedish
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|CENTER FOR NEW CREATION|