“There are grave doubts at the hugeness of the land, and whether one government can comprehend the whole.”
— Henry Adams
As a young man doing solo hikes in the White Mountains of New Hampshire I learned a very important lesson, which may have saved my life more than once. If you lose the trail, don’t plunge ahead hoping to find it again. Retrace your steps until you are back on it.
I remembered that when I was lost in the back alleys of Medellin after midnight. I remembered in dense fog in the Great Smoky Mountains. I remembered it when, being out for a week north of Harpers Ferry during Hurricane Agnes, the rain had pounded my brain to mush, visibility was a blur, and the trail had become a river. I retraced and made it back.
What needs to be done now is very simple. Whether we will choose to do it soon enough to matter is more complicated. Social inertia binds us unnecessarily. We want to continue forward momentum. We don’t want to give up our hard-earned progress.
Ongoing natural disasters in the oldest cities of Netherlands, Belgium and Germany; a heat dome scorching the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia; snow in Brazil; unprecedented forest fires in the Western states and Russian Arctic, making their own weather and darkening distant cities; Antarctica melting away its glaciers; flooding in Maharashtra, Flagstaff and the Zhengzhou subway; ancient rivers running dry — these disasters come at us like a drone swarm, drawing our attention and compelling us to confront demons we have known about but decided to ignore. The closer to us the flames or the waves, the more difficult it is to claim ignorance. The excuses ring so hollow we can no longer bring ourselves to say them aloud.
“It’s not so much that #ClimateChange itself is proceeding faster than expected — the warming is right in line with model predictions from decades ago. Rather, it’s the fact that some of the impacts are greater than scientists predicted.”
— Michael E. Mann
Earth's 'vital signs' are getting worse and there's evidence that many are close or have surpassed 'tipping points' 16…www.dailymail.co.uk
We have known, indisputably since the Club of Rome report in 1972, that civilization was approaching limits to growth and would need to develop a contracting economic paradigm to preserve any gains for the future. Not having done so, many of those gains, and far more, are now being surrendered in very unpleasant ways. Our children are bankrupted before they are born.
Limits to Growth by Donella Meadows | Chelsea Green Publishing
John N. Cooper, for AxisofLogic.com- This is a wonderful book. Originally published in 1972 as Limits to Growth and…www.chelseagreen.com
There are many, perhaps still a majority, who believe that we will pass through this crisis and resume our trajectory towards the stars, our unique human capacity giving us the tools and technologies we will need to prevail, as we always have.
This is hubris. Geoff Lawton once said, ““We have expressions that say, in our language, ‘We are out of order.’ And we are. We are out of order. The orders of scale of size relevant within our design patterning.…”
We do not lack for ideas, technology or skills to reverse climate change. All those tools have been in our kit for centuries, gathering rust. But we are now well into the time of consequences, as the “natural” disasters in the news merely remind us.
There are many examples of indigenous peoples who practiced a steady-state economy over millennia that served all equally well, humans and non-humans alike. Those are successful models we can learn, recover, refashion, but it seems unlikely any large number of us would embark upon them. They are too alien to our popular culture, too heavy a lift.
Ecovillages, bioregionalism, forest peoples, lake edge peoples, nomads; governance devolved to watersheds; coordinated regenerative practices — these are antifragile memes. Plant trees and mangroves and let them grow. Grow fruit, nuts, alley crops, perennial root crops, bamboo shoots. Coppice and pollard for building materials, furniture, and small fuels. Make biochar and even draw electricity and wood gas from that drawdown process for your lights, refrigeration, air conditioning — modest devices that can be repaired by a blacksmith or tinsmith.
Take baby steps to get there by improving your own efficiency (use less energy, land, and other inputs and make less waste); transition to carbon drawdown alternatives for your most common activities; in every way shrink your own footprint; become responsible. Grow up.
In this genre-bending novel-among the first to have launched sci-fi into the arena of literature-one of the great…www.penguinrandomhouse.com
In his 1952–53 science fiction novel, More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon imagined human evolution progressing in the 20th century to what he called Homo gestalt, created from several individuals with unusual mental abilities. It may be that within five years ubiquitous satellite internet with infinitesimal latency will enable homo gestalt with AI/AR/VR prosthetic devices to extend its fields of perception and computational power.
Alternatively, by biological succession, we can let our innate empathic qualities group us into telepathic clusters of parallel processors. The protagonists in More Than Human struggled to find who they are/were and whether they are meant to help humanity or destroy it. That should not be a question, but it has become one now.
The current pandemic may eventually turn out to be a culling of the herd — it is still too early to say and the popular meme of returning to the growth patterns of the past still holds sway — but as our bouts with 2021 weather events should make clear, there are more and greater calamities in the wings. The single biggest change we can make as humans is to stop acting like small warring tribes and go back to being family. We won’t survive by being clever. We need to be able.