Delight Springs

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Great Transition

I'm going to miss that smiling morning moon, when it shifts to the right and behind the tree (from my present point of view) out here in the pre-dawn. But shift happens.

In Environmental Ethics today Naomi Klein tells us "the right is right," to admit the reality of climate change would also be to concede the necessity of a fundamental change in the American way of life. That would shatter their free-market worldview. Easier simply to cry "hoax" and deny reality. They're dead wrong about the science of climate change, but they do understand that if enough of us take it seriously it will change everything. That's why they deny. Klein says it's rational for them to deny climate change, given the stakes. It's not, though. It's not rational for anyone to deny the conditions of life.

We all suffer that kind of confirmation bias, that tendency to deny inconvenient truths that undermine our complacency and subvert our convictions. But as recently as 2007, "climate change was something almost everyone acknowledged was happening." It's a bit frightening to reflect on just how quickly that changed, in direct response to targeted propaganda campaigns. We're that manipulable. But this also shows how quickly a cultural ethos can change, and that offers a glimmer of hope that an ardent counter-campaign on behalf of reality might still succeed.

So the issue is stark: do we "need to plan and manage our societies to reflect our goals and values," or can we all just go to the tailgate party and the football game and leave the fate of the earth "to the magic of the market"? 

The magic of the voting booth may play a role this year too. Are all those tailgaters going to vote? Are their hearts and minds in the game too? We'd better assume that they are. 

In "Hot Money" Klein begins to tackle "a logic even more entrenched than free trade - the logic of indiscriminate economic growth." Instead we need, she says, to think differently and begin to "conceive of alternative futures." That's why, later in the course, we'll ponder varieties of "ecotopia."

The "Great Transition" to a very different way of life, to deliberately-restrained levels of consumption, to less driving and flying, to local food and, really, local everything (except thinking), to "selective degrowth," and maybe even to fewer "shitty jobs" and more access to health care, education, food, clean water... is it only a dream? Or is it about to become a real fight?

5:30/5:42, 75/93/71, 7:16

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