Sunday, November 20, 2011

stage three

The new climate events summary is probably the most massive update ever at blisterdata.  Striking about the climate- and environmental data stream over the past month is the rising tide of items on civil evolution versus disenlightenment.  There has never been so much attention to the cultural dimension of the biospherical transition as in this autumn.

The transformation has now unfolded along three stages.  The first is a coalescing consensus on the groundswell of news so dire that they threaten longterm survival.  Recent book titles, such as Lester Brown's World on the Edge--How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse (2011), speak for themselves.  As do the annual topics of volumes in the State of the World Report series by the Worldwatch Institute:  Into a Warming World 2009, Transforming Cultures 2010, and Innovations to Nourish the Planet 2011, the last of which puts a happy face on trends that are frankly expressed inside the covers, such as "Africa's soil fertility crisis and the coming famine" (S. 59).  We know we are in trouble.  That's stage one.

Stage two is the failure of political leaders to deal with this knowledge.  The Democrats do not dare to build policy around climate change since this would cost corporate donations.  The Republicans are in flat-out denial lockdown mode; to them the scientific findings do not even exist.  (It is ironic that conservatives, who pride themselves on manly John-Wayne-virtues, turn out to be too effete to stomach the facts.)  It is similar with other topics that deserve to be capitalized: Peak Oil, Mass Transit, Sustainability, Renewable Energy, and the great taboo Population Growth Control.  Facts on the ground overwhelm the political system's management capacities. 

Stage three begins once again with a coalescing consensus, only this time about the very failure of leadership, an executive, ethical, and cognitive failure tied to sellout to the highest bidder.  This failure also reflects a generation gap: the old are the grasshopper generation that eats everything up; the young are left with empty wallets, must think creatively, and will be the solutions generation.  The unfairness of it all galvanizes discontent.  Now the Occupy movement has gone mainstream and is being endorsed by philosophers (Habermas, Zizek), nobel laureates (Stiglitz, Krugman) and green sages (Suzuki, Sachs) worldwide.  Columbia professor Jeffrey Sachs put it best, I think: it is the beginning of a new progressive movement, and what we are witnessing is historic. 

Sixty-one months left.

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