Earth Gone

November 13, 2008

UPDATE BELOW

As President-Elect Obama continues a rapid transition into the White House, he faces not only the mundane problems, like the financial meltdown, wars and more wars, but also the most-major of issues: The end of civilization.
Nothin’ heavy.

dali

(Illustration of Salvador Dali’s “Cavalier de L’Apocalypse” — Horsemen of the Apocalypse — can be found here).

Hidden in the everyday, lost in the flurry of news from Wall Street, Baghdad, and points in between, is the climatic climate, global warming being just the end result of thousands of years of civilized living, creating a planet dying in its own vomit.
The culture of civilization is to blame.

Derrick Jensen, an anarcho-primitivist and author, says the end of our known age is quickly approaching, but it’s been a long-time coming.
In an engaging interview posted yesterday at Red State Rebels:

  • But when you think of the plains and hillsides of Iraq, is the first thing that you think of is cedar forests so thick that sunlight never touches the ground.
    That’s how it was prior to the beginnings of culture.
    One of the first written myths of this culture is Gilgamesh deforesting the plains and hillsides of Iraq to make cities, and the Arabian peninsula was Oak savannah, and the near east was heavily forested, Greece was heavily forested, Italy was heavily forested, north Africa was heavily forested.
    Those forests were cut for, to make the Phoenician and Egyptian navies.
    You know this culture destroys land bases wherever it goes.
    It destroys, it destroys the natural order. It’s built on, it’s not based on living in one place forever. The Tolowa, on whose land I now live, lived here for at least 12,500 years if you believe the myths of science, and this culture’s lived here for 180 years, and the place is hammered.
    I mean there was, there was salmon runs so thick that people were afraid to put their boats in the water for fear they would capsize, and the salmon are, are almost gone…

Life under current conditions is doomed.

  • So yeah, it’s, it’s, I mean, also it’s really obvious.
    I mean any way of life that’s based on the use of non-renewable resources won’t last, pretty, pretty clear, and I mean, so this way of life has never been sustainable, and it never will be.
    Any way of life also, that’s based on the hyper-exploitation of renewable resources won’t last.
    The only way you can live sustainably is by actually improving your habitat.
    That’s how all creatures that survive in the long run, survive in the long run, and this was a really stupid blow out, and it’s killing the planet.

The entire interview is well-worth the read. (h/t to counterpunch.org).

And climate change itself is apparently coming faster than anticipated.
Watch David Letterman’s rant/worry episode on the earth’s demise here.

And this morning’s New York Times:

  • A noxious cocktail of soot, smog and toxic chemicals is blotting out the sun, fouling the lungs of millions of people and altering weather patterns in large parts of Asia, according to a report released Thursday by the United Nations.
    The byproduct of automobiles, slash-and-burn agriculture, wood-burning kitchen stoves and coal-fired power plants, these plumes of carbon dust rise over southern Africa, the Amazon basin and North America.
    But they are most pronounced in Asia, where so-called atmospheric brown clouds are dramatically reducing sunlight in many Chinese cities and leading to decreased crop yields in swaths of rural India, say a team of more than a dozen scientists who have been studying the problem since 2002.

So don’t sweat the small shit.

UPDATE: 11/14/08

A look at why the human race isn’t responding to all this horrible climate changes, despite all the reports filling the global-warming in-box.
Lisa Bennett, communications director for the Center for Ecoliteracy, paints a picture of non-response:

  • “Many climate scientists find the response to global warming completely baffling,” says Elke Weber, a Columbia University psychologist and the chair of the Global Roundtable on Climate Change’s Public Attitudes/Ethical Issues Working Group. According to Weber, climate scientists just can’t understand why government and the public have been so slow to act on the extraordinary information these scientists have provided.

    Among the most significant factors they point to: The way we’re psychologically wired and socially conditioned to respond to crises makes us ill-suited to react to the abstract and seemingly remote threat posed by global warming. Their insights are also leading to some intriguing recommendations about how to get people to take action-including the potentially dangerous prospect of playing on people’s fears.

    Like genocide, the long-term consequences of global warming are so enormous we can’t wrap our heads around them. Scientists predict in 40 years global warming will displace 20 million people from Beijing, 40 million from Shanghai and surrounding areas, and 60 million from Calcutta and Bangladesh. These statistics are daunting, but they’re abstract; they don’t inspire us to feel for the one individual whose life will be put at risk. As a result, we fail to take appropriate action.

Read Bennett’s entire thought-provoking post at AlterNet.

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