Coffeehouse Climate and ‘Generation Hot’

September 25, 2010

As anyone gifted should know, a cigarette and a cup of coffee is the maximus-a-mode in a perfect remedial coupling — no matter the clock face.

And then, take that coupling, couple it with an environment of other like peoples and stuff, and faster-than-you-can-say-Kafka-three-times — innovative/enlightened speech and thought develops.
(However, in these more-than enlightened, techno-times, one is required to remove tobacco from the hyped-up twosome, and maybe if nothing else, replace it with a Droid.)
Freak-me-not: The coffeehouse has not only impressed just myself, but apparently influenced the rise of advanced civilization.

(Illustration found here).

In the mid-1990s, during a personally-weird period, I became a regular customer at a newly-opened coffee shop in Pismo Beach, CA, the Black Pearl Coffee House (now sadly the original longtime defunct — read an AolTravel blurb here), and seemingly for the first time, recognized the difference between coffee, and ‘coffee as espresso.’
And all this coffee‘s side affects/effects.
I went from customer to barista to eventual de facto manager seemingly quicker than whipping-up a soy-milk, double-shot cappuccino.
Along with the beans came the brain salad.

A comfortable, intellectual-leaning place to sip good coffee attracts all kinds from everywhere.
Pismo Beach was a draw: Consumers of the Pearl’s rich, black-and-strong coffee by-products came from all over the planet carrying a wide assortment of ideas, experiences, lifestyles, and of course, a shitload of opinions (which may all be the same), and in coming in contact with all that melting shit-pot diversity, I felt a better person for it — and a revelation of how neat, so-wonderfully mysterious was, “Enigma.”
The Pearl’s noir ambuience — called by some as of the ‘Casablanca‘ fashion — cultivated learning and discussion tingled with a bit of shadowed romance.
There’s been other coffee shops over the years, some good, some shitty, some about average, but nothing like the one known by cool locals just as, the Pearl.

Ironically, I no longer drink coffee having mutated to yerba matte tea, which still leaves me under the coffee house umbrella, if not its support foundation.
Anyhow, this coffee recollection was perked this morning by a post on The Dish about the influence on mankind of coffee and gathering-rooms of coffee houses.
Science/technology/cultural writer, Steven B. Johnson, gave a  lecture in Oxford, England, in connection with his new book, “Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation,” and how when 1600s England switched from alcohol to coffee, the impact was staggering.
In the talk from last July (the video found at The Dish link or here), Johnson explained how society shifted from near-brain dead to good cheer nearly overnight.
The money quote:

“The English coffee house was crucial in the development and spread of one of the greatest intellectually flowerings in the last 500 years, what we now called, the Enlightenment.”

Also the Brits’ switch from consuming alcohol, “day-in-and-day-out, from dawn to dusk,” as Johnson says, to coffee, and shifting from taverns to coffee houses, naturally produced better ideas and much-more sound minds: “…effectively drunk all day. And you switched from a depressant to a stimulate in your life, you would have better ideas..”
And that’s a damn fact.

Not only the beverage, but the ambiance.
Johnson says it was also where these coffee products were consumed, or the “architecture of the space” in these coffee houses, that fueled the hatching and spreading of ideas amongst a mass-variety of people types, an arena where “ideas has sex.”
Kink with a touch of creepy.
Johnson, however, provides a happy gloss to innovations with “very long incubation periods” that supposedly were humane and good, but has put humanity on the course it now finds itself — were these new concepts more motivated by a higher-than-thou, intellectual greed in the beginning, and later, by a reality of financial greed as it is nowadays?
Science and technology via enlightenment has led us to where?
Mankind’s enthralled brain full of its wonder and enlightenment might have an extinction clause.
Sonofabitch!
Who’d in the livin’ shit figured coffee was instrumental in peak oil/peak everything/climate change?
All I wanted was coffee and a smoke.

Coffee houses, and, yes, even coffee shops, attract the yearning young.
One of my first discoveries from hangin’ at the Pearl, for an instance, was the meaning and depth of the “gothic subculture,” those wonderfully-unique people who enjoy dark shadows and mascara on guys.
They were always ready for talk about literature, movies, music, not much about politics, though, unless was to fuck all authority — and most-usually, the nicest people around.
These young people nowadays, sometimes called Generation Y, or Echo Boomers (vs the one previous, Gen X; and before them, my compadres, the asshole Baby Boomers) have seemingly inherited a new moniker, and it ain’t pretty for anyone or any age, “Generation Hot.”
Mark Hertsgaard, the environment correspondent for The Nation, has written a new book, “Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth,” and posted an article at HuffPost about it.
A few snips:

In fact, every child on earth born after June 23, 1988 belongs to what I call Generation Hot.
This generation includes some two billion young people, all of whom have grown up under global warming and are fated to spend the rest of their lives confronting its mounting impacts.
For Generation Hot, the brutal summer of 2010 is not an anomaly; it’s the new normal.

In other words, dangerous climate change is no longer tomorrow’s problem; it is here today.
But for most of us, the other scientific shoe has yet to drop.
Aside from a fundamentalist few, most people around the world, in rich and poor countries alike, accept that climate change is real and has already begun to occur.
Nevertheless, many non-specialists still do not grasp the most fiendish aspect of the climate problem: we can’t turn it off.
No matter how many solar panels, electric cars and other green technologies we humans may embrace, the fact remains that more severe climate change is locked in for decades to come.
The reason is the physical inertia of the climate system: the fact that carbon dioxide can remain in the atmosphere for centuries.
Even if global greenhouse gas emissions were magically halted overnight, sheer physical inertia would keep average global temperatures rising for another thirty years at least, scientists say.

One of the key facts of the 21st century is that climate change is going to get worse, perhaps a lot worse, before it gets better.
Like it or not, the kids of Generation Hot will have to learn how to cope with the consequences — not only for their health and economic prospects but their emotional well-being.

All too true.
Hertsgaard marks that day in 1988 as the original alarm: The warning came from NASA scientist James Hansen’s testimony to the U.S. Senate and, crucially, the decision by the New York Times to print the news on page 1, which in turn made global warming a household phrase in news bureaus, living rooms and government offices the world over.

In an even-more sad reality, the real start to this bad weather affair occurred more than 12 years before Hansen’s oratory, the original Earth Day, April 22, 1970: Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.
On that day 40 years ago, a shitload of people thought the future was that sign at the left — if something wasn’t done, humankind wouldn’t last past the 1990s.

Now the situation is far, far worse then even imagined back then, with far less popular support.

(Illustration found here).

The word, ecology, made its appearance on the world’s popular stage and I toyed a little while with the idea of studying to become an ecologist, even if I lacked any discernible skills in math and science.
The decade after April 1970 saw the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, passage by the US Congress of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species act and other key pieces of environmental legislation.
This year, one could see the twist to the plan, how the creators of pollution and environmental damage spin the smoke and mirrors of climate-change denial.
From the Washington Post last April: In 1970, students at San Jose State buried a car as a protest against consumerism. In 2010, there will be Earth Day events in Washington put on by Chevrolet and Ford.

The car should have stayed buried — or else we’re all going to be Generation Gone.

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