Thursday, June 27, 2024

#179 / What We Say Is What, And How, We Think

On April 24, 2024, The New York Times told its readers that "Climate Doom Is Out. ‘Apocalyptic Optimism’ Is In." The statement in quotes, the one that is linked, is the online version of the headline that appears on an article in The Times, written by Alexis Soloski.

I am no fan of the "Doomer" mentality - quite the contrary. However, I do question whether the April 24th article by Soloski really gives us much reason to move to "Apocalyptic Optimism." Soloski begins her article with the following observations: 

The philanthropist Kathryn Murdoch has prioritized donations to environmental causes for more than a decade. She has, she said, a deep understanding of how inhospitable the planet will become if climate change is not addressed. And she and her colleagues have spent years trying to communicate that. 
“We have been screaming,” she said. “But screaming only gets you so far.” 
This was on a morning in early spring. Murdoch and Ari Wallach, an author, producer and futurist, had just released their new PBS docuseries, “A Brief History of the Future,” and had hopped onto a video call to promote it — politely, no screaming required. Shot cinematically, in some never-ending golden hour, the six-episode show follows Wallach around the world as he meets with scientists, activists and the occasional artist and athlete, all of whom are optimistic about the future. An episode might include a visit to a floating village or a conversation about artificial intelligence with the musician Grimes. In one sequence, marine biologists lovingly restore a rehabbed coral polyp to a reef. The mood throughout is mellow, hopeful, even dreamy. Which is deliberate.
“There’s room for screaming,” Wallach said. “And there’s room for dreaming.”
“A Brief History of the Future” joins some recent books and shows that offer a rosier vision of what a world in the throes — or just past the throes — of global catastrophe might look like. Climate optimism as opposed to climate fatalism.
Hannah Ritchie’s “Not the End of the World: How We Can be the First Generation to Build a Sustainable Planet” argues that many markers of disaster are less bad than the public imagines (deforestation, overfishing) or easily solvable (plastics in the oceans). In “Fallout,” the television adaptation of the popular video game that recently debuted on Amazon Prime Video, the apocalypse (nuclear, not climate-related) makes for a devastated earth, sundry mutants and plenty of goofy, kitschy fun — apocalypse lite.

To a large extent, what Soloski is doing in her article is presenting Ritchie's arguments in a positive framework. As is consistent with my own method for trying to understand what I read, I seized on a single phrase in what Soloski wrote as providing a fair way to understand Soloski's assertions. The phrase I seized upon was taken from Soloski's quotation of the title of Hannah Ritchie's book. Soloski appears to present the following statement in a positive light: "We Can be the First Generation to Build a Sustainable Planet." 

The planet being discussed is pictured immediately below: 

I would like to hope that many - perhaps even all - of those reading this blog posting will agree that human beings did not, in truth, "build" this planet. Nor can we "build" some other, or modified, or substitute planet. 

Earth, as seen from space is not a human creation. If we want to employ that "build" metaphor, to describe our relationship with the Earth, it is much more accurate to say that the Earth has "built" us, than to claim that we "built," or can ever "build," the planet we are so privileged to inhabit, and upon which our lives so totally and utterly depend. 

What we say indicates what, and how, we think. And as long as we continue to think that we are "in charge" of the World of Nature, rather than recognizing and humbly confessing that we need to admit our total dependence on the World of Nature, we are not going to find a solution to the Global Warming Crisis that is presenting an immediate challenge to the continued existence of human civilization. 

The crisis we confront? Oh, we "built" that, alright. But let's not decieve ourselves that the very attitude that put us into peril is the approach that will save us from the situation that we have, ourselves, created. One of my "long ago" blog posts comes to mind. It's about the "First Rule Of Holes."

1 comment:

  1. Geo-engineering is the elephant in the room of "global warming". If we don't recognize this and stop it, we don't stand a chance. Watch "The Dimming" @


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