Sunday, January 08, 2006

Arrogance and Disaster

This morning, while visiting just before brunch, I found myself opining about the need for humankind to reconsider all that it thinks it knows right now.

I offered that we should reconsider our views about Nationalism,

our views about God,

our views about ourselves,

our views about work,

our views about energy,

our views about our economic systems.

We should certainly reconsider our anachronistic political divisions,

of conservative and liberal,

democrat and republican,

capitalist and communist, and

right and left.

My friend then said,

"So you see a great disaster coming."

I responded that it would be in the plural.

We then recounted to ourselves,

this last year,

which started with the Tsunami and its extraordinary losses,

followed by Katrina and the loss of an American City,

only to be followed by the devastation in Pakistan.

We reminded one another

how we had become numb do these events already.

It brought to mind this story in The Age from late last week.

Climatic convulsions, disaster, and arrogance
The Age
January 7, 2006

Deal positively with climate change
or watch our civilisation perish, writes Peter Saul.

AFTER the New Year hangovers have cleared, we typically reflect on the year past and contemplate the ways in which we can make the coming one happier and more successful.

National leaders would do well to reflect on the work of Pulitzer Prize and double National Science Book Prize winner Jared Diamond, who has conducted comprehensive research into why societies have prospered or failed over the past 13,000 years.

In his 1997 book Guns, Germs and Steel, Diamond tried to answer the question as to why some societies have grown over the past 13,000 years in population, wealth, culture, science and military might, while others have not.

In his 2005 book Collapse, he focuses on why some societies crash and burn after promising starts, or indeed after centuries of great prosperity and global influence. In both books, Diamond devotes considerable space to Australia, and to how it stacks up against the historical markers that determine whether a society will continue to prosper — or to exist at all.

Diamond found that societies that get off to a good start (such as Australia) subsequently collapsed as a result of:

■Inadvertently inflicting irreversible damage to the environment, through overcultivation, excessive logging, overfishing.

■Adverse climate change from long-term natural cycles (such as the advance of polar ice caps) or infrequent events (such as volcanic eruptions).

■Hostile relationships with neighbouring societies resulting in debilitating or devastating wars.

■Decreased support from friendly neighbours because of political or trade tensions or because the neighbours became weak.

■Society's unwillingness to confront positively the effects of the above once their effects started to threaten its prosperity.

"Successful" societies frequently decline and even disappear soon after reaching what appeared to be a golden age.

So, our current economic "success" is no reason for complacency.

Historical lessons for sustainable national prosperity — care for your environment, build good relationships with your neighbours, prepare for tough times, develop leadership and decision-making processes that are capable of responding to change, act in the best long-term interests of the whole rather than the elite — are relevant for sustainable organisations and sustainable communities.

Jim Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and George Bush's top climate modeller, says we have "at most, 10 years" to make the drastic cuts in carbon emissions that might head off irreversible climatic convulsions.

So it's urgent that we act now."

Even though this piece is written for Australians,

It is a shoe that fits well for the entire Empire as well.

Our arrogance in the face of impending climate change,

strategic resource peaking,

and the concentration of weath and decisionmaking processes,

in the hands of fewer and fewer,

who grow ever more oblivious to the real world,

coupled with rampant technological acceleration,

is a recipe for disaster and calamity.

Yet, if we heed the warnings of our scientists,

our philosophers, our poets, our authors, and

our visionaries,

and drop our arrogance,

We may be able to escape the observations of Mr. Diamond.

"Successful" societies frequently decline and even disappear soon after reaching what appeared to be a golden age.
...........Jared Diamond

“Arrogance diminishes wisdom”.
..........Arabian Proverb


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* art courtesy of dontrato.bryce


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The vast majority of our population here in the United States is anesthestized by the balm of the masses: cheap food and easy credit. We're going down the tubes. It's just a question of WHEN. Sorry. I'm gettin' the hell of out Dodge (Austin).

6:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"And as things fell apart/ nobody paid much attention." Talking Heads
from the song (Nothing But)Flowers

This line from an eighteen year-old song has been echoing in my head this year. The human beings will be wanting to achieve some focus pretty soon.

12:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Watching the news of the day as it focuses on the symptoms of our problems makes me believe we are good deal away from actually confronting the real problems.

6:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We lived in Snyder from 1952 to 1957 and it didn't rain. Mother worried and worried. She said, oil isn't going to last forever.

Folks shouldn't live as if it will.

6:20 AM  
Blogger memo said...

Gee! Five out of five, sounds like we aced the test! Having just pulled into Dodge, I've had ten hours (unlike some who had close to 18 hrs)to reflect on differences between cultures and on this trip one thing in particular seemed to stick in my head. Back in our secondary education/indoctrination days we used to get a lot of denigrating talk about "fatalistic" societies, ie..ones that did not conform to our own world view of molding the planet to our own ends. Maybe these societies were more in touch with reality than we were taught.

8:12 PM  

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