Friday, May 12, 2006

The Evolution of Understanding


Here is a story that pretty much captures the way the Climate Change issue is beginning to shape up in Great Britain.

Media alert: Notes from a Dying Planet
by David Cromwell

The media's aversion to addressing the juggernaut of economic 'growth'

Last year we reported that Michael McCarthy, environment editor of the Independent, was "taken aback" at dramatic scientific warnings of "major new threats" in the Earth's climate system. For instance, the West Antarctic ice sheet, previously considered stable, could collapse leading to a 5-metre rise in global sea level. As McCarthy noted: "Goodbye London; goodbye Bangladesh.

Returning home by train from the climate conference where the warnings had been delivered, McCarthy mulled it all over with Paul Brown, then environment correspondent of the Guardian:"By the time we reached London we knew what the conclusion was.

I said: 'The earth is finished.'

McCarthy's bleak conclusion was later amplified by substantial coverage devoted in The Independent to scientist James Lovelock's latest book, 'The Revenge of Gaia'. Lovelock argues that it is already too late to avert climate chaos: "The worst will happen and survivors will have to adapt to a hell of a climate."

A news headline proclaimed, 'Attempts to counter global warming are already doomed to failure, says Lovelock.'

The best we can do here, according to Lovelock, is to build a kind of fortress Britain, conserving our own resources, and rapidly expanding the nuclear sector in a bid to cut carbon dioxide emissions.

No questions were raised in Lovelock's comment piece, or in the accompanying news stories and editorial, about the supreme driver of climate catastrophe: the corporate-driven obsession with economic 'growth' on a finite planet.

But now Michael McCarthy finally appears to have seen the light. A recent front-page Independent article by the environment editor highlighted "a different way forward in the struggle to combat global warming.

It will mean turning established principles of British economic life upside down."


McCarthy expanded: "the pursuit of growth, which essentially has not changed since Victorian times, is misleading, and the terms need to be redefined. Instead, we need a different policy which looks at how much carbon we can afford to emit."


The appalling truth is that none of the major political parties are prepared to propose the systemic changes that are necessary to address impending climate catastrophe.


And, crucially, the media is failing in its vaunted, but illusory, role of holding power to account - even as humanity's fate lies in the balance."


As much as I approve of the sense of urgency in this discussion,

I disagree with the dialectic that is established.

And I disagree with the assumption.

Carbon emissions and economic growth track one another

in a carbon economy...not a post carbon economy.

The debate should not be growth.

The debate should be the evolution of our understanding.

True, many of the beliefs that we hold today about our economies,

will most likely not be held in a post carbon world.

We will measure our success by how high the unemployment rate is,

for we will use the advanced tools of our age to their fullest.

We will measure our success by how low our consumption is,

for we will evolve beyond the consumer age and its waste.

We will not measure our success by the Dow Jones Averages,

nor will we measure our success by the Gross National Product.

Rather, we will understand, as RFK said,

"It (the GNP) does not allow for the health of our families,
the quality of their education or the joy of their play.
It is indifferent to the decency of our factories
and the safety of our streets alike.

It does not include the beauty of our poetry
or the strength of our marriages,
the intelligence of our public debate
or the integrity of our public officials.

It allows neither for the justice in our courts,
nor the justness of our dealings with each other.

The gross national product measures
neither our wit nor our courage,
neither our wisdom nor our learning,
neither our compassion nor devotion to country.

It measures everything, in short,
except that which makes life worthwhile;
and it can tell us everything about America
--except whether we are proud to be Americans.
Robert Kennedy, Detroit, May 5, 1967

We will evolve beyond the Age of Capital,

we will evolve beyond Nations,

beyond left and right,

beyond our ancient mind forms,

To new memes,

and a new human potential.


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Earthfamily Principles

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art courtesy of Morteza Katourzia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

your're hot this week Oz.

Keep churning.

11:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for your inspiration and hope. MS

1:40 PM  

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