This week should have stimulated in this writer hope for the future of civilization. It has not.
The latest update in a new United Nations–led report from the International Panel on Climate Change prepared by hundreds of climate scientists around the world tells us the human-driven climate crisis is now well under way. Essentially civilization is in trouble.
Civilization as explained in Wikipedia refers to organized densely-populated human settlements divided into hierarchical social classes with a ruling elite and subordinate urban and rural populations, which engage in intensive agriculture, mining, small-scale manufacture and trade. Civilization concentrates power, extending human control over the rest of nature, including over other human beings.
Cultural critic and author Derrick Jensen argues that modern civilization is directed towards the domination of the environment and humanity itself in an intrinsically harmful, unsustainable, and self-destructive fashion. Defending his definition both linguistically and historically, he defines civilization as "a culture... that both leads to and emerges from the growth of cities", with "cities" defined as "people living more or less permanently in one place in densities high enough to require the routine importation of food and other necessities of life". This need for civilizations to import ever more resources, he argues, stems from their over-exploitation and diminution of their own local resources. Therefore, civilizations inherently adopt imperialist and expansionist policies and, to maintain these, highly militarized, hierarchically structured, and coercion-based cultures and lifestyles.
In "Dark Ages America: The Final Phase of Empire," the cultural historian Morris Berman writes that "up and down the scale in the United States, a lack of empathy, an almost congenital inability to imagine the pain or the reality of the Other, is bred in the bone." He refers to what he calls an "American hatred of freedom." And he asserts that "the value system of at least 90 percent of the American population (at a conservative estimate), down through the decades, has acted to exclude a number of options that are essential for a healthy society. On one level, one might say that America takes away love and gives its citizens gadgets in return, which most of them regard as a terrific bargain."
The reality is that Americans in positions of power have known for 40+ years that we would reach the current point of climate crisis. Of course, the scientists have to tell us that only a major reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions this decade can prevent climate breakdown, and that some changes may already be “irreversible.”
And, of course, those of us who live in the American created civilization know that is not true- there is absolutely no chance of a major reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions this decade.
The problem actually starts because of the human civilization described above by Morris Berman. More than one article about the new study begins with a summary denial of the truth about the source of the climate problem: "it’s caused by fossil fuels." Actually fossil fuels aren't down there under ground plotting how to get out into the sunlight, building refineries to refine themselves, then drive around in cars spewing carbon dioxide into the air.
No. it's caused by human beings in a civilization that simply cannot survive as it currently exists.
The problem represented in the comic strip to the right as explained by artist KC Green as: "Well, what are you going to do?"
You cannot create a complex civilization without structure. The structure of the dominant 21st Century civilization places unrestrained wealth economics above all else.
Hence, the comparatively minor economic stress associated with the Covid shutdown created anger and aggravated feelings in favor of antivaccination.
The truth is the Covid pandemic gave the current population a chance, by doing practically nothing (getting vaccinated), to reduce the danger for everyone (as understood by scientists). Anger and hostility was the result of pushing vaccination.
Imagine trying to envision such a civilization confronted with being told to cut carbon dioxide emissions in half by doing such things as riding a bus instead of driving. It is just easier to believe the chart below is a lie than to restructure how we live.
In 2007 the first post here was about the threat to climate and to Gray Whales. Two months ago the post was Gray Whales threatened as Biden and Newsom push huge Pacific Coast wind farm developments. Literally, the solution to the climate crisis being pushed in California by the Democrats in power is more electricity use while changing the generation of electricity from fossil fuels to other environmentally harmful sources. In the meantime, the LA Times offers Something is killing gray whales. Is it a sign of oceans in peril?
Actually, it is a sign that because of the structure of our civilization - the Earth as we know it - has begun and will continue to undergo severe climate changes that over a period of decades will force the destruction of the current civilization.
It would be nice to say we acknowledge that we clearly understand that the "human driven" climate crisis is the result of the behavior and lifestyle of people. Instead we talk about carbon dioxide emissions which come from fossil fuels, at most blaming vehicles avoiding any reference to the drivers and passengers who are the ones actively destroying the current climate.
In the 40+ years that we have known clearly we have a climate crisis we have pushed our civilization to be more dependent on climate-damaging behavior, not less so. In the process, we, the people, have caused a climate crisis.
Perhaps news sources like the LA Times and most others could start offering headlines that say "People are killing gray whales. Civilization has put oceans in peril." That's the truth even though telling it may result in a minor reduction in retail sales resulting in less income to the news industry which is totally contrary to the values of our civilations.