Thursday, December 22, 2011

Renewal



A meditation on the natural world: Ave Maria (Gounod), performed by Edward Simoni

This time of new birth in deepest winter reminds us to pay attention to our strategies for regenerative landscaping and watershed restoration. Our global forests are the crucial carbon sinks needed to reverse the effects of climate change. Progress made in recent years shows that mankind is not doomed to strip the planet of its forest cover. But the transition from tree-chopper to tree-hugger is not happening fast enough. Read further in this article from The Economist.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Third Year, After the Rain

Sun's out again after a few dreary days, following a record windstorm here in the San Gabriel valley. We're still digging out after that event, unprecedented in its fury and destruction of the urban tree canopy and the electrical power infrastructure; snapping power poles all through the region, downing trees that were over a hundred years old. While this is a needed rain, due to the overbuilt human environment and its demands, the seasons are tumbling around each other now. That calm, abundant existence of resources has come to an end. We find ourselves fighting to retain stability in things previously taken for granted, such as the turning of the seasons, the replenishment of rain, the chill of the snow that slowly melts and provides the water we've designed all of our systems around.

I reflect on the failure of our country to even cooperate in the Durban climate agreement, let alone establish leadership in a critical area of global threats to the future. There's uprisings all over the world against the kind of oligarchical control that exists in many countries for the benefit of the few, and we're seeing the same now here in the USA with the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations. This control by power and money has diminished the human ability to creatively address these critical issues and craft new approaches that respond to the changing climate conditions created by our industrial era development. The greater good is no longer served, and the deterioration of natural processes and environment continues unabated due to the blindness of this control in the name of profit.

I've taken a position that this "need for profit" can be re-channeled in constructive ways to benefit the global community and provide the massive profit opportunity that the corporate world demands. This enhances sustainable energy production, clean industrial development and communication infrastructure (the real value investments) as opposed to sales of tons of junk and cheap housing all over the planet and marks a shift away from the "consumer economy" that has proven to be so destructive to PEOPLE (not "consumers") and the systems that support life on this planet.

The economic argument for shifting the global fiscal engine to a larger infrastructure reflects the argument made by Joseph Stiglitz in a Vanity Fair article, wherein he explains that the economic shift that ultimately lifted the globe out of the Depression was the public spending for World War II:

It is important to grasp this simple truth: it was government spending—a Keynesian stimulus, not any correction of monetary policy or any revival of the banking system—that brought about recovery. The long-run prospects for the economy would, of course, have been even better if more of the money had been spent on investments in education, technology, and infrastructure rather than munitions, but even so, the strong public spending more than offset the weaknesses in private spending. Government spending unintentionally solved the economy’s underlying problem: it completed a necessary structural transformation, moving America, and especially the South, decisively from agriculture to manufacturing.


The global community needs to prevail over destructive corporate entrenchment in "old economy" approaches so that the transformation to a larger infrastructure is possible. Thus an abundance of life can re-establish itself once the earth is protected from the impacts of industrialism; we need to work as networks and communities of people to re-engage in the natural environment and make constructive change. This change amounts to allowing the earth to regenerate its natural processes while human civilization moves to a larger technological, energy and manufacturing framework that supports our desires to keep expanding our civilization and moving through ever higher levels of scientific and industrial development.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Point of View



The crucial approach to reversing the immense, critical impact that our exponential growth as a species has had on this world involves changing our point of view and shifting the scale of our vision. This 5-minute video by Joel Primack and Nancy Ellen Abrams, based upon their book, "The New Universe and the Human Future," makes the very succinct point that right now is the point of necessary inflection of the traditional human expansion and resource consumption in order to preserve our planetary resources for the future.

In urging us to make this change, there's no specific course charted for moving our point of view from a lowly, parochial way of seeing and moving into a larger framework that lets us arc over the globe and understand how to drastically restructure our living conditions and our culture to adapt to a needed dramatic change in our way of living. I think there's a way to sketch out this future.

First of all, understand the reality of the situation. Then take the larger view that we've been expanding upon with our necessary space developments and satellite network, those first fine filaments, and weave them into a viable industry that can accommodate our expansion yet focus its purpose on miniaturizing our impact and reversing the damage we've done. A very logical vehicle for doing this would be to take the vast resources of our military and corporate industrial complexes and turn them towards the objective of creating profitable and constructive industries outside of the biosphere that produce energy and the needed materials for industrial production, scientific research and exploration. These are the big payoff strategies for this world, not the annihilation of people and life on the planet for private profit and governmental gain. It would enlarge our focus and allow us to see solutions that are not readily apparent now.

The big view of our global culture finds that we've stayed too long in the resource extraction phase and have fouled our nest. The only way to harness the expansionary nature of our Darwinian impulses is to expand our wings and fly out into the bigger space of the solar system and the larger vision of a planetary network. We have to cease the destruction on the earth that we're engaging in for power and money, and turn to the values of life and regeneration, and re-frame our concepts of capital investments and understand the real risks of systems. This challenge will lay the groundwork for a shift in our human ideas about what truly matters.

And then we can begin to heal the environment and our society. It's a human problem, a problem of the dying natural world that's struggling under our weight, and a critical juncture in the kind of future this planet will see. We do have the power to make this choice now, as Primack and Abrams are urging us to do.