Monday, October 30, 2006

Tomgram: Bill McKibben on Our Planetary Fate

The pronghorn antelope, "the prairie ghost," is capable of running at up to sixty miles an hour, twice as fast as any predator in its environment. That extra mileage might seem odd until you realize that, before the last great mammalian megafaunal die-out in North America, some 13,000 to 16,000 years ago, there were evidently creatures (perhaps lions or wolves) which could power along at something close to such speeds. So all those thousands of years, encompassing significant parts of our prehistory and the totality of recorded history from the first days of Ur to the latest disasters in Iraq, and the pronghorn still outraces its ghostly companion. So much time, in human terms, and it still hasn't "registered" its loss; so much time and that niche in our environment remains empty.

It's an evolutionary blink of the eye for the antelope (and its ghost partner). It's not even an evolutionary blink for planet Earth. For us, it's everything. If we wreck our planet, we can't wait another 13,000-16,000 years, no less the millions of years normally involved, to forge a new, well-stocked Earth. For us, when it comes to our environment now is forever.

So, it continually surprises me that this supposedly can-do country, transformed recently into a "homeland" focused on "security," can't lift a finger to do a thing about the environmental degradation going on all around us. The title of Bob Woodward's new bestseller, State of Denial, might have been far better applied to the Bush administration's reaction to our melting planet, or to their complete lack of interest in getting us ready for our "wild" weather ride to come. The odd thing is that, even for those not ready to take global warming or climate change (or whatever name you care to give it) for the staggering danger it is, betting on preparations for it should still be a no-brainer, if not the only sure-fire wager in town. The worst that happens, after all, is that you've put real money into energy conservation and the development of alternative energy sources -- and so into future ! energy independence, the very thing this energy-drunk country obviously needs and, if we are to believe the polls, most American want. Imagine where we'd be now, if we hadn't laughed Jimmy Carter out of the room in 1979 when he suggested investing in a big way in alternative energy R&D. Instead, as Bill McKibben notes below, we've largely ceded the development of wind power -- in fact, the lead in all sorts of alternate energy paths -- to other countries. Haven't we learned anything from the disastrous take-the-money-and-run SUV strategies of GM and Ford in recent years?

Bill McKibben has made something of a career of being ahead of the learning curve in this country on a variety of issues. He's energetic and he's a resource for us all. Thanks to the kindness of the editors of the New York Review of Books, you can check out his latest state-of-the-planet update below. (It will appear in the November 16th issue of the magazine.) Tom

How Close to Catastrophe?

By Bill McKibben

[This piece, which appears in the November 16, 2006 issue of the New York Review of Books, is posted here with the kind permission of the editors of that magazine.]

James Lovelock is among the planet's most interesting and productive scientists. His invention of an electron capture device that was able to detect tiny amounts of chemicals enabled other scientists both to understand the dangers of DDT to the eggshells of birds and to figure out the ways in which chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were eroding the ozone layer. He's best known, though, not for a gadget but for a metaphor: the idea that the earth might usefully be considered as a single organism (for which he used the name of the Greek earth goddess Gaia) struggling to keep itself stable.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

2 comment(s):

The link between Mind and Social / Environmental-Issues.

The fast-paced, consumerist lifestyle of Industrial Society is causing exponential rise in psychological problems besides destroying the environment. All issues are interlinked. Our Minds cannot be peaceful when attention-spans are down to nanoseconds, microseconds and milliseconds. Our Minds cannot be peaceful if we destroy Nature.

Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment.

Subject : In a fast society slow emotions become extinct.
Subject : A thinking mind cannot feel.
Subject : Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys the planet.
Subject : Environment can never be saved as long as cities exist.

Emotion is what we experience during gaps in our thinking.

If there are no gaps there is no emotion.

Today people are thinking all the time and are mistaking thought (words/ language) for emotion.

When society switches-over from physical work (agriculture) to mental work (scientific/ industrial/ financial/ fast visuals/ fast words ) the speed of thinking keeps on accelerating and the gaps between thinking go on decreasing.

There comes a time when there are almost no gaps.

People become incapable of experiencing/ tolerating gaps.

Emotion ends.

Man becomes machine.

A society that speeds up mentally experiences every mental slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

A ( travelling )society that speeds up physically experiences every physical slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

A society that entertains itself daily experiences every non-entertaining moment as Depression / Anxiety.





To read the complete article please follow either of these links :




By Blogger sushil yadav, at 7:06 AM  

Thanks for the links! Very interesting, and much appreciated!

By Blogger Annamarie, at 8:21 PM  

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