Links and Tweets of the Week: August 30, 2009

BLOG Links and Tweets of the Week: August 30, 2009

geoff brown's salt and pepper shakers
Hugging salt and pepper shakers from Geoff‘s Byron Bay vacation shots — I want a bunch of these!


An Uncivilized Solution: Keith Farnish has written the book (free download, or published next month by Chelsea Green) about why industrial civilization is unsustainable and headed for inevitable collapse, and how to help dismantle it to reduce the damage and suffering. His book and blog explain why the activities of environmental climate activists like Greenpeace and PETA are mere PR exercises which not only accomplish nothing (except a modest increase in awareness among people who will do nothing about the problem anyway), but which are easily coopted by greenwashers and other corporatists. Here is Keith’s simple message for humanity:

Human activity is destroying the natural systems that we depend upon for our survival. Our most basic instinct as humans is to survive; yet we continue to destroy our life-support machine. Connected humans understand this terrible contradiction; disconnected humans are not able to.

Not all humans are responsible: just those who are part of Industrial Civilization. Industrial Civilization depends on economic growth and the unsustainable use of natural resources, so it has developed a complex set of tools for keeping people disconnected from the real world and living a life that keeps civilization running. Humans have been manipulated in order to be part of a destructive system.

The only way to prevent global ecological collapse and thus ensure the survival of humanity is to rid the world of Industrial Civilization.

Civilization is complex and delicate: it depends on everything running smoothly and also depends upon people having faith in its goodness. Global ecological systems are changing in unpredictable and major ways; natural resources are running out rapidly; the population is growing, particularly the population of urban areas; there is considerable political and civil unrest developing throughout the world: any combination of these factors are likely to lead to a sudden and catastrophic collapse of civilization during the 21st century.

It is possible to create a situation where civilization is left to crumble gradually, reducing the impact on humanity, and the sooner this is done, the less the global environment will be harmed. The key things we need to do are:

  1. Reconnect with the real world, so that we can understand our close relationships with it in everything we do. The more you connect, the more you will realise how unreal civilization is.
  2. Live in such a way that we do not contribute to the expansion of the global economy, reducing our impact on the natural environment in the process. Be aware that authority figures within the system, such as political leaders and corporations, will attempt to provide you with ‘green’ advice: this advice is designed to ensure that civilization continues, and should be ignored.
  3. Create the conditions so that others may also change through education and, even more importantly, undermining the tools that civilization uses to keep us part of the machine. Don’t waste time protesting: this changes nothing – that is why it is legal.

A future outside of civilization is a better life; one in which we can actually decide for ourselves how we are going to live.

The Fallacy of Climate Activism: Adam Sacks writing in Grist explains eloquently why climate activists are misunderstanding and misrepresenting the core problem causing climate change: it’s not greenhouse gas emissions, it’s our entire industrial civilization that needs to be stopped. Thanks to Endgame for the link.

On the Road to Extinction and In Denial: Robert Jensen in Alternet, from a speech last year in Vancouver: “The agricultural revolution set us on a road to destruction. The industrial revolution ramped up our speed. The delusional revolution has prevented us from coming to terms with the reality of where we are and where we are heading. [And] there’s still overwhelming resistance in the dominant culture to acknowledging that these kinds of discussions are necessary.”

Quietly Passing the Tipping Point: Sharon A talks about the quandary of saying publicly that we’re already too late to prevent catastrophic climate change and the collapse of our civilization. Excerpt:

The last thing I ever want is to break down in front of an audience who came to hear me do the professional optimism thing, but the first couple of times I stood up in front of a room full of people and talked about our climate change situation as I see it – about the increasing evidence that climate sensitivity is greater than we expected – I cried.  I forced myself to admit to my audience that there is a real chance that we cannot prevent our crossing the critical tipping points.  With practice, I can do this without choking up now, but I still have to force myself to say the words “it may already be too late.”

Why am I saying this here?  And why on earth do I do this to my audience and myself, when hope is so terribly important?  I agree with George Monbiot entirely that we have to live our lives as though it is possible to remediate climate change.  By the time that we know for sure where we stand, it probably will be too late – the only choice is to act as though we can do this, because the price, not just to the people so many are implicitly prepared to write off, but to all of us, is potentially so great.

Oblivious to the Long Descent: John Michael Greer on our willingness to deny the laws of thermodynamics. Excerpt:

The ideology a society believes that it embraces and the assumptions about the world that actually underlie its actions and institutions are not uncommonly at odds with one another. It often takes the most strenuous sort of willed inattention to fail to notice the gap, but efforts toward that end can count on the support of public opinion as well as the more tangible backing provided by economic interests…

The hard reality is that the minority of us who happened to have been born in a few powerful countries squandered half a billion years of stored photosynthesis to give ourselves a brief period of spectacular economic abundance, and by doing so, foreclosed the chance that anybody else would enjoy that same abundance in the future. Fossil fuels are not renewable resources in any time frame accessible to our species. Every barrel and ton and cubic foot of fossil fuel we use now is subtracted from the total available to our descendants; despite an orgy of handwaving, no other resource can provide anything approaching the glut of cheap abundant energy on which our lifestyles of relative privilege depend….

The problem here is that very few people want to deal with that reality. The great majority will make themselves believe in zero point energy and evil space lizards and any other absurdity you care to name, rather than gulp and take a deep breath and admit that the prosperity we’ve enjoyed for the last three centuries was bought at our grandchildren’s expense. I sometimes suspect that one of the reasons so many people like to imagine an apocalyptic end to the industrial age is that sudden extinction is easier to contemplate than the experience of slowly waking up to the full extent of our own collective stupidity.

vibram shoe

We Have Nothing to Lose But Our Shoes: Ever since Jason G at Anthropik wrote about how to walk barefoot even in the city, I’ve been suspicious that the sneaker industry has been conning us on what we should wear when we run. Now, there’s an award winning running shoe that offers no unnatural ‘support’, just a thin ultralight vegan layer of protection from broken glass and other urban hazards. (I wore moccasins for much of my childhood.)

Five Measures of Real Community: Mushin draws a mindmap of his sense of what gives real communities their value, that echoes what Peter Block said in Community. What do you think is missing?

  1. Hospitality: welcoming and openness (and perhaps love, energy and passion)
  2. Generosity: giving without expectation of commensurate value in return
  3. Possibility: imagination and appreciation (“we are a community of possibility, not problems and needs to be ‘solved'”)
  4. Social Capital: relationship, collective knowledge, capacity, insight and perspective; and diversity
  5. Co-accountability and Co-commitment: personal and collective responsibility
  6. Conversation: connection and collaboration

A Manifesto for Slow Communication: The argument is that when communications are more measured, face-to-face, and context rich, the benefits far outweigh the additional time and cost of the communication. Thanks to Larry Dressler for the link.

Greeen Burial: You can now get a simple burial (no headstone, no polluting emissions, no chemical preservatives, no old growth coffin) that is more environmentally friendly than cremation. Thanks to my colleague Malik for the link.

Where Are Your Keys? The Language Fluency Game: Watch these videos and discover a completely different and powerful way of learning, based entirely on play. “We seek fluency, not knowledge…From a fluency perspective, we only measure your competence, not your intelligence. We measure it in many ways.  By the grace in which you do things, your comfort in challenging situations, and by your sheer curiosity. The more questions you carry around inside you, the shinier the glint in your eyes as they dance around, the more respect we have for you as a thinker and doer. Notice the distinction there; in our modern culture we mostly value the amount of facts you carry. In a fluency-based learning culture we value the amount of questions.” Thanks to Jason G for the link.

Moyers on Corporate Ownership of the Democratic Party: Glenn Greenwald summarizes Moyers’ chat with Bill Maher about how the US has become a two-party corpocracy and links to the program video (NB: the video links, unlike the feeds from the mainstream media, work outside the US).

Obama to Continue Rendition: Obama announced this week he will continue the Bush policy of secretly kidnapping and smuggling suspects off to foreign countries with a history of torture for “interrogation.” What did they do with the Obama who ran for the presidency last year?

A Petition With an Optional Threat of Civil Disobedience: The protest against coal in the UK has been creatively ratcheted up from simple petitions. Thanks to Andrew for the link.

Explaining the US Health Care Problem on the Back of a Napkin: Dan Roam uses his “back of the napkin” approach to explain how the US healthcare system is broken and why, and what the current options are. Thanks to Valdis Krebs for the link.

Addicted to Oil: An addiction counselor says our consumer addictions are no different from those to drugs or gambling: We need treatment, and laws to reduce the power of the drug dealers (oil companies, advertisers etc.) that pander to our weakness.

First Nations Join Alberta Tar Sands Protest: But they had to go to the UK to get an audience.


From Epigrams of Martial, a first century Roman poet (thanks to Dave B for the link):

Anger suits the rich as a sort of thrift—
hatred’s cheaper than the meanest gift.

And Dave B in his own words:

It’s staggering to realize that the great eastern forest was completely cut over without the use of chainsaws or skidders. All those axes! All those railroad lines snaking through the mountains! And the men cursing the trees in Italian, in Polish, in Czech, in Hungarian, in English, in German, in Serbo-Croatian… Trees that were too massive for the sawmill were blown apart with dynamite and left to rot.

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1 Response to Links and Tweets of the Week: August 30, 2009

  1. Thanks for the mentions, Dave. I’m now reading your blog religiously (in a non-religious way :-D ) cos you seem to be picking up some really interesting stuff lately – are we just detecting the zeitgeist, or are we part of something new?

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