Links and Tweets of the Week: October 3, 2009

BLOG Links and Tweets of the Week: October 3, 2009

mask in mask
westcoast indian art — a mask open to reveal another mask — from the mcmichael collection (artist name misplaced)


Endgame: If there was any remaining doubt that we’re too late to rescue civilization from collapse, the latest climate change report has put it to rest. This report predicts at least a 6.3 degree Celsius (correction Oct. 5: that should read 6.3 degree Fahrenheit) rise in global average temperature this century, even if all announced emissions programs by every government in the world are introduced on schedule and achieve all targeted emission reductions. Failing that, the increase will be at least 8.1 degrees. Since any increase over 2 degrees Celsius will precipitate catastrophic climate change, we’re already far past the tipping point. It’s just a matter, now, of how bad the collapse will be, when precisely it will happen, and what the survivors’ lives will be like. Thanks to Tom Atlee for the link.

The Roof Is On Fire: Ilargi, who usually writes about economics, reposts a 2-year-old article about the future of the planet that resonates with John Gray’s Straw Dogs and reiterates Pollard’s Law. Excerpts:

The only things in the natural world that have a value in our particular breed of economics are those that can be sold at a profit, today; and that is all the value they have. All else is luxury.

Preservation only has a chance in times of plenty, and even then only in theory. After all, we are today coming out of the by far most plentiful time in human existence, but it has not exactly been a time of preservation. Quite the contrary, it has both led to, and was accommodated by, the worst destruction of the natural environment ever in history. That is not a coincidence; it’s destruction that gave us our riches.

Now, we are entering a much poorer time economically, and that will lead to an even worse destruction, by an order of magnitude, if only because the riches made us multiply like so many rabbits…

Groups like Greenpeace are almost religiously accepted as being highly beneficial, but in reality they are some of the worst players around, since they facilitate the perpetuation of the lies and illusions about saving and preserving, while the roof, the roof, the roof is on fire. If we are to save this planet, we will have to throw out our economic model

it can be puzzling at first glance: while they obliterate the natural world without which their sons and daughters have no chance of survival, most parents would die to save their kids from a fire today. And there is the essence: it’s about today. Everything we do is. We are no better at “doing future” than yeast is.

The Unspoken Assumptions of Our Civilization: Andrew MacDonald riffs off the ideas of Bohm and Block, and says that the unspoken assumptions of our conversations (what can and cannot be said, how it can and cannot be expressed, how the interaction dynamic can and should work etc.) determine the direction, outcomes and value of the conversation, yet for some reason these assumptions are never questions. The same thing, he speculates, applies to our entire civilization, which is why there is this debilitating disconnect between what we know and what we do. Related to this, he posts a video that shows just how meek we are at accepting and never challenging these assumptions.

The Descent of Man: Dave Bonta reviews a NYT report on the discovery of the oldest-known ancestor of our species, a 4.4 million year-old walking-erect tree-dweller named Ardi. It turns out the depiction of human evolution from hunched-over to erect is nonsense, and that chimps and our other primate relatives are more evolved (i.e. changed more substantially since their first appearance) than we are.

The Third Way: An interesting post by “Tony” on the Ishmael group board with two novel ideas: (a) that there is a third alternative to smashing the system or working within it, and that is living alongside it, and (b) that we need to cede much of our individual volution to new ‘tribes’ (i.e. become more collective, more integrally ‘part of’ community. Thanks to Janene for the link.


Confessions of a Home Schooler: Outstanding exploration of the defensive reaction that home/unschooling parents get from others: “People think we’re all conservative Christians who hate the government and wear denim jumpers.”


Chamber of Commerce Sues EPA for Doing Its Job: The perfect symbol of how grassroots political will is subverted by money and power comes from the huge monolith Chamber of Commerce. The plan of the corporatists is to push phony climate change bills (actually worse-than-useless bills with big subsidies for megapolluters) through Congress (Waxman-Markey and Kerry-Boxer) with clauses that prohibit the EPA (which is not subject to political pressure from corporatists) from doing its job of regulating pollution in the public interest. And even these feeble bills are being effectively blocked by right-wing corporatist idealogues. So when the EPA announced plans to actually regulate megapolluters, the Chamber of Commerce brought out its army of sleazy expensive lawyers to say: You can’t do that! We don’t own you so you’re not allowed to do anything.

Baby Boom Resumes for the Rich: Andrew Leonard points out something I’ve said repeatedly here over the years: When people become affluent (or at least live in nations that are), they don’t have less children because they’re better off or better educated, they have their children later. The birth rate is already spiking in the UK and is on the upswing in North America as well. If you thought population was no longer an issue in civilizational collapse, think again.

CO2 is Good For Us: Keith Farnish points us to a slick commercial by coal and oil shills that is so grotesque and absurd that some viewers thought it was a spoof. It wasn’t, but Keith is right: let’s propagate the reaction that it’s a spoof. Orwell would be proud.

Justice is Deaf: The G20 protestors were subjected not only to unreasonable restraint on their right of dissent, harrassment and arbitrary arrest, but a new police terror weapon to go along with the tasers: machines that create deafening noise and hearing loss aimed at peaceful protestors.


Smash Junk Mail: A brilliant campaign to disrupt the junk mail industry. We need something analogous for telemarketers! Thanks to Jerry Michalski for the link. Some of these monkeywrench ideas are also ingenious.


From Charlene Phipps (excerpted from a personal conversation):

Sometimes the best way to change beliefs is to change behaviour first (approaching the knowing/doing gap from the opposite direction).

From ee cummings (thanks to Panhala for the link):

LET IT GO – the
smashed word broken
open vow or
the oath cracked length
wise – let it go it
was sworn to
let them go – the
truthful liars and
the false fair friends
and the boths and
neithers – you must let them go they
were born
to go
let all go – the
big small middling
tall bigger really
the biggest and all
things – let all go

so comes love

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1 Response to Links and Tweets of the Week: October 3, 2009

  1. Janene says:

    Hey Dave –Hold up… that bit on population dynamics in the first world… a couple points. First, as a commentor on the original piece stated, even if there is a 20% discrepancy, that still leaves birth rate well below replacement… second… the basic premise of falling birth rates in the first world is simple and irrelevant of mother’s ages and it goes like this:In any given socio-economic group, a child costs X dollars to conceive, raise and educate. In the US, assuming a socio-economic group of high enough standing that at least four years of college is assumed, that number is one million dollars. In the third world, there are certainly still areas where children represent income. In between, you have every variation in between. This, at its root, is the greatest determiner of birth rate (excepting cultures that have had sudden rapid change… let’s not even get into that discussion). So yes, upper middle class and wealthy women in the west are waiting longer to have children… because, in a nutshell, that is the only way they can afford to have children, by their own standards. They are still, also, having fewer for exactly the same reason.Sorry… struck a nerve with that one ;-)Janene

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