Subscribe To
Sustain Us

Popularise CC

Join News Letter


Peak Oil

Climate Change

US Imperialism


Latin America










Gujarat Pogrom



India Elections



Submission Policy

Contact Us

Subscribe To Our
News Letter

Name: E-mail:


An Essential Paradigm Shift's
Needed ASAP!

By Emily Spence

11 September, 2007

What an enjoyable summer many Americans experienced! Living in their own small air conditioned bubbles, they confirmed that whatever happened in the outside environment could be of little concern. Detached from the natural world, they passed between various cool zones with relative ease and no discomfort.

So for many, did it matter, for instance, that it was the hottest July on record for Wyoming, Montana and Idaho according to the NOAA National Weather Service? Who cared that Boise, Idaho’s average high temperature, a blistering 98.6 degrees F (37 degrees C), was more than nine degrees F (five degrees C) above average so that July 2007 was Boise's hottest month ever documented? What difference did it make that drought conditions worsened in parts of the northern Rockies, northern Plains, Midwest, and mid-Atlantic while more than 5 million parched acres burned in the contiguous U.S. by early August according to the National Interagency Fire Center? So what that August, for the most part, was even worse [1]? Likewise, so it goes relative to the floods, hurricanes, droughts and other weather related extremes being faced in Europe, Australia, Africa, and all other land masses. So what if countless species are slowly being destroyed in the process while a vastly increasing amount of terrain is rendered unusable for any life [2]?

Unaffected by such dire events, countless Americans happily awoke in delightfully frigid homes, went into nippy cars sporting dual climate controls, sat down in offices with central air, shopped in plazas kept at a pleasant seventy degrees and dined at fast food chains where they might have had to wear sweaters to avoid a chill. Indeed they never really had to acknowledge any miserable effects from greenhouse gases at all since any related heat waves or comparable troubles seemed far removed from reality due to the huge glut of air conditioners spread out across the nation.

Therefore, abnormally hot and dry weather created very little immediate impact other than a slight annoying increase in energy bills, town mandates to avoid lawn sprinklers due to water shortages and some higher produce prices (due to extreme aridity in many farm regions). Other than these few minor inconveniences, concern about global warming can be optional or largely a case of "out of sight and out of mind."

As such, some people's only connection to it might be a faint memory of a worldwide April concert and sporadic superficial coverage on mainstream news programs, if they bother to watch the news at all. All considered, nature and its effects can, on the surface, be easily dismissed as a minor nuisance or a trivial influence to be ignored, avoided or controlled. Meanwhile, how can people really care about weather, climate, carbon loading or other distant processes when they are largely insular, isolated and removed from any disagreeable impacts? Can they really find any impetus to reflect on global warming when they feel no immediate alarming consequences other than when a random air conditioner breaks?

The answer is probably that lots of people probably don't give it much thought at all. This is because problems related to widespread environmental perils seem too remote (happening somewhere else in the world) or too far off in the future to be of much concern. Consequently, many individuals probably have little motivation to change their thinking and lifestyles to be more green oriented.

In part, this is due to their being used to artificial environments and liking them for obvious reasons. Clearly, they couldn't function in day after day of killer heat, like Boise's, without some manmade shield. So, doesn't it simply seem better to use air conditioning even thought doing so absolutely contributes to greater global warming due to the US energy grid being sixty-seven percent provided by fossil fuels -- fuels that spew out voluminous tons of carbon dioxide emissions each day [3]?

Meanwhile, "the consumption of energy in the form of fossil fuel combustion is the largest single contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the United States and the world. Of total 2005 U.S. carbon dioxide emissions (adjusting for U.S. Territories and bunker fuels), about 98 percent, or 5,903.2 MMT carbon dioxide, resulted from the combustion of fossil fuels. This figure represents an increase of 20.2 MMT from 2004 levels [4]." At the same time, the demand for more energy provision keep rising at an unprecedented rate both in the US and the world in general.

Yet the corollary to this increase is frighteningly drastic and leads, for the most part, to nightmarishly horrendous outcomes. Concerning these, there is a growing consensus and decreasing speculation amongst credible researchers regarding the basic facts and predictions related to greenhouse gases. (Rather than reiterate some main conclusions, these two cited links [5], amongst many other informative ones, present a well-rounded, realistic overview of the grave dangers that are already well underway to happen.)

At the same time, can we really blame citizens of second and third world countries for wanting to "catch up" so as to also have air conditioned comfort? Especially when considering that future projections point to an even hotter scenario, what person in his right mind wouldn't willingly embrace the option?

Even though many people might find it tragic that 150,000 people perished due to global warming in 2000 according to World Health organization (WHO), who would want to join their ranks or be amongst those suffering from pandemic diseases also on the rise due to climate changes [6]? No, it seems better to simply shut windows and doors, flip the air conditioning switch and forget about the outside world altogether.

Yet, in such a position, in such a sense of utter removal from the ecological backdrop, severe problems arise. This is because we, ultimately, are dependent upon the natural world for our very existence. Indeed, many indigenous peoples are acutely aware of this fact. Thus, they have tried to live well within the life supportive boundaries of nature rather than live separately from and in contention with them.

In this context, the anthropocentric Western view, that everything on Earth was put here for the benefit of God's chosen species, epitomizes a dialectically conflicting stance. (How self-empowering it can be to
picture a regal authoritarian elderly god putting both the planet and the first wife, fashioned from a male body part, here to benefit man! Then, of course, the woman just had to go and ruin everything due to her intrinsic weakness, her inability to not succumb to temptation related to evil. How misogynistic is this whole image? However, one can not necessarily conclude that a goddess, one based on a fecund Mother Earth image, would make a preferable substitute for her paternalistic male counterpart.)

Meanwhile, this whole vision is in direct oppositional tension to the one that many native groups hold. The latter outlook, a biocentric one, tends to foster a mutually serviceable relationship with other species in the wilderness rather than seeing everything as one giant commodity to be owned, exploited, consumed and, ultimately, destroyed for immediate personal economic gain. Instead they largely try to remain mindful of long term consequences for the future of humanity and the world in general.

At the same time, the Eurocentrically derived outlook regarding the importance of the individual, ratifying each person's own little egocentric self, has, in a certain vein, become the modern substitute for the notion that the Earth, itself, is the center of the universe (for which Galileo suffered consequences in disputation) due to man's absolute supremacy. As a corollary to this perspective, many Westerners feel that it is their God given (or at least legally sanctified) right to do whatever they please with any land, water source or air to which they have access.

True self-serving hedonists, they do not want to be regulated by environmental laws suggesting that they cannot get rid of marshes on their own land, must not clear cut their own forests and should not do whatever else they might please to make a buck regardless that their actions can hold negative outcomes for other humans, other species and the world in general. Like spoiled brats, they want what they want and, by God or other means, they'll get it in the final reckoning!

In relation, the capitalistic system, itself, was always and still is in direct opposition to supporting the complex web of life on which every single living entity depends. As such, we need to quickly realize that we can either choose to continue its selfish, shortsighted suicide course or begin to acknowledge that the welfare of all peoples and every other life form is deeply interconnected. In addition, we must begin to see that an exclusive focus on individual personal gain can literally kill off the Earth, along with the future for nearly everything that we value.

This thought in mind, we can either continue to imagine that we are the ultimate masters of the universe, the reason for its creation and its highest expression or we can shift our outlooks to one in which we realize that all life, of which we are only one part, is mutually and intricately interdependent. Similarly, we can began to better concede that whatever happens in far away Asia directly impacts global warming in North America and vise versa. Likewise, we can start to note, when we slaughter neighborhood snakes because they are judged as ugly repulsive creatures, that we could wind up with teeming swarms of mice possibly carrying Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) or some other deadly disease our way. When we choose to have one more child because we like large families and personally can afford them, we can choose to imagine a scenario concerning the way that the world could be like a hundred years from now after each of our children also liked large families. (Is it ignorance of the recognition that planetary ruin is in direct proportion to the number of its human occupants and the rate of individual consumption or is it selfishness that drives people to want lots of offspring, as well as a highly affluent lifestyle?) Lastly, we can start to see, when we turn on our air conditioners because we don't like feeling sticky at 80.1 degrees F. (26.7 degrees C.), that we are making a choice that has ramifications way beyond the present moment.

In other words, we must develop a larger understanding of our behaviors -- one considering results beyond those simple types framed by a focus on instant self-gratification. Moreover, this orientation must be supported by each and every one of us relative to all of our significant choices.

Yet our doing so, as Jean-Louis Turcot, William Shanley [7] and many others contend, is hard to undertake. As Jean-Louis points out:

"It seems that knowing about a problem does little to resolve it unless its fundamental reason for being can also be resolved. For example, we know that adding chemicals into the water to make paper is 'bad news,' but the problem is not in making paper. Instead, it's in the fact that, if the paper worker does not add chemicals into the water, the worker may lose the job and may end up on the streets. This is the common denominator of all world problems.

"Our first and most important need is survival. No matter what we believe or do not believe, the most important thing is to be there in order to believe in anything. So, we do what we must to provide for ourselves and our families. The best way to provide is to make as much money as possible in order to 'keep the wolves away.'

"As we learned from a very early age, no money implies no candy and, as such, we accumulate as much riches as we can so that we can be assured that we will get candy in spades. In a society in which the consequences of extreme poverty are homelessness and malnutrition, there will never be enough money to guard against this social aberration. As such, so-called 'greedy' people are probably better described as good survivors as opposed to bad people.

"How can we blame anyone from accumulating as much as he can when it is plain to see that having nothing implies the possibility of death? Make no mistake, survival is the number one issue in all of our lives and it is a fundamental need for members of any species, especially our own.

"I am aware that the above is not necessarily new information. However, I feel that our trying to prevent George Bush and his clones from coming into power is like trying to build a sand castle under the water and, when we can acknowledge that we don't need to drown others in order to survive, we can then provide them with the care and attention that we, ourselves, want and need.

"I know that this may sound a little religious, but that is far from what it is. In fact, all religions profess the need for taking care of each other and yet it just isn't done.

"This is just a short version of the ideas on which I have been mulling. I feel that the key to our survival is simply centered on our changing the way that we think [and, then, act] about survival. This is the reason that we need to address the survival of everyone.

"In case you may be wondering, I am most selfish in just about everything and I am not a Good Samaritan by any means. Yet I feel that the level at which environments are destroyed is directly proportional to our need to compete against each other [for wealth]. Meanwhile, our eliminating homelessness and malnutrition on a worldwide scale could, indirectly, eliminate nuclear weapons... and maybe it could even allow us a little breathing time to fix the problems that our innately [egocentric] nature has created...

"I think everyone would agree that change is essential if we are going to survive. Yet the question is, 'What do we change?'

"I think the answer is simple. We need to change our survival conditions... no more, no less."

This all in mind, one has to ask about how much tangible wealth is enough to bring a sense of material security? Is it a million dollars, five billion or some other amount? Does living in a high energy consuming mansion, instead of a small energy efficient cottage, really enhance one's chance of survival or is the act, actually, helping to contribute to the Earth more rapidly turning into a hostile environment? Does jetting to study a coral reef, that is dying from global warming effects, really helping or is it merely an act of self-indulgence guaranteed to increase the carbon load in the atmosphere? Ultimately, one has to ask whether our desire to live extravagantly excessive lifestyles isn't somehow self-defeating when looked at from a bigger frame of reference.

As Steve Lendman [8] states, "I'm also concerned no serious effort will be made on global warming. [It] may already be too late, and nonsense coming out of Asia summit is same old same old."

Yes, it doesn't seem likely that government representatives, for the most part, will do much to curb global warming. Do they even care about the masses in general? (If they did, would we have sweeping slums covering much of the globe, the mess that New Orleans still is, the exploitation of the lowest income workers, poor health care except for the most affluent, avoidance of universal birth control provision, no education for the majority of the world, lack of major industrial support in alternative energy sources and myriad other deficits?)

All considered, our governments are largely focused on economics and power wherein big business and governments are in collusion to support each other. This is the reason that wealth flows to the upper economic class in ever greater amounts as time passes. At the same time, what do most of those in power care if a million Iraqi civilians die in the process of trying to secure more fossil fuel from the Middle East or, correspondingly, a billion perish from global warming effects? Indeed, some amongst their set would assuredly welcome such an outcome as a cleansing from the scourge of overpopulation.

All of this in mind, I share Steve Lendman's pessimism. Likewise, I also hold his view that we cannot expect our government representatives to make meaningful changes -- changes that each and everyone of us, hard although this act might be, must individually make.

As such, we have to be mindful of our actions, learn to enjoy life with less resource consumption, consider having smaller families so that we lessen the devastating extent of human impact on the globe and deeply reflect upon the type of existence that we want our children and children's children to inherit as our legacy to them.

In short, we have to deliberately keep trying to foment positive changes despite the odds. Further, we need to do so right away rather than glibly assume that all is well because we personally feel good for the moment in our little air conditioned bubbles.

All in all, we have to realize far more than we currently do that the only salvation for humankind and the Earth as a whole will come at a price. That cost is our absolute recognition that global welfare is inter-reliant. Therefore, we need each other. Therefore, we, all together, must protect, uplift and cherish life as a general rule.

Most of all, we need to liberate ourselves from a habit of myopic, self-centered absorption or else we will surely be trapped in a dystopian hell the likes of which, one day years from now, will make July 2007 in Boise look wonderful in contrast to whatever is present then. Will we be able to free ourselves in time or are we so selfishly enslaved to our own narrow pursuit of affluence that we savagely choose it over embracing a kinder, more openhanded outcome? Ultimately, do we care about whatever we, indirectly, do to civilization and all life forms or is it just "each and every man for himself" in "a dog eat dog world" where the winners will be the most rapacious and aggressive individuals and nations?

We DO have a choice and must act accordingly. So let's, in the end, try to foster Mikhail Bakunin's view : "No man can emancipate himself, except by emancipating with him all the men around him. My liberty is the liberty of everyone, for I am not truly free, free not only in thought but in deed, except when my liberty and my rights find their confirmation, their sanction, in the liberty and the rights of all men, my equals." If we cannot, we will live in an increasingly oppressive and shrunken world -- a curtailed space in which we're steadily shackled to our air conditioners without any way to get unbound.

[1] For related information, please refer to: Summer was hot, but August was scorching -
[2] An overview of anticipated losses can be found at: On Bjorn Lomborg and extinction | By E. O. Wilson | Grist | ... ( and Global Deserts Outlook (
[3] Please access data at: Where Does Electricity Come From? - Environmental Defense (
[4] This information is derived from Energy Information Administration (EIA) link:
[5] Please see: World Mysteries - Global Warming
( and Earth Meanders: Continental Scale Ecological Collapse (
[6] To learn more about this topic, please refer to: Global Warming Killing Thousands (,1282,61562,, - Study: Global Warming Will Kill More Americans (,2933,287915,00.html), Carbon Dioxide Emissions Charts ( and (for disease related matter)
[7] To see William Shanley's overview, please go to: and
[8] Steve Lendman's vision of environmental dilemmas can be obtained at: SteveLendmanBlog: Resource Wars - Can We Survive Them? (

Leave A Comment
Share Your Insights

Comment Policy

Digg it! And spread the word!

Here is a unique chance to help this article to be read by thousands of people more. You just Digg it, and it will appear in the home page of and thousands more will read it. Digg is nothing but an vote, the article with most votes will go to the top of the page. So, as you read just give a digg and help thousands more to read this article.


Get CC HeadlinesOn your Desk Top

Subscribe To
Sustain Us


Search Our Archive

Our Site


Online Users