Essential Paradigm Shift's
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
? 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 ?
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
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 ." 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 , 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
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 ?
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
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
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  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
"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  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
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.
 For related information, please refer to: Summer was hot, but August
was scorching - USATODAY.com
 An overview of anticipated losses can be found at: On Bjorn Lomborg
and extinction | By E. O. Wilson | Grist | ... (www.grist.org/advice/books/2001/12/12/point/)
and Global Deserts Outlook (www.unep.org/geo/gdoutlook/).
 Please access data at: Where Does Electricity Come From? - Environmental
 This information is derived from Energy Information Administration
(EIA) link: www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/1605/ggrpt/carbon.html.
 Please see: World Mysteries - Global Warming
and Earth Meanders: Continental Scale Ecological Collapse (http://earthmeanders.blogspot.com/2007/05/
 To learn more about this topic, please refer to: Global Warming
Killing Thousands (www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,61562,00.ht),
FOXNews.com - Study: Global Warming Will Kill More Americans (www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,287915,00.html),
Carbon Dioxide Emissions Charts (http://rainforests.mongabay.com/09-carbon_emissions.htm)
and (for disease related matter) http://www.stopglobalwarming.org/sgw_
 To see William Shanley's overview, please go to: http://ageofinfinity.blogspot.com/2006/10/age-of-infinity-and-scarcity-matrix.html
 Steve Lendman's vision of environmental dilemmas can be obtained
at: SteveLendmanBlog: Resource Wars - Can We Survive Them? (http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2007/06/
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