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STILL OUT ON A LIMB

Contradiction?

I’ve been fascinated by the weather since I was a child, and attracted to environmental movements since the early 1970’s. But it wasn’t until my first grandchild was born six years ago that global warming/climate change became the focus of my political attention. The science taught me that if we didn’t change course the second half of her life would be hellish, and I felt compelled to work at preventing that from happening.

Since her birth I’ve been reading and studying to understand the latest scientific analysis, and the proposed political solutions. These readings convince me that we need revolutionary economic changes and that Americans must come to a radically different understanding of our place on the planet.

I summarized the latter point in a blog earlier this year: “We are merely one manifestation of an almost unimaginably complex web of life…. Placing ourselves at the center feeds our sense of importance and justifies our efforts to dominate our environment. It is, however, a potentially fatal misreading of our current circumstances. The vibrancy of the biosphere is essential to our survival. If our economic system and personal requirements are shredding it, our system, not it, must change. Human beings with our unprecedented capacity can, for a while, act as nature’s master, but the biosphere as a whole holds the trump cards. The mounting torrent of extinction is a warning we ignore at our peril.”

In the face of a likely near-extinction sequence of events over the next several generations, humans must enter into a partnership with the land, plants and animals rather than trying to dominate all other life. This partnership can be viewed as biological, or spiritual; I sense it most strongly when working in my yard, when I feel as if my molecules are singing in harmony with my surroundings. My beliefs are grounded in a material scientific understanding, but they can also include a more spiritual worldview. They are, however, way out of synch with anthropocentric American consumerism.

Elli has pointed out an apparent contradiction in my thinking. On the one hand I’ve chosen to focus on combating global warming/climate change for intimately personal, species-oriented reasons – that is protecting my grandchildren, each of whom carry 25% of my genetic material. On the other hand I’m focused now on the biosphere as a whole, which or may not include human life in the future.

She’s right; multiple primary motivations are a contradiction in terms. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that I now have two powerful motivations and maybe they complement rather than contradict each other. I want my grandchildren to live long and fulfilling lives as part of our glorious and healthy natural world. It would be tragic for them and it for this to become impossible.

Perhaps this is just a new version of the slogan “think globally; act locally” Read More 
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