Friday, June 27, 2014

Climate Crisis and Sustainability Meltdown: Humanity at the Crossroads, Which Way Will We Turn?

Remedios Varo - Premonition (1953)
Here are two insightful perspectives on our current predicament and future prospects. One is from Al Gore. The other is from Noam Chomsky. One is painfully candid, the other is irrepressibly positive. Taken together they articulate the crossroads at which we stand.

In the struggle to solve the climate crisis, a powerful, largely unnoticed shift is taking place. The forward journey for human civilization will be difficult and dangerous, but it is now clear that we will ultimately prevail. The only question is how quickly we can accelerate and complete the transition to a low-carbon civilization. There will be many times in the decades ahead when we will have to take care to guard against despair, lest it become another form of denial, paralyzing action. It is true that we have waited too long to avoid some serious damage to the planetary ecosystem – some of it, unfortunately, irreversible. Yet the truly catastrophic damages that have the potential for ending civilization as we know it can still – almost certainly – be avoided. Moreover, the pace of the changes already set in motion can still be moderated significantly. Al Gore, The Turning Point: New Hope for the Climate, Rolling Stone, 1-18-14

Chomsky said species destruction had reached the same level as 65 million years ago – when an asteroid hit the earth, ending the period of dinosaurs and wiping up many other species. “It is the same level today, and we are the asteroid,” he said. “If anyone could see us from outer space they would be astonished.” The noted linguist said some sectors of the global population – such as the First Nations in Canada, aboriginals in Australia, and tribal people in India – had tried to slow the march to catastrophe, while others were actively courting disaster. “Who is accelerating it?” Chomsky said. “The most privileged, so-called advanced, educated populations of the world.” He compared this phenomenon to a theory by Ernst Mayr, a 20th-century evolutionary biologist who speculated humans would never encounter intelligent extraterrestrials because higher life forms quickly force themselves into extinction. “Mayr argued that the adaptive value of what is called ‘higher intelligence’ is very low,” Chomsky said. “Beetles and bacteria are much more adaptive than humans. We will find out if it is better to be smart than stupid. We may be a biological error, using the 100,000 years which Mayr gives [as] the life expectancy of a species to destroy ourselves and many other life forms on the planet.” But Chomsky remained hopeful that the corporate elite could be overthrown before they bring on environmental disaster, citing historical examples of mass movements that returned power to autonomous collectives. -- Travis Gettys, Noam Chomsky on Human Extinction: The Corporate Elite are Actively Courting Disaster, Raw Story, 1-18-14

Will we chose to continue on this road to ruin and madness?

Or we will we change course and advance toward a humane, sustainable future?

How many of us even realize that this choice is ours to make and enforce?

Imagine if Gore had been sworn into the Presidency he was elected to in 2000.

Imagine if Chomsky appeared on CBS Fork the Nation, NBC Meat the Press, ABC This Weak with George StopandLaughAtUs as often as the Shell-of-a-Man-Formerly-Known-as-John-McCain.

Oh well.

Do you know why 350 is the most important number in your life and the lives of everyone you love? Go to for the answer.

Richard Power is the author of nine books, including User's Guide to Human Incarnation: The Yoga of Primal Reality, Humanifesto: A Guide to Primal Reality in an Era of Global Peril and Between Shadow and Night: The Singularity in Anticipation of Itself. Power writes and speaks on spirituality, sustainability, human rights, and security. He blogs at Words of Power. He also teaches yoga.