Wildness & The Whole Earth

I have a conservative friend, a global warming skeptic, who wrote on his Facebook page this week the following.

The pathetic thing about all of this is that we grew up in an America that could do anything. “In fact, we can put a man on the moon.” Now, we look so incapable and pathetic. It isn’t about BP anymore. This is a national crisis. Its not about who pays or whose fault it is, its how we fix it and clean it up. The whole thing ultimately, for a million reasons, just makes me sad.

And this led me to think about the basis of the country’s foul mood since the Deep Water Horizon blew up. The history of Western civilization has been an immense effort made over the past ten thousand years to bring the natural world under human control. But as Thoreau once wrote, “In Wildness is the Preservation of the World”, believing that nature had her own powers that might thwart our efforts towards total domination. And that wildness might also remind us of the true spontaneity that is the root of our creative soul.

I have been writing for the past two years about the concept of an Interregnum–a time when the “old story” about how things work is no longer valid and yet a “new story” is emerging but is not widely accepted. I have thought of this in mostly political terms and have tried to elucidate such phenomena as the Tea Parties in this framework. But the greatest ecological crisis in American history has led me to a deeper conclusion—the Interregnum is a much deeper cultural moment.

The old story: that man’s role on earth was to subdue the natural world has been the gospel of the political, economic, religious and intellectual elites for millennia. From the book of Genesis onward, Man had “dominion” over the earth and every wild thing on it. The new story is that we are all passengers on spaceship earth, flying through the cosmos. Everything we have for the journey is already on board the ship (except sunlight for life generation). There is no resupply vehicle. I think this story (ironically) emerged for me and many others when the Astronauts first returned from moon orbit. Edgar Mitchell told of looking at earth from outer space and seeing “this blue and white planet floating there” .He said he was overwhelmed with a feeling of “a purposefulness of flow, of energy, of time, of space in the cosmos.” Stewart Brand heard that they had taken pictures of “the Whole Earth” and eventually forced NASA to publish the pictures. The cover of Brand’s first Whole Earth Catalog is adorned with one of those images.

Drilling two miles beneath the ocean surface is part of the old story. Nature is ours to fuck up. My conservative friend feels incredibly frustrated—that we “we look so incapable and pathetic”—because we can’t just fix it this time. But maybe we need to acknowledge that the wildness is part of “the great liturgy of the heavens”. Maybe we need to experience nature not on the Discovery Channel, but in the wild.

Maybe we need a new story. One that both the scientists and the religious can agree about. We do not have “dominion” over the earth, we have “stewardship”—the promise to leave the planet to our children and grandchildren in no worse shape that what we inherited from our parents. And stewardship would mean a lot of people living simpler lives and using a lot less fossil fuel. I know there are some of my undergraduates thinking, ” WTF-I’ll be dead before this spaceship earth runs out of food or fuel”. But quietly they admit that the whole earth needs to listen to the new story in order to get out of this sad interregnum.

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86 Responses to Wildness & The Whole Earth

  1. Zhirem says:

    Jon,

    Francis Bacon was wrong then, and he is wrong now. You got it right in the last paragraph, imho. Stewardship. The biblical slant that Bacon was taking (paraphrased) was that Earth was God’s gift to Man as sure as Woman was, and was there for him to subdue and exploit. Mankind was Stewards of the Earth, and since God was not around (directly speaking) to give orders, the King was absent, so the Steward could do what he will(ed).

    Mankind was indeed provided Stewardship. Our role is not dominion, but rather caretaker. Intelligent and fated symbiote (sp?).

    There are broader patterns here to realize, as you hinted at. The directed, deliberate style and substance of the European classical mindset are in stark contrast to the more circular and cyclical mindsets of the Eastern cultures. I am not doing this thought justice, but I remember studies in college of the Chinese mind in philosophy. Illumination to a Western mind was provided by examples provided in various Chinese texts, many of them Taoist in nature.

    But even that falls short of encapsulation. For that, we need profound simplicity to express that, our time on this earth is not inherited from our parents, but rather borrowed from our children:

    “Man did not weave the web of life, he is but a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.” – Chief Seattle.”

    I want my country, my generation, the post-Boomers at least, to pull the trigger on the DWP (Done With Petrol). It is time. Obama could have used that moment last night to put out this generation’s moonshot: get off fossil fuels as a means of moving our fat asses around. Period.

    I mean, look at *ALL* of this energy, *ALL* around us. Naturally occurring, completely renewable, and it costs *NOTHING* to our children, or their children.

    Someone explain to me again, please, in simple words, *WHY* we are not pursuing this like it was the Japanese fleet sailing away from a smoking Pearl Harbor.

    Four and a half years.

    Roughly (quite) the time it took the United States of America and the Allied Powers, to change history for the better of us all.

    We put a man on the friggin’ moon with a fraction of the computing power of my phone in the *ENTIRETY* of the NASA organization.

    Great things. Not just *good* things. Great things. We used to do Great. Did it well.

    Let’s do it again, save our own asses, then cascading into saving everyone else’s asses, rendering the whole of our collective asses out of the sling, giving rise to the inevitable liberation of the Asses asses, and donkeys of all colors and creeds.

    Granted that may be a step to far, but give me a plug-in vehicle with even a 60-mile per full-charge range, solar panel roof and hood, and trickle, 110, 220 and 440 capability in/out, reasonable highway speeds and reasonable safety rating, and I will show you the solution to 85% of the commuting needs of our current and likely 15 to 25 years out public at large.

    I will show you the engine of structural change and a *lot* of new jobs. We would need the implementation of a truly smart energy grid, nation-wide. Conversions of gas stations to carrying replacement full-charge battery swaps, infrastructure changes to parking lots to become mass charging lots, and motorists to get paid for parking somewhere on a sunny day. etc. etc. etc.

    We can do this. We need a leader capable of confronting, engaging the public to engage the enemy, and collectively defeating it — leading to the liberation of all.

    Am I the only one that thinks the terrorists just have to be patient? Give us time and we will surely destroy ourselves.

    Through overt idiocy or the slow, sure demise of apathy.

    Peace and pensiveness,

    – Zhirem

  2. Morgan Warstler says:

    How about the unvarnished truth as a “story”:

    We will not be satisfied unless, in our lifetime, we figure out how to change the color of the sky with a turn of the dial. A cool brushed aluminum one that feels really meaningful in your grasp when you twist it like a 16 year old upon his (or her) first nipple.

    It is all ours.

    Stealing from Freakonomics… this is like horseshit in NYC just before the automobile. Its a ecological disaster!?! Nevermind.

    How can you not imagine that in 20 years sea missions to go capture the leaking oil FOR PROFIT! imagine, some bastard chasing a profit decides to go round up what is it? 60K barrels a day?

    Oh yes, in your magical future land – it is harder to crassly separate oil from water, than to have everyone live on solar and wind power.

    BTW, I’ve always meant to ask you hippies. IF say you knew for sure, like god told you, that the “green” earth could support say 3B people, and after that, it took “not really 90% green” to hold say 9B – would you be ok with it?

    How about if 9B living took us all having only 60% green living?

    Exactly how much damage can we do to the green earth, before you want to thin our herd with laws and rules?

    Anyhoo, yes let’s feel helpless! OH MY GOD, it is soooooo horrrible! I totally feel it, do you feel it? This oh my god, these dumbs kids aren’t really 10 pts. smarter than me. They will NEVER SURVIVE when I’m gone.

    Your turn is over, scoot over and we’ll show you how to drive.

    Remember how stupid your parents were? Psst, we hate to tell you this but…

    Tell your friend, not to worry, we got this.

  3. Mason Dixon says:

    Stunned silence.

  4. Mason Dixon says:

    Then…

  5. Mason Dixon says:

    MORGAN!
    YOU ARE SUCH AN UNBELIEVABLE DUMBFUCK!!!

  6. Rick Turner says:

    What is this guy on?

    I’ve worked for a guy whose internal chemistry had to be the equivalent of ingesting three grams of coke a day…and he was a venture capital genius, and I lived in the same house as the real live protagonist of Steely Dan’s “Kid Charlemagne”, but I never read nor heard such shit as is written by our own Morgan le Fey.

    Gaia is on the warpath. Insanity as evidenced by religious fundamentalism and its suicidal tendencies, AIDS, H1N1, and other plagues jumping past medical science, global climate change bringing on tsunamis, polar ice cap melting, horrific monsoons, typhoons, hurricanes, and tornados…all this is evidence. Earth is striking back. People are dying. Get used to it. The earth will correct to fewer people. Mother Earth is in the early stages of it. Many will blame it on other factors, but Mom isn’t happy, and she’s doing something about it. Your own malaise is evidence enough. Pay attention. You can spin this any way you want, but Jon’s right. We’re in the Interregnum. Good fuckin’ luck…

  7. TennesseeWilliamsShakespeare says:

    Adolescents think their parents are stupid.

  8. chris says:

    I won’t try to point out some kind of fact that everyone else missed and I won’t try to spin someones else’s arguement. Instead, I will just say that Ricky Turner has got it right as far as I can tell. The ideas of what it means to be human are exaggerated and we should not forget that we are just another species that evolved on this earth and like every other living thing, we are subjects of the planet.

  9. peter says:

    The elemental difference between dominion and stewardship is compassion. No wonder then that in the face of our latest collective blunder, many are clamoring for this man who offered to lead with no more than the singular portfolio of “change” to be little less rational and more than a little more compassionate

  10. John Papola says:

    Your conservative friend clearly watches too much Fox News and not enough of the world around him. Who is this “we” that is so “incapable and pathetic”. The last time I checked, the collection of accomplishments and innovations in America and around the globe is just unbelievable. Bringing an iPhone or modern MRI back to the moon-walk era would have people shutting their TVs off. And unlike the moonwalk, these innovations are entirely about solving real problems here on earth, not proving which national government has a bigger… um… defense budget.

    “We” the actually members of society are capable of tremendous, amazing things. Your conservative friend is revealing his statism in the inability to tell the difference between society and the state.

  11. JTMcPhee says:

    So, who’s got the “future vision” and the day-to-day, how-do-we-survive-THIS detailed life plan, and the sales skills to overcome the incredible amount of resistance that 6.5 billion humans (many of them living in the same mental and moral vacuum that Worgon so totally typifies, or living off the leavings in the garbage dumps of Karachi and Mumbai and Cairo and Caracas and even Bloomington, Indiana, or up there in the $4 billion Towers of Finance in Manhattan, or in that deed-restricted 5-4-with-a-pool tract house with the 3-car garage) have and so obviously displayed to any but the most minute motion toward “stewardship?” Worgon is a flaming orifice, but as he so often used to put it before putting on his occasional cloak of false humility, “He RULES!” Thoreau was an effete ineffectual, the Buddha taught that it’s all just illusion, and Spiro Agnew and Pat Buchanan live on in the minds of so many.

    And so many believe that words transmitted by nasty old Israelite Men-Rule males orally until a generation could finally learn to write them down, to be picked over, culled and recast into The Word Of GOD, no changes allowed unless it’s to increase correspondence with the world view of “conservative ‘Christians’,” by generations of “scholars” who politicked to get the text they contested for out of various committee meetings. There’s endless argument among “the faithful,” about the Real Meaning of those various pithy bits of Biblical text, with recourse to endless rounds of circular scholarship.

    And if you remember old Denethor, the “Steward of Gondor,” back there in Tolkienland, and that whole lesson-packed mythos, be careful what you wish for in the name of Stewardship. And that little line in the directions on how to operate your new toy: “Batteries Not Included.”

  12. Jon Taplin says:

    zhirem-thank you. This is as good and true as you have ever written.

    Morgan-go take your dump on someone else’s dinner table.

  13. Jon Taplin says:

    JTM-Here’s the irony. The scientists and the aware preachers are coming back together. The earth was conceived in wildness—the big bang—and Heisenberg and Niebuhr aren’t that far apart. Despite what Morgon and Papola say, I’m actually hopeful that we are in a teaching moment.

  14. len says:

    Wonderful. Good stuff. Glad game and all that…what’s driving Morgan nuts is he is not the avatar of the generation of kids coming up. Their grandparents are. Watch a little TV. The grandkids want to know about the hippies. At least in the movies, they seem to get something about growing up worried about the end of the planet. Kids get that right now.

    A friend calculated that we get approximately 6.8% of US oil consumption from the Gulf. I don’t know how many others get how much.

    What would it take to get just 6.8% of our oil consumption OUT of our systems?

    The hippie thing had an action component to it’s thinking. It started with the low hanging fruit.

    If we began with plastic bottles and plastic grocery bags, how much petroleum consumption can we take out of the economy?

    Imagine MADD for plastic.

    Imagine local civic and faith-based organizations working inside their own community to see to it that their own houses, first then those of their neighbors are insulated as best as they can be with what is at hand NOW.

    Imagine empty refuse bins out in front of your house because everything energy-laden coming in was being consumed by the house itself.

    Imagine that everyone quit whining and resigning and picked up a tool.

    To paraphrase an old poster that hung on a few walls,

    “Interregnum my ass; I’m gonna change sumpthin’.”

  15. Alex Bowles says:

    Here’s an interesting clip featuring James May of Top Gear who, somehow, managed to score a ride to 70,000 feet in a U-2.

    Look down, you see blue sky. Look up, you see stars. The curvature of of the Earth is unmissable, and May’s commentary (esp. around minute 9) strongly suggests that he’s experiencing something along the lines of what Mitchell described.

  16. len says:

    According to these folks, $1 billion to insulate 75,000 homes is equal to $40 billion for the oil spill.

    http://www.energysavvy.com/blog/2010/06/15/the-gulf-oil-spill-vs-home-energy-retrofits/

    Any of those with retirement savings invested in BP might want to notice this. It turns out in Alabama, one is the Alabama Education Association, the teacher’s retirement fund. One wonders about Texas.

    So what was that thing about weakening science studies and rewriting history to play down the role of scientists such as Thomas Jefferson?

  17. bernard says:

    Maybe some of the liberal oil freaks should go and live on the moon with their Ipod. This leak in the gulf will show that we are at the end of the rope and that there is no free lunch on earth. I am amazed by the lack of conscience of some of us, seems to me that all the education they have received is of no use. The oil is at the root of all of today’s problems and should be replaced. The earth is bleeding.

  18. bernard says:

    This drama wont be solved by 20 billions. It will be solved by an new understanding, planetarism. We are all interconnected and whatever you do in your backyard will affect the rest of the spaceship. Why is it so difficult to see that. Changes are not bad when they mean good.

  19. John Papola says:

    “The earth was conceived in wildness—the big bang—and Heisenberg and Niebuhr aren’t that far apart. Despite what Morgon and Papola say, I’m actually hopeful that we are in a teaching moment.”

    Ehem. Jon, all of life is always a learning moment. It is a continuum of learning and teaching. This notion of “teachable moments” is some beltway/media construct designed to obfuscate and propagandize. It’s the “never let a good crisis go to waste” nonsense that tyrants have been exploiting forever.

    You need to divert your eyes away from the chorus and back toward the fascism. We’re in Bush III, man. To change the subject back to the REAL BIG ISSUES, what about GITMO!!! What about “indefinite detention”!!!!! The “afpak” slaughter. The left is losing credibility as it embraces Obama’s fascism. Only a handful of commentators are standing up to this regime’s Bush+ insanity.

    Need I remind everyone of the BP/CIA Mosadegh overthrow that set the table for so much of what is going on right now in the world.

    I want liberalism back. WHERE IS THE LIBERALISM!!!!!!!!!!

  20. John Papola says:

    So what was that thing about weakening science studies and rewriting history to play down the role of scientists such as Thomas Jefferson?

    That’s what you get with socialized monopolist schools. Sometimes, you get the standards you like, sometimes, you get the standards you hate, but you never get actual choice. We need to get the government out of the school business. It sucks at it.

  21. JTMcPhee says:

    Careful, JP — some conservative snitch might report you to the folks at RedStates and ECHELON. For craving LIBERALISM!!!!! even though your narrow personalized definition of the term, that brooks no discussion, might have nothing in common with what Our Fellow Americans With The Flag Pins In Their Lapels feel that word truly and evilly means in THEIR narrow personalized and demonized mentalemotional Truth Structure.

    And while you are reminding everyone, you might go back a bit in time to the personal recitation of history as he lived it by our Real American War Hero, Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler:

    WAR is a racket. It always has been.
    It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one
    international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the
    losses in lives.
    A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of
    the people. Only a small “inside” group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit
    of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge
    fortunes.

    Too bad Colin Powell hasn’t seen fit to blow the whistle on this more recent generation of MFers. A foolish “loyalty,” or maybe lack of the kind of courage that an S. Butler had.

    And of course there’s a huge literature out there <a href="http://books.google.com/books?id=3uPBM7z_62gC&dq=cia+secrets&printsec=frontcover&source=in&hl=en&ei=ikYaTO-3H4SglAfYn9X7Cg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=12&ved=0CEYQ6AEwCw#v=onepage&q=cia%20secrets&f=false"&lt; of which this is just one tiny little part about all the shit that “the CIA” (a shorthand for the evil underbelly of our power structure) and all the other people on “all sides” of the Grand World Conflict have pulled and are pulling, just because they get off on overthrowing governments, and getting close to Men In Power in the belief that doing deals with an Arafat or Bibi or Karzai or some Kygyz asshole will enable whatever stupid freakin’ stratagems those “Wag The Dog” MFers have on the front burner or in their back pockets. And the real horror is that the set of people who play these games in the Shadowland get to sneer and yuk it up, knowing that “exposure” of their behaviors just gives them more power over the rest of us.

    I would say we all need, you included, to “divert our eyes” from the shadow show and focus on the manifest real-world evils that are so much more than your limited notion of Mercantile Manichaeanism. Out of the Cave, folks, and into the light. These Black Ops people and uncontollable greedheads need to have their chains snugged up and yanked, hard.

  22. Jon Taplin says:

    John-Bring back Liberalism! I like it.

  23. Rick Turner says:

    Papola, you still seem to think that problems in education are problems with government. That is only very partially true. The biggest problems are with society at large and the micro societies in homes. Public schools worked pretty well as I recall in the 1950s…aside from the segregation issues. You’re probably to young to remember that.

  24. bernard says:

    Meanwhile the hole in the gulf is bleeding and with no answer to the problem. Arguing about liberalism wont solve the problem. The greed of big business is what started all this. Lots a small businesses are going to suffer, fisherman, restaurants, hotels ect…the south of the US will see a big depression and there will be an exodus towards the north. How to clean up the tons of oil in the sea floating around …plastic bags and containers fallen from ships. Imagine now you need an underwater radar to detect the half sunken containers. This voracious greedy society is going down the tube liberalism or not.

  25. John Papola says:

    JT – love that Butler quote. You should listen to this podcast:

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/lewrockwell-show/2010/06/14/153-we-aint-seen-nothin-yet-2/

    I listened this morning and Gerald Celente referenced Butler. I think you’d honestly enjoy it.

  26. Ken Ballweg says:

    John McPhee’s 1990 The Control of Nature.

    http://www.johnmcphee.com/controlofnature.htm

    Evergreen vanities as it were.

  27. Morgan Warstler says:

    We now have 17 counties who have offered to send equipment, without answer from Whitehouse: http://bit.ly/bDyafo

    We’re already inventing our way out of this, why you guys don’t spend your time demanding an environment that rewards invention amazes me.

    The news is awash in different folks bringing different solutions to the table – NONE OF IT – is government driven.

    This is the perfect example of why personal profit drives invention and the betterment of mankind, and why government has us covered in oil.

    We’re going to keep drilling, we need to get serious about having clean up technology available.

    I think the thing that bothers you about this, is the idea that if we get far better at clean-up, we’ll be more likely to take chances.

    That’s it huh?

  28. len says:

    No, because eventually we’ll handle it. The biggest oil spill in history so far is the Persian Gulf spill according to CNN. I’ve no lack of faith in the ingenuity of crowds put to a task they are passionate about. Those straw reports are common in industry but in mission-critical response systems, heads will be taken.

    What bothers me is the incredible asymetrical risks we’ll tolerate for 6.8% consumption when 1/40 of the money spent on laborers and Home Depot could remove the risk. That’s not smart investing or smart government. I’ll bet if part of the crowd spent a bit more time on finding those kinds of efficient trade-offs, we wouldn’t have to spend as much time devising strategies to clean up when a risk goes tits up.

    Which is smarter, Morgan: investments in preserving the oil addiction or getting rid of it? No matter what we do, the facts are the oil is being consumed and we have to take ever greater risks to get it. Why not devote the money to reducing the consumption?

  29. TennesseeWilliamsShakespeare says:

    Why ask Morgan which is smarter?

    What is this- Idiocracy?

  30. Jeff Wise says:

    Bernard: The oil is at the root of all of today’s problems and should be replaced. The earth is bleeding.

    I’d like to believe that oil is at the root of all our problems, but even if we were able to cast the monkey from our backs altogether and right now (and I’m all for it, in spite of my job depending upon the continuing flow), we’d still be left w/ 6 billion plus beings to feed, transport, house, etc., and that number of humans on the face of the planet , doing whatever they have to do to make a living, is going to twist the environment into all sorts of knots – regardless of the other kinds of energy-producing schemes that we might cook up, privately or publicly. As Jon and others have expressed so well in the past, we have invented the complicated technologies and processes necessary to attempt to stay one step ahead of the inevitable changes/catastrophes that come our way with each “advance”, er, step into ever greater complexity, but at some point our numbers will have outpaced our outsmarting of ourselves w/ very negative consequences. Without a “correction” (and it won’t have to be the result of laws – Mother Nature will do it for us), nothing we do technologically/economically/medically/etc. and surely not politically, is going to guarantee the human race a place on the planet for the rest of all time. One can only hope that enough of us can pull our collective heads out of our collective asses long enough to effect enough changes in attitude to soften the blow that she will mete out. (Thought-provoking blogs like this one and the prevailing informed and reasonable intellect of *most* contributors herein are reason for hope.)

  31. JTMcPhee says:

    Nothing is forever.

    Anyone remember Ice-9, a fictional substance “innovated” by Kurt Vonnegut in “Cat’s Cradle,” that nonethess has analogues in our all-too-real and all-too-fragile world, and which greed and venality turns into one flavor of welt-tod (world-death, I think)?

    Gee, I wonder what would happen if…

  32. len says:

    What is this- Idiocracy?

    In a sense but not for the same reason. We aren’t breeding ourselves stupid. The complexity of the technology is winnowing the trained and practiced maintainers. We can design it on computers but human hands keep it alive. Technical advances based on aggregation have a fast deepening growth of the space of information items required. It’s ok to take risks but not with zero-sum games. The deep well drilling sites are proven to be zero-sum.

    We have to meet the challenge of convincing people who grew up losing smart games to smarter people that this is not a game.

    We have to listen to the scientists over the politicians.

  33. Rick Turner says:

    http://motherjones.com/blue-marble/2010/06/worst-already-true-BP-well-now-unstoppable?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+motherjones%2FTheBlueMarble+%28Mother+Jones+|+The+Blue+Marble%29

    I say we just tie a weight to Morgan and send him down there with one of his amazing technological fixes that he’s trying to convince us exists.

    And then there’s this:

    http://www.energysavvy.com/blog/2010/06/15/the-gulf-oil-spill-vs-home-energy-retrofits/

    The dough being wasted on this blowout, clean up, and all the associated details would have been much better spent elsewhere.

  34. Fentex says:

    Someone explain to me again, please, in simple words, *WHY* we are not pursuing this like it was the Japanese fleet sailing away from a smoking Pearl Harbor.

    Because individuals do not viscerally feel the threat and so will not inconvenience themselves for fear of it.

    Did you walk or cycle everywhere you went within 30 miles of your home so far this year because you were scared to expell pollutants form an exhaust? If not it was likely the difference in convenience between doing so and driving/being driven while not feeling a vehicles exhaust as a hot threat on your neck.

    It’s tempting to dismiss eveyone who doesn’t compost their waste and use their own muscles for short range transport as a hypocrite any time they complain that nothing is being done to minimise the consequences of our exploitation of the world, but it’d be wrong.

    Individuals who refrain from harm do not stop others from doing the harm. Prevention requires cooperation and, to the horror of libertarians, imposition of restrictions through coercion.

    You cannot stop idiots from risking disaster by promising to sue their collected corporate investment into extinction.

    Especially when the profits from the risk buy better lawyers than yours.

    We can’t even reliably stop idiots form killing others driving drunk even when they aren’t motivated by profit for risking it. What posesses people to think weak legal threats of accountability will stop someone from resisting active financial reward for taking risks is a mystery to most.

    The aphorism “”All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing.” comes to mind.

  35. len says:

    I love this woman. Righteous.

  36. Morgan Warstler says:

    len, it doesn’t work like that.

    If say you just cut oil supply by 5%, prices go up dramatically, because EVERY industry relies on it has to bid. Its in everything.

    Getting off oil? Great. Won’t happen. China will just use more of it to make the shit they sell us.

    A gas tax is a smart play, because it effects out actual behavior, but new taxes are OFF THE TABLE. If it is a new tax, the 60%+ of likely voters are against it.

    So, one can judge how serious Jon, Obama, or you yourself are… by whether or not you are offering a big old tax cut to small businessmen to offset the gas tax. Something GOP congressmen would HAVE TO vote for. A REAL meaningful permanent tax cut – my god can you imagine the impact on jobs if our tax code got down on its hands and knees and did whatever the local small business guys wanted it to do if they’d go create new jobs?

    That’s a win-win.

  37. Morgan Warstler says:

    Rick read this whole thing and tell me we don’t have to get VERY GOOD quick at getting oil out of water.

    http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6593#comment-648967

    Its mother of invention time, and we need to change our whole attitude about poo-pooing technology.

  38. Valerie Curl says:

    I’ve been debating with myself about whether or not to comment on this subject. Commenting won out. So here goes.

    First of all, on the religious side, God gave dominion but as a steward, not as a rapist. Unfortunately, man vs the elements meant man’s ingenuity won over the elements, as least as much as he could control. The rest – the storms, earthquakes, mini-ice age, etc – were God’s judgments on the sinfulness of man. That idiotic thinking still persists even in the face of irrefutable science. And too many politicians take advantage of it (witness Palin) to bolster their electability and/or fame. The former are idiots and the latter are scavengers.

    Second, I’ve been one of those hated “treehuggers” since my youth. I love the outdoors and being in the woods. That’s quite literally my cathedral. That is where I went to pray. Now I volunteer for Placer Nature Center in Auburn, CA, as their social media coordinator and webmaster. My job requires me to monitor and pick up stories from all over the world, particularly here in the US, on all things environmental. Here’s some of the nasty stuff:

    – Domestic bees are disappearing at an alarming rate which means the more than 130K crops that depend upon bee pollenization are in trouble. No bees; no fruit or veggies or, in some cases, no grains. It’s a worldwide catastrophe that may in some part be due to Monsanto’s genetically engineered seeds. The jury is still out. Nevertheless, some European countries have banned the seeds.

    – Due to global warming, butterflies, particularly Monarchs, which used to migrate from the northwestern US to Mexico are now turning in their migration from northern Mexico back to the Louisiana shore. Mexico has become too hot.

    – Images are available on NatGeo’s site of greasy, oil slicks not caused by the Exxon Valdez but near the oil drilling sites in Alaska. It’s not the huge environmental mess in Nigeria, but seeing oil slicks floating amongst the rocks here in the U.S. that has been going on for who knows how long is more than disturbing. These Alaskan slicks aren’t due to accidents. They’re due to industry laziness or stupidity or human negligence or who knows what. Yet, they exist and no one is cleaning them up. So, JP, drill in the pristine artic where already the permafrost has turned to mush? Give me a bloody break! That’s stupidity built upon stupidity.

    – A recent report states that the US has cut down more forests than all of the Brazilian rainforest cuts. I guess someone forgot to mention the US forests are part of the same forest ecosystem as Brazil. But, hey, we wouldn’t want to endanger the profits of Weyerhaeuser would we by stopping clear cutting and preventing mountainsides from sliding downhill and killing off thousands of more species that depend upon old-growth forests. Heavens forbid!

    – Every day hundred if not thousands of plant and animal special go extinct. The ecosystem cannot tolerate the loss of many more species before the entire system is irreparably disrupted. Every specie that goes extinct affects the ecosystem in unimaginable ways. The delicate balance is disrupted in ways that have economic, health and environmental consequences few of even imagine. As that old TV commercial said, “don’t screw with Mother Nature.”

    – On the health side, asthma and other chronic breathing problems are at record high levels amongst children. And that’s not all. Many men are facing impotence due to chemicals in the environment…and there’s a significant rise in genetic gender defections (if that’s the right word).

    – There is an island of plastic in the Pacific Ocean between the Pacific current that’s probably larger than the Japanese Islands combined. Birds, whales, and other sea mammals have been eating this stuff and feeding it to their young. Full looking bellies of thousand of birds and a recently dead grey whales washed ashore in Seattle have been cut open to reveal stomachs full of plastic.

    – The once frozen Northwest Passage of 16th C. fame is now open and up for grabs with many countries vying for rights of passage. The matter is before the UN to see which countries get rights to travel through the once frozen sea to the Pacific. Meanwhile, polar bears are dying of starvation and penguins in Antarctica are failing to reproduce at formally normal levels.

    – As snowfall decreases in the Sierra Mountains, so does the amount of water needed by Southwestern states. California’s Imperial Valley was a desert until Sierra water turned it into a massive three-harvest vegetable garden, feeding the nation with cheap veggies. Now that water is disappearing as snowfall decreases – yet another result of global warming.

    – Hurricanes feed off of dry land, winds building up speed and velocity as they enter the ocean. High speed winds feeding off the ever growing, deforested African desert cross the Atlantic Ocean with ever greater velocity, crashing into the American continent, creating ever greater havoc each hurricane season.

    I could go on ad infinitum but there is good news.

    Young people – school kids, teenagers, and young adults – are taking it upon themselves to make changes that we older generations only argue and piss and moan about. They don’t like the world we’re leaving them so they are doing something about it.

    These young people are not the Harvard MBA’s who think money is the answer to everything and who have their egos up their …well, some body parts can’t politely be stated.

    These are kids who recognize the problems and are using their skills and talents to solve the urgent problems facing the world.

    When I was a senior in high school, 16 yrs old, a union guy came to speak to my Civics class – I know an anomaly now – who said, (I’ll never forget the words)”We (meaning his generation) made the smoke stakes. It’s up to you to clean them up.”

    We’ve done a shitty job of it so far.

    That link I posted yesterday may be somewhat objectionable in its reference to Boomers, but there is truth that lies in the words. We’ve been self-centered and egotistical and more concerned about our “image” (what will the Jones’ think?) than we have about living sustainably or sensibly. Humans are bloody stupid.

    But we can be better.

    Treat the earth well.
    It was not given to you by your parents,
    it was loaned to you by your children.
    We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors,
    we borrow it from our Children. – Ancient Indian Proverb

    Humankind has not woven the web of life.
    We are but one thread within it.
    Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
    All things are bound together.
    All things connect. – Chief Seattle, 1854

    I do not think the measure of a civilization
    is how tall its buildings of concrete are,
    But rather how well its people have learned to relate
    to their environment and fellow man. – Sun Bear of the Chippewa Tribe

    When our culture stops thinking about “me” and starts thinking about the world we leave to our seventh generation, then maybe there will be some hope for the planet and the human specie. If not, we’ll leave a world inhabitable only by the cockroach!

    Jon, if your students don’t get it than they need to get out of their books and their parties and see the world as it is. They need to learn what other young people around this country are doing to create a more sustainable and healthy future. But maybe your USC students are too privileged for that kind of thinking. Give them my job for a month and maybe they’ll wake up.

  39. Valerie Curl says:

    BTW, if the mess in the Gulf, the financial crisis, and the disaster in the Middle East wake people up to the holy Hell we’ve created, then maybe it all will have served its purpose. Just as the Holocaust served to destroy prejudice, perhaps…just perhaps…this mess we WASPS have created can be cleaned up.

    But I’m not gonna make any bets on it while I’m living.

  40. Hugh says:

    Hey McPhee! Good to see you back. Some of us warrant a whuuppin’ about, I dunno, daily.

    Jon, it’s like you’ve opened a new chapter. Like back when we used to get to vote on the new hymnal and invariably we’d all go “A-men!” and we meant it. Still. What’s happenin’ here? Like we still have to go down this same old ugly street just because the President is discrepit ignorant?

    Don’t make me say this shit. You gonna get me in trouble back in Oakland, and young.Dear–please, I man it–we want you back. Come.

  41. bernard says:

    There need to be some romance and illusion amongst all other realities so says Mr “Tohengoodbye”, history and the history of it is such a present. Reality surpass any form of accident.By the way JTM who are the engineers that deviced such a blatant malpractice in the gulf of us all. Who are the players into this ” tecno-mistake “. Hey its just a question from my very deep south.

    Saludos

    BF

  42. bernard says:

    There are a lot of mistakes made and nobody takes the blame its not only BP. Sure it will be fixed ,eventually, and everybody will have to adapt. Morgan is right, there is money to be made fixing things. It shouldn’t be that way ” In search of excelence” was some kind of a bible back then. Greeds gets ib the middle and, ethics go out of the door. Who is going to fix the human unfixable. L’impossible n’existe pas”.

  43. Rick Turner says:

    Yeah, Bernard, let’s all go and fuck up nature and then get hired to fix it. Way to go!

    Valerie, thank you for your very well considered posts.

    Morgan, I guess there’s always a nice ego stroked tech fix for everything we screw up.

    And Valerie, I’m sorry to say that the Mel Gibsons of the world still deny the Holocaust. How is it that that bastard has not been declared an illegal alien in the US? Oh, money…

  44. Morgan Warstler says:

    Valerie, bacon is the best thing that ever that ever happened to the pig.

  45. JTMcPhee says:

    So is The Narrative becoming “The effin’ Boomers did it all!” and “There’s a techno-fix for what ails us”? I wonder if there’s any kind of demographic put-together of just what age sets participated the most forcefully and effectively in that long accretive process leading to the shitstorm that is blowing our collective asses away these modern days.

    len is the systems person — what happens when you perturb a complex system by multiple reinforcing stresses, beyond the points of its resilience and recoverability? I think the only honest answer is “Who knows?”, and observe that relatively small groups of humans of all ages participate and have for generations participated, for personal profit both financial and psychic, in a whole range of activities that have a pretty good chance of killing not only those “insignificant” species that Valerie notes go extinct every day, but a whole wider swath, including large or larger chunks of humanity, way beyond the seventh generation. Valerie notes the disappearance of bees and the possible link to “genetically engineered” plants. Recent tiny piece in the paper, way back in a Thursday “science” page, noted that our “genetic engineers,” having parsed the human genome and busily wrenched and hammered at the DNA and RNA of many other species without benefit of sex and at least an animal-husbandry’s nod to failed breeding experiments, have lo and behold discovered that Maybe They Better Re-Study Some Of This, since it’s not just lines of code in some cosmically simple BASIC with a bunch of REM statements that can functionally be ignored, code that can be quickly re-written, once the libraries are developed, to suit some surficially short-term -“profitable” purpose. Says one “scientist-engineer,” “We’re finding out that it’s a lot more complicated than we thought was.” The same class of people that told the rest of us just a few years ago, that once the Yes, Worgon, there are externalities that deserve to be killed in the womb — the inevitable idiocy that comes from messing with genetic material is one of them. What a surprise to the “engineers” among us, that what these Ockam’s-razorists were so freakin’ sure was what the lawyers, castigating an opponent’s brief or trying to distinguish an unfavorable precedent, deride as “mere surplusage,” millions of amino acid pairs that “were thought to have no function” are instead part of a hugely complicated symphony, which these DJs-of-destruction were playing only a tiny fraction of one track of and cock-sure-knowing that they Understood It All.

    And that’s just one little area where this class of persons, mostly young snots I would add, who brought you IPOs in the dot.com days where smoke and mirrors substituted for actual real-function techno-bumps and attracted Young Greed to a feeding frenzy that ended up with the sharks mostly eating one another and killing everything else in the area at the same time, including death by poisoning from the rotting toxins produced by their decomposing carcasses.

    We are not taught to ask the right questions or measure the right “metrics” or view that complex bigger world through something other than New Coke-bottle lenses. Gonna come up with a fix for that, that will keep those busy little makers of deadly viruses of all kinds, derivative or genetic or even intellectual, from churning away producing weapons and other “products” for “religious” reasons that range from Fundamentalism to personal pleasure?

    Worgon — cannibals in the Polynesian world use words that translate to “long pig” to describe the main dish at their anthropophagous feasts. Maybe you would want to volunteer to be “bacon” at one of those gatherings? Want fries with that bacon double cheeseburger?

    But not to worry — whether it’s 6.5 or 9 billion sweating, warring, grasping humans, you will be sort of safe, like one of the little fish in a school of sardines being slashed at by a pack of yellowfins, and likely live out your puny life in relative insignificance, changing directions as the Wisdom of the School directs. Maybe right into the nets of a Chilean or Korean fishing boat.

  46. JTMcPhee says:

    “that once the genome mapping was complete, well, Katie bar the door, we are going to fix ourselves once and for all, and get rich doing it.”

  47. Fentex says:

    …on the religious side, God gave dominion but as a steward, not as a rapist.

    You cannot discuss hard topics demanding rational planning while subscribing to and debating the semantics of superstition.

    If you presume creation and gift of Earth to people by omnipotent donor then there’s no place to go next about how rationally to protect the gift as you might as well plan on a replacement being magicked out of the ether.

    There is no oversight but the harsh consequences abuse of ecology will bring down on us from our own follies, and there is none to plead with to act but ourselves.

  48. len says:

    what happens when you perturb a complex system by multiple reinforcing stresses, beyond the points of its resilience and recoverability? I think the only honest answer is “Who knows?”

    The answer is it will change into a degraded state where operations become incoherent. You can measure goals vs outcomes, or you can measure observations against predictions. If you have enough resources (time is a resource) you can possibly reestablish coherence if you can find sufficient multipliers of effects to restablish reinforcing propagation.

    The ruddy hope I have, JTMc, is the poetry calms the animal spirits long enough for multipliers to be found and deployed, but like any other rational person scared enough to drop their politics and start looking for solutions and enablers of solutions, Mary Shelley whispers to my worst dreams too.

  49. John Papola says:

    “bacon is the best thing that ever that ever happened to the pig.”

    While I don’t think that most factory-farmed pigs, were they to speak, would say that they’re happy to have been brought into this world, this point is very important.

    Where people have a stake in a resource directly, and stand to benefit from the fruits of its product, we tend to get more of it. People eat millions of pigs and cows… and yet we are awash in bacon and milk and those two animals are the farthest thing from endangered.

    Stewardship is important. It is essential. But people don’t steward what they don’t own. And when you collectivize property, there is no “we” that “owns” it. There is no real stakeholder. There are only temporary overseers who have virtually no stake in the long-term.

    The tragedy of the commons is real when governments control resources instead of voluntary people and organization whose ability to retain control hinges on successful, profitable, sustainable management.

    The privatization of Elephants in Africa is a PERFECT example.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QouamYWL6vc

    “That which nobody owns, nobody will care for”. And “everybody” is the same as “nobody” in this context.

  50. len says:

    The tragedy of the commons is real when governments control resources instead of voluntary people

    The tragedy is when the resources are fraudulent and the volunteer roles are empty.

    I see this in simpler terms. The leader of the free world, the duly constituted and legally elected President of the United States has called for our help given a clear and present danger to the Republic and the health of the planet. While we may kibitz stance, the only proper response is “How shall we serve?”

    Turn to your faith for resilience of self if that is available to you. Turn to your radio dial Xed Zed Red for further instructions. That oil entering the loop current is not just sticky, it is toxic. The asymetry of the force required to destroy a well head and the impact of that on the environment and the life sustained by it is so great that the risks are surpassing our capacity to cope; so, it is no longer a matter of can but how and the answer is fast becoming by any means necessary.

  51. Morgan Warstler says:

    yeah, Len, I think I’ll wait until there’s someone raising the retirement age and ending public employee unions before I ask how I can serve.

    Yeah, JTM, its really all your generations fault. Truly. And every year it will be become more clear. The Narrative is taking seed. Trust me, I’m from the future, in it, you don’t look very good. Too much greed masquerading as ideals.

    Here’s the thing, since you have given up, WHY NOT just let me drive? It obviously can’t get any worse, and the worst thing that can happen is you die pissed off.

    And we’re ok with that aren’t we?

  52. Morgan Warstler says:

    Yes, let’s trust the government.

    “But the Coast Guard ordered the stoppage because of reasons that Jindal found frustrating. The Coast Guard needed to confirm that there were fire extinguishers and life vests on board, and then it had trouble contacting the people who built the barges.”

    http://abcnews.go.com/WN/bp-oil-spill-gov-bobby-jindals-wishes-crude/story?id=10946379

  53. Ken Ballweg says:

    And tropical storm Blas warms up in the east Atlantic. At some point, the gods in their infinite jesting, may combine several reminders of human insignificance. A Cat4 hurricane sweeping across Haiti on it’s way to the Easter Gulf, rising briefly to a Cat5 as a result of additional warming due to the slick so it’s a Cat5 by the time it hits land.

    Uhmmmm, wouldn’t that test the ability of American’s to accept that the time for WWII levels of sacrifice are needed now, as the free market, and big gov and all the supposed fixers aren’t up to the mess we’ve made (see Val’s list above). Obama’s not going to change things because he gets clobbered with too many sacred cows when he tries (confer the bill working it’s way through congress to offset the Supremes decision that money is free to speak). The free market Morgan/John natter on about isn’t going to fix anything in a way that it doesn’t immediately turn around and offset by striving to take advantage so they can get additional chunk of the collective wealth. What’s needed is a change in the national resolve, and I don’t see that coming until we are past the tipping point.

  54. JTMcPhee says:

    And of course there’s a debate about the notion of the “tragedy of the commons,” as preached by Hayek et al, and the reality of the old commons where real-world human relations and interactions at an approriate scale saw to it that usufruct by all did not result in what we have now, where the privatizing of everything, cheered on by flaming-brand-wavers from the “libertarian” true believer ranks or the folks that see personal and group advantages in leveraging off that belief structure, turns inevitably to the skimming of the cream and loins and filets and everything of worth and value, monetizable at least, and the dumping of the rinds and risk and externalities into the laps and fields of “the public.”

    There’s no resolving this via discourse or debate — Papola and the rest have a religious structure (as full of schismatic cracks as the Baptist theocracy) that is as compelling as Scientology, and shares a lot of thinking and tenets with that sorry, scary crowd. Just like the Flat Earthers and Creationists have found whole complexities of “proof” or at least “reasonable doubt,” in their minds, for Alternate Truths, “libertarians” have their own certitudes and beatitudes that are unshakable because they are part of the person’s identity and the self-selected limits of one’s sensorium, not that more open space where learning and honest debate take place.

    len and others here and elsewhere in the world may be looking for fixing or repairing or prolonging things by “any means necessary.” True Believers will be satisfied to see intimations of triumph of their faith, or the wrath of God, or The Forces Of The Market Economy, if it all goes to hell in a handcart and our children become food for rats and roaches.

  55. Hugh says:

    Zhirem, I really admire your fine tratment here of the principle of stewardship. I recall that we had an exchange on that subject some time ago. I was moved by Pope Benedict’s statement on the subject. (I believe that it wasn’t a formal encyclical). He seemed to want the prelates to deliberate on whether injury of the environment is in fact sinful, as a contemptuous rejection of God’s gift. (the parallel, in the Summa, is acedia, the rejection of the divine gift of one’s own soul).

    But there’s a problem here of agnosticism, by which I mean a kind of pun on this matter of possibly conflating the spiritual and the material. I reckon that’s why the German Shepherd asked the Collegium to mull it.

    Many years back I briefly served as a university chaplain (lay), and one of my duties was to teach the Bible in discreet solo sessions. (Necessarily discreet because most of the students hailed from countries hostile to such study.

    Anyway, one day a beautiful Chinese student solicited my help, as she was a doctoral candidate in English Literature who nevertheless had never been allowed to learn of Western religion. Very sensibly she said to me that she doubted that she could successfully house her dissertation without having the Bible under belt. She actually told me that whereas she’d more or less mastered Shakespeare, the subject of her Master’s thesis, she’d always suspected that to really get English Lit! you need both the steel and the flint. Then what you do with the result is up to you..

    So then, Zhirem, here’s the really charming thing. I asked her how she might wish to study. Hebrew Bible? Christian? Something accurate. Something literary? Take Scripture in sequence? Etc. So she just wanted to know the Canon as most of the English speaking peoples do. So, as she was primarily interested in litererary impact we lit, as it were, immediately into the King James. I recall offering her several optional strategies, but she said that she preferred to read front-to-back. In that case, I said, read the first chapter of Genesis and the first of Matthew and let’s meet back.

    So she comes back a few days later and sits down and hangs her head in her hands. I feared. “What is it? What can I do?”. She had gotten a bit ahead of herself and was shocked by the account of Genesis of the expulsion from Eden. The part where the Creator pronounces a kind of curse that amounts to saying that he’d lovingly had taken care of it for us, but seeing as how we’re punks henceforth it’s all our problem.

    She couldn’t understand, from the Hebrew textx, that a Creator God might, in relatively recent terms, hire-and-fire. According to our trusteeship, Zhirdem.

    She told me that she couldn’t construe because in her upbringing it was impossible to imagine stewardship because for the Chinese it’s a false distinction. She said to me that she couldn’t construe stewardship because in the Eastern conception we’re all of creation, I coequal with an amoeba. I musn’t mention her name, as the handsome young man to whom she was engaged was gunned down at Beijing University later.

    Dirt to dirt, cinders thereunto. Stewardship is an obligation that brings together Complete Materialists and lazy Prots like me and even the most serious/humorous Jews I know and solid Catholics. We should get on it.

  56. bernard says:

    Oh well, brace yourself and adapt. The power of adaptation is a wonderful existential tool in dire moments. We eat piranhas to survive. We eat them first before they eat us that’s one way of looking at it. The industrial era is coming to an end due to the collateral damages it produces and that’s beyond politics its plain survival. Industry as we know them today will have to adapt or die to be reborn in a smaller and more efficient and ethical way. There is no way around it.
    I don’t see any other way out of this modern puzzle.

  57. bernard says:

    And yes there is a lot of money to be made in the transformation of our old dogmas.

  58. len says:

    yeah, Len, I think I’ll wait until there’s someone raising the retirement age and ending public employee unions before I ask how I can serve.

    Thanks for the prompt and crisp reply, Sir.

    Sergeant, please push this crisp fellow back into the water and let the next survivor onto the boat. As soon as he has that gentleman’s oar, prepare to pull away at best speed.

    As to the Coast Guard, when there are this many lawyers in the water looking for blood, everybody gets formal. They are following regs. This means there is no one in the command and control chain willing to waiver the reqs.

  59. bernard says:

    The other way of cleaning up this mess is to open the recollection of the oil to the public, any one that can devise a way is free to take the oil to resell it on the market.just an idea. At 70$ a barrel…

  60. Morgan Warstler says:

    JTM, saying it doesn’t make it so.

    We both know you don’t care about about children, you can’t even admit they are smarter than us. It kills you to imagine that you are now part of the past – the history that we “respect” while we admit the grand mistakes you made.

    Yes, yes – they / we are doomed and you have the insight. What a horrible way to go. I say again, if I ever found myself with your dour outlook, I would AT LEAST have the good form to let the doomed try it their way without my incessant moaning from the passenger seat. Nope, if I had given up, I’d cheer for the libertarians to be right even if I felt I knew better.

    In the coming days, big society socialists will be remembered like we do the racist South… we don’t want to write them all off, but at the same time their errors can never be repeated.

  61. Morgan Warstler says:

    len, that’s BS. We have government kluge, we lost 13 men in the explosion and everyone is more concerned with the oil.

    something wrong with you today len? the correct answer is “the fucking government needs to act like theres a crisis and forget waiting around for life jackets.”

  62. Hugh says:

    No, Bernard. I really like you but that’s not right. And being the cruelest doesn’t make one the most valid.

    Pesident Kennedy had his brains blown open in the presence of his young wife. That wasn’t an equivalency (It wasn’t in any way fair.)

    It’s right or wrong, and how you call it.

  63. John Papola says:

    “In the coming days, big society socialists will be remembered like we do the racist South… we don’t want to write them all off, but at the same time their errors can never be repeated.”

    That’s damn glorious.

  64. bernard says:

    The more we try to understand this …I just don’t know anymore
    the only thing that is certain is that oil should be replaced by a cleaner form of energy. Imagine I live in an oil country and I preach to the contrary. I have seen the very ugly face of mining in many ways that is why I am so eloquent against it.
    Can we live closer to nature or is it to late.

  65. Hugh says:

    Understood. It seems that we’re now all pulling in the same direction, Bernard. And that’s glorious. Let’s just keep pulling.

  66. Hugh says:

    Hey look! A photo of the whole Earth.

    Homage to Brand. What a Thinking Person’s stunt that was, with follow-up. Are we retuned to that kind of imaginative tumult? I asked this of my girlfriend last night. She’s smarter than I but she wouldn’t call it. She did acknowledge, with Taplin and Yeats, that the tides are ashift.

    Spooky.

  67. Hugh says:

    Valerie,

    I’m neither Jewish nor Catholic but these notions have roots worthy of fearless discussion. I always brighten when you come on. Look at how full of ideas you are! As to the crucial one, yeah, we do tend.to want to.subdue Mother Earth. It’s Oedipal, to be sure. But it’s.over, and I say Let’s Go!

  68. Hugh says:

    Hey also Valerie, you live in Auburn? Didn’t I read recently that y’all had a devastating fire out there? Dare I ask, were lives lost? Did you folks lose the old Capitol Building?

    Sorry if these questions are impertinent.

  69. Valerie Curl says:

    JTMc – Being a Boomer myself, I too was a bit put off by the derogatory tone and attitude of the author. I reasoned that not all Boomers were selfish, self-centered pigs. Then, I reasoned that we were doing what we’d been taught to do: go to school, get a good job, do better than our parents. Remember parents saying, “you’re going to study what? What kind of good paying job can you get with that degree?” But then I chose to put aside my insulted ego and focus on what was written. Somewhere in the article, I began to realize the author didn’t mean all Boomers. He was talking about the Boomers who threw their ethics out the window in the name of wealth and the Boomers who believed they lacked value and worth without the show of wealth. Not all of us Boomers fell into that trap. Reread the article again, ignoring the seeming insults to all Boomers. Try to see what the author is attempting to say about our culture.

    JT – You make a reasonable argument. But tell me how the forests of mountainous eastern Washington State are going to be saved from the clear-cutting by Boise-Cascade in your private ownership, no government regulation world? Selective cutting is more expensive so it’s not done. Even when they replant, they’re replanting soft pines (which are not native to that area) to replace the hardwoods they cut. As a result, they’re changing the ecology which results in much reduced nesting areas for native birds and driving other species to extinction. And that’s if the mountain doesn’t slide down and away first.

    On your elephants argument. Sure, people who believed in saving the earth and all of its varied species bought huge tracts of land as Reserves. Because most governments and peoples believe in property rights. But you failed to mention that the people buying these Reserves to save the elephants neither claim ownership of the elephants nor did they buy the land for profit. They are environmentalists. They are attempting to save specie just for the sheer sake of saving it. Governments are capable of doing the same. Look at the Nairobi Preserves. Staffed by previously unemployed natives who now patrol the park to keep animals out of villages and poachers from killing off endangered species. It’s been a highly successful program overall, given the problems in Kenya.

    If you don’t recognize the interconnectedness of all living things and of the very earth itself, if your only goal is money and power and self-gratification, and if you have no sense of “belonging” to the community at large, then destruction of the environment means nothing. It doesn’t enter your consciousness. When the strip miners of West Virginia live in mansions in New York, they have no connection to those W. Virginians who travel down into the dark, dangers of the earth or to the earth and mountains they’re stripping away.

    In other words, private ownership doesn’t equate with responsibility or ethics or common morality. Sometimes government is needed to enforce rules of safety and honesty and responsibility upon those who seek only their own self-gratification and ego-glory. Because without government to set reasonable rules (be the sheriff), we’d have little more than the Wild West depicted in Hollywood films.

    Reagan was wrong. Government is not the problem. People are the problem!

  70. Jim Flynn says:

    Who is going to replace the Appalachian mountain tops? Who is going to fill in the canyons of strip mines? Who is going to clean out the streams of mountain top debris? Who is going to clean upp the coal slurry? Who is going to separate the oil from water? Wo wil sequester the greenhouse gases?

    Simple answer: Nature. Humans will probably have to be extinct for that to happen. O Heavenly Day!

  71. JTMcPhee says:

    Valerie, I did get the message the first time through, and thank you for pointing to that bit of, dare I call it “Goodthink?” That we need so much more of? At the same time, seems to me that consciously or not, The Narrative takes on coloration and emphasis one little read-and-post at a time, and wouldn’t it be lovely, if you were a petroleum company exec, if somehow people could be brought to butter some of that soccer-riot energy onto oh, say, an entire different fussily defined Age Set?

    I was just flicking channels, and came across the History Channel on how the German/Austrian eruption of REAL fascism (not the tame shit that JP whines about) worked around to whipping up a killin’ frenzy against die Juden. And from there I ended up on “Whacked Out Sports,” where the highest form of humor is some guy losing his toegrip on his skateboard and doing a vertical fork wedgie with a half-twist scream on a public (pubic?) handrail. Hawhawhaw. Cut to the snippet from one of those “degrade and debase yourself for TV exposure and a puny prize” shows where healthy young women in thongs and net stockings do a “relay race” for which each leg starts by the “runner” having to stuff five, count ‘em, recently dead 2- or 3-pound octopus carcasses in her pantyhose before she can run the obstacle course. The winner being the team with the biggest bucket of dead cephalopods in the sortest time.

    You can do a little searching in the netvideo world, if you care to, and find snuff pix aplenty, and guys lighting farts and eating boogers and chix beating the shit out of other chix and so on and so forth. And of course the wonderful playground of “conservatism,” loaded with heavy-caliber hate symbols (mostly derivative from the swastika — why is “derivative” such a deadly bit of symbology in so many areas? All “hollywood” has got left these days is remakes and “derivatives” of the shit that boomers and their kids bought $2 tickets to go see on the Silver Screen…).

    But like you say, and as many have recognized and either turned to try to save, turned to stone, or turned to despair, “People are the problem!” I would suggest that you waste your intellect and time engaging with Papola and Worgon — they are burdened with the “idee fixe,” and have wrapped, with various degrees of competence and awareness, their identities and comprehensions around that stone pillar upon and around which so much human blood and the ashes of Nature are splattered and strewn.

    The following words might sound like something that Worgon or Papola and similarly “enlightened” folks might say, but the awareness that lies behind the words has nothing in common with either of them, but it seems to me that Bigness is the real problem. We can’t individually or as a group keep from reaching for the dead chickens and moment of fame and the guns that give us power over others once the tribe gets beyond a certain size. From what I remember of anthropology, older and smaller and wiser groups figured out that budding off a branch of the tribe became necessary when the population got to a certain size.

    Dude! Are we having fun or WOT!

  72. Fentex says:

    The privatization of Elephants in Africa…

    There are people proposing farming Tigers to manage their populations and create incentives to protect them from extermination.

    Poachers present a real and immediate threat of their extinction (as they likely have extinguished the Northern White Rhino).

    It’s an uncomfortable thought caging such stength and farming such beauty, and it presents a sore test of a persons rationality.

    For we know with almost certainty they will die in the wild and their zoo populations be dangeorusly fragile if nothing is done to encourage their numbers.

    Farming for sale to the Asian markets which drive demand for their poaching would gaurantee their continuation, while their absence in the wild can only spped destruction of their habitat to which they’ll never return.

    How a person wrestles with these options and weighs their virtues is a strong test of their will to solve problems with rationality or romance.

  73. bernard fauchier says:

    That means that the space ship earth is becoming smaller. As we grow. the Jungian collective awarness forces us to understand the concept of planetarism. It has nothing to do with socialism or capitalism. The real problem is a cultural one. In some places its ok to have seven wifes. In others the concept of love is different. Planetarism is going to be a very difficult force to achieve and the arrogance of greed is not going to be of help. How to curtail greed and arrogance. Nature will. Adapt.

  74. bernard fauchier says:

    The problem with bigness is that the mistakes at that level are huge.

  75. Hugh says:

    I “cannot”, Fentex? Are you forbidding me?

    Well I certainly can do and so can you do, Boo! Lose the laundry and jump on in anytime you feel like it. I just riffied journalistically on Catholocism–why not?–but I’m not Catholic, though certainly journalistic. If somehow I transgressed then I beg your pardon, I really do, but ease up and spread your wings. It’s no big sweat, Tightass.

  76. Valerie Curl says:

    Fentex:

    …their virtues is a strong test of their will to solve problems with rationality or romance.

    Fextex, therein lies the problem. How does one protect wild species from the predations of the masses who’ve been taught that they are more important than all the other species that inhabit this planet?

    How does one teach responsibility to a culture that believes only in self-gratification (ie how much money I make) and ego-centricity (ie how important I am given my worldly goods)? Breaking the bonds of ego and ethical values depends upon the culture into which one is born. Unfortunately, we’ve not been born into a culture which values global ethics over self-gratification. One has only to look at Morgan’s posts to see the chasm. Greed still reigns supreme amongst the Y and Z gens. Maybe the new kids on the block, the ones still in school, will change the paradigm. Let’s hope so.

    JTM – I get this feeling that if you and I sat down over a cup of coffee some morning, we’d agree on a whole bunch of ideas.

    The only reason I engage with JP is that I believe, maybe wrongly, is that he is teachable. God forgive me my insatiable appetite to teach the young and impart my knowledge! Morgan, on the other hand, is a lost soul.

    I’m not sure why but I have an optimistic spirit within me. Is it astrology (I’m a Sagittarius) or the way I was raised (my parents were Depression kids)? I don’t know. But I continue to hope. And the kids I see and read about who work each day to create a better world and give up so much of their time and labor and talents gives me hope that one day – someday – we as a specie will get beyond this crazy notion of “me first and the rest of the world be damned.”

    Ah, heck, I’m too tired to continue. But one thing I do know, I am so bloody sick and tired of this cultural notion that nothing more than “me and my property” counts!

  77. Fentex says:

    Are you forbidding me?

    Obviously not. My meaning (dismissing superstition as relevant to policies needed to protect Earth’s ecology) was arguing the pointless will be disregarded by the serious seekers of efficacy.

    I don’t care if people use it for propaganda to encourage social cohesion but it’s a waste of time in finding the solution to disburse.

  78. JTMcPhee says:

    Everything’s connected. Just ask James Burke.

    Rhinos and elephants and tigers and cheetahs get “poached” by young men with AK-47s whose weapons were initially imported by CIA/KGB and various other state sneaks to support various “overthrow” or “destabilization” stratagems, or sold to dictators to keep the lid on. And the young men, cultureless due to the acting out of ancient tribal antipathies when “bigness” intruded in the form of post-colonial “nations” with spite-drawn boundaries were found to have resources that “big” corporate interests would work with Big “government” agencies from the First World, while other “government agencies” worked with weapons manufacturers to try to become the World’s Largest Seller of War Materiel, got nominal training in how to operate their simple weapons and act upon their simple impulses (shooting to kill, and fucking, and for some the effort to become the Top Guy via serial coups and thereafter indulge by patent corruption and wholesale theft all the titillations that our blase corporate types obtain in only slightly different but more “urbane and sophisticated” ways) and then in the breakdown of any kind of kindly authority wander the bush looking for profit by “privatizing” rhino horn and elephant tusk and the penises and spleens and livers of large predators. And diamonds, of course, and tin and bauxite and oil.

    And that run-on is of course only a small fraction of all the “connections” that bring us to a pretty sorry pass. It’s really hard to “habilitate” and “pacify” those young men and of course the child soldiers, get them to give up their weapons in exchange for a hardscrabble effort to wrest a living from the soil, burdened like Haitians with a tradition that dictates cooking is to be done with charcoal which mandates burning down all the trees and women are kept pregnant and in their assigned place by various means, when there are so many other young men and boys working out their dreams of gang rape and gang conquest, and murderous colonels and then lieutenants and finally corporals and privates becoming rapacious heads of state via the stratagems that white-boy manipulators teach and foment, ready to take by simple murder and looting whatever goodness the converted manage to build.

    Happy to share coffee and ideas — my problem is that I only see problems, and have gotten pretty good at coming up with reasons why there are no solutions to any of them on account of the Weight of the Culture. Too much momentum and inertia to ever overcome, except in small ways locally. Want to see what our kids are “learning” about the world? Check out a couple of hours of The cartoon Network some Saturday morning…
    And with all that, there are still bernards and Valeries and lots of other people trying to instill a different leaven into the hard and bitter bread that shits like Worgon would have us eat. Blessed are they who try to see everyone gets at least Maslow’s first-order hierarchy of needs met, for they shall be endlessly frustrated.

    Jumping around, and forward to “Whose Side,” I have to wonder just who the two younger Reds flanking Joe Barton are — the short one on the far right looks like an escapee from a work gang or maybe one of those brain-damaged dudes who fight for pay or the vacuous chance to be “awarded a contract” — the equivalent, I guess, of Trump telling one of his suckophant slaves “You’re hired!” — in the various Cages and Octagons of popular TV note.

  79. len says:

    the correct answer is “the fucking government needs to act like theres a crisis and forget waiting around for life jackets.”

    Count the number of Coast Guard assets, count the number of ships in the water, count the number of personnel at risk and then look at the conditions of the incident zone into which the volunters are entering without their protective gear.

    Frustrating as it is, the Coast Guard called the shot right. To do otherwise is to use the same thinking as the BP exec who told the drillers over their objections to use sea water to speed up the process. If even one of the un-lifejacketed volunteers goes into the water, resources will be pulled off the mission to save that person or persons. Unheedy is haste is dumb, Morgan.

    Believe it or not, war is not fought by those who charge in guns a blazing with no thought for self-preservation. Emergency management is methodical for obvious reasons.

    So if you need an ‘act’ from the Commander in Chief to satisfy yourself he has the balls for the job, fine. Right now I’d prefer calm relentless methodical execution based on the best information at hand. The sea floor is a rough egg and if we don’t do this right, what we do will be undoable. We make mistakes over that salt dome going like a blind bat out of hell and we’ll screw this pooch dead.

  80. bernard says:

    Nature will take care of the gun totting bipede. We haven’t seen nothing yet. Happiness is the esthetics of small achievements. Tomorow is father’s day, I’ve got five kids and two granson and sometimes I feel guilty about the torch I am passing on to my progenitur. Born in 1939 in Paris I have seen all kinds of stupid wars and I don’t want my kids to go to one.
    Hope is ok but you must do things towards what you believe in.

  81. Rick Turner says:

    And how’s this for clueless:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/19/gulf-oil-spill-tony-haywa_n_618332.html

    OK, he’s got a right to a couple of days off, but for him not to understand that he’s living life on a microscope slide right now is truly astounding. This would be like Dwight Eisenhower deciding to take off for a few days to play golf three weeks after D-Day. He didn’t.

  82. bernard says:

    Gone sailing living the mess behind. Nice guy.

  83. JTMcPhee says:

    How’s that again, Tony? Did I hear you say something about “Let them eat cake!”?

  84. Rick Turner says:

    How ’bout a nice yacht race in the Gulf of Mexico using oil rigs…or where they used to be…as markers? Then also give points for the cleanest boat finishing the race. Oh, let’s make the racing season coincide with peak hurricane season which is coming right up.

    What’s that about calming troubled waters with oil?

    Hey, maybe Tony should be forced to water ski on an oil slick for a while. Along with Dickless Cheney. Then they can buddy up for some SCUBA diving.

  85. Rick Turner says:

    Hey, maybe BP could sponsor an America’s Cup Race contender…

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