Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What does radical climate action look like?

"You are not the radicals in this fight. The radicals are the people who are fundamentally altering the composition of the atmosphere. That is most radical thing that people have ever done."
- Bill McKibben, Power Shift 2011.
I support radical climate (and ecological) action because I am fundamentally a conservative. I would like the planet on which my child grows up to bear some resemblance to the planet on which human civilisation developed.
Se vogliamo che tutto rimanga come è, bisogna che tutto cambi!
"If we want things to stay as they are, everything must change!"
- Tomasi di Lampedusa, Il Gattopardo.
H/T Michael Tobis.


The Tame Lion said...

That's inspiring!
Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed the visit!! :)

in said...

Come on Byron, there's no change possible in our liberal democracies, Governments must keep on feeding us fatties or we'll spit the dummy out.
I mean take disposable nappies, it's not enough they they don't bio degrade now in the interests of whatever people shove them into their own plastic bag before binning them. 'Mock on mock on Voltaire, Rousseau, mock on mock on 'tis all in vain, you throw the sand against the wind and the wind blows it back again'. Just thank heaven that we'll be saved in the rapture - phew

byron smith said...

The Tame Lion - I'm glad you enjoyed it and welcome to commenting.

In - Welcome to you as well.

My desire to minimise the discontinuities we are entering is not dependent upon the likely success or failure of my actions to make that path worth pursuing. Sometimes, it is worth failing in defence of what is worth defending, not because we just might get out of it alive, but because there is no other way to remain human except to resist the forces that make us sub-human.

I find that Blake poem fascinating. I'd love to hear why you thought of it as this point.

Since I'm not sure whether I know you personally or not, I'm also not 100% sure of the tone of your final sentence. I assume it is mocking. If so, I entirely agree about the uselessness (indeed, culpability) of escapist eschatologies. The rapture is poor exegesis and worse ethics.

Pursuing ecological responsibility is (most likely) a chasing after the wind, but not pursuing it is demonic.

byron smith said...

*as this point --> at this point*

byron smith said...

When I said I am a conservative, I meant it to be in the same general ballpark as this.

byron smith said...

And Michael's previous post is also worth a look:

"I am beginning to realize my core quandary as a writer. I am consistently cast as a radical when in fact I consider myself the most cowardly and contingent of middle-of-the-road liberals.

"The facts on the ground are radical. Our adaptations to radical changes are of necessity going to be disruptive. It seems to me that given this inescapable fact, one should seek transitions that are as little disruptive of existing adaptations as possible.

"People think I'm a radical because they think I advocate radical changes. But in fact I am a conservative. Changes terrify me; changes lead to mass hysteria which lead to dangers that aren't limited to this side of genocide. My own life is, among other things, a story of a recovery from a genocide I never saw but which my parents barely escaped.

"I do not advocate radical changes. The least radical changes I anticipate are pretty severe. I think we should try to optimize for the smallest adequate changes given that our current trajectory is massively unsustainable. I just don't think we should pretend that business as usual is possible."

jessica smith said...

Wonderful to hear Bill McKibbon speak. 5 degrees by the end of the century - oh no! More conservative radical action to be taken and undertaken from me.

byron smith said...

Grist: The left's gone left but the right's gone nuts: asymmetric polarisation in action. Some interesting analysis of recent shifts in the US political landscape. Obama truly is a moderate Republican of just a decade or two ago. Many people's brains don't seem to be able to compute this fairly easily confirmed observation.