Thursday, November 26, 2015

What is "water"? Isn't THAT the prize?

A good friend and climate warrior on the front lines of voicing the unvoicable about imminent disaster and abrupt climate change recently posted a commentary on the upcoming Paris climate change summit, officially referred to as COP21, @ In the opening thoughts he points out the similarities of climate change and ISIS, but he also refers to Paris as a "celebration" (really??) and admonishes us to keep our "eye on the ball". While he makes some good points that I completely agree with, he has recently taken to soft pedaling the level and scope of our prevailing disconnect with the reality of our situation as regards the actions of the "movement" and the leadership. Needless to say, I don't agree with that.

My response is "You forgot the one thing that really unites the two great blots on our future - they are both a direct result of our own failure to function intelligently as a society... and therein lies the rub! Our own egregious insults to our home world have not only manifested as a massively degraded environment, but a massively degraded society & civilization, which is the dystopian womb from which springs Abrupt Climate Change & ISIS. While you point out the obvious tragedy of 130 dead in Paris, you then shift to the millions that will be affected by climate change. What about the thousands who are dying in their attempts to escape the brutality of ISIS or Syria's government, or other dystopian futures unfolding right now?... every month! The millions who are displaced by the natural nexus of an environment and a civilization in upheaval? We have no good answers that fit the desired formula, which is to maintain and preserve the status quo.

As your countrywoman, Naomi Klein, so aptly noted recently "There are no non-radical solutions to our problem."  We have blithely overlooked a commonly used phrase to explain why certain animals and plants are threatened by, or have suffered, extinction - loss of habitat. Baby birds instinctively know not to shit in their own nests, so as not to suffer an early and untimely "loss of habitat". Fish flopping in a farmer's fields after a short term flood event are experiencing a rather rapid "loss of habitat" which they weren't instinctively primed to avoid. 

Our continued intransigence, our overwhelmingly prevalent ignorance (as a population), our acceptance of the scarcity based philosophy of existence put forward by the oligarchy for over 100 years, aka the "societal owners", all are contributing to our rapid loss of habitat - because habitat isn't just your house, it's your basic capacity to live in a place on any sustained basis. As I drive through the Ohio countryside and look at the indicators of life around me, I realize that 90% or better of the people here don't spend ANY significant time on ANY given day thinking about the imminent "loss of habitat". They are no brighter than the fish in that field, who may at best be thinking "Oh, look! Some some new food has been uncovered!" They don't even know what "water" is, because it's what they live in and they take it for granted.... until it goes away. (For a great take on this principle see

Paris is on track to be a gathering of fish who can see that it's bad to be in the field when the water goes down, and want an orderly movement of all fish back to deep water. They have no functional mechanism for delivering this outcome... and even if they did, it wouldn't stop the water from continuing to go down, after the field is high and dry.  The 1% don't care - they are waiting on the edge of the field to harvest the stranded fish and fish scrambling to get back to deep water when the level drops, with no clear sense that THEIR habitat is also going away. The schools and shoals of fish in the field? They're just sucking up that new food and thinking how good life is. They may fight with other fish for the pickings in some select spots (ala Black Friday) but in general they don't really think about the future... ever. For those who didn't bother to watch the video above, the point of the "what's water?" story is merely that the most obvious important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about.... and out time, like that of the speech presenter above (who subsequently took his own life) draws short. So, when we gather in Paris, maybe we should first get clear on "What is water?" followed closely by "Shall we talk about the water??"

For all you do, this one's for you. Thanks for reading!

The Smokemaster

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