Love in the end times

The political horserace in American politics has begun, with both Presidential candidates running full-tilt but ponderously towards each other like armored knights on horseback, wielding the lances of millions of dollars’ worth of attack ads and backed up by slick, smart campaign pages.

Meanwhile, it continues to be hot, hotter and unbearably hot here in the Northeast.  It was a blessing to wake up this morning to a brief soaking rain, breaking weeks of drought.

But there is no way to fool myself into hoping that things will go back to normal, weather-wise.

As many people have been saying lately, this is the new normal.

Just as we’ve gotten used to a political climate in which it’s normal for a Presidential candidate to hide his tax returns, refuse to comment on moving his millions into off-shore tax havens, and totally repudiate everything he once stood for in order to lick the shoes of his political bosses, we’re going to have to get used to a climate that lurches from one extreme to another–from blizzards to heat waves, from floods to droughts.

Those extremes also characterize the new economic normal.  These days, I’m having trouble convincing myself that the global economy that has been built up over my lifetime, since the end of World War II, is ever going to be able to function in such a way as to provide security and prosperity for the majority of the world’s people.

Maybe it never did.  There has always been a vast underclass of the disenfranchised, for whom globalization was just another name for displacement, oppression and exploitation.

The difference is that now we’re seeing a huge spike in the ranks of the poor right in the heart of what used to be called the First World—right in our backyards.

For a middle-class earner like me, it is getting harder and harder to make ends meet, and there are no substantial raises or bonuses in sight.

For the millions who are unemployed or under-employed or scraping by with under-the-table jobs in the informal economy, this new normal has got a distinctly  Dust Bowl feel to it.

Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala

The Occupy encampments have faded away, victims perhaps of effective police surveillance, infiltration and undermining.  The only Presidential candidate who has any new ideas to offer about improving the economy is the one we never see or hear on prime time, Green Party candidate Jill Stein, along with her running mate Cheri Honkala.

Most people aren’t saying much about the panic that runs like a live wire through their interior lives.

We are trying to enjoy this hot summer in the usual ways: going to the beach, having barbecues with friends and family, taking in a nice air-conditioned movie now and then.

But every once in a while a voice will break through our heat-addled stupor, crying to us to Wake up, wake up, before it’s too late!!

So, for example, we hear marine scientist Roger Bradbury shouting out from the Opinion Pages of the New York Times today, telling us to pay attention now, in these crucial last years before the planet’s entire coral reef ecosystem collapses, setting off a chain reaction of events that may very well include the starvation of millions of people, particularly in the tropics, who depend on the ocean for food.

Bleached coral

“Overfishing, ocean acidification and pollution are pushing coral reefs into oblivion,” Bradbury says. “What we will be left with is an algal-dominated hard ocean bottom, as the remains of the limestone reefs slowly break up, with lots of microbial life soaking up the sun’s energy by photosynthesis, few fish but lots of jellyfish grazing on the microbes. It will be slimy and look a lot like the ecosystems of the Precambrian era, which ended more than 500 million years ago and well before fish evolved.”

Bradbury advocates “an enormous reallocation of research, government and environmental effort” towards the “ecological engineering” necessary “to make the economic structural adjustment that communities and industries that depend on coral reefs urgently need.”

Even though Bradbury aims to be pragmatic and forward-thinking with his wake-up call, I still wonder if he’s living in a dream world.

Governments and the United Nations can’t even agree on basic protocols to begin to cut carbon emissions and pump up our renewable energy industries.  They don’t appear to give a damn about the hundreds of millions of poor, hand-to-mouth folk who are already being hard hit by climate change pressures, and they are not even willing to act when it comes to trying to assure the safe passage of the elites into the Anthropocene, air conditioners and all.

What should we be doing in these end times?  Where should we be putting our energies?

Not in the political side show of the Presidential race.

Not in the mindless distractions of our media-saturated cultural environment.

No, I believe we need to do two things above all as the world warms and our precious days of “normal” existence come to a close.

One: stay close to friends and family; strengthen the bonds of community.  We will be needing each other more than ever in the times ahead.

Two: Try to stay in the present moment as much as possible.  We humans are very good at casting our minds forward into the future, but in this case, the scenarios are only going to be pushing our panic buttons.  It’s important to stay calm and focused.

Tend the parts of the earth you can reach.  Keep your love flowing.

Leave a comment

37 Comments

  1. Does this post mean that you are endorsing Green Party candidate Jill Stein and that you are turning away from Obama?

    Reply
    • Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

       /  July 16, 2012

      No–I am neither endorsing Stein nor turning away from Obama. Having seen first-hand what happened in 2000 when Nader ran strong and split the ticket for Gore, resulting in 8 years of Bush, I can’t in good conscience advocate a third party, unless it comes with a huge groundswell of activism and urgency, Occupy-style.

      If that groundswell were to come along between now and November, I might join it. But as things stand, I feel locked in to the present system and forced to vote Obama as a vote against the Koch brothers and their candidate.

      Obama is not a bad man. It’s the system that is corrupt. One wonders what would happen to Jill Stein if she were to get within the system. Would it turn her into a zombie as it has to Obama? A scary prospect I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

      I suppose what I am advocating here above all is what I say at the end of this post: turning one’s attention to the more local, to what you yourself can reach and shift. I am losing faith in the power of top-down solutions for the problems we face now. A re-localization of political energy, and a focus on one’s own backyard, is what I see as the path forward with the most hope now.

      Reply
  2. Hi Mato. I for one hope Jen is endorsing Stein, and that she joins up to campaign for her with BELLS ON!!!!!

    Sorry, Jennifer, a very impolite little outburst there. …. Is Commenter Tourette’s a recognised syndrome? Is there a tablet yet??

    Actually, I’m deadly serious. Remember, against such odds, America elected a black man. Unthinkable for so long. A government that will defeat AGW, also unthinkable. But maybe Stein is the leader we need to activate the determined collaborative program we’d see in a traditional war-effort, one where the rest of the world falls in behind you, against a common enemy.

    Let me dream….. mmmmm happy face, and i was crying before . Rats, back to crying

    Reply
    • Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

       /  July 16, 2012

      As I said above, Angie, I don’t think any single leader can make that change happen, at least not within our current political system. It’s going to take a groundswell from all of us, acting in our own spheres, to make change. We can move in the direction Mato advocates–conservation, re-use, recycling, anti-consumerism. We can create gardens and improve the soil like leavergirl recommends. We can do what you and your family have done, and come back from disaster more resilient than ever, like the evolutionary weeds we were meant to be, rather than hothouse plants. If survival is the goal, these are going to be the most valuable tools we can muster.

      Reply
  3. Martin Lack

     /  July 16, 2012

    Floods now in Japan I see; where will be next? This 4% additional moisture in the atmosphere may be choosy but, like I said on my blog recently, it sure is “making its presence felt…” In the last two weeks, parts of the UK have already received 3 times the long term average (LTA) monthly rainfall for July (and it is still raining), whilst others have only received a tenth of the LTA… Newsflash: This is not normal… How long will we have to put up abnormality before the fake sceptics admit that we have changed the nature of reality?

    Reply
    • leavergirl

       /  July 16, 2012

      Martin, the problem with your argument is this: the earth has never been “normal” in the sense of climate favorable to humans. There are periods when it does happen, but they are unusual. The period between 1850-2000, roughly, was such a time. People way back in the early 60s were saying that this unusual clemency would not last.

      Now I am far from denying that civilized humans are doing their damnedest to feck the planet up. But this hankering for normalcy and almost religious insistence that the planet become safe for us (if only we expiate our sins!) seems kinda insane to me.

      The nature of reality is that we live on an unpredictable planet in a universe we do not understand. The planet has been fluctuating between times of great heat, and times of ice. In between are tucked in clement times that humans like. They never last.

      The interesting question to me is, how can we switch from behaviors that seem to make everything worse overall? Whether it’s climate or toxins or decimating the oceans or other forms of destruction we civilized wreak all around us, what will it take for us to stop and to shift to biophilic patterns of behaving?

      Reply
      • Martin Lack

         /  July 16, 2012

        I think you misunderstand me, Leavergirl. I am a geologist and I understand what palaeoclimatology tells us about how the Earth has been very different in the distant geological past. Therefore, when I talk about ‘normality’, I am referring to the relative stability of sea levels and climate that has persisted for most of the last 12 thousand years (the Holocene epoch). Settled agriculture, cities, and modern civilisation have only been possible as a result of this; and all life on Earth is adapted to the way things are now. The fact that we live in a contingent Universe; and on a contingent Planet is therefore irrelevant.

        Problem #1 is that the burning of fossil fuels in the last 250 years has brought the Holocene to an end: We are now well and truly into the Anthropocene epoch. Having said that, the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age have not been made to disappear, just as climate scientists do not deny that sudden warming 5 thousand years ago contributed to the end of Mayan civilisation and prompted humans to migrate from the drying Sahara to the fertile Nile valley.

        Problem #2 is that we live on a very predictable Planet: We have disturbed the dynamic equilibrium of the atmosphere by polluting it with a whole load of fossilised carbon. Given the energy imbalance this has caused (between incoming solar radiation and outgoing long wave radiation) the Earth will now warm up until that energy balance is re-established

        Humanity is now gambling its entire future on finding a way to artificially remove this fossilised carbon from the biosphere; but the only way to do this reliably may be that which we know took 10s f not 100s of millions of years to achieve in the past; and such time is a luxury life on Earth does not have.

      • leavergirl

         /  July 16, 2012

        Well, then you know, Martin, that sea rises and droughts have been a serious occurrence even during those 12,000 years. I’ve heard it said that the biblical spot for Eden, at the confluence of 4 rivers, lies on the bottom of the Red Sea, and the Sumerians were possibly the refugees of that severe warming and sea rise.

        Yes, civilization depends on things staying the same, clement warm and moist. Ultimately, that is for the planet to decide, and not us, though we certainly could stop making things worse. And in the long run, civilizations do decline and die. That’s how to cookie crumbles.

        A geologist! That gives me a rare chance to yell at you folks for conceptualizing the Holocene as something that is not related to geological epochs… after all, it is simply an interglacial, still part of the Pleistocene. But apparently, geologists fell prey to the desire to call it another epoch because, hey, it’s us civilized! Ha. And now you want to rename even that phoniness Anthropocene… why, to score points with the denialists? I don’t get it. Talking about anthropocentrism…

        Indeed we have spewed a lot of water vapor, carbon, and other substances into the atmosphere that do not belong there, and do mischief. Civilized humans have gambled their future, as you say. What do you propose they do to fix it? Uncivilized humans, however, have not gambled so, and it seems damn unfair that the civilized have nearly wiped them out.
        🙂 Over to ya.

  4. Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

     /  July 16, 2012

    The abnormal has become normal, that’s the scary thing. When I wake up to a morning like today, a cool, clear morning after a good soaking rain yesterday afternoon, I no longer take it for granted. On the contrary, I recognize it for the blessing it is, and feel nostalgic in advance for how it used to be so normal as to be not worth noticing.

    I am glad you are engaging the “fake skeptics” on their own turf, science. For myself, not being trained as a scientist, I want to engage them on moral grounds. How can they sleep at night knowing they are actively contributing to the muddying of the political waters that continues to sap our collective will to confront the central issue of our time, climate change, head on?

    Reply
    • Martin Lack

       /  July 16, 2012

      Good morning Jennifer. We have two problems:
      1. Fake sceptics deny that anything has changed – claiming merely to be merely ridiculing “warmists” when they joke about how cold or wet it is – and telling them things are abnormal just reinforces their prejudice that we are “alarmists”.
      2. Fake sceptics deny they are muddying any waters – seeing themselves as doing the exact opposite – and telling them they are the guilty party validates their conspiracy theory and just reinforces their determination to pursue their mission.

      It is therefore the extent to which they invert reality that scares me because, as Ben Goldacre put it: “You cannot reason people out of positions they did not reason themselves into”…!

      Reply
      • Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

         /  July 16, 2012

        Good morning Martin! Yes, that’s right, they seem impervious to reason. So that is why I think approaching them on moral grounds might work better. Although for some of the evangelist crowd, since God can do no wrong, climate change must be just part of His plan….

        Tough nuts to crack but we must keep trying!

      • Martin Lack

         /  July 16, 2012

        How do you moralize with someone who does not accept we have a problem or that we are the cause? .

        As for Christians, even St Paul had to contend with a laissez-faire and/or fatalistic attitude amongst many of his converts (see especially his two Letters to the Thessalonians) so… We must persuade them to swap a utilitarian attitude with one of responsible stewardship; a necessity that I believe is now finally dawning even on the anti-scientific and anti-intellectual fundamentalists (by whom I used to be surrounded)…

  5. Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

     /  July 16, 2012

    We must persuade them to swap a utilitarian attitude with one of responsible stewardship…

    Absolutely agreed! It would also be helpful if the media didn’t insist on being “fair and balanced,” giving “equal time” to both sides of a story even when one side is patently false and misleading. For instance, see this story in the New York Times, which manages to subtly undercut its main message, which is that climate change is real and here by stay, by also giving space, even in the lead paragraph and the conclusion, to denialists….

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/11/science/earth/global-warming-makes-heat-waves-more-likely-study-finds.html?ref=science

    Reply
    • Martin Lack

       /  July 17, 2012

      Jennifer, I did not mean to criticise what you are doing; as only a hardcore of complete denialists will remain untouched by moral arguments. Sadly, it seems that my destiny or vocation is to engage that extreme minority. The Equal Time fallacy was flagged-up to the British media nearly 18 months ago by the government’s Chief Scientist, Sir John Beddington, but very little has changed. Even the BBC do not abide by their own principles for reporting controversial science (which arose as a consequence of Beddington’s announcement).

      Reply
  6. If you care and are at the same time a realist, you can see the need for action has never been more urgent, and that action will not come from our broken, corrupted political system. The power is actually in our hands – every time we pick up a fork or spoon. If you are like me, you are not about to abandon your car. But if you care as much as I do, you will stop eating meat. It’s that simple. If every one who cared did that, the problem would be solved. Follow my blog (earthivore) if you need convincing. Eating meat is just another form of denial.

    Reply
    • leavergirl

       /  July 16, 2012

      Oh another self righteous meat-avoider, are you? If everyone stopped eating meat, the animals that we care for and who feed us would die out, the grasslands that need them to thrive would suffer, and everybody would eat soya and grains that kill endless critters in the fields and being transported, and destroy soil because they need for soil to be barren to grow. Have you ever considered how much soil (which is living) growing grains destroys?!

      If we converted a large portion of our grain/soya growing fields to pastures, we could sequester the carbon you (and the rest of us) spew keeping our cars, and get fed quality protein at the same time.

      No insult meant to non-self-righteous meat avoiders! It *is* one way to give the finger to CAFOs.

      Reply
      • How curious that someone who complains about name-calling starts her response to me out by calling me “another self-righteous meat avoider”! Whatever. If it is the effect that grain agriculture is having on soils that concerns you, then you will be shocked out of your “self-denial meat eating” wits to find out that a pound of meat requires 5-6X grain it would take to feed one person. So the solution to the soils issue you raise is… stop eating meat, right? As for all the 57 billion animals a year we “care for” in our factory farm slaughter houses, gosh — what WILL we do with all those beakless, featherless chickens! How about a compromise, here, leavegirl? We’ll simply outlaw the factory farms, and preserve and revitalize those mythical family farms you obviously have imprints of in your steroidal mind (oh wait, do you avoid meat from livestock raised on steroids?). I would be self-righteous if I took the position that everyone should stop eating meat like I have, but I don’t. I advocate for people simply being mindful about where the meat they eat comes from, which means no more McDonalds or KFC, and if they feel they have dietary needs for meat, or simply want to enjoy a Thanksgiving turkey, then fine. But even reducing meat intake by one or two additional days a week, together with being mindful about where the meat came from (and how the animals were “taken care of” as you say), would still be a huge contribution to climate change. For more on reducing, if not eliminating, visit http://www.meatthetruth.org.

      • leavergirl

         /  July 16, 2012

        “But if you care as much as I do, you will stop eating meat.”

        Gosh darn, I actually told someone who accused all of us meat eaters of being in denial, and not “caring enough”, as self-righteous! What *was* I thinking?😉

        “a pound of meat requires 5-6X grain it would take to feed one person”

        No, it doesn’t. Cows, goats and sheep do not thrive on grain, and do not need any. Chickens and pigs like some, being omnivores, but can get by without, or with minor quantities grown locally.

        The solution to the soil issue is to keep soil covered, and grazed intermittently.

      • That sounds great in your ideal Norman Rockwell world, leavegirl, but reality is that, due to our voracious appetite for e.g. beef, cows are raised intensively on grain diets to fatten em up for slaughter (or as you call it, “taking care of them”) and/or they intensively graze. Having worked on public lands grazing issues here in the West for the last number of years, I can tell you I know of no place where cows “intermittently” graze in a way that keeps the soil healthy. Rather, they are intensively grazed in a way that compacts soil and leaves little nibs of vegetation at the end of the year, not to mention the deleterious impacts they have on riparian habitats, streambanks, and water quality. You must be thinking of bison, who are much better adapted to their native habitat, their hooves actually tilling the soil rather than compacting it, and their patterns of grazing being migratory rather than sedentary. Your dismissal of the 5-6 X grain consumption was rather self-righteous, given the lack of any counter-factual assertion (are you right because you say you’re right?). That figure comes from the report by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization “Livestock’s Long Shadow–Environmental Issues and Options”. What planet are you inhabiting??? I just assumed that most people in cyber space were from planet Earth, but apparently you’re logging in from somewhere else, yes? Some planet where cows graze intermittently over lush, green fields, and chickens have beaks? Please send directions, as we are close to needing another option here on Eaarth.

      • leavergirl

         /  July 17, 2012

        Zhiwa, the world I am inhabiting, by choice, is the one where people are honest, and don’t compromise what they claim for reasons of propaganda for their pet cause or solution. If you had said, “in factory farming, it takes X grain to raise a pound of meat” I would not have had to contradict you. So hey, if you want to join us, clean up your act.

        As for the kind of rotational grazing I am referring to, it’s used by many farmers and ranchers nowadays. See Alan Savory’s work (wiki will point the way to many videos and photos illustrating the success of this approach, even in highly arid conditions) for not just bison, but cattle and sheep as well. The key is, keeping the critters moving.

        I checked out your site, and you seem to have a major problem with manure — I recommend you look deeper. Manures are the key to restoring habitats, esp. in the dry lands out west, where the organic matter needs ruminant stomachs to “compost” it. Yes, ruminants add carbon to the atmosphere, as they digest, but have you considered their carbon sequestration in the equation? Rotational grazing is the key to land regeneration. Just the way mama Nature does it.

      • Leavegirl: “If you had said, ‘in factory farming, it takes X grain to raise a pound of meat’ I would not have had to contradict you.”
        Quote: “Factory farming now accounts for more than 99 percent of all farmed animals raised and slaughtered in the United States.3 (Virtually all seafood comes to us by way of industrial fishing or factory fish farms.)” Source: http://www.farmforward.com/farming-forward/factory-farming
        Repeat: What planet are you inhabiting leavegirl? Or are you just advocating for the 1% ; )
        bon apetit
        p.s., if you are curious in the least about the health effects of meat and dairy in your diet (i.e., if you are interested in not dying of heart disease, colon cancer, or any other of the major killers in America unnecessarily), check out “Forks over Knives” on Netflix. You see, it’s not just the planet I care about, it is the human race. I love human beings.
        signing off,
        “earthguy”

      • leavergirl

         /  July 17, 2012

        None of what you say validates your earlier claim that [domestic] meat “requires” grain. Highly misleading, dontcha think? Or do you ever admit misinformation?

        A reminder: the United States is NOT the world, nor is its current way of doing things something I turn my life around. I am advocating for a sane world.

        I am aware of the effects of meat in my diet. It feeds my brain, gives me needed vitamins, amino acids and oils, and keeps my energy going. Vegetarian claims for better nutrition are often highly, um, skewed. Given the fact that no historical tribes ever went vegetarian, though the Eskimos thrived on high meat diets, should tell you something.

        Want to sequester carbon (and water)? Keep the cattle moving, bunched up. The way healthy natural predation works. I challenge you, Zhiwa. Get going with Alan Savory’s stuff, then come back and argue. It would interest me to see what you find. Someone who works out west on the range should not be ignorant of the highly beneficial role cattle can play in that environment, if only we have the sense to imitate natural patterns.

      • NATURAL PATTERNS? EXCUSE ME??? I suppose you are going to tell me that cows are native creatures that co-evolved with their environment here in the U.S.? Give me a frickin break, cowgirl, I mean leavegirl. They are freaks of nature, abominations that have been mutated beyond any recognizable similarity to the ancestors from which we genetically modified them, and they are fed bovine growth hormone and steroids as a matter of course. Do you have any idea how grossly overweight cows have become today compared to even a few generations ago? Please compare American steers to non-genetically manipulated Indian cows and get back to me when you’ve done YOUR research. Good for the environment? Do you know that cows are responsible for more species being threatened and endangered than any other single use of public lands (e.g., logging, mining, etc.)? One out of every five listed species is there because of the meat on your table.

      • leavergirl

         /  July 17, 2012

        Oh, so now you’ve taken to yelling me down. I assure you I am not hard of hearing. When you begin to talk to me with respect, and not like I was an idiot, we can have a discussion.

        Folks, none of what I said is meant to imply that the veg choice is a bad choice. As I had said, when it comes to CAFOs, they have an edge. It seems to me, however, that the veg movement has been infiltrated by a variety of dicks and bullies who prefer to look down their nose on other people from the lofty perch of their moral superiority. Same old same old belligerence, wrapped in a cabbage leaf. I just visited a site off of Zhiwa’s site where people report on how they abuse their fellow diners, likening their chop to the roasted limb of a human baby. Way to go! I am sure that’s amazingly effective at converting omnivores!😉

      • leavergirl

         /  July 18, 2012

        I exchanged this privately with Jennifer, and now it occurs to me that folks here may be interested as well.

        Jennifer said: I must say I’m interested in this exchange about cattle grazing; I agree with you, there’s a huge difference between feedlots and grazing, but overall, in places like Argentina, aren’t cattle ranches very destructive? Cutting down forests to make pastures, etc?

        So I said: Well, it all gets complicated by the veg people’s insistence on cows = evil. They take it from conventional ranching, so they are not all wrong. But ranching that imitates nature, keeps the cows bunched up and moving, has been shown to be amazingly restorative to the landscape. Salatin’s farm in VA was down to the dirt back when they had bought it, he says his dad used to sink fence posts in tires with cement in them because there was no topsoil, and they have built up the soil to create a lush and highly productive farm, all with cattle (in tandem with chickens!). And Savory’s Holistic Institute, they show utterly amazing transformations using cattle on badly degraded western lands. This is very real, Jennifer, but it does not suit the veg people’s agenda, so they get mad hearing it.

        It is when cows are left to wander around the landscape, that’s when they damage it. No predators, no bunching, steady munching down to overgrazing with the grasses having no chance to recover. That’s what’s bad.

        As for cutting forests to make pastures, well, that is another, separate problem. IMO, we should be instead converting grain/soya fields to pastures. And eating less large herbivore meat and less grain/soya. Also — and this I am not sure of, but I think it’s correct — when you do rotational grazing, the pastures support many more animals than if you just let them roam.

      • As the one being labeled “veggie person” here, let me just say I do not agree with this at all. I am not opposed to meat eating, I am in favor of preserving life as we know it. Unfortunately, factory farms and other destructive grazing produces 99% of the beef in this country. Ditto with fishing. It is no defense to the destruction the fishing industry is having on our oceans to talk about how harmless catch and release is etc. But we will never get to a point where grazing practices are sustainable unless and until we drastically reduce meat consumption and eliminate the demand for factory-farmed animals. As I said, reducing meat intake and being mindful about where your meat comes from is the main point from the perspective of contributing to reversing climate change. Somehow, leavegirl read into this a PETA agenda and hears me yelling at her in her sleep in dream restaurants where she is eating lamb or something. Whatever…

      • leavergirl

         /  July 18, 2012

        If you are interested in diminishing substantially (on the way to eliminating) the demand for CAFO meat, then wouldn’t it behoove you to make alliance with omnivores who care about the same thing? Maybe then we could actually get something done. But then, you’d have to discipline yourself, speak truthfully, and cut out the jabs. Is that too much to ask?

        “reducing meat intake and being mindful about where your meat comes from is the main point from the perspective of contributing to reversing climate change”

        Repeating it endlessly will not make it any more true.

      • Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

         /  July 18, 2012

        I am as interested the style as I am in the substance of this discussion. It’s an example of how two people who I suspect are “on the same side” politically can be quickly reduced to a kind of tit-for-tat argument where the goal is winning rather than working collaboratively to move us all forward together.

        As I tell my students when they get into this kind of conversational jag, we don’t have to agree with each other on every point, but we do need to listen carefully to each other and see where opportunities exist to build on each other’s ideas and collaboratively take our understanding forward. We are smarter together than we are alone.

        As I said in my most recent post, in relation to the perennial conservative/feminist arguments, we don’t have time to stand around arguing now! There are more important things at stake!

      • Are you talking to me, the self-righteous bully, the guilt-by-association dick??? Yes, I could learn a lot from you about communications, leavegirl. And open-minded humility, too, for that matter.

      • leavergirl

         /  July 19, 2012

        The wonders of cow culture, and a better mousetrap… er, a better way to grow corn.

        http://www.acresusa.com/toolbox/reprints/August02_CowCulture.pdf

  7. leavergirl

     /  July 16, 2012

    Shaking my head, folks… the way to bring someone around is by, uh, actually listening to what they have to say and what they are saying between the lines, and seeking commonalities. Branding them as stupid, in denial, or evil, or immoral, or whatever “other” is a sure way to NOT win them over.

    To this, however, I issue a caveat. Many people are really trolls and bullies, and just use one particular ideology to “get” the other side. There are many such among the crowd you call denialists. Arguing with these folks is an utter waste of time and effort, because they are not in it for the argument. They are in it to mess with your head.🙂

    Reply
  8. Br. Gilberto Z. Perez

     /  July 16, 2012

    Thank you and you are right on target, I recently returned form central Mexico and not little or no water for poor farmers. The land mass of the “Other America is only 2%” while the rest of the world is dying…Outlets are proverty, rapes of children too and drugs controlled by the power elite. in a nutshell!

    Con mucho amor y paz,
    Br. Gilberto

    Reply
  9. Larry

     /  July 17, 2012

    One point, seemingly small but important.
    We seem to have a tendency to think that the climate of this year is a “new normal”. It is not. We have not transitioned from one stable state to another.
    We are on a trajectory. Next year will be different, not only in the way of variation around a stable state, but as a changing state.
    I think that the term “new normal” is used to relieve emotions of dread. Well, things are a little different, we’ll adapt, Put the air conditioner on a higher setting, and they still have polar bears in zoos, don’t they?
    This is the equivalent of “Last month the tumor was only 1 cm, this month it is 2 cm. I can deal with that.” But next month…. next year, next decade?
    Beware the term “new normal”.

    Reply
  10. Caitlin

     /  July 21, 2012

    As someone constantly concerned with the coming 50 years, especially with the state of the oceans, I just want to thank you for these words of wisdom. I’m only 24, and thought/ still wish I could see a change in the way we rape our planet in my lifetime, but I have recently begun to seriously doubt that, mainly for the reasons you discussed in your article. As I read, a lump grew in my throat with the worry of how I’m supposed to address the state of the world, how I am to be the person I wish all humans would be, so that we don’t have to expect that our grandchildren will die choking on poison air. But your last two points are so true- to recognize the beauty we have in our communities now, and how much we will need them as times worsen is vital to any last ditch efforts on which we may be able to rely. It is easy to forget about the people who share your schools, streets, coffee shops, even homes, when you worry about where those plastic bags they’re carrying are going and how many fish are even left in the ocean. But if everyone did spend more time concerned about the people around them, perhaps we wouldn’t be where we are today. While I know I’m not sharing anything new, I just wanted to share my feelings about your writing so that as times do become more difficult, you do not become a victim of negative thinking because of a lack of change. I very much appreciate your work; thank you so much for your eloquence and time.

    Reply
    • Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

       /  July 21, 2012

      Thanks for writing, Caitlin! You are right, it’s easy to become depressed and fearful of what the future holds. But whatever it may hold, we will confront it better if our relationships with our friends, families and neighbors are as strong as they can be. And that’s something we can all work on–no need for advanced degrees or political positions to do that kind of positive work for change!

      The best thing you can do is keep these conversations going with your friends and family. Each exchange starts new ripples…and as I keep saying in the blog, there is still time to turn this climate juggernaut around, if we all start paying attention and working on it now.

      Reply
  11. A thought on the meat/no meat debate. Meat CAN be raised sustainably and slaughtered with least harm (permaculture has some good ideas on how to do this) – but it usually isn’t. What if we decided only to eat meat that we know has been sustainably raised and humanely slaughtered? For one thing, it would be incredibly rare as few farmers/ranchers are yet doing this yet. Just asking a few questions of your butcher or high end restaurant would answer the question of where your meat/animal came from and how it was treated during its lifetime.

    Reply
    • Zhiwa

       /  February 24, 2014

      Yes! It’s about being mindful with every mouthful! Best to eat roadkill ; )

      Reply

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