I’m glad Tom Friedman has finally noticed the temperature of the cooking pot has increased. I’m sure that observation alone will be enough to stop the presses at the NYT. He is right that the crises we face should be a cause for alarm. What is of greater cause for alarm however is our inability to envision solutions and remedies that go beyond mere palliatives. It is in this second area that it becomes necessary to take him to task.
Tom Friedman and Paul Gilding have a pretty unrealistic view of human nature, our politics and our present society. We can’t even get our meteorologists to admit to the existence of Global Warming. How do you then expect the general public to begin to anticipate the great catastrophes bearing down on us? Those we have entrusted to do our thinking for us (our government and the media); can only focus on denial, sex scandals and an equitable arraignment of the deck chairs.
Gilding’s confidence that some “happiness-driven growth model” will somehow save us, is absurd on its face. We are all just passengers on a train driven by sociopaths who have no more concern for our happiness than for the fuel supply they are shoveling into the engine. I guarantee, Dick Cheney and our present engineer, Barack Obama will be lying on their deathbeds with only one thought, “If only I had accumulated more power!”
And for the rest of us, there is a dirty little secret no one will tell you amidst all the talk of wind-farms, eco-jobs, electric cars and those cute new light bulbs. It is that, if we will have any hope of a future on a planet that is capable of sustaining any carbon life form, we will be asked to suffer (sorry the word is suffer) drastic changes in population, creature comforts and even lifespan. Most American consumers will not be happy campers in this grave new world. They will always prefer the hopeful, soft, velvet-lined coffins Friedman and Gilding promise us than the hard unavoidable realities coming.
Please allow me to stand Gilding’s concluding statement on its head. This, I think, brings us far closer to the lessons of human history and the truth of our present situation.
He says. “We either allow collapse to overtake us or develop a new sustainable economic model. We will choose the latter. We may be slow, but we’re not stupid.”
There is no “sustainable economic model” consistent within our capitalistic system. Unless we totally dismantle civilization as we know it we are doomed. Modern, civilized humans have become totally divorced from Nature within and Nature without. In a crisis of this kind we are nearly always both too slow and too stupid. I see nothing in the way we are performing as individuals and as a nation in the present crisis of Global Warming that leads me to think any differently. Our frogs are cooked.
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