Monday, 2 August 2010

A dream of now

I had a powerful dream last night. In the dream, everyone was glued to screens watching a film about an impending/unfolding disaster. Some viewers dimly realised that the film was true, was, in real-time, and was about their actual lives, their actual world. Some people found themselves dragged away from the screen-addiction when they realised that it was true: the dream was reality, and the calamity was fast coming to engulf them. What the calamity in fact was, as it was starting to be experienced - what made the viewers realise that the viewing had to stop - was lots of people driven to despair by societal breakdown produced by ecological disaster turning on each other and on their richer neighbours. In other words: Our heads were rudely jerked away from the screens we were fixed to, that is, by the hordes of desperate violent people charging our way. We then started peeling away and running away ourselves. In some of our minds, we hunted rapidly for solutions – but it was too late, evidently. The time to have solved the crisis would have been a lot earlier, before it was too big, when we had the resource to do it, when we weren't reduced to a state of preying on others or running away from being preyed upon. But back then, we were caught up simply in watching it, and didn't act…

 This dream strikes me as a nuanced rendition of exactly the situation we find ourselves in. This dream that I had is a warning: we need to stop this from being the story of the rest of our lives. Otherwise, while many of us will not experience climate-disaster as for example the flooding of our own homes (as currently in Pakistan), but we will experience it as a collapse in our society's capacity to help others – and then a collapse in society's capacity even to help ourselves. And then we will all sink together.

 Like in Plato's allegory of the cave: let us not keep watching the shadows on the wall. Let us turn from them to exit the cave, and do what needs to be done. If we don't leave the cave until it is too late, then the Sun will burn us and burn our forests down and burn life up, and fires set by nature and by humans will consume us… We have the enlightenment, we have the capacity to act, before it is too late. That is the wonderful thing about humans…

13 Comments:

Blogger orbital said...

rupert,

as I started to read this I thought 'hmmm, what's that Plato thingy...' and lo! at the end you refer to Plato's Cave.

come on Rupert you can do better than this - sure I'll accept it was a dream - but it's really so contrived!

And please stop the automatic 'knee-jerk' of 'extreme' weather = catastophic, deadly, planet-destroying climate-change - oops! sorry chaos.

P.

2 August 2010 at 22:34  
Blogger orbital said...

r.

oh, and what exactly do you mean by 'the Sun will burn us and burn our forests down and burn life up, and fires set by nature and by humans will consume us' ?

are you being metaphorical...?

P.

2 August 2010 at 23:08  
Blogger Rupert said...

Dear P; what can I tell you? This was the dream I had. Your comment that it's 'so contrived' is therefore rather odd!
It was a dream (probably) about climate chaos. Have you read Gwynne Dyer's 'Climate wars'? There is nothing 'alarmist' about my discourse, nor about my dream. Rather, this is about _raising the alarm_ about a cataclysm that will come to us, on a BAU model.

3 August 2010 at 12:06  
Blogger Rupert said...

As for yr second comment: There is nothing merely-metaphorical about the Sun's heat, nor about global over-heat brought about by a greenhouse with the thermostat ramped up.
The fires that will consume the Amazon and many of our cities, unless we get our act together fast, are not going to be metaphorical.

3 August 2010 at 12:08  
Blogger orbital said...

sorry Rupert but I've done my time reading eco books in my radical 80s period - I have dozens on my bookshelf ranging from the classic 'Seeing Green' by JP to 'Small is Beautiful' by Schumacher via Lovelock's Gaia and Ivan Illich's 'De-schooling Society'. I once subscribed to the 'Forth World Review'. I only seem to read books by Dahl and about fairies these days.

(Sorry I just had to gratuitously state some credentials but that's all in the past and I could now be some closet lunatic Tory).

No-one should be advocating BAU but talk of the 'cataclysm-that-will-come' whilst generally being part of this 'globalisation' and either ignoring or sweeping under the carpet in-convenient truths about ones general everyday life and how it impacts on the planet is not just breathtakingly arrogant but, I find, not a productive way to go about changing minds and society.

P.

3 August 2010 at 20:20  
Blogger orbital said...

rupert,

'The fires that will consume the Amazon and many of our cities.'

have I missed something during the last 20 years...

are you saying that the impending global over-heat will create an environment where fires will spontaneously start and burn the Amazon to a crisp? I understand about 'slash & burn' in the context of rainforest but I don't think you are referring to that..

P.

3 August 2010 at 21:47  
Blogger Rupert said...

Orbital:
It is clear who is the Copernican here, and who the Ptolemaic. Ecological economics is the new Copernicanism. Climate-deniers and doubt-addicts by contrast have their heads buried in the past.

You say: "No-one should be advocating BAU but talk of the 'cataclysm-that-will-come' whilst generally being part of this 'globalisation' and either ignoring or sweeping under the carpet in-convenient truths about ones general everyday life and how it impacts on the planet is not just breathtakingly arrogant but, I find, not a productive way to go about changing minds and society." You make there various implicit slurs on me and my private life which are misleading and disreputable. Please refrain from speaking this way, or I will have to start moderating/deleting your comments. I am not prepared to have people in effect lie-ing about me on my own blog. (Sorry, I'm 'fascistic' like that...)

Finally: yes, you are missing (1) that there are already a lot of fires happening in the Amazon rainforest, and (2) that much of what remains of that forest will burn down within the next 10-20 years, unless we as a species get our act together. Read Lynas's SIX DEGREES.

5 August 2010 at 14:38  
Blogger orbital said...

rupert,

on the contrary I was absolutely not making any slur on you and I apologise for the offence that you have felt.

i speak from experience of myself being 'breathtakingly arrogant' when younger and of my observations of the green party other the years.

i make the absolutely correct comment that many in the green party make a stand (and too right) but also live 'normal' lives - jobs, leisure, children... and un-consciously or consciously 'compromise' just to function in this world.

i'd be grateful if you could point me to scientific literature that shows that spontaneous fires are occurring now in the Amazon due to global over-heat.

as far as Lynas' speculation about out-of-control fires consuming our rainforests well it's just that - but not to say it could never happen. Lynas is not a scientist but a journalist and environmental activist (as I am - environmental activist - believe it or not!) and I have books on my bookshelf by respected journalists on AWG doomsdays scenarios - albeit 20 years out of date (sorry more gratuitous-nous).

when the Emerald Forest came out in the 80s I was outside cinemas handing out leaflets and telling people the rainforests would be gone in decades.

a point I make to you is that I am just as much an activist as you but I do not agree with you on your imminent-climate-doomsday views and what I find offensive is the catholic-style-inquisitional attitude that you appear to have with people who do not agree with your 'climate-chaos'.

P.

5 August 2010 at 21:52  
Blogger orbital said...

rupert,

further to Lynas...

is this the same Lynas who seems to advocate nuclear power! (see why no party can afford to be anti-nuclear

as far as I'm concerned 'nuclear power - no thanks!'

and I could quite easily be as inquisitorial about Lynas' stance on this as others are on so-called climate-deniers.

oh! seems he also thinks homoeopathy is bogus...

P.

5 August 2010 at 22:16  
Blogger Rupert said...

Thanks for your apology, P; appreciated.

A couple of quick points (Can't engage at length, unfortunately, in the middle of an election campaign):

Just because I cite Mark Lynas doesn't mean I agree with him on everything! That should be obvious...

You were RIGHT to stand outside the cinemas in the 80s with those leaflets - the rainforests WILL be almost completely gone in decades from then (i.e. in no more than a decade from now) unless climate chaos is reined in, agricultural pracfices changed, agrofuels halted, etc.

7 August 2010 at 09:20  
Blogger orbital said...

good luck in the champaign.

if you don't take control of the council in September then probably in May - then you'll see how difficult it will be (I always think of the SDP/Grunen coalition and Fischer as foreign minister supporting the NATO intervention in Kosovo).

more so than when the LDs tried to turn around 70 years or so of a labour controlled administration.

Lynas: yes but maybe I should start denouncing him in the same way that 'climate-deniers' get denounced.

And I can't believe that there seems to be a groundswell of opinion in the Party against Homoeopathy!

7 August 2010 at 19:29  
Blogger orbital said...

oops! another typo

8 August 2010 at 23:20  
Blogger Rupert said...

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn19304-is-climate-change-burning-russia.html
A well-timed piece.
This burning is far from metaphorical...

12 August 2010 at 12:05  

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29.

I had a powerful dream last night. In the dream, everyone was glued to screens watching a film about an impending/unfolding disaster. Some viewers dimly realised that the film was true, was, in real-time, and was about their actual lives, their actual world. Some people found themselves dragged away from the screen-addiction when they realised that it was true: the dream was reality, and the calamity was fast coming to engulf them. What the calamity in fact was, as it was starting to be experienced - what made the viewers realise that the viewing had to stop - was lots of people driven to despair by societal breakdown produced by ecological disaster turning on each other and on their richer neighbours. In other words: Our heads were rudely jerked away from the screens we were fixed to, that is, by the hordes of desperate violent people charging our way. We then started peeling away and running away ourselves. In some of our minds, we hunted rapidly for solutions – but it was too late, evidently. The time to have solved the crisis would have been a lot earlier, before it was too big, when we had the resource to do it, when we weren't reduced to a state of preying on others or running away from being preyed upon. But back then, we were caught up simply in watching it, and didn't act…

 This dream strikes me as a nuanced rendition of exactly the situation we find ourselves in. This dream that I had is a warning: we need to stop this from being the story of the rest of our lives. Otherwise, while many of us will not experience climate-disaster as for example the flooding of our own homes (as currently in Pakistan), but we will experience it as a collapse in our society's capacity to help others – and then a collapse in society's capacity even to help ourselves. And then we will all sink together.

 Like in Plato's allegory of the cave: let us not keep watching the shadows on the wall. Let us turn from them to exit the cave, and do what needs to be done. If we don't leave the cave until it is too late, then the Sun will burn us and burn our forests down and burn life up, and fires set by nature and by humans will consume us… We have the enlightenment, we have the capacity to act, before it is too late. That is the wonderful thing about humans…

30. 31. 32.