Friday, November 09, 2007

Dinosaur Flatulence

This week in the Green Room, an environmental section of the BBC web site, there is a provocative quotation in a box on the upper right.
The problem is that most politicians are dinosaurs who don't expect to be around when the stuff really hits the fan.
This reminds me of the often referenced quote from SoCal Congressman Dana Rohrabacher.
"We don’t know what those other cycles were caused by in the past. Could be dinosaur flatulence, you know, or who knows?"
It makes one tend to agree with the BBC.

I was reading the Green Room because Andrew Revkin had linked it from his new Dot Earth blog at the NY Times. Today, both of them are dealing with a fundamental problem: identifying the motivations for human action on Global Warming? As Revkin asks, the question is an ethical one. What does the present owe the future?

John Feeney writes this weeks Viewpoint for the Green Room and tries to come to grip with the problem in another way.
We humans face two problems of desperate importance. The first is our global ecological plight. The second is our difficulty acknowledging the first.
Feeney sees the problem as being us and the fact that there are too many of "us". He makes about the best possible case for posing the question in terms of an apocalypse scenario.
Despite increasing climate change coverage, environmental writers remain reluctant to discuss the full scope and severity of the global dilemma we’ve created. Many fear sounding alarmist, but there is an alarm to sound and the time for reticence is over.
The reaction that Feeney generates is predictably gloomy, as in this comment from Euraka, CA resident Jessica Friedlander.
Not only is he correct I think he might be understanding the severity of the problem. The crux of the problem lies in human nature, our tendency to use our rationality to justify our baser instincts. Our baser instincts will rule in this situation as in all others: Consume until nothing remains. Logic cannot prevail even in this life or death scenario. We, and this entire biosphere, are are irrevocably doomed. Jess Friedlander
Which brings me back to Revkin. He concludes his Dot Earth post with the very basic idea that we have choices.
Why bother? Boy, that question gets at the deep roots of the human condition. We’re the first species (on Earth at least) that has become a global-scale influence and is aware of it. (Plants oxygenated the atmosphere but, as far as we know, didn’t know it.)

That makes every action, locally to globally, a choice weighing current and future needs. We can’t plead ignorance any more. Personally, I’ve chosen to focus my reporting, and this blog, on this balance. Chances are we won’t get it quite right, and one can only help we don’t get it too wrong.
Let me phrase the question in another way. What choices do we have for action as a political party? It would seem that we have the most ability to change our future by community action. We need to grow this party in order to operate at a higher political level: State Assembly, Congress, etc. We can achieve that growth by taking meaningful action within our own communities.

Last year, Karen Hurley, writing in Grist, urged us all to "Drop that apocalyptic vision and start imagining a positive future". It is notable that one commenter references the title of Petra Kelly's first book, "Fighting for Hope". Is this not what the GPCA should be doing? Fighting for hope? Can we not change our own communities to act to protect against and to mitigate the effects of our changing climate? Are we going to be satisfied to endure the verbal flatulence of dinosaur politicians? The future is what we would make of it.


Lisa said...

Yes, absolutely, we are Fighting for Hope. thanks for quoting the late, great Petra Kelly, co-founder of the German Green Party and a huge figure in kickstarting the worldwide green movement.

Another quote of Petra's I like is:
"Greens are neither left nor right; we're in front."

Anonymous said...

Regardless of our success, we must fight the good fight and more. Thanks to the influence of right wing media giants like Rupert Murdoch and others of that ilk, the majority of Americans still think global warming, etc are debatable issues and won't move fast enough to meet the challenge of preserving our world. We have run out of time to compromise and twiddle our thumbs. This is the fight of our lives, for our lives. Jess Friedlander, the gloomy