Saturday, December 26, 2015

Thoughts during quiet time

Our white Christmas gets a "tardy" but not an "incomplete." This morning's dog walk was filled with snowflakes and silence. That fits well with the quiet time expected between now and New Year: time to take stock, consider adjustments, contemplate goals for the near future, while enjoying the beauty of snow-filled woods.

Winter's woods
Winter's woods
Photo by J. Harrington

The guardian, back in 2008, had an interesting interview with James Lovelock (Mr. "Gaia"). He suggests we 'enjoy life while you can: in 20 years global warming will hit the fan'. He was 88 at the time of the interview and is now 96. Statistically, that makes him even less likely to see 2028 than I am (not that I'm wishing anything terminal on either of us) and leaves slightly more than a decade for us to enjoy ourselves before it hits the fan. The attitude / philosophy he displays during the interview reminds me very much of the Beatles insouciant cheekiness when they first hit the shores of the U.S. It also remind's me of Dylan's refusal to be categorized or classified. Lovelock dismisses renewable energy: "He saves his thunder for what he considers the emptiest false promise of all - renewable energy." He claims it can't meet contemporary needs. I haven't yet seen numbers to convince me that, with a combination of better design, construction and management of our buildings and our land use and transportation systems, wind, solar and other renewables, plus decentralized generation systems and improved grid management, along with reduced consumption, wouldn't allow us to maintain and create a better quality of life for all but the 1%. I haven't been keeping up on the Donella Meadows Institute's web postings, but catching up there is on my list for later today. Her writings on "Limits to Growth" become more relevant by the moment.

We can't effectively accommodate continuous demographic and population growth on a finite planet. A sustainable future requires rethinking our economics as well as our technology. We need to think and rethink which of our values gets priority. That's not a bad use of the quite time many of us will have over the next week or so. Minnesota has already seen the effects as failing capitalistic systems for mining and agriculture and global markets create water pollution and invasive species and diminished viability for locals and tourists. Minnesotans might be able to have anything they want, but we can't have everything we want. Conversations about what we want, what we really, really want should start as soon as we learn to speak civilly to each other. That would be a worthwhile resolution goal for next year, starting now.

Cold Turkey

By Joshua Mehigan 
They’re over now forever, the long dances.   
Our woods are quiet. The god is gone tonight.   
Our girls, good girls, have shaken off their trances.   
They’re over now forever, the long dances.   
Only the moonlight, sober and real, advances   
over our hills to touch my head with white.   
They’re over now forever, the long dances.   
Our woods are quiet. The god is gone tonight.


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