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Charles Eisenstein on climate change
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oobers



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PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2014 1:27 pm    Post subject: Charles Eisenstein on climate change Reply with quote

An interesting perspective:

http://www.resurgence.org/magazine/article4147-climate-change-the-bigger-picture.html

Quote:
Please, my argument here is NOT Various greenhouse-gas curtailment schemes have failed, so we shouldnt even try. I am, rather, proposing that these failures have something in common they emphasise the global over the local, the distant over the immediate, the measurable over the qualitative and that this very oversight is part of the same mentality that is at the root of the crisis to begin with.


I sometimes question my stance on not flying - Am I rigidly sticking to the idea of personal carbon reduction at the expense of family ties? My in laws live in Canada and they fly here occasionally so we do see them but why should I not fly to their home? Why should I deprive my wife and child of doing the same? Shouldn't my young son have maybe just once the experience of exhilaration and wonder of take-off, landing and viewing the world from on high? This is perhaps a bad example and not exactly what Eisenstein had in mind with 'qualitative'!
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biffvernon



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PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2014 1:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That article is deeply flawed. I was disappointed when I first read it as his book was pretty good. He seems to have lapsed into a curious form of climate denial. Sad
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emordnilap



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PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2014 2:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

biffvernon wrote:
That article is deeply flawed.


Can you expand on that? It's an insightful piece of thinking. For instance, his His 'three defining institutions' sum up what stands in the way of meaningful change. Some of what he says has flitted through my head in less eloquent forms over time, such as:

Quote:
It doesnt come in place of coal-fired plants; it comes in addition to them.


which is what I've said about many renewables.

I don't see the piece as a curious form of climate denial. Are you thinking of:

Quote:
What would happen if we revalued the local, the immediate, the qualitative, the living, and the beautiful? We would still oppose most of what climate change activists oppose, but for different reasons


?? because I agree with him on this. The overarching argument against FF extraction has been (understandably) hijacked by climate change. I see his point and, for me, it gives more ammunition in the argument for a different future.
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RenewableCandy



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PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2014 5:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

He's looking at it from a quality-of-life viewpoint, rather than a physics/engineering one. I can get my head round that, because it's what I often do if faced with someone who really can't bring themselves to believe CC is actually happening. Wouldn't you prefer to live within walking-distance of your work? Or to have the option of doing less of it? Or to have more trees in your street. Or fewer cars, or a house that uses less energy, or the wherewithal to have a proper family dinner together most evenings? Isn't it nice when food tastes like food, and not plastic?

As one foot of an international family, I too have to think about the flying thing. Meyer Hilman(sp?) didn't even go to his own daughter's wedding. That's pathological. Make the trip, but make it a twice-in-a-generation thing, rather than an every year thing.

The only thing that spoils that article for me is the author, who I remember having done a really simpering crappy self-justifying piece about becoming a father (iirc). Of kid no. 4 (iirc, though it wasn't the number that bothered me so much as the tone). I'd actually been meaning to buy his book 'til I read that srticle.
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emordnilap



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PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2014 5:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There was a bit in Years of Living Dangerously episode 4, where Lesley Stahl is asking an Alaskan governor (?) about the effects of his decisions to allow drilling. His pathetic answer is something like, "Do you drive a car? Do you fly?" and she fails to challenge this very silly riposte.

She should have said something like, "If you want those things, you have to find ways of doing them without emitting CO2" or something along those lines - i.e., what about the physical world we - and our ancestors - want to enjoy?
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oobers



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PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2014 8:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

biffvernon wrote:
That article is deeply flawed. I was disappointed when I first read it as his book was pretty good. He seems to have lapsed into a curious form of climate denial. Sad


In what sense denial? He doesnt deny humans cause climate change and his argument in this article is consistent with the whole idea of separation running through his books that the narrative of climate change is largely one of quantification of greenhouse gases, fighting the war on climate change, reducing greenhouse gas levels by using technologies and doing this at any cost all symptomatic of our belief that we dominate the earth as separate beings from it. One of the key points for me is how this narrative can play into the hands of those urging us to adopt fracking and nuclear as technologies that reduce CO2. If we approach climate change instead from the positive promotion of simple human scale activity in our local communities, we may have more success. To me, this is the essence of the Transition movement.
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oobers



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PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2014 8:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RenewableCandy wrote:
As one foot of an international family, I too have to think about the flying thing. Meyer Hilman(sp?) didn't even go to his own daughter's wedding. That's pathological. Make the trip, but make it a twice-in-a-generation thing, rather than an every year thing.

Sounds a sensible approach.

RenewableCandy wrote:
The only thing that spoils that article for me is the author, who I remember having done a really simpering crappy self-justifying piece about becoming a father (iirc). Of kid no. 4 (iirc, though it wasn't the number that bothered me so much as the tone). I'd actually been meaning to buy his book 'til I read that srticle.

Don't be put off - Sacred Economics is a really well constructed blueprint. I read it online for free and subsequently sent a money gift of my own choosing. I'm now reading his first book Ascent of Humanity that goes into more depth about the origins of separation. I'm glad I read them that way round. Ascent of Humanity is interesting, Sacred Economics is inspiring.
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RenewableCandy



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PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2014 10:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh well if I can read it for nowt... /[yorkshirewoman]
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biffvernon



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PostPosted: Fri May 30, 2014 8:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

emordnilap wrote:
biffvernon wrote:
That article is deeply flawed.


Can you expand on that?


I wrote a pretty complementary review in Transition Free Press last year of Sacred Economics, but this article disturbs me. As I read throuh it there are numerous ideas that he poses in a critical light and I keep saying to myself "but that's true". The crunch comes with this line
Quote:
(1) By resorting to climate change arguments to oppose fracking, mountaintop removal, and tar sands excavation, we put ourselves in a vulnerable position should global warming come into doubt. This could happen due to a change in scientific opinion,

Oh, no, Charles, you are casting doubt on the climate science. You've lost the plot. We're engaged right now with opposition to a small oil well in oru neck of the woods. Some folk worry about the effect on the newts, but there won't be any news anywhere if we wreck the planet through global warming.
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biffvernon



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PostPosted: Fri May 30, 2014 8:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

oobers wrote:

In what sense denial?

See my post above
oobers wrote:

He doesnt deny humans cause climate change and his argument in this article is consistent with the whole idea of separation running through his books that the narrative of climate change is largely one of quantification of greenhouse gases, fighting the war on climate change, reducing greenhouse gas levels by using technologies and doing this at any cost


Here's the non-logical jump. We do have to avoid global warming at any cost. There is no price so great that we can say, ok, we'll have the global warming rather than pay it.

But that is not to say that the means of combating global warming require the forms of technology and other actions that he criticises. I'm with his criticism there and support the prescription he gives to that extent.
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emordnilap



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PostPosted: Fri May 30, 2014 10:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

biffvernon wrote:
emordnilap wrote:
biffvernon wrote:
That article is deeply flawed.


Can you expand on that?


I wrote a pretty complementary review in Transition Free Press last year of Sacred Economics, but this article disturbs me. As I read throuh it there are numerous ideas that he poses in a critical light and I keep saying to myself "but that's true". The crunch comes with this line
Quote:
(1) By resorting to climate change arguments to oppose fracking, mountaintop removal, and tar sands excavation, we put ourselves in a vulnerable position should global warming come into doubt. This could happen due to a change in scientific opinion,

Oh, no, Charles, you are casting doubt on the climate science. You've lost the plot. We're engaged right now with opposition to a small oil well in oru neck of the woods. Some folk worry about the effect on the newts, but there won't be any news anywhere if we wreck the planet through global warming.


Ah, yes, I saw that line and wondered. Normally, he's a pretty thorough guy. We can all make errors. Laughing That may be a flaw you point out - and you're correct in pointing it out - but does it really make the article 'deeply flawed'?
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PostPosted: Fri May 30, 2014 5:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A somewhat related piece here.

It's a harrowing article but includes the following:

Quote:
During my time there I began to develop the idea that perhaps the peoples of upper and middle Laos were an example of humanity living in balance with the environment. The subject of human ecology has dropped out of favor in recent years as the age of cheap oil continued to run its course, but here surely was an example of a population living as a dynamic part of its environment without destroying it. Rivers were kept clean, forests were left mostly intact. Disease, natural disasters and small-scale war kept the population within the regions carrying capacity. And the people loved the land.

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oobers



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PostPosted: Fri May 30, 2014 6:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

biffvernon wrote:
emordnilap wrote:
biffvernon wrote:
That article is deeply flawed.


Can you expand on that?


I wrote a pretty complementary review in Transition Free Press last year of Sacred Economics, but this article disturbs me. As I read throuh it there are numerous ideas that he poses in a critical light and I keep saying to myself "but that's true". The crunch comes with this line
Quote:
(1) By resorting to climate change arguments to oppose fracking, mountaintop removal, and tar sands excavation, we put ourselves in a vulnerable position should global warming come into doubt. This could happen due to a change in scientific opinion,

Oh, no, Charles, you are casting doubt on the climate science. You've lost the plot. We're engaged right now with opposition to a small oil well in oru neck of the woods. Some folk worry about the effect on the newts, but there won't be any news anywhere if we wreck the planet through global warming.

But I dont think hes saying that HE doubts the climate science but that at any time, the climate science could come into doubt amongst the public, ie it only takes one scientist to break ranks (or simply to publish something or have something leaked that is misunderstood) and the media latches onto it and blows it out of context etc etc. Climate science, and science in general is still poorly understood by most people so they tend to rely on the media assessment and the media misrepresent through reporter scientific error, pursuit of balance and the love of a good controversy. In light of this, he suggests we may be better off making our arguments more accessible to the public by relying on quantitative climate science less and on qualitative visible, tangible things more

Quote:
We would still oppose most of what climate change activists oppose, but for different reasons: tar sands oil extraction because it kills the forests and mars the landscape; mountaintop removal because it obliterates sacred mountains; fracking because it insults and degrades the water; offshore oil drilling because oil spills poison wildlife; road building because it carves up the land, creates roadkill, contributes to suburbanisation and habitat destruction, and accelerates the loss of community.
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Tess



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PostPosted: Fri May 30, 2014 10:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think what he's saying is that climate change is not something you can fix simply by fixing the economic & monetary system to prioritise decarbonisation. Because the underlying drive towards economic growth is still there, all the rules we enforce to try to reduce carbon emissions will only result in the emissions shifting somewhere else in the global system.

Therefore, he claims, the only way to actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions is to win the argument that there are better ways of life than pursuing continuous economic growth. Since for many of us this is our real heart's desire (rather than decarbonisation per se), we'd feel much more motivated to get out there and sell the message than purely bashing on about the same old climate science which half the country doesn't believe in anyway, and won't believe in until they're permanently a metre under water, at which point they'll blame the Chinese and Indians.

So yes I think I agree with his sentiment, but at the same time it's also a little hopeless, because most people are so focussed on gaining wealth that they aren't interested in living lightly and communally for its own sake any more than they're interested in believing climate science. But at least climate science can be hooked up to the brutal economic forces, even if it mostly leaks out of all the holes. Transition ideologies, I fear, are unlikely to be ever more than a niche religion until it's no longer an ideology but an economic necessity.
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biffvernon



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PostPosted: Sat May 31, 2014 8:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tess wrote:
I think what he's saying is that climate change is not something you can fix simply by fixing the economic & monetary system to prioritise decarbonisation.


Yes, that's for sure, but I'd say the 'fixing the economic & monetary system to prioritise decarbonisation' is a necessary though insufficient condition for avoiding doom. We have to do other stuff too. Eisentein concentrates on the other stuff and even, in one line, raises the possibility that the necessary might turn out not to be necessary. And yes, the Moon may turn out to be made of green cheese.
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