I once had a dream, within which was a contained a thread about my own work. I know – imagine that. A couple of tidy realizations were clouded (dreamlike) with an allusion to the titles of my next three books – what were they? It plagued me for days, as they were three titles I had not yet imagined. I’m getting close to another one, but that would be a fourth story. Let’s stick to three:
Trimming the fat in all the wrong places. That the Grey Lady is also not immune to corporate misgovernance is sad and depressing, and even though we’ve known for a very long time of its myopic shortcomings, it’s rather pathetic to see the paper of record put a knife to its own throat:
Staffers at the New York Times staged a newsroom walk out on Thursday as a demonstration of solidarity as management threatens job cuts. The protest followed a pair of letters sent earlier in the week to Executive Editor Dean Baquet and Managing Editor Joseph Kahn by Times reporters and copy editors.
Cartoonish evil. The problems with putting a imbecilic grifter in the most powerful office in the world has, by definition, no possible limits. Not even going to link to any because what’s the point.
The foreignness of policy disruption or, let’s defend a former Exxon-Mobile CEO. While it’s imaginable that a Secretary of State might have disagreements with her boss, it’s difficult to understand the chain of events that leads one to accept a ‘high’ position in this administration. Did you ask yourself, ‘what do I have to lose?’ Did you answer in the space provided?
A close associate of the secretary of state says that Tillerson was not only “blind-sided by the Trump statement,” but “absolutely enraged that the White House and State Department weren’t on the same page.” Tillerson’s aides, I was told, were convinced that the true author of Trump’s statement was U.A.E. ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba, a close friend of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner. “Rex put two-and-two together,” his close associate says, “and concluded that this absolutely vacuous kid was running a second foreign policy out of the White House family quarters. Otaiba weighed in with Jared and Jared weighed in with Trump. What a mess.”
Image: author photo of OB, while we were away last week.
This, recently from JR at Climate Progress:
Humanity has only two paths forward at this point. Either we voluntarily switch to a low-carbon, low-oil, low-net water use, low-net-material use economy over the next two decades or the post-Ponzi-scheme-collapse forces us to do so circa 2030. The only difference between the two paths is that the first one spares our children and grandchildren and countless future generations untold misery (see “Intro to global warming impacts: Hell and High Water” and “A stunning year in climate science reveals that human civilization is on the precipice“).
Wedges, stabilizing the PPMs of carbon dioxide… oh, yes: preservation. Deploying all the technology and energy efficient we can means basically using what we already have. Yes, maybe boring – living closer to work, buying lighter vehicles. But only boring because we like big-budget thrillers, bells, whistlers, hookers, firetrucks, okay… bells and whistles. A lot of the shrugging is tied up in the non-existent technical conundrum that this just can’t be solved, so what is there to do besides wait for the magic science elephant to pull the solution(s) out of the trunk.
Save the unlikely scenarios for that script you should be working on. Take the low road.
As in, “check out the eco on that chick!” or “He’s got an eco the size of Kansas.”
That is, these don’t refer to a nice set of ta-ta’s but a sort of dialectical framework that, when and where necessary, might be detectable from the outside. You might identify yourself with/by something as benign as carpooling or as radical as making your own clothes. The continuum here is not based on the relative merits of either one in opposition to the other – which may be considered greener, for instance – but in opposition to more conventional, energy-intensive ways of doing things. The question is not does it make a difference, but does it make a difference to you. Because we don’t wake up one day and decide to start looming our own thread; but over time, we do consider things like where we live, how much we can use alternative or mass transit, what kind of roof we are going to invest in for our house, that kind of thing.
Those kinds of choices, where we pause to consider the externalities related to our decisions, are the ones that will send the most durable signals. This flies in the face of green advertising, though it has much the same aim. Instead of a particular product or company, these more-general types of choices begin to play a larger strategic role in cutting down our GHG emissions and getting back to somewhere in the neighborhood of 350 ppm, mainly by establishing multiple routes to these goals.
So, of course I’m joking about ‘massive’ – because it’s more about smaller, individual-scale choices that will have giant ramifications, and effect the public attitudes around you.
The point is, know what you think about this stuff and why you live where you do, buy what you buy (or don’t) – because unless it was your own idea, then it wasn’t and someone gave to you, effectively deciding for you. Whichever side of this point you’re on, everything else flows out from there. By taking some control of what you think and why, you won’t feel so cynical about vain attempts to save the world from far-off problems like those effecting the climate, nor so horribly pained by the antics of the idiot caucus. I promise.
Is it how fat you are? Or how skinny? An iPhone or Samsung? Clothes, car, house… surely all of these. But like so many things, of course, it depends.
The consumption model flows from conspicuous to discreet, along a kind of progressive continuum, whereby once you achieve a certain stage or level of affluence and find momentary reprieve from keeping up, your benchmark then changes to reflect the new set of priorities of those directly above you. And the fun begins again.
So what if (!) other variables experienced a, um, shift, in their ability to reflect the wealth of their bearer? For example, let’s say that once upon a time only the rich could abandon the bustle of the city and afford lengthy commutes to far flung homes, to live out in the country and venture into town only on occasion. Even if they had to travel in everyday, this too was a sign of how much they could afford to spend on personal transportation. But then the dirty, dangerous city becomes more desirable for some reason, or life in the country less so (bears, Sasquatch) and a switch occurs wherein a long commute is suddenly a symbol of penury, while the short drive or the ability to even occasionally do without a car becomes IT among the fashionable set. Wow. That’s convoluted. You see what we’re up against. But is there another way to have get fancy trains and buses and trams and funiculars?
There’s no way to pull back on burning seas oil drilling without dramatically stepped-up conservation; and there’s no way, in this culture, to make conservation work without making it part and parcel of status and/or something people want. I guess we might at least look at this as something that can happen, however far-fetched it may seem.