Wednesday, March 24, 2010

On Climate: An Integral Discussion

 from the Ken Wilber (Integral) meetup group discussion:

T.M. : "Jim Turney's remarks practically had me leaping to my feet from my little red mushroom stool as he described politics as lurching from walking solely on one's left foot, becoming exhausted, and then walking solely on the right foot until exhausted again. He called for a recognition that each of us has politics as individual as our fingerprints, but under-girding our views are the same competing poles: particularly of freedom vs order. And we're not going to get anywhere until we can address the concerns of both poles in a way that frees them to recognize their own need for the opposite pole. This is very much a theme of my own work in dialoguing with fundamentalists and thus resonated strongly. Where do I sign up?!! Jim Garrison, board member of Wisdom University and founder of the State of the WorldForum, called us to wake up to the fact that 90% of humanity will be wiped out within 40 years if we don't act immediately to cut carbon emissions by 80%. When a questioner challenged the doability of that, Jim compared hesitation to hanging one's head in despair as a fire is breaking out in the kitchen. STOP EVERYTHING and fight it, he said. He also told us that corporations can reach the targets with cuts in their profits of only one third, and that he is finding foreign corporations more receptive than American, with Brazilian firms replanting the rain forest and Chinese firms leaping out front in developing green technology... At the end I felt an overwhelming desire to integrate the passions of our two speakers. As Ron asked at dinner afterward, how can Jim G's message be communicated with Jim T's insight about what is needed to reach people with a very different worldview? I was also confused by the followup remarks of Jim Garrison's colleague that sustainability will create prosperity. While that is clearly true in the long run, how does it square with Garrison's call for a one third cut in corporate profits? Doesn't that mean a one third cut in my retirement fund, setting my thermostat to 40 degrees, and walking the ten miles to work? I am willing to do that if that will save the earth. But I suspect (and here I am editorializing) that much of the resistance to believing in climate change is really fear that the cure is almost as bad as disease. How do we speak to that?"
And here is my response: Dear T.M. et al,

 There are many moments of possibility of integrating the will to material prosperity with the will to reduce for the sake of an integrated whole, sustainable Earth. We have seen the rise of a race toward carbon neutrality and carbon sinkage in communities (and many countries) around the world. In the US, it is our cities and states that are leading the charge; like Maryland, Annapolis, and Seattle, just to name those efforts which I am currently researching.

Municipalities and states (those not economically solely dependent on fossil fuel) have more to gain in the short term as well as long term by re-tooling for a carbon neutral future. On the other hand, nations and some provinces are composed of a broader patchwork of developmental levels and economies. 

When regions have a broader range of represented memes, the advance of progress is "hindered" (slowed) by messy democratic processes.

Where does this lead? I see one particularly likely, but sad route: a climate Pearl Harbor. My worst fear would involve an event like the ice shelf sliding off of Greenland, creating a nearly instant rise in Atlantic and Arctic sea levels, the Gulf Stream being knocked off course, not to mention the huge "dark earth" solar radiation absorption panel the size of a small continent.

 Who knows, maybe we can manufacture enough Mylar to quickly cover Greenland and reflect the rays back out into space.

This frightful motivator notwithstanding, there may be yet a moment of shift toward a carbon neutral moonshot. May it be born out of America's competitive Orange nature instead, as other nations leap forward into clean energy economies, inshallah! And lastly, my idea to integrate "the Jims' " passions lies in the power and possibility of youth. The good news is that the 30-and-under set (Millennials) are largely already on board, even in many traditionally Orange and Blue areas of the US. This is why my friends and I launched Swing Semester - to hold up a big mirror to the Milliennial Generation, and push them into purposeful action. I love the fact that they defy the binary left-right political spectrum. This goes to show you that their level of functioning is somewhere beyond traditional definitions! There has been ample evidence at Copenhagen, here locally in the PowerShift Climate Conferences with around 5,000 in attendance, not to mention polling data on attitudes and beliefs. Many of them have little interest in traditional partisan distinctions. I look forward to seeing you all soon and hearing your thoughts and actions. 

Best, Sirtosky

 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

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