Sunday, 26 May 2013

I am angry!

Are we worth saving?  I'm having a species crisis. I search the book stores, the internet, newspapers and damn it I even bought a graphic novel on what I now term Species Extinction Porn. The end of the human world scenarios in which we get our come-uppance and the world is given enough of a respite to recover from the various ills we've inflicted on it.

It makes me think of the Nazi doctors who inflicted hideous experiments on Jews, people like Wirths (Worthless) and Heim. They did things like inject petrol into people, removed their organs while they were conscious. Hideous things. I always wondered how the people of Germany could stand by and watch it, even engage with it, support it.

But who am I to think such things when I, while not standing by quietly, still live in relative ease while children are made slaves of, where spent petrol is injected into a world that is conscious while we disembowel it so we can spread her resources, not to many, but to just a few. I am angry, and I am ashamed. I am one of these two legged ferocious beasts with opposable thumbs, these things are done in my name.

Who am I to think growing my own food, limiting my consumption and having an occasional rant will create meaningful change. It doesn't, it won't and it can't.  All it is capable of is allowing me to fool myself long enough to be able to sleep at night. I am angry and  I am useless.

I have come to the point where I feel all this talk of sustainability is unsustainable. In the end too few will willingly reduce their consumption or change their belief that they somehow deserve a part of the spoils. The oil well will have to run dry for this to happen, and by that time it will be too late. It is likely it is already so.

Some of us play nice in our backyards, grow food and marvel at the novelty, some of us will take our reusable bags to the supermarket, recycle our cans, and think twice before buying Tim Tams. But it is such a shallow thing. Radical change is required by EVERYONE and  putting solar hot water on the roof  isn't going to get us there. A paradigm shift from the ground up and from the top down is required. There is so much work to be done, and world wide we have high unemployment as our economic system enters it's final slow motion fall. We twiddle our thumbs while Rome burns.

I am angry. I am a child of the 80's, the mega consumers, and each generation that has followed has eroded the basis of all life while we increased our number by another 3 billion.  Now it is no longer possible to consume in ignorance. The writing is on the wall, but so are all the advertisements for a lifestyle we are not willing to forfeit. Humans are flawed, fatally so.

I am angry.  It is no longer possible to believe we can make the change required. If there is a human termination button and I was handed it, would I push it?  If it provided an instant, painless death to every last human... I would feel obligated.  No more tigers tied upside down in cages waiting to die of starvation so someone can make soup of its bones in order to increase their sexual stamina, no more whales taken in the name of 'science', no more mountains scraped off the earth and shoved on ships to line someones pockets with a series of zeroes. Because like zeroes, it means nothing.

Terminating us may provide the earth with a chance. Because it may be that we are the only planet with sufficient gravity, with the exact proximity to a star, with water, with the right ingredients to support life. Rare Earth; increasingly scientists posit that the possibility for life on other planets in the universe is slim. It may be that of all the billions, we are one of the few capable of supporting life, and to think so many of us would jeopardise it for our right to buy a Big Mac.

I want a trial, I want humanity in front of a judge, and some poor bastard to have to stand up in front of court and justify our right to life.

I don't need to tell you yet again that I am angry. It's obvious. I don't want to hear platitudes about how we are capable of good things. Yes, we are, but on balance it is not enough to justify who we are, what we have done and what we will continue to do until all opportunity to do so is gone.  The shame is not that we will not survive this 'experiment' in rampant resource use, it is the innocent fauna and flora we take with us.

Our technological evolution has not been matched with a cultural one. We think we are a superior species because we use tools. We have the tools to change, but we choose not to use them.


Jo said...

Linda, when I discovered last week that atmospheric carbon had topped 400ppm for the first time, I sat in such shock. I don't know why, but I somehow imagined that 'someone', you know, 'Them', the ones in charge, would have sorted it. Would have prevented worldwide catastrophe. Would have legislated so that we all lived at a sustainable level.
I am in mourning for my children and grandchildren, because for the first time, I am deeply, deeply pessimistic for their future.
Yet I still need to do something, still need to live that maybe pointless, nibbling at the fringes of sustainability kind of lifestyle, because, what else can I do? If I don't do something, I'll go completely mad.
And yet, if I could cleverly work out the exact steps I needed to take to live in a way that meant we could all continue to survive on our beautiful planet, would I start to live that way tomorrow?
I hate to say it, but no.. just because I don't have the strength of character to live like a 19thC peasant in a nice suburb, for no apparent reason. It would be like Noah building his ark in the middle of the desert.
But I want to be able to...

Sharon said...

Hi Linda,
you are not alone in how you feel, I often think it would be best if we all just disappeared off the face of the earth, but then I have that problematic trait that we all have, a VERY small bit of optimism and sentimentality. Mind you I live fairly isolated, close to nature and like you doing what I can (which is not enough). When I make the trip into suburbia I realise that its all futile really. I still hope, but I am angry too.

Bev said...

No, Linda, you're not useless. You've written a great book about your efforts to become self-sufficient (I hope there's another one coming!), which has inspired many, including me.

And humans are not flawed either. Evolution doesn't produce flawed species; it produces successful species, which we are. OK, TOO successful for our own good, but don't stress about it. An organism that destroys its life-support systems will eventually destroy itself. I'm sure, in spite of all your anger, you know that's true.

What IS flawed is just one culture; western civilisation; one culutre out of many that have existed that heven't destroyed their life-support systems. Western civilisation will destroy itself and hopefully, some other, benign culture will take its place.

I gave up being angry long ago. I just do what I can to educate people about our damaging culture. Unfortunately I'm not as good at writing as you are, but I try.

Do as much yelling as you need to get it all off your chest, then go write that next book. We're all waiting to be inspired.

Best wishes and keep the blog going. The world needs people like you.

Anonymous said...

You are not alone....... I seeth constantly. And as Sharon said, every time I visit a big smoke.... I know it's all over.

You're allowed to feel powerless, but not useless.

You, like us, have raised offspring/s to know and prepare, and really, that is as much as one can hope for.

I've reached the stage where I understand that collapse IS the solution, so party like hell and bring it on!

Linda Cockburn said...

Thanks everyone. Sharon mentions two words, hope and optimism. I'm reading an interesting (and upbeat for a change) book which has a theme of the difference between hope and optimism. They believe you can act without optimism for future change,against impossible odds, without believing it is possible, but acting out of hope alone. Hope doesn't require the belief in success. Hope is acting in the right way because no other way is possible. In the end I am 'hope-full'. But no, I don't believe there will be a good outcome. But nor can I contemplate the death of so many, in war, from starvation, from environmental disasters with anything but horror. Somewhere on the web there is a FB meme that says, no informed person can be alive today without feeling depressed. For all the reasons we talk about. And not feeling you're doing enough certainly ups the anti. What a quandary, to have no optimism for a positive outcome, but to feel compelled to do something anyway. Miracles anyone?

Jo said...

I came back to see if anyone had come up with The Answer.
I know I am not doing my fair share, but what I am doing has been motivated and informed, in a significant way, first by your original blog, Linda, then by multiple rereadings of your book. Because seeing a family who does try to walk the walk is very powerful.
I am now just trying to get my head around how I can live with integrity in an unequal world, where I am one of the 'haves' with an enormous slice of the pie..

Linda Cockburn said...

Jo, I think one way is to go through a very serious economic depression. This way people are forced to be resourceful, to do without. I no longer believe people are capable of choosing to reduce their consumer habits. Democracy, wonderful concept that it is, has failed.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, boy can I relate to this! I see the crummy end of things in social work all of the time and think "why bother" . I guess it depends on the ideas you hold around social change. I had to let o of the idea that the world would change and there would be massive social change. What became and is most important to me now is the person right in front of me. Can I help, support that person. Same applies to how I view environmental change . I think it was Winston Churchill who said "even if the world was to end tomorrow, I would still plant my apple tree" . That's what keeps me sane in a very sick world. With warm wishes from the

Ulf said...

I have been reading your blog for several years and I was wondering when you would get to this stage Linda.
I can only agree in that I believe there is no chance whatsoever for this planet. The ONLY solution to the problems the world currently faces is to drastically reduce the human population- and I would very much like someone to prove me wrong.

Have you read "The Deep Green Revolution"? You would find it very interesting I am sure.

knetzger said...

Hi Linda,

I stumbled onto your blog around the time you started it, and it remains one of the few sites that I periodically check in on. I've envied your projects and felt some sadness at your trials, but from half a world away, I've always admired the lives you and your family have explored. I've never read your books or commented here, but what you wrote in this post made me want to send a note. I've wrestled with the themes you cover, and I have no good answers. But I remember reading this article and connecting with it. It isn't about believing that things will get better or that people are good at heart or can be convinced to change. But I remember that the author's words helped with my own navigation of despair--there were kindred feelings that helped calm my mind a bit. I thought you might find it interesting.

-Ken (from Wisconsin, USA)

Linda Cockburn said...

Thanks Ulf, I've actually been here a long time but didn't 'out' myself out of a sense of shame, I guess. It seems shameful to want your own species to die out, shameful to say you have given up hope and no longer believe in this great monstrosity we have built, or in the people that maintain it.

I haven't read the Deep Green Revolution, but I will, right after I finish, The Most Dangerous Animal. Trying to balance positive books with the downers :-)

Linda Cockburn said...

Thanks Ken, I really enjoyed that piece. I've read some of Paul's Dark Mountain writings. He is a wonderful lyrical writer at the same time as mirroring where I'm at. Both of them believe there will be room for some life on earth once we collapse. I believe there's a good chance nothing will and evolution will need to start again, once it's spent a million years on recovering a breathable atmosphere.

I'm definitely eco-centric rather than humanitarian. I used to think I was both. Maybe time to pull out the Prozac and smile into the face of extinction, hey.

Kristy@SeeMyFootprints said...

yep. I get it...

Ponerology News said...


I've come to a lot of the same feelings as you and from some of the same sources, such as Jensen's work. And I think you hit on the key issue in one of your other posts. I think the reason that things are so messed up and feel so intractable likely has to do with the role of pathology.

When I realized that - and it's funny because Jensen has been saying it for years but I forgot he said it until after I came to it again on my own - I started focusing more on that issue and less on the unsustainability itself which I see as a symptom.

The pinnacle was when I learned about the field of ponerology.

I've linked to a site I started on the topic and I would urge you to visit the about page and click the link to the page on ponerology there. The page that link will bring you to really puts it all together and connects the dots, including a lot of Jensen's ideas with many others I think you'll find fascinating. You or others can reach me through either site if you want to talk more.

Linda Cockburn said...

Aha, ponerology! I like it. What do we do? The psychopath test has now been established. We know how to detect them. Perhaps all people applying for positions of power need to take it. It's a biological test. Basically they show distressing images and normal people respond by an infinitesimal amount of finger sweat, increased pulse rate etc. Once we detect they're psychopaths they cannot be employed? A marginalised group for sure, but they use their power to marginalise entire nations and hold the environment to ransom. Hmmm, food for thought... more reading required. Thanks Ponerology News.