A selection or articles, essays and videos relevant to ecological design, regenerative cultures, climate crisis and building resilience. Boodaville recommends will be published once a month in English, and once a month in Spanish.
This month there’s some heavy reading. For each article I give comments and selected quotes if you don’t have time to read it all. This month there are two selected articles related to Coronavirus, one long and beautiful essay on Coronavirus and the future by Charles Eisenstein, and a selection of quotes from the Deep Adaptation paper by Jem Bendell, which is hugely important in the face of ecological collapse and how we can accept it, yet creatively adapt.
“we must tackle the devastating social and economic dimensions of this crisis, with a focus on the most affected: women, older persons, youth, low-wage workers, small and medium enterprises, the informal sector and vulnerable groups, especially those in humanitarian and conflict settings.”
“Debt alleviation must be a priority – including immediate waivers on interest payments for 2020”
“We can go back to the world as it was before or deal decisively with those issues that make us all unnecessarily vulnerable to crises. Our roadmap is the 2030 Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The recovery from the COVID-19 crisis must lead to a different economy.
Everything we do during and after this crisis must be with a strong focus on building more equal, inclusive and sustainable economies and societies that are more resilient in the face of pandemics, climate change, and the many other global challenges we face.”
“Well, the treadmill you’ve been on for decades just stopped. Bam! And that feeling you have right now is the same as if you’d been thrown off your Peloton bike and onto the ground: What in the holy fuck just happened? I hope you might consider this: What happened is inexplicably incredible. It’s the greatest gift ever unwrapped. Not the deaths, not the virus, but The Great Pause.”
“the all-out blitz to make you believe you never saw what you saw. The air wasn’t really cleaner; those images were fake. The hospitals weren’t really a war zone; those stories were hyperbole. The numbers were not that high; the press is lying. You didn’t see people in masks standing in the rain risking their lives to vote. Not in America. You didn’t see the leader of the free world push an unproven miracle drug like a late-night infomercial salesman. That was a crisis update. You didn’t see homeless people dead on the street. You didn’t see inequality. You didn’t see indifference. You didn’t see utter failure of leadership and systems.”
“The Great American Return to Normal is coming. From one citizen to another, I beg of you: take a deep breath, ignore the deafening noise, and think deeply about what you want to put back into your life. This is our chance to define a new version of normal, a rare and truly sacred (yes, sacred) opportunity to get rid of the bullshit and to only bring back what works for us, what makes our lives richer, what makes our kids happier, what makes us truly proud.”
Charles Eisenstein wrote about COVID-19 and the future. He covers everything, including conspiracy theories, floats ideas about the uncertainty of it all, and most importantly asks us about what kind of future we want, and what kind of world we want to live in. (As he always does!)
How much of life do we want to sacrifice at the altar of security? If it keeps us safer, do we want to live in a world where human beings never congregate? Do we want to wear masks in public all the time? Do we want to be medically examined every time we travel, if that will save some number of lives a year? Are we willing to accept the medicalization of life in general, handing over final sovereignty over our bodies to medical authorities (as selected by political ones)? Do we want every event to be a virtual event? How much are we willing to live in fear?
I finally sat down and read Deep Adaptation by Jem Bendell one of THE most important papers…. this is an odd selection of quotes that interested me. I recommend you read the paper at some point!
“In this section I summarise the findings to establish the premise that it is time we consider the implications of it being too late to avert a global environmental catastrophe in the lifetimes of people alive today.”
“With an increase of carbon emissions of 2% in 2017, the decoupling of economic activity from emissions is not yet making a net
dent in global emissions (Canadell et al, 2017). So, we are not on the path
to prevent going over 2 degrees warming through emissions reductions.”
“The argument made is that to discuss the likelihood and nature of social collapse due to climate change is irresponsible because it might trigger hopelessness amongst the general public. I always thought it odd to restrict our own exploration of reality and censor our own sensemaking due to our ideas about how our conclusions might come across to others. Given that this attempt at censoring was so widely shared in the environmental field in 2017, it deserves some closer attention.”
“I see four particular insights about what is happening when people argue we should not communicate to the public the likelihood and nature of the
catastrophe we face.”
“A fourth insight is that “hopelessness” and its related emotions of dismay
and despair are understandably feared but wrongly assumed to be entirely
negative and to be avoided whatever the situation. Alex Steffen warned
that “Despair is never helpful” (2017). However, the range of ancient
wisdom traditions see a significant place for hopelessness and despair.
Contemporary reflections on people’s emotional and even spiritual growth
as a result of their hopelessness and despair align with these ancient ideas.
The loss of a capability, a loved one or a way of life, or the receipt of a
terminal diagnosis have all been reported, or personally experienced, as a
trigger for a new way of perceiving self and world, with hopelessness and
despair being a necessary step in the process (Matousek, 2008). In such
contexts “hope” is not a good thing to maintain, as it depends on what one
is hoping for. When the debate raged about the value of the New York
Magazine article, some commentators picked up on this theme. “In
abandoning hope that one way of life will continue, we open up a space for
alternative hopes,” wrote Tommy Lynch (2017).”
““creative adaptation.” This form of creatively constructed hope may be relevant to our Western civilisation as we confront disruptive climate change (Gosling and Case, 2013).”
“Foster argues that implicative denial is rife within the environmental movement, from dipping into a local Transition Towns initiative, signing online petitions, or renouncing flying, there are endless ways for people to be “doing something” without seriously confronting the reality of climate change.”
“the internal culture of environmental groups remains strongly in favour of
appearing effective, even when decades of investment and campaigning
have not produced a net positive outcome on climate, ecosystems or many
specific species. Let us look at the largest environmental charity, WWF, as an example of this process of organisational drivers of implicative denial. I worked for them when we were striving towards all UK wood product imports being from sustainable forests by 1995. Then it became “well-managed” forests by 2000. Then targets were quietly forgotten while the potensiphonic language of solving deforestation through innovative partnerships remained. If the employees of the world’s leading environmental groups were on performance related pay, they would probably owe their members and donors money by now. The fact that some readers may find such a comment to be rude and unhelpful highlights how our interests in civility, praise and belonging within a professional community can censor those of language that emphasizes power and supremacy us who seek to communicate uncomfortable truths in memorable ways (like that journalist in the New York Magazine)”
“The perspective that natural or spiritual reconnection might save us from catastrophe is, however, a psychological response one could analyse as a form of denial”
An interesting point made is that people higher up in society (eg university educated, a good job within the current system) find it harder to imagine complete rebuilding, and want to maintain status quo.
He also makes the point that the certainty of extinction may make some people feel better than uncertainty and that’s why they jump on that story. That’s why some people react with “it’s inevitable”.