Michael Dewar, former Canadian Green Party youth leader and candidate, says that he has given up caring about the environment, and taken a lucrative position working in the tar sands of northern Alberta.Green Party Youth Leader ‘Gives Up’ and Goes to Work for an Oil Company (Disinfo)
In an interview on the Srsly Wrong podcast back in August 2014, Dewar spoke about his conversion to Libertarian Capitalism, and a thoroughly self-interested ideology, saying that “You might think you are helping out by putting your energy to the cause of helping other people, but in fact you are just wasting your time.”
Dewar became exhausted as his political efforts seemed to yield no effect, and expressed his belief that catastrophic climate change was now unavoidable. He said he has adopted a lifestyle dubbed ‘Partyboat Nihilism,’ which holds that human beings face inevitable extinction, and we must adopt a hedonistic, selfish lifestyle to make the best of it....
In a more recent interview, while still expressing a fondness for Ayn Rand and Libertarian Capitalism, Dewar admitted that he did still care about the future of humanity. Dewar continues to stand firm in his belief that political participation is most likely pointless, and expressed interest in growing his own food, and “loafing around like a dirty hippy.”
In 2008 [Shell] released a fresh pair of scenarios for how the world might respond to climate change over the coming decades. Both were predicated on what the company called “three hard truths”: that global energy demand is rising, that the supply of conventional energy will not be able to keep up, and that climate change is both real and dangerous.Windfall: McKenzie Funk Describes the Business of Climate Change (Slate)
One scenario, called “Blueprints,” envisioned an increasingly urgent and systematic global effort to cut emissions and develop cleaner technologies. Change would come from the bottom up, as individuals, corporations, and cities laid a foundation for national and international policies. The results would include carbon taxes, cap-and-trade schemes, electric cars, solar panels, and carbon-capture technology for power plants. Those actions wouldn’t stop climate change. The seas would rise, hurricanes would wreck cities, and so on. But the results wouldn’t be catastrophic.
A second scenario, called “Scramble,” envisioned the world continuing to balk at real action, because “curbing the growth of energy demand—and hence economic growth—is simply too unpopular for politicians to undertake,” as Shell’s scenario planners put it in an interview with Funk. Coal and biofuels would drive the growth of developing countries, choking the air and driving up food prices. While Indonesia and Brazil were mowing down rainforests to grown palm oil and sugarcane, Canada and the United States would turn their attention toward “unconventional oil projects” like Canada’s tar sands.
As Funk puts it, “The hardest truth about climate change is that it is not equally bad for everyone.”
Climate activists would grow increasingly shrill, but the general public would suffer “alarm fatigue.” Rich and poor nations would deadlock over who should do what as emissions spiraled past 550 parts per million. (In 2013 they reached 400 ppm for the first time—a frightening milestone.) At that point the impacts of climate change would be too great to ignore—but it would be too late to do much about it. In the final stage of the Scramble scenario, the planners wrote, “An increasing fraction of economic activity and innovation is ultimately directed towards preparing for the impact of climate change.”
Shell typically does not take a stand on which of its scenarios it would prefer to see realized. It simply hedges its bets so it will be ready to profit, or at least survive, no matter what...Still, it raises an awkward question: How does a company that once called for urgent action on climate change justify capitalizing on its own emissions by plumbing the Arctic for yet more crude oil? Funk’s book suggests a troubling answer. Since Shell’s 2008 report, governments have failed to pass serious climate policies, global emissions have continued to soar, investment in clean energy remains mocked by the mainstream media, and there’s little sign of progress in sight. By 2012 Funk asked Shell’s top scenario planner if the future was looking more like Scramble than Blueprints. “Yeah,” he replied bluntly. “That’s the view.”
From Shell’s perspective, then, thoughtful climate regulation would have been preferable to a free-market free-for-all. But now that we as a society seem to be opting for the latter, Shell will be damned if it doesn’t join in and grab whatever it can. By 2012 a company executive was telling a crowd of conference-goers, “I will be one of those persons most cheering for an endless summer in Alaska.”
I see the intense and overheated focus on misbegotten tweets and malformed public utterances as displaced energy, reflecting the fact that the official political system is completely paralyzed and meaningful social and economic change seems unachievable. As I said earlier, this isn’t limited to the left: It’s easy to mock right-wing hysteria over the modest market-based reforms of Obamacare (essentially a conservative scheme in origin) or the Tea Party’s conviction that a president whose economic policies are slightly to the right of Richard Nixon is secretly a combination of Patrice Lumumba and Pol Pot. But it’s more interesting to ask why these delusions persist: Because the symbolic politics of Obama’s presidency has driven many white conservatives nuts, and because the radical downsizing of the federal government they claim to want cannot be achieved.Why we fight about Colbert and Lena Dunham: Twitter politics are all we have left (Salon)
Beltway politics are dominated by passionate and often outrageous partisan rhetoric, which cannot quite conceal the fact that Congress has become a useless, paralytic institution that can’t get anything done. Power lies elsewhere, and remains inaccessible. In a similar fashion, angry wars of words between and among self-styled progressives on the Internet do not entirely camouflage the relative powerlessness of everyone involved. Getting into a comments-thread battle or a Twitter-lather about Colbert’s bad joke or Lena Dunham’s fashion-magazine shoot or whatever other outrage du jour conveys a temporary feeling of pseudo-power, much as watching MSNBC (or Fox News) crow about the idiocy of the other side is pseudo-participation in a pseudo-democracy.
...We can’t do anything about worsening inequality or the poisoned planet or the total defeat of the labor movement or the broken immigration system or the incarceration of young black men. Our country is too “divided,” we can’t make up our minds about anything. The power to change those things, supposedly vouchsafed to us in the Constitution, has migrated somewhere else. But we can drive Gilbert Gottfried off Twitter for being such an enormous asshole. Change we can believe in.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science came as close as such a respectable institution can to screaming an alarm last week. "As scientists, it is not our role to tell people what they should do," it said as it began one of those sentences that you know will build to a "but". "But human-caused climate risks abrupt, unpredictable and potentially irreversible changes."The climate change deniers have won (Guardian)
In other words, the most distinguished scientists from the country with the world's pre-eminent educational institutions were trying to shake humanity out of its complacency. Why weren't their warnings leading the news?
Tempting though it is to blame cowardly politicians, the abuse comes too easily. The question remains: what turned them into cowards? Rightwing billionaires in the United States and the oil companies have spent fortunes on blocking action on climate change. A part of the answer may therefore be that conservative politicians in London, Washington and Canberra are doing their richest supporters' bidding. There's truth in the bribery hypothesis. In my own little world of journalism, I have seen rightwing hacks realise the financial potential of denial and turn from reasonable men and women into beetle-browed conspiracy theorists.
I am no better than them. I could write about the environment every week. No editor would stop me. But the task feels as hopeless as arguing against growing old. Whatever you do or say, it is going to happen. How can you persuade countries to accept huge reductions in their living standards to limit (not stop) the rise in temperatures? How can you persuade the human race to put the future ahead of the present?
The American historians of science Naomi Oreskes and Eril M Conway quoted a researcher, who was asked in the 1970s what his country's leaders said when he warned them that C02 levels would double in 50 years. "They tell me to come back in 49 years," he replied.
Have you ever felt yourself slip into an existential funk in which ask, “Why the fuck should I even care? Why the fuck should I try?” I mean what’s the point? Many of us have been long disenchanted with Religion, Politics, Love and pretty much every other institution of this mad consensus reality that we call life.Why should we try? (Disinfo)
Take for instance the viewpoint of Nisargadatta Maharaj, a Spiritual teacher in the Advaita Vedanta tradition in his exchange with an interviewer:
Q: There is suffering and bloodshed in East Pakistan at the present moment. How do you look at it? How does it appear to you, how do you react to it?
M: In pure consciousness nothing ever happens.
Q: Please come down from these metaphysical heights! Of what use is it to a suffering man to be told that nobody is aware of his suffering but himself? To relegate everything to illusion is insult added to injury. The Bengali of East Pakistan is a fact and his suffering is a fact. Please, do not analyse them out of existence! You are reading newspapers, you hear people talking about it. You cannot plead ignorance. Now, what is your attitude to what is happening?
M: No attitude. Nothing is happening.
Q: Any day there may be a riot right in front of you, perhaps people killing each other. Surely you cannot say: nothing is happening and remain aloof.
M: I never talked of remaining aloof. You could as well see me jumping into the fray to save somebody and getting killed. Yet to me nothing happened. Imagine a big building collapsing. Some rooms are in ruins, some are intact. But can you speak of the space as ruined or intact? It is only the structure that suffered and the people who happened to live in it. Nothing happened to space itself. Similarly, nothing happens to life when forms break down and names are wiped out. The goldsmith melts down old ornaments to make new. Sometimes a good piece goes with the bad. He takes it in his stride, for he knows that no gold is lost.
Q: It is not death that I rebel against. It is the manner of dying.
M: Death is natural, the manner of dying is man-made. Separateness causes fear and aggression, which again cause violence. Do away with man-made separations and all this horror of people killing each other will surely end. But in reality there is no killing and no dying. The real does not die, the unreal never lived. Set your mind right and all will be right. When you know that the world is one, that humanity is one, you will act accordingly. But first of all you must attend to the way you feel, think and live. Unless there is order in yourself, there can be no order in the world.
I bring this up because Maharaj is saying there is nothing to be done because there is nothing. ”Set your mind right and all will be right” he says as the interviewer poses the images of death and catastrophe.
So what are we to make of this idea? IF this were true, then our daily activities and cares about what present to buy x, or the immediate bill due to y mean absolutely nothing. We would be better off using our time, ‘setting our mind right’. Who wants to join a monastery with me?