Building With the Future in Mind Since 1955

Rick Dubrow’s “On The Level” Column in the Cascadia Weekly; Published 9-12-07

Two weeks ago my column entitled “Know Thyself” asked you to consider just how much you believe the dire reports regarding the health of our environment and, therefore, just how far you’re willing to go to change your own ecological footprint.  To what degree do you believe in the upcoming, perfect storm of peak oil, climate change and increasing inequity? Will it really affect you, and how hard will it hit?

 I offered you four rather simplistic frameworks from which to choose. What do you believe?

1. Denial:  you simply don’t believe all the hype or you feel powerless so why bother changing; business as usual is just fine.

2. Technological fix: you’re convinced that society will find another fix we can hardly even imagine; business as usual is just fine.

3. Curtailment: you believe the facts and know you must act, so you’re downsizing as rapidly as you can.  You ‘no thyself’.

4. Collapse: you’ve concluded that we’re already in system overshoot, perhaps, so why bother changing your ways? Just enjoy the ride; business as usual is just fine.

 Numerous readers have asked me to tell my own truth:  where am I along this continuum? Know myself!

You asked for it so here goes…………..

 I’m terrified.

Yes, I believe the science.  I believed the Union of Concerned Scientists when, in Nov. 1992, they released their “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity”, telling us that ‘fundamental changes are urgent…. if vast human misery is to be avoided and our global home on this planet is not to be irretrievably mutilated.’  This warning was endorsed by some 1,700 scientists at that time, including 104 Nobel laureates — the majority of the living recipients of the Prize in the sciences.

 Yes, I believe that every one of us needs to downsize – curtail – aggressively and quickly. The scientific data is changing rapidly and there seems to be consensus that the damage is worse than previously thought and the pace of deterioration is accelerating. George Monbiot has been studying and writing about global warming for over twenty years and is the author of the 2006 book entitled Heat. He explains that because of recent scientific discoveries the book already needs an extreme update. “What I thought were rather bold and revolutionary proposals ….don’t go nearly far enough. Those proposals have been superseded and we need to start thinking on a different scale altogether……….  And I’m afraid the second uncomfortable message I have to put out to you … is that when it comes to dealing with a problem of this scale, small is no longer beautiful. We have to start thinking on the biggest possible terms…. We have very, very little time in which to act…. to bring about the largest economical and political transformation the world has ever seen.”

Yes, I believe we’re banging on the door of environmental collapse, if collapse is defined as overshoot to the point of irreversibility.  We’re touching a doorway we simply don’t know much about.

My own activism is driven by these beliefs; I’m not driven to inaction or paralysis.  To the contrary, a close friend recently diagnosed me with CIS (Chronic Involvement Syndrome).  I, for one, will not go down without trying.

 I believe that the scale and speed of curtailment we need to thrive needs leadership and political will as far from today’s offerings as I could possibly imagine.

 No, I’m not hopeful.  The barriers blocking “… the largest economical and political transformation the world has ever seen” seem overwhelming.

My greatest hope is that I’m wrong.

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