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Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene - NYTimes.com
"This chorus of Jeremiahs predicts a radically transformed global climate forcing widespread upheaval — not possibly, not potentially, but inevitably. We have passed the point of no return. From the point of view of policy experts, climate scientists and national security officials, the question is no longer whether global warming exists or how we might stop it, but how we are going to deal with it."



"The challenge the Anthropocene poses is a challenge not just to national security, to food and energy markets, or to our “way of life” — though these challenges are all real, profound, and inescapable. The greatest challenge the Anthropocene poses may be to our sense of what it means to be human. Within 100 years — within three to five generations — we will face average temperatures 7 degrees Fahrenheit higher than today, rising seas at least three to 10 feet higher, and worldwide shifts in crop belts, growing seasons and population centers. Within a thousand years, unless we stop emitting greenhouse gases wholesale right now, humans will be living in a climate the Earth hasn’t seen since the Pliocene, three million years ago, when oceans were 75 feet higher than they are today. We face the imminent collapse of the agricultural, shipping and energy networks upon which the global economy depends, a large-scale die-off in the biosphere that’s already well on its way, and our own possible extinction. If homo sapiens (or some genetically modified variant) survives the next millenniums, it will be survival in a world unrecognizably different from the one we have inhabited."



"But the biggest problems the Anthropocene poses are precisely those that have always been at the root of humanistic and philosophical questioning: “What does it mean to be human?” and “What does it mean to live?” In the epoch of the Anthropocene, the question of individual mortality — “What does my life mean in the face of death?” — is universalized and framed in scales that boggle the imagination. What does human existence mean against 100,000 years of climate change? What does one life mean in the face of species death or the collapse of global civilization? How do we make meaningful choices in the shadow of our inevitable end?

These questions have no logical or empirical answers. They are philosophical problems par excellence. Many thinkers, including Cicero, Montaigne, Karl Jaspers, and The Stone’s own Simon Critchley, have argued that studying philosophy is learning how to die. If that’s true, then we have entered humanity’s most philosophical age — for this is precisely the problem of the Anthropocene. The rub is that now we have to learn how to die not as individuals, but as a civilization."



"I found my way forward through an 18th-century Samurai manual, Yamamoto Tsunetomo’s “Hagakure,” which commanded: “Meditation on inevitable death should be performed daily.” Instead of fearing my end, I owned it. Every morning, after doing maintenance on my Humvee, I’d imagine getting blown up by an I.E.D., shot by a sniper, burned to death, run over by a tank, torn apart by dogs, captured and beheaded, and succumbing to dysentery. Then, before we rolled out through the gate, I’d tell myself that I didn’t need to worry, because I was already dead. The only thing that mattered was that I did my best to make sure everyone else came back alive. “If by setting one’s heart right every morning and evening, one is able to live as though his body were already dead,” wrote Tsunetomo, “he gains freedom in the Way.”"



"The human psyche naturally rebels against the idea of its end. Likewise, civilizations have throughout history marched blindly toward disaster, because humans are wired to believe that tomorrow will be much like today — it is unnatural for us to think that this way of life, this present moment, this order of things is not stable and permanent. Across the world today, our actions testify to our belief that we can go on like this forever, burning oil, poisoning the seas, killing off other species, pumping carbon into the air, ignoring the ominous silence of our coal mine canaries in favor of the unending robotic tweets of our new digital imaginarium. Yet the reality of global climate change is going to keep intruding on our fantasies of perpetual growth, permanent innovation and endless energy, just as the reality of mortality shocks our casual faith in permanence.

The biggest problem climate change poses isn’t how the Department of Defense should plan for resource wars, or how we should put up sea walls to protect Alphabet City, or when we should evacuate Hoboken. It won’t be addressed by buying a Prius, signing a treaty, or turning off the air-conditioning. The biggest problem we face is a philosophical one: understanding that this civilization is already dead. The sooner we confront this problem, and the sooner we realize there’s nothing we can do to save ourselves, the sooner we can get down to the hard work of adapting, with mortal humility, to our new reality.

The choice is a clear one. We can continue acting as if tomorrow will be just like yesterday, growing less and less prepared for each new disaster as it comes, and more and more desperately invested in a life we can’t sustain. Or we can learn to see each day as the death of what came before, freeing ourselves to deal with whatever problems the present offers without attachment or fear.

If we want to learn to live in the Anthropocene, we must first learn how to die."
environment  royscranton  2014  anthropocene  disturbance  climatechange  iraq  collapse  civilization  hurricanesandy  hurricanekatrina  neworleans  weather  disasters  globalwarming  climate  death  fear  life  living  nola 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Politicizing Sandy · on Env
"Everything will change. The climate, our response, and my response to our response will be different in twenty years. It will never be solved. People will still die of one thing or another. There will be politics, valid and not, and wildfires, preventable and not. We have no cause to imagine that there’s an easy way to keep billions of humans healthy on a healthy planet. But we can free their hands. We can be, in Salk’s phrase, good ancestors.

There are many scenarios. The one I like best is where large groups of well-informed people, openly and as consensually as possible, accepting differences of motivation and style, build climate stewardship into the economic systems of our species.

I won’t leave you with an act now! message. I would rather you didn’t think of this as an external goal, but as something you bring everywhere – to work, in public – the way you might carry any other serious ethical commitment. The right time to start politicizing the climate is whenever you do it."
jonassalk  ethics  economics  complexity  systems  algore  climate  kolkata  nyc  bangladesh  williammorris  richardfeynman  politics  climatechange  2012  hurricanesandy  charlieloyd  stewardship 
november 2012 by robertogreco
climate urbanism: Why a climate urbanism?
"Kimmelman becomes nostalgic for the meat axe approach of infamous planner Robert Moses…

[NYC] Lost something of its nerve. It is precisely my interest in this blog to speculate and explore how urban alliances, coalitions, and governments muster that so-called nerve, and decide what to do with it. Who carries the burden of transformations to the planet? How; where?

Finally, I hope to find other alternatives—other visions—that are not as limited in their pragmatism of the city that is possible, and that are more radical in their sensibility to the ultimate culprits. What theoretical approaches can be advanced to dissect what climate change even is? What would be a critical and political memory of how we got here, how we constructed vulnerability, and how we imagine a space to facilitate a democratic environmental politics?

This blog is a notepad for now, and any non-spammy and non-trolly comments are welcome."
cities  urbanism  urban  nyc  urbanplanning  socialagency  politicalcapital  hurricanesandy  sandy  michaelkimmelman  democracy  politics  2012  blogs  robertmoses  climatechange  climate  climateurbanism  javierarbona 
november 2012 by robertogreco
Power to the People | Jacobin
"The idea of mutual aid was at the foundation of Occupy as much as the much-debated horizontalism and the opposition to the banks."

"Rebecca Solnit wrote so eloquently of the communities that arise in disaster, and Occupy was a response to a disaster itself, a slow-moving financial hurricane that destroyed homes as surely as the storm. So it shouldn’t be surprising that after Sandy moved through, the first people to jump into action were the same ones who had made things run in the park. The movement may have suffered from the lack of focus after the encampments were taken, but Sandy provided that focus and immediate needs to be provided for."

"what seemed entirely lost is the long tradition of service provision as political organizing…

political organizing and mutual aid go hand in hand, or they should… the early labor movement wasn’t just about organizing on the job but organizing in your neighborhood."
communities  community  disasters  rebeccasolnit  resilience  society  politics  politicalorganizing  action  horizontalism  mutualaid  2012  hurricanesandy  occupywallstreet  ows 
november 2012 by robertogreco
Photo by sgoralnick • Instagram [Same station that I got gas at the night before Sandy.]
"Here are a few things that I've never considered: New York is a harbor. Makes sense. We get a lot of stuff on boats. Especially big imported tanks of stuff. Like... gas. With that harbor closed due to a crippling storm that churned up the water and left all sorts of debris, deliveries get much more difficult. And a city normally so dependent on public transportation turns to cars as the main (and sometimes only) way to get around since the subway is flooded. In combination, these two simple factors have led to a massive problem: there is now a gas shortage in New York. This Hess station in my neighborhood seems like one of the few left where you can still get any. An entire lane of McGuiness Boulevard is now devoted to the line of cars waiting for their turn at the pump. Another is devoted to people arriving on foot with gas cans, hoping it will be faster or easier than clogging the road by waiting in their car. Side streets have been barricaded off by police so that people do…"
2012  deliveries  harbors  order  waiting  queues  lines  fuelshortage  shortage  greenpoint  brooklyn  nyc  gasstations  glvo  via:robinsloan  fuel  gas  sandy  hurricanesandy 
november 2012 by robertogreco

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