Remember who the enemy is
This exchange reflects so well on you both. Maybe you can’t affect the dreaded endgame, but you are modeling enlightened and compassionate communication in the meantime. Kudos to you both!
Yes, I echo the gratitude and respect expressed by others in the comments posted on Notes for the capacity you both show to perservere, to communicate and to adjust in the process of grappling with another. We all need more capacity (and determination) to learn and revise, more humility and respect -- and it is very welcome that you offer readers such good example. Thank you.
Thank you so much for sharing this. You and Bill are both good, caring humans. Thank you
I'd be interested to hear from some of the people working in the 'lifeboats'. For instance, what would Rob Hopkins from the Transition Movement make of being taken down with the mainstream?
For me the most honest and powerful episode yet for all the reasons you both gave...
One of your most important pieces, Rachel. I could feel the caring in each of you during the interview.
As for humanity's inherent behavior, it's hard to envision it while embedded in the narrative of modernity. Our vision and reasoning is filled with blind spots and illusions of what it means to be human. We can't know the past with absolute certainty, and our interpretations can't help but be stained by the dominating worldview in one way or another.
I think the most important question is whether humans are capable of social evolution. Otherwise we are trapped in behavioral stasis, and our fate is sealed regardless our intention. Maybe that's what the "Great Filter" is...a crucial boundary where a species of technological meaning makers either abandon an existentially destructive path and choose lives of abidance instead of occupation, or they go extinct.
We are going to find out. And I'm not sure if I'm privileged or cursed to be alive at this unprecedented moment of human history, brimming with consequential wonders and terrors of planetary scale.
I'm far from well-read, and have no formal education beyond what I was forced to endure. But I have a few revelatory books that I recommend, not as end-all-be-all tombs of definitive knowledge, but as starting points of inspiration, inquiry, and exploration:
"Ishmael" by Daniel Quinn
"Wetiko: Healing the Mind-Virus That Plagues Our World" by Paul Levy
"The Dawn of Everything" by David Graber & David Wengrow
No doubt there are more, I just haven't discovered them yet.
What a stimulating exchange between two people I admire amongst the greater community I admire. Education, debate and some understanding, in the always evolving journey of our planet, leaves me humbled and bleeding at the same time. It is so difficult to continue putting one foot in front of the other on a daily basis (my personal life solution, never give up!!!!!).
What a fantastic read.
Reading Bill made me think about the social anthropologists Graeber and Wengrow that challenges the Hobbesian view of the world we have been fed over the last few hundred years. Or the work of the Rockeller Foundation and resilience engineering. Both suggests humans behave very differently when confronted by catastrophes or learning to live together over 100,000+ years.
And to you Rachel about ‘we on the left’? What does that mean? Surely just another construct we have recently created? And how helpful? Nobody owns caring.
If you started on the basis that deep down in all humans is a desire to support and serve each other we might find a bit of common ground.
But there was a tonne in this I totally loved and thank you.
"Most of us on the Left are aware of its tendency to self-mutilate, to seek traitors instead of recruits."
It seems that the Right is strangely better at holding community than the Left which preaches solidarity. The Right is more forgiving of their group’s flaws, they own their evils, especially of those at the top, and vote in unison to protect them. That is the strange dilemma about the Idealist Left. It constantly strives to eliminate those evils, and that’s how it crumbles. Thank you for sharing, this is a creative challenge to write new narratives that can solve this dilemma.
"There are only nine meals between mankind and anarchy" (A. H. Lewis, 1906).
Great interchange .. you are really working through the Climate Experts Rachel !
Chilling outcome - no easy solution - and to think that we haven’t thought this through properly for society after over 100 years.
But then ... of course ... all is well as “this” is progress. “We never go backwards” ... to the time when we grew and relied upon food locally.
On a comic 😝 note - I am sorry Rachel - looks like local farmers, we and you will have to start growing our own grub after all ... and we’ll be relieved and pleased if we can do it
I truly resonate with your deep love for this world and admire your passionate inquiry into how we can make change happen.
I too had similar feelings as you towards Rees"s essentially malignant view of humanity. Is the indigenous philosophy of Ubuntu or "all my relations" purely ideological or have Indigenous cultures, who have adapted themselves, their legal and social systems and their lands to sustain large human populations in balance, achieved what we in the "modern" world are seeking for our survival? These cultures, that were deliberately destroyed by Christian colonisers to extract resources and labour under the guise of bringing civilisation to the savages, maintain 80% of biodiversity. (I know that you know this).
Along these lines one person you might want to interview is Joe Brewer who is leading a rapidly developing movement called "Regenerating Earth" coming from a position of how to survive imminant collapse. Also prof Jem Bendell if Cumbria University "Breaking Together" who has surmised that the collapse has already begun and how we need to learn to live independently together.
Thank you for all that you do
I used to interview youth environmental leaders from all over the globe.
They almost always came from a privileged position within their societies (barriers to "international activism" for the "ordinary" person are just too high). And these (wonderful) youth environmental leaders almost all embarked on very similar metaphorical journeys. From a starting point of anger and panic (which got them involved in activism), they slowly became captured by the institutionalising process, whereby they ended up taking the "party line" and pulling back from their earlier "too radical or being politically out-to-lunch" positions.
This understandable emotional behavioural response is inspired by all kinds of subtle social reasons, but it's a scarily common response, even from a self-selecting group of "radical" activists who dedicate their time to communicating just how precarious our circumstances actually are.
There seems to be a sort of unconscious insertion of a hierarchical social structure (thanks agricultural revolution!) that takes it upon itself to speak for the "others" (who apparently don't have the expertise or even right to engage). Mainstream opposition to any radical change is so incredibly powerful that it permeates throughout places you'd not except.
But possibly, the most radical thing "we" might consider is flipping the hierarchy. Of course there is no "We". There are only competing groups battling in an landscape of limited resources (welcome to The Market), but the most interesting and imaginative thinking happens when you're cut free from the institutionalising process. None of my interviewees would say anything too radical on-air for (reasonable) fear that that would be the end of the line for them.
But when it comes to "us" making long-term, painful choices today, based on most-likely future conditions within our highly unequal societies, I hold out no hope whatsoever. On the other hand, short-term less painful choices based on past circumstances and current levels of inequality, seem very popular and I have no doubt that's the path we'll continue following.
This was indeed difficult to watch, one global thinker, and one seeing action happen.
Keeping both in the line of sight at the same time is an impossible task.
And it gets worse when someone acknowledges the good action happening, and ending the acknowledgement with a "you'll still fail with the others despite your local success". That was my sense of the interview, and indeed is what is mentioned in the exchange you posted.
Its akin to telling a someone who argues "we'll just go hunting until stuff settles" that worldwide there is enough wild animals to feed humanity for about month. Less in civilized parts of the world, and discounting cost of access to said animals. And thinking about it, this number would need to be wrong by two orders of magnitude for the error to make a difference...
I'd recommend you have an exchange with Eliot Jacobson of https://climatecasino.net/ for a better insight into the mindset "we need to do everything, we will do it, and we'll still fail".
James Hansen's new paper (https://arxiv.org/abs/2212.04474 ) heavily mentions our reliance on a future "Miracle technology" to save us from our global predicament.
And don't worry, it probably won't all crumble away in one fell swoop. John Michael Greer ( https://www.ecosophia.net/ ) has many essays on the collapse of various societies. Remeber: Rome wasn't built in a day. The Roman Empire took centuries to collapse.
Bless you both for the persons you have each become; the persons you shared yourselves so openly with all of us. We need more persons of depth to openly share their depth so that we al might be fed and learn to cooperate with our own evolution as persons and as carriers of MTI culture. Our culture cannot evolve without us. (And of course, it is not nearly enough for just us to evolve as if we are not embedded in our culture.)
AND... you both had the wit and courage to fight over an central issue that is not yet argued fully or nearly deeply enough: in one language: to what extent do we -- H sapiens sapiens -- have or can we develop degrees of freedom from being merely products of evolution and the times (form of civilization and the culture which exemplifies it) into which we were born? To me this is still an open question. It is clear to me that MTI cultures, including its science, does not yet fully "get" us as physical, biological persons who live by relationships with some degrees of agency.
Thank you both.
Astounding you people have the energy to get through the day with heavy medication. On every level of society, the world works closer and more efficiently than ever before. We produce more with less emissions on many scales. The US emitted roughly the same Co2 emissions in 1970 as it does today...though the economy is nearly 30 times larger (not factoring in inflation...still quite impressive). China burns more coal than the rest of the world combined, yet even their emissions are dropping as the poor earn more and have the time and resources to care more. More people live freer today, with greater resources, medical and scientific advancements, greater human and civil rights than at ANY time in our history. Our dogs and cats live better than more humans did 100 years ago.
Go out and take in a deep breath of air, it is cleaner today than when you were a child and smile...your doing OK.
And when you have a realistic alternative to today’s economy and resource management, let us all know.
Watch "The Lost Century" from Steven Greer!