Thread for Those Worried About the State of the World
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17-01-2018, 06:07 AM
RE: Thread for Those Worried About the State of the World
(17-01-2018 01:47 AM)Szuchow Wrote:  I would say that protest remained somewhat potent political tool.

And double-edged sword. E.g. Charlottesville.

We'll love you just the way you are
If you're perfect -- Alanis Morissette
(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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17-01-2018, 06:21 AM
RE: Thread for Those Worried About the State of the World
(17-01-2018 06:07 AM)morondog Wrote:  
(17-01-2018 01:47 AM)Szuchow Wrote:  I would say that protest remained somewhat potent political tool.

And double-edged sword. E.g. Charlottesville.

No need for Charlottesville. Protests can be easily shown as destructive events when media are in hands of ruling clique.

The first revolt is against the supreme tyranny of theology, of the phantom of God. As long as we have a master in heaven, we will be slaves on earth.

Mikhail Bakunin.
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17-01-2018, 08:46 AM
RE: Thread for Those Worried About the State of the World
(16-01-2018 10:49 PM)Kaneda Wrote:  
(16-01-2018 10:19 PM)JDog554 Wrote:  World always has been shit, world is shit and world will always be shit. Spend so much time worrying about the bad things that could but may never happen, you miss out on all the good things you can make happen.

Thank you for that. I mean it.

I love what you chose to do for your signature, by the way.

You're welcome.

Thanks. Nishi was an inspiration.

"If you keep trying to better yourself that's enough for me. We don't decide which hand we are dealt in life, but we make the decision to play it or fold it" - Nishi Karano Kaze

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17-01-2018, 10:21 AM
RE: Thread for Those Worried About the State of the World
I worry that they will eventually have to give a shit.
My energies go toward taking care of my family and having a modest bit of space to relax.
I admit that I try not to think about the tide that will eventually find it's way to my door no matter what I do. And I really worry about my kids.

But I've found a certain peace in the attitude that George Carlin had.

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17-01-2018, 11:12 AM
RE: Thread for Those Worried About the State of the World
Giving up and retreating into being "mere spectators" is an insufficient response when we are ourselves a part of the problem. In the case of climate change, for instance, we are all involved, so every little effort can make a little difference.
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17-01-2018, 12:47 PM
RE: Thread for Those Worried About the State of the World
(16-01-2018 09:36 PM)Kaneda Wrote:  Sometimes I wonder if the ubiquity of the internet has stymied the culture of civic protest around the world. When everybody has a platform to air their grievances right at their fingertips, it can be easy, or even downright tempting, for most of us to make our voices heared and feel like we’re forwarding a cause without ever leaving the house.

But then you look at the way it's been harnessed in Iran and elsewhere to help organize protests. Matter of fact, the authorities in Iran recently shut down several apps because they were being used for planning the protests.

It's all in how you use it.
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21-01-2018, 11:19 AM
RE: Thread for Those Worried About the State of the World
"Depression and anxiety afflict Americans who are concerned with the fate of the environment, according to a study of the mental health effects of climate change. Most hard-hit are women and people with low incomes who worry about the planet’s long-term health, said the study published this week in the journal Global Environmental Change. Symptoms include restless nights, feelings of loneliness and lethargy. 'Climate change is a persistent global stressor,' said Sabrina Helm, lead author of the paper and professor of family and consumer sciences at the University of Arizona."

"Signs of depression do not appear in people concerned about climate change’s risks to humanity but do appear in people worried about its impact on other species, plants and nature overall, the research said. The study pulled from 342 online surveys of respondents whose views broadly reflect the wider U.S. population, it said."
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14-03-2018, 02:20 PM (This post was last modified: 14-03-2018 03:08 PM by Kaneda.)
RE: Thread for Those Worried About the State of the World
I want to try and keep this thread updated every so often for anyone who might get something out of it. For today I’m just going to leave a relevant op-ed here in case anyone wants to engage with it. I personally found it to be fairly profound and think the author speaks well to a general audience in this, as is usually the case with him.

As someone whose seen his fair share of cynical opportunism in the news media and waded though a lot of questionable reporting, I find the author’s straightforward style, inured wisdom and relentless political skepticism very refreshing. The guy never fails to get me to log in for a healthy bit of topical commentary, or the occasional think-piece, on a regular basis. I’d highly recommend checking his blog out if the thought ever passes you by.

By Ian Welsh

“For those who think ahead, for those who are empathetic, for those who work for justice or kindness, the world can be a horrible place.
We look around and we see the decline of nations. We see people dying, being tortured, being raped who need not die or suffer. We look to the environment and we see that species are being killed so fast we’re in the middle of a great die-off; or we look to the biosphere and the oxygen cycle and we worry that we could see a collapse of both.

We know that much of the suffering in the world is needless; that there is more than enough food to feed everyone, that many wars are wars of choice which hurt many to enrich a very few, and we know that many who brutalize others are receiving no security or even money in return. We look at how prisoners are treated in jail, and we know that the primitive lust for vengeance is creating monsters for we understand the cycle of abuse: Those who are abused, become abusers.

We see the rise of a surveillance state that may eventually cause the Stasi to look like amateurs and which is already more sophisticated than anything Orwell imagined. We see that the masses of the people in the developed world are being impoverished, generation after generation. And worse, we see our own efforts at stopping all of this fail. We worry that our efforts are not even slowing the worst of it.

And for many of us it hits home closer. We, or our loved ones, are among those suffering: losing our lives, homes, livelihoods, or living lives of despair.

For years, I lived in a state of rage. Not even anger, but rage. Rage at those like Bush and Blair who were mass murderers. Rage at those who did not stop them but could have. Rage at those who believed all the lies, whether those lies were about economics, war, or crime.

I see many who come to my blog, a place where scenarios are explored which are both bleak, and often, very likely, giving into despair or rage themselves. The world is big, the powers that are leading it to ruin are overwhelming, and we look out on a future which seems to get worse and worse the further ahead of us it is. Even countries now on the rise, like China, will suffer massively in the decades to come.

It is perfectly natural to be angry. It is even useful to be angry. Anger or rage are adrenaline shots to the system. They push you to do what must be done; to tell the truth; to push ahead, to tackle the big enemies.
But they are toxic in the long run. Like adrenaline, they are useful for shots of energy, but if you are angry all the time at anything, it will hurt your body and eventually your mind. You will burn out, and if you aren’t lucky, you may burn out permanently or you may die.

Despair is also rational. I am aware of studies which show that depression is about 10X more frequent today than it was about a century ago, based on methodology I find reasonable. Life today sucks. We are almost all close to powerless in our daily lives: We work for wages, without those wages we will suffer greatly, and to get those wages we must do what our bosses say, no matter how noxious their demands. It takes two people to earn a living where it once took one, and wealth and income are collapsing in the first and most of the third world ex-China; while the Chinese are under the immense pressure that industrialization produces.

Anger gets us going, until we burn out. Despair enervates us. We turn often to drugs, whether pharmaceutical or to more subtle opiates like television or computer games. Too often we do not change our circumstances: We see no way out, and en masse we aren’t necessarily wrong. Leave one job, and even if you find another, it will be run by the same sort of people who run almost all of Western business, outside of a few European countries.

All of this is understandable. In a certain sense it is even rational.
But a hot cup of chocolate on a frosty night is still sweet.
As bad as things are, so much of the world is as it always has been. The still contentment of sitting with one you love, saying nothing is still available. The sunset is still beautiful, and if there are fewer birds, their trills still delight.

The flowers are as beautiful, the russet and scarlet leaves of fall still adorn the trees, and a clean drink of water still refreshes. Children playing still bring a smile to my face, and I still enjoy pulling a comforter up and cracking open a new book. There are still beautiful women and handsome men, there is still kindness and charity in the world; there is still art to make and books to write and songs to sing.

In a myriad of ways, there is still beauty and happiness to be found in the world. We are not the first culture to face decline. The Roman Empire went through multiple periods of decline and stoics and epicureans debated how to live the good life in an evil world. The Chinese practically had dealing with declining and corrupt imperial eras and warring states periods down to an art: When no good could be done in the world, one returned to one’s private life to write poetry, drink wine, and care for those close to one while refusing as much as possible to be complicit in the evil of the times.
Others strove still to be of public service, to hold off the rush of night for a few more years, or even a generation, knowing that what came after would be worse.

But I say to you now this: Endless anger or despair, or a mixture of both do you no good. Soon, they do do your enemies no harm (and yes, they are enemies) and they serve not your chosen cause unless you’re willing to risk permanent burn-out.

And besides, where’s the fun in being miserable? No matter how bad the times, there will always be good periods, moments and beauty and happiness in which to delight. The wine is as sweet in evil times as good; love is perhaps even sweeter in times of despair; and beauty never dies and can always be found, if only, sometimes, in our own minds.
It’s banal to say we’re here for a short time, but it’s true. Fight the good fight, to be sure, but then delight in the sensual pleasures and love this world offers.

And give yourself permission to quit. There are seven billion people in the world. It’s not on all on you. The graveyards are full of essential men: The world will continue without you, and it’s not all on you. Take the breaks you need, even quit if you must. Above all, don’t let the bastards see you sweat, and don’t let them take away your enjoyment of the real pleasures that life offers.”

(Originally published October 27, 2014. Republished March 27, 2017. Republished Again, March 10, 2018)
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16-07-2018, 11:28 AM (This post was last modified: 16-07-2018 11:34 AM by Kaneda.)
RE: Thread for Those Worried About the State of the World
Climate change is behind the global heat wave. Why won't the media say it?

JUL 15, 2018 | 4:10 AM

[Image: la-1531505346-5gaamirllf-snap-image]The sun rises over Burbank on a triple digit day. (Richard Vogel/Associated Press)

Last week’s heat wave brought record temperatures to Southern California. Hot winds blew fire into my community in Santa Barbara County, ripping through a dozen homes and threatening hundreds more.

I tuned into the local news channel, where reporters reminded viewers that we had just finished a record-breaking fire season. They strained to list all the fires we’d had over the past decade. There were too many to recall.

Fires are happening a lot more often across California. You can’t accurately call it a fire “season” anymore. The season is year-round.

But journalists who report on the fires or heat waves rarely acknowledge this reality. Last week, the local newscasters in my area never did, even though it has a very familiar name: climate change.

The same is true of the media at large. Although it reports on each fresh disaster — every fire, every hurricane, every flood — it tends to stop short of linking extreme weather events to global warming, as though the subject were the exclusive province of reporters on the climate beat.

As a result, we’re missing what is arguably the biggest story of all: The climate we knew is no more. We’ve already warmed the planet, whether we deny it or not.

It’s not hard to spot global warming in the news. If you’re looking, its marks are everywhere. Right now, southern Japan is flooded. Two months’ worth of rain fell in five days, a day’s worth in an hour. Mudslides followed. More than 200 are dead, more are missing, millions are displaced.

But to get the larger story about extreme weather events, you have to read between the headlines.

There is no sound justification for this. Not anymore. Scientists have been churning out evidence of human-caused climate change for more than a century. Some are figuring out exactly how much to blame global warming for any given weather event. They're getting really good at it.

We can now link many recent disasters and weather events to climate change. We know, for instance, that more than three-quarters of moderate heat waves are connected to warming. We also know that, were it not for climate change, fires in the West would have burned half as much land since the 1980s. Scientists have been documenting the increase in extreme rain events in Japan since the early 1990s.

The science is clear. Journalists need to start using it.

There are reasons they haven’t. Reporters are trained to distinguish weather from climate. They are also conditioned to avoid the appearance of political bias, and a decades-long campaign to sow doubt about global warming has cast a partisan aura on the facts.

But with a bit of nuance, journalists can carefully identify the pattern. Any weather event has multiple causes. More and more, climate change is one of them, and its share of blame is growing.

The public is not entirely in the dark. In fact, research by Peter D. Howe, a geographer at Utah State University, shows that 60% of people in 89 countries correctly perceive that temperatures where they live have warmed over time. According to a study by the political scientists Matto Mildenberger and Dustin Tingley, most Americans underestimate how many people share their belief that climate change is real. Most of us know this is not a drill, and most of us want our government to do more.

We all need to do more. Countries around the world need to go beyond the commitments made in Paris. We need more wind and solar energy. We need states to keep nuclear plants open when they are safe, because they already produce clean energy. We need to stop rolling back renewable energy laws, as my research has documented in Ohio, Texas and Arizona.

But we won’t do any of this until we can see what’s happening. Journalists play a critical role in helping the public to make these connections. They need to start telling the whole story.

Leah C. Stokes (@leahstokes) is an assistant professor of environmental politics at UC Santa Barbara.
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31-07-2018, 07:07 PM
RE: Thread for Those Worried About the State of the World
The Dark Humanities
Cosmic Comfort in the Anthropocene

Maya Silver writes about the environment and food. She's a fellow in the Environmental Humanities at the University of Utah and also the author of My Parent Has Cancer and it Really Sucks. She lives in a log cabin in Kamas, Utah.
17th July, 2017

I’ve always gazed skyward at night, searching for solace in the vastness of space. I rise at odd hours to catch meteor showers. I appal friends when I explain why I’d sign up for a one-way trip to Mars. And if I could resurrect one person from the dead to invite for dinner and apple pie, it would be astrophysicist Carl Sagan. (‘If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe,’ Sagan once quipped to make the point that a pie is not just flour, butter, and your filling of choice, but atoms, molecules, and stardust.)
I find myself turning to space and the wisdom of astronomers like Sagan more and more as the climate crisis worsens. But the relevance of the great beyond to environmental destruction extends past cosmic therapy. We tell stories about aliens invading Earth to colonise our covetable planet and steal its natural resources. The inhospitality of neighbouring planets like Venus reminds us of the value of our home. And some consider an extraterrestrial colony our literal Plan B in the face of climate catastrophe. At the dawn of the Anthropocene with an increasingly chaotic climate, how do our views on the universe continue to evolve?

The term ‘Environmental Humanities’ describes writing and art that explores nature — but the focus tends to favour a landlubber’s perspective. In 2013, John R. Gillis coined the term ‘Blue Humanities’ for the eco-study of the vast world of the sea. But what about humanity’s reckoning with our larger environment, our ultimate home?

Introducing the Dark Humanities — an intellectual domain for dark times. The term I’ve proposed also evokes the mystery epitomised by dark matter. We know so little about space and its cryptic vastness stupefies us, humbles us, and can even soothe us. The Dark Humanities serves as a container for the thoughts of H.G. Wells, Neil deGrasse Tyson and other sci-fi writers and astronomers weighing in on our planet and its larger context. It’s also my own preferred form of climate crisis therapy.

One of the cornerstone subjects of this new sub-discipline is cosmic time and scale, which provide reassurance in moments of environmental distress. When I look up, I’m reminded of the age of the universe: 13.8 billion years. The Milky Way’s arm arcing across the sky reminds us of our humble place in the expanse of space. We are small fish contemplating a great bridge.

When we look skyward, we are also peering back in time. If nuclear weapons detonated our planet, it would take just over four years before the sight of the explosion reached the not-too-distant star Proxima Centauri. Studying a single star is like reading an old letter that floated across the sea to reach you:

Dear You,
Enjoy this vision of myself from 6.24 years ago. This is your nightly reminder of the epic breadth of space. Distances are great. Time is inconceivably massive. The short-lived mistakes of your species are but a blip in space time. There will be a new chapter — a better read — if not on your planet, then in some other corner of the universe. Cheer up.

Of course, the next chapter for ‘earthlings’ might play out light years away from our home planet. The question of relocating humans after we fully trash Earth is one the Dark Humanities must address. A century in the future, we may find ourselves in exile on Elon Musk’s million-person SpaceX colony on Mars. The future colonists will peer back at our ruined planet through a telescope with a light-year-long sigh.

Techno-optimists actually cite space colonisation as a reason not to fret over our environmental anxieties. When asked about global warming, Libertarian 2016 presidential candidate Gary Johnson suggested space travel as a viable solution: ‘We do have to inhabit other planets,’ he stated in a TV interview.

I’m all for space exploration, but not in lieu of protecting our own planet. Many bank on our ability to overcome the inhospitable conditions on Mars. Some feel confident we’ll discover another version of Earth close enough to ferry supplies and large populations to. Yet all of these prospects are far riskier, far more expensive than fixing the environmental ills we’ve created here on Earth.

Plans for space settlement might even transform humans into the colonising, resource-plundering cosmic creatures we’ve long envisioned in films. H.G. Wells gave us one of our earliest depictions of aliens in his 1898 novel War of the Worlds. ‘Yet across the gulf of space,’ he wrote, ‘minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.’

As a growth-oriented, technology-obsessed society swinging the wrecking ball at our own planet, humans are beginning to resemble Wells’s envious Martians and other similar depictions of extraterrestrials. The alien invasion narrative might just be a Freudian cautionary tale about our own species — an eerily familiar story that hits close to home planet.
If we don’t manage to develop viable colonies cosmically abroad to salvage humanity, we may also try our luck at cracking a wormhole transit corridor. We could voyage back in time to the ’70s to institute a carbon tax, obviating the need to pursue Planet Bs in the first place.

To those who don’t place blind faith in technology’s ability to extricate humans from the environmental mess we’ve made, spirituality can at least offer a coping mechanism. That’s why cosmic spirituality is an important branch of the Dark Humanities — how can we find comfort in the night sky and all that it signifies, as some do on an excursion to forest or sea?

As an environmentalist, I often wish religion had a place in my life. A deep belief in divinity and kismet might impart a sense of calm. As agnostics, my sister and I joke that space is our religion and the late Carl Sagan our god. We talk of starting a cult of Saganism to worship the enigmas of the cosmos and the sage preaching of Sagan, who also regarded science as a form of religion. ‘Science is not only compatible with spirituality,’ he wrote, ‘it is a profound source of spirituality.’

For environmentalists who consider themselves atheist or agnostic, cosmic spirituality offers a source of solace. But at the same time, cosmic perspective also reminds us that our ‘pale blue dot’, as Sagan refers to Earth, is still the only known viable planet on which humans can eke out a living.

In this sense, a cosmic philosophy offers something of a paradox to the environmentalist. The reassuring perspective of space-time scale instils us with a sense of calm about our present predicament. Concurrently, the knowledge that Earth is the only planet we have fills us with urgency.

Tackling the climate crisis in the 21st century means striking a balance. We must do all that we can to prevent and adapt to the riskier world wrought by the Anthropocene. But to stay sane and effective, we must also think like Carl Sagan. In the colossal scheme of the cosmos, the climate crisis — like everything else — is relative.

When outrage at the injustice of environmental destruction does get the better of me, I think of the soundtrack of the first 750,000 years of the universe post-Big Bang. University of Washington astrophysicist John G. Cramer rendered a recording from cosmic microwave background data gathered by the Planck satellite mission. You can listen here.

Imagine how glorious it would be to drown out the voices of international politicians engaged in their annual unproductive climate talks with this sound. Obliterate the whining of the remaining climate sceptics as they seal the end of the Holocene and its hospitable climate with this cosmic song of beginning.
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