Thursday, September 28, 2006

swat aym towking bowt

"umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu" means 'a person is only a person through their relationship to others' OR 'My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in what is yours.' --- (according to Archbishop Desmond Tutu)
It's Big Willy's latest pickup line... but the fucker is right, we're all in silent contract with each other. This is a key to a thought that struck me yesterday: accepting X is inherent to the promotion of X (pretty straight forward). For example, promoting Socialism implies that the promoter believes -to some extent- that we are already enmeshed in a system of social interdependency. Environmental conservationalism implies the tacit acceptance that the environment is endangered. The extension of this is what interests me: if, by whatever manner, acceptance of an idea enters collective conception, promotion of the idea will proliferate, perhaps even autonomously. Too bad there're so many competing Xs on the planet. Or maybe there aren't enough.


Eve said...

I agree. But I think it's also important - in order for change to occur, or at least to find wide support - that issues ally themselves with other issues and become relevant to on a larger scale. Environmentalism, for example, makes itself relevant when it is economically beneficial to invest in, like in alternate sources of energy when the price of oil is elevated (hypothetically of course.) NOT dolphin safe tuna, etc. Targeting one species for protection, although it garners grade school support (think manatees) does not change behavior or the groupthink/collective judgment of society until it becomes relevant. The environmentalists need to go mainstream and hire some motherfucking brilliant marketers. And some really persuasive lobbyists.

Jordan said...

Lobby groups representing the natural resources and environment sectors are some of the largest, biggest spending, and successful in Washington. Environmentalists need to go mainstream? Eve, wtf, do you live in a soundproof isolation chamber? Environmentalists have the entirety of the mainstream media at their biodegradable disposal. Maybe their megaphones are pointed more directly towards Seattle, but to pretend like they/you are some sort of oppressed minority who don't have a voice is hokey. I get your point about single-issue spotted owl stuff being amateurish, but these are old tactics and are not the focus of policy issues today, which must determine how best to dismantle the entirety of the American economy to halt the atmospheric concentration of a harmless gas from rising much above 370 parts per million.

S'Mat said...

ok jordan, i'll take the hippie-bait..
Can you say the same about natural resource/environment protection groups though? The EPA's been stacked with political stooges (Christine Whitman: a funny lady. among her previous accolades, she removed the excise tax on professional wrestling. currently, resides as EPA administrator. she is largely responsible for the scrapping of the report indicating human involvement in global warming). The evidence of the corruption of the supposed principles of the EPA goes deep.
It is safe to declare a few things: that environmentalism is indeed at scientific odds with industry (a dollar now is worth more than a dollar later... eg:,12271,1046388,00.html); US federal debt is heading towards insolvency (meaning the economy is not that hot in the first place... shit, Congress just raised the debt ceiling to $9 trillion, as the US has never been seen to default. italy liquidated much of its US holdings due to the double threat of weak trade deficit and national debt); economy is only an abstract expression of ecological function, and therefore necessarily dependent on it; single-issues are spectacular, and generally how the public is informed about everything to stoke further interest; who in their right mind would argue that the entirety of American economy should be dismantled? how about 'bettered'. AND finally, though CO2 is directly harmless (or even arguably beneficial) at it's current mean level of 381 ppm (at almost 100ppm higher than any other point in the last 800,000 years), its correlation with the steady rise in temperatures is alarming and though perhaps viewable as only circumstantial evidence, has not been proven to be wrong: CO2 absorbs infrared radiation, prohibiting the cooling processes of the earth. this could be natural, but the incidence and hypertrophy of CO2, data collected showing the affects of the industrial revolution and the rapid acceleration of climate temperatures is good enough for me. so i'll change my behaviour and purchasing power accordingly.

Jordan said...

Alright Tom, now that I've got someone on the line (anyone will do...though I think, by association, you've called Eve a hippy in stepping in for her, but then, she is in France, so...), I'll take the opportunity to preach. I'm going to skip the EPA because I don't think you've made a decent argument if your intent was to show that this government agency is environmentally dishonest because it has had republican chairpersons (and CW is not the EPA chairdude anymore), and furthermore because it exists to protect the public from the environment, not vice versa, and its success at its job is a different topic that I really haven't thought much about so I'll avoid your first question if you'll allow it. My point wrt the environmental movement is simply that, in opposition to Eve's statement, they have a loud and clear voice and that I often disagree with their position. I did overstate the "dismantling..." point, but I would hesitate to call the policy propositions of environmentalists attempts at bettering the american economy. I say this because I don't think that bettering (unless by bettering you mean "placing more restrictions on") the american economy is their professed goal. In fact, the entirety of my enmity towards them is because I think it is their unstated position to do the exact opposite under the guise of environmental activism. This may sound conspiratorial, but it is rather conspicuous that their desired regulations are the same old song and dance sung and danced originally by a one Mr. Karl Marx, which I don't feel are in the best interest of the american economy. This might just reflect, as respectfully as I can put it, our distinct philosphical differences on the subject; but, of course, you're wrong and I'm right, so what am I to do? I'll start by agreeing that there is some concern over the size of the US debt, however the Economist likes to make sure that this is viewed relative to the GDP, which makes the US debt rather unremarkable. And I think we might agree that the problem (who's size we probably disagree upon) IS government, given its current size and the inevitablity of any government's economic inefficiency. But, I think that using Italy (ITALY?!)'s faith in the US economy as any sort of reliable measure of it's stability is facetious. More significant economic measures (GDP increases, unemployment, foreign investment) lead me to have a measured confidence in its stability that I expect will be proven correct over time, regardless of who holds political office (though better in the hands of Republicans, right). The crux here is whether this is necessarily at odds with environmentalism, as you say it is. I should state my position here directly, so as to avoid various presumptions: I honestly believe that societies (and by proxy, governments) can not really go wrong by investing in their environment. Historically, those that don't die an ugly death (ie, easter island), and those that do (ie. Japan's reforestation efforts in the 17th century) are successful. I think this notion fits well with your original post here, however I believe the methods to achieve this should not be top down. Indeed, I think that socialism should never be a form of government but that the ideals can be useful if applied to the inherent necessity of respectful cooperation in society for a collective desired purpose. And this is why I really dislike the pompousness of socialists who wish to enforce their views on society through government and who smugly disdain the actions of others. As you implied, power resides in each individual to make their own choices, and social change is always a generational process because in 100 years virtually no one who is on Earth now will still be here (ie. "I'm not your child, don't tell me how to live"...which is why the low reproductivity of the western world is so alarming, and if socialists were really concerned about the long-term safety of our planet they should go out and breed; and you know which societies have the lowest birth rates right? Yep, the most socialist ones). Ok, now I'm way off topic, but back to the threat of global warming. Two things bug me about this, both of which Graham thinks are "unscientific", and he might be right: 1) It is unscientific of me to consider data that refutes the process of global warming and its percieved anthropogenic causes. For example, there are temperature fluctuations that do not correlate with CO2 levels (ie. "green"land). Also, there are arguments over the confidence in historical CO2 level measurements, especially ice core data and radiocarbon dating techniques. To contradict myself completely here (but it does serve a good point) CO2 levels have been above 3000ppm before the existence of homo sapiens...2) It is unscientific of me to make the point that global climate is an extremely powerful force that has cosmological and geothermal forces behind it that are so far from our ability to influence that any decision to make policy decisions based on what little influence we may have (and I certainly concede that of course we do influence climate to some extent) is unwarrented. I promise that I understand many basic elements of the processes that underlie global climate fluctuations as much as the next neophyte, from gulf stream affects, to the trapping of terrestrial radiation by greenhouse gasses (anyone up for a discussion on the recent discovery of methane emitted from plants? didn't think so), but every time I have this discussion with professed environmentalists they are uninterested in the science because there is an obvious "scientific consensus" that I'm not willing to just shut up and accept. So, a simple question is: Are you willing, Tom, to consider that the global warming phenomenon might be overstated? And that there is a distinct possibility that, if there is a warming trend, that there might be forces available for scientific study beyond human activity to account for it? And if this is the case, then premature conclusions should be taken with a bite from a salt block and their application to world government policies should be thoroughly scrutinized? And are you coming to NY or what?