Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Everything's Cool

The hysterically funny and brilliant film, Everything's Cool, shows how clever the anti-warming movement has been. They know full well that public interest and alarm dies as soon as you create doubt.  The film also shows the corruption behind the deniers.  They've undermined the science behind warming-- just enough for sleepy citizens to nod off, yet again.

Here's what I think we should tell those who question global warming (and the environmental crisis at large):  we must act "as if" global warming is real, because if we don't, the risks are too great.  Is global warming any less dangerous than the "red scare" in the fifties?  We built an entire nuclear war arsenal because of a "what if" fear.  Shouldn't we act preventatively to protect ourselves from the danger of global warming, then?  Isn't the possibility of warming enough to make it vital that we do all we can to save ourselves-because-"what if"?  Sandra Steingraber makes this point in terms of toxic pollution and the difficulty in pointing to "absolute" scientific links to cancer and other diseases.  We can't wait for absolute "proof"--the stakes are too high.

Anyway, will it really hurt us to breathe clean air, eat clean food, drink unpolluted water?  What is the harm in making our environmental future a safer and healthier one?  What is the risk there?

In other words, it will only benefit this great earth for us to reduce carbon emissions.  There is no downside to finding clean and sustainable sources of energy, to reducing consumption-- so what is the fuss all about?

I'm suggesting that the Green Movement counter the deniers not with "tit for tat" scientific assurances, but instead point out that unheeded pollution and exploitation of the earth's resources is deeply problematic in a broader sense.  We need to clean up our act anyway.

This all goes back to the profound crisis in our moral and ethical view of nature in Western culture.  Grist magazine suggests that we need to rethink our 'behavior.'  I agree, but a change in our behavior can only come about if we make deep cultural changes in the way we think about 'nature' and the human relationship to and with all living creatures.

I believe, along with historical critics like Carolyn Merchant, that our environmental moral ethic is vastly askew. Within our capitalist and patriarchal belief system,  nature and disadvantaged others are (and have been) treated and viewed as objects to be plundered, exploited and used for economic profit.  In our masculinist culture, domination, greed, and selfishness are accepted modes of operating. In our current way of thinking, individual satisfaction and gain come before the needs of the larger human and natural communities. We have no foresight.  We don't think before we act.  We care about no one but ourselves. Westward Ho!  This is where ecofeminist and Native American philosophies come in.  We need to shift our thinking away from valuing "right" and "might",  and "profit and personal gain at any cost." In other words, we need to shift our thinking away from self against other, to self with other.  Because, the fact is, we are interconnected.  If we exploit nature and wreak havoc through ecological devastation we, too, will be destroyed.  If we care for nature and others we, too, will be cared for.

If we shift our thinking and moral ethic to a valuing of the importance of community and care, the very mode of throwing stones at environmental causes such as global warming might come to an end. In a true ecological community--the deniers of climate change and enemies of the green movement would look like pathetic and insecure bullies on a school playground.  All their hateful slurs and slanders would lose their power.

Changing our cultural environmental ethic is requisite to achieving the goal of planetary balance and health.  We need to shift from greed and individuation, to care and interconnection.

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