Yes, I know the photo is reversed. That's the thing about pics taken with a web camera! The book, if you don't want to bother holding your computer monitor up to a mirror, is Mircea Eliade's "Two Strange Tales."
Yesterday was June 2, 2009. I turned 49. I wondered how many more years I could potentially live, if an accident or medical situation doesn't take me earlier. I will be 50 in 2010, 60 in 2020, 70 in 2030. I don't have medical coverage as I am unemployed, so if something weird happens that other people might be able to get through, such as heart surgery or cancer, I'm probably a goner.
On the other hand, my family members tend to live at least to around age 70, and some to 80 or just past it (though those are mostly females). Us males tend to start to have problems in our 40s, a heart attack in our 50s, and on regular meds by our 60s. I am almost 50, and have a few things started already, par for the course.
I feel pretty sure I'll make it to 2020 (unless the heart thing gets me), and if I am -really- lucky, -maybe- 2030. I don't see it going much farther than that, for me. I like eating too much. I haven't been under 200 pounds since I was in high school. Men in my family don't get under 210 or so until they are in their 70s and are starting to dwindle. I was 240 in grad school, but only had 9% bodyfat. I'm big; 6'2", and now -weighing myself- 290 lbs. Big people, unless they are naturally slender, don't tend to live as long as smaller folks. I am, and have always been, chunky and sedentary. I walk a mile or so every day, and binge on salads and veggies, maybe once every week or two have a hamburger. If regular, normal exercise and eating rationally isn't enough, then I will accept whatever my lot is that goes with that. I am not going to be a vegan and a marathoner. I couldn't run even a mile in high school, let alone now. But I can walk and I can eat and I can try not to worry and I can try to laugh every day.
So last night, to celebrate my birthday and making it another year on this Earth, I watched most of the ABC News program last night, "Earth 2100." I know I won't be there. I don't have any kids. But my nephews' and niece's kids will be, and they will live through some bad stuff themselves.
I can't show any of the graphic novel parts, because all of those have been disabled from embedding at YouTube, so you'll just have to go there and search if you are interested.
As far as the "graphic novel" approach in the ABC presentation, although I thought it was creative, pretty cool, and would be of real interest to the young, it wasn't to the tastes of many others. Lots of people arguing about it on both sides, some gnashing of teeth "we are gonna die" along with "we can roll up our sleeves and get to work creating a Utopia using solar cells" on the liberal side and others pulling the Rush Limbaugh frothing of Obama being a dictator and propagandist on the conservative side (ironic how the ideology of "conservative" is often against conserving). Ahh, the eternal dichotomy of human thinking, of "us vs them". The usual crap of those who get their facts from one camp or another, from one ideology or another, rather than using independent, critical thinking based on the facts and one's senses and memories.
We have learned, I hope, that you really can't trust either liberal or conservative, left or right, Democrat or Republican. They all want your money. They have all proven themselves corrupt. Me? I only consistently trust nature. People are pretty much always trying to lie one way or another to suit their aims. Lest I sound too misanthropic, I have learned that there are individuals you CAN trust, but they are few and far between. I wish it were otherwise.
Of course we have climate change doubters by the bushel here in Montana too. Rather subscribe to what a radio show pundit might say instead of looking at the dwindling snow and beetle-killed pines on the mountains. "Well this last winter was real cold, lots of snow, didn't ever think it was going to be summer." "Yeah, that Rush says it's all a bunch of anti-American, anti-business socialist BS." And the rust-dead patches of beetle-killed pines increase year by year.
The climate changes include overall warming ("global" warming) but each region will have different effects. The overall effect will be chaos. Unpredictability. Local news this week said though we had snowpack still, the last two months have been drier than normal, with May seeing only half the normal rainfall. And in national news this week, they note that for the last couple of years, hurricanes have been forming not in their usual places off Africa, but just offshore of the U.S., giving people little time to prepare compared to even five years ago.
In the geological sense, we are still within an Ice Age. We had a very cold winter in Montana...but not as cold as it used to be. We had a good snowpack...but the last two months have been seen half as much moisture as before. The glaciers are all disappearing from Glacier National Park and from the higher altitudes. Those are facts. Bottom line: however much one puts/proportions the cause at the door of industry or at natural cycles, we are in the middle of some major changes. Changes that will make it difficult for our system to survive. Will people survive? I believe we will. But we are in a very complex system of food transportation and climate change is messing with growing cycles (as you note, oranges for example, and water).
Climate change has always been with us. And there have been major extinctions several times in earth's history. A meteor could take us out at any time. And I live close enough to the Yellowstone supervolcano that I will be automatic toast if it blows. Can't do anything about that. Pretty much every scientist, without exception, does have the data to show that our way of life is adding to the tipping point and cumulative effects of climate change.
The thing is, Earth has been through worse and will survive. We, as a civilization and way of life, will end like the Romans (or worse) very soon; within this next century. Perhaps sooner than that. Because, personally, I don't think enough people worldwide are going to act in time, or go far enough, to at least take our part out of the climate equation.
The U.S., at least those who agree that climate change is occurring, is relying on a technological fix.
As John Michael Greer noted in his blog, "Every way of thinking about the world rests ultimately on presuppositions that are, strictly speaking, metaphysical in nature: that is, they deal with fundamental questions about what exists and what has value. Trying to ignore the metaphysical dimension does not make it go away, but rather simply insures that those who make this attempt will be blindsided whenever the real world fails to behave according to their unexamined assumptions. "
This is exactly why the people just keep proposing a technological fix to something that is in reality, not fixable, because they cannot shake an underlying metaphysical assumption of eternal human progress.
They are really unable to see our current situation, saying the internet must survive and therefore it will, or that some kind of technology will magically solve all our problems. Technology is not science; it is a only a product of science. Science is a way of seeing the world and the resulting methodology to act upon what is seen-- through developing technology. If science is missing a point it is hardwired to miss due to underlying assumptions and metaphysics, then technology, which relies on science, has no chance of addressing the point.
Science and its products are wonderful and amazing. One must state that nothing else humans have come up with in history has been able to manipulate material reality as successfully as science has been able to. But material reality has not definitively been proven to be all that exists. Science is not equipped to be able to ask that question, not in its present configuration as empirical materialism. It is a screwdriver, but there are also bolts and nails in the world for which a screwdriver has no utility.
But science really cannot examine its own underlying metaphysics, no matter how it tries. And there will of course be those who cannot see this either, just as they cannot grasp this point when it comes to economics. Just as science somehow believes it lies outside human assumptions, and can examine and critique indigenous thought. Science needs something outside itself to be able to critique and examine it as well. Indigenous thought can do this as effectively as science can, because its underlying metaphysics are entirely different.
But the debate will continue, and will get uglier and more polarized as conditions worsen. The comments on the show are pretty ugly already.
I would just suggest that people find out for themselves, from history, from the scientific data, and from their own senses. We are in the middle of change, whatever you think the cause might be. Take a trip to Glacier Park and look for yourself. Forget about the ideologies of left or right, of liberal or conservative. They all have an axe to grind and want power. Go back to how our ancestors thought; observe nature itself.
And prepare to adapt.
Me? I'll do what I can to help keep our old Indian ways going. Try to keep nature spirituality alive in my small way. Use my abilities, do art and write. Chase a few ghosts. Teach what I can in classes in archaeology and art and environmental ethics. Use less. Plant some trees and wild herbs. Pass on books and knowledge to the next generation. Not fail on my watch if I have any say. Do what I can about things I can do something about, and try to ignore those things I can't do anything about, to avoid the stress that leads to a heart attack. And just try and remember to enjoy every day above ground, because every day above ground is a good one. And you never know when it might be your last.
As a celebration of my birthday, I post my favorite poem annually, which is actually an Inuit song:
I think over again
My small adventures, my fears.
The small ones that seemed so big,
For all the vital things I had to get and to reach.
And yet there is only one great thing, the only thing:
To live to see the great day that dawns,
And the light that fills the world.
And finally, some Paul Simon...