Monday, July 2, 2018

Progress or Ruin

Monbiot's recent article sits in my belly like lead:
As a child and young adult, I delighted in being able to identify almost any wild plant or animal. And now it has gone. This ability has shrivelled from disuse: I can no longer identify them because I can no longer find them. Perhaps this forgetfulness is protective. I have been averting my eyes. Because I cannot bear to see what we have done to nature, I no longer see nature itself. Otherwise, the speed of loss would be unendurable. . . . I have lived long enough to witness the vanishing of wild mammals, butterflies, mayflies, songbirds and fish that I once feared my grandchildren would experience: it has all happened faster than even the pessimists predicted. . . . The United Nations reports that our use of natural resources has tripled in 40 years. The great expansion of mining, logging, meat production and industrial fishing is cleansing the planet of its wild places and natural wonders. What economists proclaim as progress, ecologists recognise as ruin.

I've left out the worst of it.

We need to find politicians willing to take a stand against lobbyists and corporate rule. As a society, we need to just stop doing anything beyond what's necessary for our own survival. If you don't need it to live, then don't buy it. If you don't need to go there in order to survive, then just stay and sit still a while. Travel under your own steam and live within your means as well as within the means of our ecosystem. But none of that's really going to happen, is it.

17/10/18 is the new 420 here. At least we can sedate as we watch it all unfold before our eyes.


Owen Gray said...

We're sleep walking to the edge, Marie -- unaware of house close we are to our own self destruction.

The Mound of Sound said...

You're quite right, Marie, but we can't depend on the political caste to make what is a massively cultural transformation. They see these steps as electoral suicide. The public won't hear of such things or so they imagine. That becomes an excuse for not doing what they can and should be doing - to inform and educate the public of the nature of the problem, our options and what's in store if we do nothing.

I read a couple of interesting articles today. One was a review of a book "Climate Leviathon" that explored, among other things, how politics would be reshaped in a world where we had neglected climate change to the point where it was "too late." Grim reading.

Then I came across a CBC report about Foster City, a canal-front city down from San Francisco Bay where the residents are mobilizing to fight sea level rise. By an 80% vote they approved a major spending initiative to raise their levees to possibly keep them secure until 2050, knowing they might have to do it again well before then.

Sea level rise is, of course, a hot potato issue in US politics. It's so taboo that FEMA flood maps make no allowance for it. They're now using the term "chronic inundation" to describe flooding every other week. That's sea water, saltwater flooding every other week. How long will a house last if it is inundated with saltwater twice a month? How long will it remain livable? Who will cover the costs of repairs? What do you do if that bi-weekly flooding is compounded by storm surge?

I read about the restoration regime used to repair waterfront homes on the Jersey Shore hit by Hurricane Sandy. All the water has to be pumped out. Then the plaster/drywall and flooring are removed. The wiring, switches and outlets are taken out. Once the house is skeletal, high pressure hoses are used to flood it with fresh water to remove residual salt - THREE TIMES. The house is pumped out again. Massive fans are brought in to dry everything out. Then,and only then, contractors come in to start from scratch - new wiring, new wall covering, new floors, all finished up and painted and, if you're lucky, you can move back in before the next big storm hits.

The Americans are very scared. They're suppressing information about the magnitude of the risk for fear of collapsing property values for some pricey waterfront homes. Yet another report indicated that these property owners are in for big hikes in their government flood insurance that will hammer property prices. Who can afford or would be willing to buy that sort of headache?

I don't think we have the collective will to win this one.We have already created a dystopian future.

Marie Snyder said...

@Mound - It hardly seems worth saving the house after all that. I have a friend who grew up in Jamaica and he said their house was all concrete, so after a storm, they just brought their furniture out in the sun to dry. I'm not sure if that's true or if it would be an option at this late stage. I don't know what really could be an option.

We are definitely sleepwalking to the edge.