This is an excerpt. You can read the entire essay here.
We are all going to die.
… This is not an apocalyptic prophecy, it is only to state the quiet fact of our mortality, the undramatic reality of personal extinction that waits for each of us, sooner or later, somewhere down the road. Yet many of those who study or work with death have come to the conclusion that there is something strange about modern Western society and the way it handles this reality.
Even though we’re believers, not skeptics, our denial is far more insidious and subtle. So subtle, in fact, that we’ve managed to convince ourselves that we’re not in denial at all. Quite the opposite. Why, the thought is too absurd even to contemplate.
What if alternative energy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be? That’s the provocative question explored in the documentary “Planet of the Humans,” which is backed and promoted by filmmaker Michael Moore and directed by one of his longtime collaborators. It premiered last week at his Traverse City Film Festival.
Note: This is an excerpt, you can read the entire article here.
Climate activists are obsessed with greenhouse-gas emissions and concentrations. Since global climate disruption is an effect of greenhouse gases, and a disastrous one, this is understandable. But it is also a mistake.
Such is the fallacy of climate activism: We insist that global warming is merely a consequence of greenhouse-gas emissions. Since it is not, we fail to tell the truth to the public.
We are being asked to bear witness to the ending of days.
Lest I find myself categorized immediately as a ‘doomist’, I wish to say up front that I am not suggesting hopelessness. I am agreeing, as Martin Shaw has said, that we are in the Underworld, though many aren’t willing to know it yet:
“We still get to go on holiday, drink wine, watch beautiful sunsets. We still pay insurance and kids still go to college. But there is something happening. An unravelling. A collapsing, both tacit and immense in scale.”
Modern society believes that to be human means to circumvent every limit that opposes us — ultimately seeing death as a biological flaw to be eliminated. Yet, indigenous cultures the world over know the law of life to be the exact opposite —as Stephen Jenkinson says in Lost Nation Road: “it is the limit that gives us the opportunity to practice being human.”
By eliminating endings we have triggered the end of everything else.
“We are right where we were headed all along.” — Catherine Ingram
“‘Hopelessness’ and its related emotions of dismay and despair are understandably feared but wrongly assumed to be entirely negative and to be avoided whatever the situation. Alex Steffen warned that ‘Despair is never helpful’ (2017). However, the range of ancient wisdom traditions see a significant place for hopelessness and despair. Contemporary reflections on people’s emotional and even spiritual growth as a result of their hopelessness and despair align with these ancient ideas. The loss of a capability, a loved one or a way of life, or the receipt of a terminal diagnosis have all been reported, or personally experienced, as a trigger for a new way of perceiving self and world, with hopelessness and despair being a necessary step in the process (Matousek, 2008). In such contexts ‘hope’ is not a good thing to maintain, as it depends on what one is hoping for. When the debate raged about the value of the New York Magazine article, some commentators picked up on this theme. ‘In abandoning hope that one way of life will continue, we open up a space for alternative hopes,’ wrote Tommy Lynch (2017).”
We didn’t start the fire It was always burning Since the world’s been turning We didn’t start the fire But when we are gone Will it still burn on, and on, and on, and on
— Billy Joel, “We Didn’t Start the Fire”
A couple of months ago, I went to see the premiere of the film, Anthropocene: The Human Epoch. It’s a visual exploration of the impact of industrial civilization on the earth. The movie opened on a scene of thousands of elephant tusks, recovered from African poachers, being gathered in huge piles. It looked like some kind of avant-garde art installation … or maybe an altar.
Editor’s note: This excerpt from Dougald Hine’s recent article describes something new happening under the umbrella of environmental activism recently. It is darker, less hopeful, and more radical than the environmentalism of just a few years ago. I encourage you to goread the whole article here.
“… on a scale not seen before, people are having an encounter with climate change not as a problem that can be solved or managed, made to go away, or reconciled with some existing arc of progress, but as a dark knowledge that calls our path into question, that starts to burn away the stories we were told and the trajectories our lives were meant to follow, the entitlements we were brought up to believe we had, our assumptions about the shape of history, the kind of world we were born into and our place within it.