Posts tagged cognitive dissonance.
I’m salivating over this piece that critically analyzes sustainability. Both of my masters degrees were heavy on the theoretics and history of sustainability. I even taught a class at UMass-Amherst on trends in sustainability research.
The Anthropocene brings into relief a destabilizing ambivalence running through the conceptual and rhetorical registers of sustainability, one that has been there from its initial formulation as “sustainable development.” In one register, the discourse of sustainability seems to offer a sweeping retraction of modern aspirations in light of the Anthropocene and its implications. What needs sustaining is nature’s (and thus also humanity’s) limits. This inflection of sustainability presupposes a background picture of fundamental scarcity and judges claims of abundance to be illusory.
Depending on your point of view, resources are either finite or unlimited. I believe the Earth’s resources are finite, frailly so. I never fully bought into the concept of “sustainable development,” to the continuous frowning of my advisers, who, it must be said, have staked their careers teaching sustainability principles. Never has so much confused hope been placed into one theoretical pot. Never had environmentalism been so distorted and utterly taken over by corporate devils.
From the “resources are finite” point of view, “sustainable development” is an oxymoron, plain and simple. And I cannot think of an historical analog in the liberal arts where an applied theory been such a fantastical failure. Only corporations can practice “sustainable development.” The infrastructure, food and water supply, hospitals and schools, computers and electricity - books - all the world’s resources that make humankind possible are corporate owned. All dollars flow up. Sustainability is an immeasurable impossibility.
The purported age of material surfeit enjoyed by industrialized nations for the past one hundred years, on this view, came through massive exploitation of the world’s poor societies, through extensive externalization of the real costs of industrialization, and through the plundering of the finite reserves of carbon that have been stored up over eons in the depths of the earth. In short, our fabled abundance came about by overrunning critical social and planetary limits for the sake of present gains, to the benefit of only a minority of humans and at the expense of future generations and other species. The Anthropocene, on this view, represents the redlining of our critical life support systems.
What is needed, I’ve argued before, is a new and expanded theory of environmental conservation. We already have a foundation of environmental management, and the best successes are rooted in conservation. We need to expand upon this foundation and duplicate successes. New Conservation, for example, would be tied to civic duty - that is, taking part in law making, attending city meetings, engaging in government decisions, and learning to run for office. I think we need a blending of steady environmentalism and ethical citizenship. (I’m aware that going to city budget meetings are not as sexy as protest, but it’s a new world with tougher laws and smarter authorities. Protest is no longer sustainable [e.g., OWS]).
A New Conservationism would trace the tracks of Teddy Roosevelt’s environmental legacy. And, it would improve upon subsequent environmental theories that have work and continue to function.
This modern concept of sustainability must die. It is capitalism by another name, and capitalism fundamentally depends on massive - massive - extraction of finite resources. It serves only in the efficient extraction or resources for corporate profit. There are no social benefits - none that can be tangibly measured with any clarity (fair trade is a teeny, tiny niche. It, too, is unsustainable. See the Conclusions section of Fairtrade Foundation’s ten-year report). Sustainable development is demonstrably not sustainable.
This is a must read article. It analyzes the history and purpose of sustainability, “Abundance on Trial: The Cultural Significance of “Sustainability””
The Dawe’s Act, “opened up Indian land for white European settlers eager to fulfill the mandates of Manifest Destiny—a 19th century belief rooted in the Christian Doctrine of Discovery that American citizens had a God-given right (and obligation) to possess all the land between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.”
Irony (and mind-boggling lie) of the day: House republicans reject Obama's offshore oil drilling plan because it violates environmental laws ›
Majority of the House rejects Obama’s plans to expand ocean oil drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf. Republicans attempt to replace his plans with their own. They claim that Obama’s plan violates several environmental laws, and dangerously speeds up the permit and leasing process. Their replacement plan? A substantial expansion of drilling leases, less environmental regulation, weakened oversight, and power to congress (rather than agency) to approve and manage oil leases.
Solid graphic by PBS climate crew showing climate impacts on salmon at each stage of life. Each block shows a picture of a salmon at the fry, smolt, and adult stages with accompanying challenges they’ll face. Fry, for example, are more vulnerable to storms that churn up silt and toxins washed into rivers from parking lots. Land and river managers can use this information to better adapt ecosystems to protect the fish and conserve resources.
The graphic is embedded in, Northwest Salmon People Face Future Without Fish, which is tacitly about the erosion of Pacific Northwest Indian tribes who depend on salmon for sustenance. It shows, for example, that the Swinomish were the first Indian Nation to have adopted a climate adaptation plan (2010). And that the plans will be key to their future:
Fifteen percent of the reservation is at or just slightly above sea level, including environmentally-sensitive shoreline areas, where they’ve harvested shellfish for centuries. University of Washington climate scientists estimate that this area could see up to a meter of sea level rise over the next century.
Like many tribal communities, the Swinomish can’t just pick up and move out of harm’s way. Relocating is antithetical to who they are, said Brian Cladoosby, chairman of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community.
“We are a place-based society,” he said. “This is our homeland. The Swinomish have lived here for 10,000 years. We don’t go anywhere — ever.”
This last quote - “We don’t go anywhere — ever” - demonstrates one of the major problems with adapting to climate change - that people don’t understand what adaptation really is. It would never occur to them to move out of harms way or look for alternative ways to live.
This stubbornness to refuse to adapt culture, to move homes, to change out old economies, will lead to some devastating consequences (such as diminished fish stocks, which in turn will crush Native economies). Much nostalgic, glittering ink has spilled about Indians looking forward and planning ahead “7 generations.” What is not said, is how consistently this dreamy philosophy has failed.
This is the dilemma we face: in order to counter nonsense, we are doomed to be ever seen as dismissive critics of people’s beliefs. In this view, to me it is not a coincidence that people have this conception of us. Because there is orders of magnitude more pseudoscience than science out there, we are always too busy shooting down the junk to do much else. It is imperative that we continue to do this, but if we want people to understand the full range of skepticism we have to also stress the affirmatives. We need to live up to the charge of promoting science and critical thinking. In my observations, this is accomplished primarily within the skeptical community, and any outside exposure that we choose to endorse or create is mainly “debunking.” Don’t misunderstand me, debunking is a worthy cause and someone has to do it, but I want this movement to be positive. We need to be actually thought of as positive by the public, no matter what we may tell ourselves. This is my call to the skeptical community: we need to get into the habit of promoting good science, critical thinking skills, and good causes in equal amounts with debunking (or at least more than we do now).Kyle Hill explains how as a skeptic he’s faced with the “Debunker’s Dilemma”: seen that there’s a lot more misinformation and pseudoscience than science, it could appear that skeptic positions are always negative. He says that because of this “to the public a skeptic equals a cynic”. He urges skeptics to do The Opposite of Debunking. Skeptics need to show their passion about science and rationality and to promote scientific inquiry and critical thinking skills. (via scipsy)
nature-lust asked: Hi there, I need some help. My family is a bit on the conservative (denial) side and I don't know how to explain to them what's going with the global climate change. I just basically need help with putting everything in Layman's terms.
Hey nature lust,
Thanks for your msg.
I tend to believe that explaining is listening. I’ll talk a little about my approach below, but tbh if you’re just looking for bullet points to memorize, skip this post and go here.
In my experience, people like to be heard and hate being wrong. So, in my opinion, just take your time and listen to what your people are saying. Paraphrase it, repeat it back to them. Take their opinions seriously. Use empathy and be nice. No name calling. At the end of the day, they’re deniers because they’ve been convinced that climate change is code for government regulation. Their denial generally has nothing to do with the science.
After you’ve gained some trust and you want to deepen those conversations, follow the rules of debating.
Second, like lifting the Hammer of Thor, realize that it’s super hard to change someone’s mind. Most people accept their version of reality on authority. Understand, truly understand, that getting someone to stop watching Fox News is like getting a liberal to stop reading the New York Times - it’s epically impossible.
Sub to this is to realize that most people (e.g., the vast majority) really don’t care about environmental topics. It’s boring. So, approach your conversations with love and empathy, and realize that you’re more likely to fail to persuade or inform.
Third, and most importantly, deniers generally accept that the earth is getting warmer. This may surprise you! It’s getting warmer, they’ll say, because it’s “earth’s natural cycle” or it’s “sun spots/solar flares” or it’s “El Nino,” etc. Something along those lines. Basically, they place the cause on natural occurrences not on humans, and then rant about regulations. So, the real causes - human emitted CO2 and GHGs - are all but utter impossibilities to the denier.
Sure, you’ll hear conspiracy theories - like scientists churn out papers just for the research money. Or that a handful of dissenting scientists are being censored, and therefore the truth is being hidden. Or that tree ring data is a fraud. Or maybe you’ll hear some garbage about hacked emails. Or - my favorite - that the IPCC is run by the UN, which is out for world domination. Etc. People who take these tacks are not worth your time. Skip talking with them about climate and just enjoy their company (it’s more dignifying, trust me).
If you genuinely listen and paraphrase, you’ll find that most of the burden is ultimately placed on the denier. You can keep your set of facts on the back burner, and discuss what they want to discuss.
Instead of blurting out a list of science-bullets, which no one cares about, get them to talk talk talk. A lot.
Ultimately, it’ll come out that the reason they’re denying climate science is because they politically don’t like government regulation. Strangely, they may not even realize this. But, preventing the regulation of carbon emissions is what this whole thing is about. If the denier can safely point to “sun spots,” then they won’t have to support any regulations. Case closed.
What’s really bizarre about all this is why, really think about this, why would a group of people want to protect carbon emitters? All I can do is point you to the Oreskes fabulous book, Merchants of Doubt.
This may not be exactly what you’re looking for, but that’s how I approach deniers - by listening.
Good luck and cheers!
Update: http://nature-lust.tumblr.com/ is not a nice person and sends hate mail.
You Olympians, however, know you didn’t get here solely on your own power. For most of you, loving parents, sisters or brothers encouraged your hopes, coaches guided, communities built venues in order to organize competitions. All Olympians stand on the shoulders of those who lifted them. We’ve already cheered the Olympians, let’s also cheer the parents, coaches, and communities. -Mitt “You Didn’t Build That” Romney (great find by NBC).
Anderson Cooper to cover the Drought and Heat Wave of 2012 tonight on Anderson360. If he mentions climate change, I wonder if he’ll grow a pair and stop giving airtime to crack-pot denialists for “balance,” whatever that is. The science is settled, Coop!
Republicans are sending a message that profits for their wealthy campaign contributors are more important than the lungs and lives of America’s coal miners. It’s clear that voices wealthier than coal miner families drowned out that message.
- Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), on House Republicans moving “to block a planned Department of Labor regulation that aims to protect coal miners from the dust that causes black lung disease.” (via campaignmoney)
I follow this batshiat-crazy tumblr called “Republican National Committee Research.” I have an interest in cities, architecture, and infrastructure and can’t help but notice how hilarioterrible this ad is. I should say first that, in my observations, RNC Research:
- Does not actually produce research. Nor do they produce information about the Republican party, and
- They primarily exist to create high-school level Obama attack ads.
This particular ad caught my eye. It shows Obama laughing, a quote “you didn’t build that” above him, and the 1929 Empire State Building in the background.
Everyone can agree, Obama did not build the Empire State Building - foreign trained architects designed it and (mostly) illegal immigrants built it. So, what’s the deal with this ad?
- Built in Manhattan, New York in 1929 the Empire State Building was co-designed with a Canadian and a New Yorker who studied in France
- Contracted to a Chicago construction firm, Starrett Brothers & Eken, Inc. (now NYC based)
- And most workers were undocumented illegal immigrants
- Interestingly, this included non-U.S. citizen Mohawk Indian ironworkers. The Mohawks were openly and legally discriminated against, were actively denied U.S. citizenship by the 71st Republican run Congress and Senate, were screwed over many times as Republican run congress and senate violated Indian treaties and federal acts (the UN scolded the US for continued violations as recently as 2006, also under a Republican administration), and were continuously denied human rights, which were collectively known back then as ‘freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’
Great “research” guys…
Update: A few have pointed out that the quote, “you didn’t build that” is in reference to a speech Obama gave this week at Historic Fire Station No. 1, in Roanoke Virginia. He basically stated that no business could exist with out the help of family, friends, government, and other community support. The right scraped the above quote, called it a gaff, and turned it into a meme. Ironically, the subject matter used in the memes only prove Obama’s point - that nothing gets built without other people (sometimes legitimately, other times shadily) - as I showed above.
This is why there’s climate controversy: reporters are stupid and scientists are difficult to understand. Just watch this clip for a demonstration of both principles.
CNN anchor Carol Costello tells Bill Nye the Science Guy in her interview, “If you Google your name, ‘Bill Nye,’ you’re the kooky guy who doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” in regards to climate change.
Read more here about their interview.
In late June, Florida’s governor and GOP Legislature shut down the state’s only hospital to treat tuberculosis. At the same time, the state was experiencing the largest outbreak of TB - “consumption” - in America in 20 years. The CDC warned Scott’s health office an epidemic was in the offing. But he never even told the lawmakers who voted to close the hospital, much less Florida’s millions of citizens who are at risk of their lungs melting.
As our Florida correspondent reports, it’s par for the course in the Sunshine State, where even septic-tank inspections are derided as socialism, and conservative lawmakers have cut social services to the bone—and Rick Scott has cut even further, using his line-item veto to slash mercilessly at Legislature-approved spending he deems unimportant.
Scott, for his part, has yet to comment on the TB outbreak in Jacksonville, Miami, and who knows where else. He’s at an air show in London.
Kelly Slivka via the NY Times
The average temperature across the contiguous United States for the first six months of 2012 has been the warmest on record dating to 1895, according to a report released Monday by the National Climatic Data Center. The average 2012 temperature of 57.4 degrees Fahrenheit through June was 4.5 degrees higher than the long-term average for the same six-month period, with most of the overall increases occurring east of the Rocky Mountains. In Colorado, which has been dealing with forest fires and drought, the average temperature in June was 6.4 degrees higher than its historical average. Other June hot spots were South Carolina and Georgia, where daily highs reached potentially record-breaking 113 and 112 degrees, respectively.
“We tend to see those kinds of records broken in July and August and not in June,” said Jake Crouch, a climate scientist at the center.
Meanwhile, the presidential candidates are arguing about everything but the Earth warming, and the inexorable catastrophe involved if we do nothing.