Too Late For Gandhi

Though it may be unpopular to say so, the current climate catastrophe is unstoppable and probably cannot be mitigated to any significant degree. While efforts to minimize the worst effects of this catastrophe are laudable, they will, for most part, fail. With near certainty, they will not be able to save this civilization, and most definitely, they will not stave off a near-term societal breakdown.

In this blog, we will be taking the position that it is already too late, even for non-violent, direct action. While such actions may have had an appreciable efficacy 30 years ago (and we are not sure they would have even then), it is now too late. This is difficult for us to say, because even a few months ago we were deeply involved in Extinction Rebellion (XR). It is difficult, too, because, of all the people we know, they are some of the most dedicated and loving people we have ever met.

Our Gallant Ship will ask what makes sense for us to do (and be) when nearly everyone, even Greta Thunberg and Roger Hallam, comes to see that climate change is irreversible and cannot be stopped, or even reasonably mitigated. We do this because we believe this accurately reflects the situation we are in, and because we believe most people will come to this conclusion fairly soon.

At the present time (late summer, 2019), most people who are on the cutting edge of climate change take the view that we still have a dozen or so years to turn it around. But this is based on a very limited metric. The question still remains: What will we do when that time runs out? How will our actions change when we know it is too late? This is what Our Gallant Ship will explore. We will argue that, once it is generally accepted that it is too late, the kinds of actions people take will differ substantially from actions based on a sense that there is still time remaining.

We are interested in exploring the personal, social, political, psychological, and spiritual dimensions that will help us work with this bleak reality. We explore this because we believe it is true, and because very few others are doing this kind of work, at least not openly.

In all of this, we will not try to ‘prove’ that our perspective is correct, even though we will point-out some of the dynamics that lead to our sense that it is. For the most part, we will simply assume that the facts on the ground lend reasonable credibility to this perspective. We will not waste time on analyzing causes, finding scapegoats, or blaming people, corporations, and governments. It is what it is.

We realize this is a more radical perspective than The Green New Deal, Extinction Rebellion, 350.org, and most, if not all, similar organizations. One might argue that, as good as these organizations and platforms are, they still may be seen as subtle forms of denial, perhaps the best and most highly refined forms of denial in a world, where denial is a global and nearly universal phenomenon.

So, yes, we believe it is too late for Gandhi. Gandhi’s situation in the mid-20th Century was fairly limited when compared to the present climate catastrophe, partly because the present crisis is “a collective action problem of the highest order. One city, one country, even one continent cannot solve it alone. . . . Moreover, any leader who forced her country to accept the austerity and redistribution necessary to end its dependence on cheap carbon would also be forcing her country into a weak and isolated position politically, economically, and militarily (Roy Scranton, “How to Die in the Anthropocene, p. 53).”

A quick purview of the current global political climate should be enough for us to see that collective action, even within a single country, is a daunting challenge at best. Most of the major countries are grappling with, or being torn apart by, domestic problems–nationalism, migration, border disputes, power struggles, economic fears, fake news, trade tensions, and a host of other domestic flash points. And these internal issues push climate change far down on their agendas.

Though it is too late for Gandhi the tireless activist, it is not too late for Gandhi the man, the man of unshakable love and tireless devotion to friend and foe alike.

Greta Thunberg’s most powerful TED talk

The following TED talk is Greta’s most powerful and moving speech. In fact, it is the most powerful TED talk I have ever experienced. She understands that many TED talks are little more than intelligent and highly finessed pep talks, and she will have none of it. Watch her expressions, her facial expressions and her body language. Is there any word or bodily expression that is not sincere and deeply felt. There is simply nothing superficial about her. Everything is direct and up front. She seems utterly free of the cultural and ego baggage that concern most of us most of the time. Listen, watch, and weep – and then ACT!

Thanks to Lynette McCain for pointing me to this talk.