Update: In a discussion about the making of the film Lincoln, Doris Kearns Godwin, Tony Kushner, and Steven Spielberg identify their favorite scenes in the movie, Steven talks about the ability to accept a great idea from the “other side”: this illustrates the point of this post!
God rolls the dice, shuffles the deck for endless possibilities, knowing not how anyone of us creatures of Earth may respond – ignore, expire, excel. But, rolling and dealing endless possibilities is the key to God’s success.
Trees know this for through God each tree grows thousands of seeds in all shapes and configurations but in the end it releases them to the wind, to hitch a ride on the fur of a passing creature or fall into the fast moving stream nearby. Will a seed find rich soil? Will it be nourished to survive? Will it fall upon concrete? Or be gobbled up, later to be excreted with a wrapping of fertilizer?
With all the possibilities, each with its potential outcomes, some seedlings will grow. And, IF there is enough sunlight and just the right amount of moisture and warmth, it will grow into a mighty tree and someday throw its own possibilities into the winds of the future.
The Creator exerts patience and rationality: a kind of detachment that allows all possibilities to emerge.
That’s where we come in. Will we respond or ignore an opportunity, or more often, doubt ourselves? God observes. We might get another “hand” or not. I think the Creator must love the folks who take a chance knowing they might fail. Because that’s what the Gambler must do: keep rolling the dice, keep open all the possibilities for a winning hand! Indeed, all great things require it.
Therefore, let us consider all the possibilities rather than spend our time criticizing ideas, even despising the source of them; let us work broadly and earnestly to solve our common problems: climate change, war, peaceful relations. etc. by keeping many ideas and strategies in play.
What if together we just might play a winning hand?
8-5-21 Update: Just watched this YouTube interview of the author by the Post Carbon Institute program, What Could Possibly Go Right?
Kim Stanley Robinson’s new speculative fiction novel, The Ministry for the Future, is revelatory. The breadth of imagination, depth of scholarship on climate change science, and international movements to organize nations to respond to it–plus a complex plot and range of characters–I finish reading each chapter with renewed awe. That includes the one-page, sometimes one paragraph, chapters with a voice for the market, history, and even a carbon atom. With each of these unique stopping points, the author offers us an invitation to rethink our place in the whole huge planetary system, or how we make history, or the long, long arm of time in which we are but a flash.
The Ministry for the Future is an agency created at The United Nations Conference of the Parties in 2024 to operate independently to protect the futures of unborn generations and all the living plants and animals without a voice to advocate for the future. [For reference the upcoming Conference of the Parties (COP) is scheduled for Glasgow in November. It is COP26. I am currently reading the book during COP48 (2043).]
The novel is contemporary and that makes it relevant. Robinson is charting the possible course of humanity over the next couple decades. That makes it a page-turner. The author delves into the monetary system, global movements in Africa, Europe, and smaller island nations. Shit happens as the saying goes. Each time there is breakdown of a system or a climate catastrophe, or millions of people who refuse to repay their student loans, possibilities open up or, there is at least a potentiation for something good. Sometimes several things, like a market crash coupled with political movements in Africa, and climate imperatives result in a shift in the global mind so that people opposed to certain ideas now consider them. It moves like a train without a conductor but its path seems sure. And we are all passengers (human and nonhuman) and collectively our presence, thoughts and actions are steering it.
The first line in the book. “It was getting hotter.”
It’s probably unwise to review a book while still reading it, but folks, I think it is so important that I needed to stop reading to alert you, and to beg you to read it. Then we should talk!
Scroll to the bottom of this page for the YouTube video review of The Ministry by the Bioneers. Or link here. Also I have posted a more recent interview with A Skeptics Path to the Enlightenment. Here.
Democracy Now has been following the Fire Drill Fridays sparked by Greta Thunberg’s clear voice — a youth crying in the wilderness of world and national houses of legislation which remain deaf to the urgency of acting to protect the planet and life everywhere. Jane Fonda is busy stirring a national day of civil disobedience EVERY Friday on the steps of Capitol Hill. Listen in:
In the past few days we have learned that major investors and businesses are getting in step with climate action. BlackRock investing firm announced they would no longer invest in businesses that are not meeting climate change objectives.
“Awareness is rapidly changing, and I believe we are on the edge of a fundamental reshaping of finance,” Mr. Fink wrote in the letter, which was obtained by The New York Times. “The evidence on climate risk is compelling investors to reassess core assumptions about modern finance.” ~ New York Times 1-14-20
Microsoft announced a Net Negative carbon footprint plan to reduce its emissions and to eliminate its carbon footprint completely by 2030.
The scientific consensus is clear. The world confronts an urgent carbon problem. The carbon in our atmosphere has created a blanket of gas that traps heat and is changing the world’s climate. Already, the planet’s temperature has risen by 1 degree centigrade. If we don’t curb emissions, and temperatures continue to climb, science tells us that the results will be catastrophic. ~ Microsoft Commitment to Sustainability
The most recent Climate Change Summit (COP 25) came to an ignoble end with few agreements among the member countries on coordinated decrease in carbon dioxide and methane pollution. This in the midst of reports flooding media about new or more advanced warming impacts on ecosystems pole to pole, ocean to ocean.
Yet this sad result is not surprising, is it? With one of the largest, and longest contributors of CO2 to the atmosphere bailing out of the Paris Agreement (US), it has complicated and weakened the coordination and commitments of countries to less than 2 degrees Celsius warming by 2050.
What’s more ,the most vulnerable places, already experiencing life threatening changes in the earth, sky, and waters, can’t pay for the kind of adaptation necessary to assure some form of well-being, forcing migrations and/or conflicts. All results that are predictable due to a lack of responsibility for each other.
Regionalism and nationalism are dangerous in light of global problems that we can only solve or mitigate together. Why should Americans care that our President, White House, and half the voting public have chosen to turn their backs on the world of which we are an integral part? Because it is just ignorant not to recognize that the well-being of countries worldwide benefits us in terms of security, wealth, and health. Any grade school child can conjure that.
All political affiliations of voters must urge their representatives to get off the barge heading for annihilation and start building in the safe guards for what is already wide spread destruction. We are right now teetering on massive problems caused by ever greater warming.
Its great we have a strong economy, wonderful. We’ll need it. Let us not bury our heads in the sand. If Climate Change goes against your religion, I suggest you sit down for a long chat with God. I am sure our Creator does not want his progeny to kill life everywhere so that we can have more money in the bank.
A great country must be a wise one. A great citizenry must strive to use logic and prudence when playing with the very requirements for life. We cannot play God by tweaking the stock market. But, that is what we are doing. Chasing the Almighty Dollar, eyes shut, bellies full, and souls in tatters.
As the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board
prepared for its first set of Doomsday Clock
discussions this fall, it began referring to the
current world security situation as a “new
abnormal.” This new abnormal is a pernicious
and dangerous departure from the time when
the United States sought a leadership role in
designing and supporting global agreements
that advanced a safer and healthier planet. The
new abnormal describes a moment in which
fact is becoming indistinguishable from fiction,
undermining our very abilities to develop and
apply solutions to the big problems of our time.
The new abnormal risks emboldening autocrats
and lulling citizens around the world into a
dangerous sense of anomie and political paralysis.
The Bulletin serves as an authoritative guide that confronts man-made threats to our existence by advancing actionable ideas for the planet and its people. Read the latest bulletin below.
Biodiversity is a key driver of ecosystem health and resilience. The more variety of genes and groups of genes in a particular habitat (# and kinds of living plants and animals, invertebrates, etc) the greater is its resiliency to impacts such as climate change, and human development and habitation.
A good example can be seen in our coastal ecosystems where an abundance of grasses, landforms, certain trees, sea grasses and coral reefs, promote resiliency to storms, development, etc. Dense human habitation along coastal areas has polluted waters that kill sea grasses, result in erosion of beaches which once provided a barrier to incoming storms and sea level rise.
With authors I value, like Barbara Kingsolver, the wait for a new work can often be lengthy. My wait was amply rewarded. In Unsheltered–2018 HarperCollins–she had created parallel narratives that articulate across two centuries in the American experience. Her device is a house and property shared by the characters in different centuries. The 21st Century Wilma and 19th Century Thatcher are adults navigating giant shifts in social paradigms. For Wilma and her family it is the economic collapse of the middle class and the dissolution of the ideals her generation pursued. Climate change knocks ominously at her door. For Thatcher it a pre-Darwin American culture in a panic to hold onto Christian perspectives by rejecting rational observation of how the world works (akin to today’s denial of science).
Wilma’s multigenerational family reflects at once a 1) disenfranchised, racist white America (grandfather); 2) boomer parents (Wilma and Iano); 3) grown kids who pursued differing paths–Harvard financial education (Zeke), and post-apocalyptic youth (Tig). Add Baby Dusty, Wilma’s grandson whom she is mothering after the death of Zeke’s wife, and you have four generations, each navigating their own realities. The dialogue along the way explores the contemporary ocean of conflicting values and ideas of today’s American society with our economic, social, and environmental challenges.
Unsheltered is a nuanced conversation between Kingsolver, her characters, and the reader that is slow at times but never boring and long enough to examine previous and contemporary times for understanding the confabulations of collective memory–an existential wail of ‘Who are we?’
Twenty-something Tig exclaims to her mother, “The guys in charge of everything right now are so old. They really are, Mom. Older than you. They figured out the meaning of life in, I guess, the nineteen fifties and sixties. When it looked like there would always be plenty of everything. And they’re still applying that to now. It’s just so ridiculous.”
For individuals like me, awash in Trump-a-Con, Unsheltered is a beacon. Kinsolver’s Afterward explains her own journey to understand “the times”, explaining to readers how she wrote a novel about real historical figures and set the novel in South Jersey in a small town, Vineland. Along the way, she traveled many miles, including London where walked in the footsteps of Charles Darwin.
This book is a needed contribution to understanding our time as one when the “world as we know it” appears to be ending. It is ultimately a great story that takes us into the author’s creative mind. I am so grateful to Kingsolver!
Wangari Maathai grew up in her homeland in Kenya, living close to the earth and learning traditional Kikuyu values and practices. Her memoir, Unbound, describes her daily activities as a child, her mother’s teachings, and how her people regarded the streams and forests in a land where the balance of nature is delicate, not to be abused without serious consequences for its inhabitants.
In Replenishing the Earth: Spiritual Values for Healing Ourselves and the World, Maathai’s wisdom is distilled onto each page, every sentence the next drop in the flow. Wangari describes herself as working practically to solve problems she learned about in discussions with communities and among women’s groups. Their need for clean water, and for access to earn a living, were her daily concerns. Eventually, Wangari and the women she served established the Greenbelt Movement that planted over 30 million trees in Kenya.
In Replenishing, Wangari’s concerns about the destruction of the environment in Kenya are examined in light of the world’s sacred traditions. Always a practical perspective, her observations and reflections give readers much to consider often through humor. For example she writes that God in his wisdom created Adam on Friday. If he’d created him on Monday he’d have perished for lack of food!
Wangari Maathai’s clarity of thought is invaluable in this age where massive destruction of oceans, rivers, wildlands, and forests have imperiled life the world over. She and the women of Kenya remind us of the earth-shaking power of people to replenish the earth, if we choose to do so.