What should be front page news — but isn’t

Posted October 26th, 2007 in Blog 12 Comments »

Fostering Ecological Hope
Today from Margaret Swedish:

It’s not the first time I have felt this frustration — that the most important news story of the day is not on the front pages, but buried inside the NY Times, and not at all in today’s Washington Post. I’d be curious to know if you have seen it anywhere.

The United Nations Environmental Program just released a new Global Environmental Outlook report (GEO-4) indicating that the environment of our beloved planet is decaying rapidly. That would be, of course, the environment in which we live and move and have our being.

It is in rapid decline, decaying — a hard word, a truthful word.

I have not read the new report, but have downloaded it. You can find the 36-page summary for decision-makers at this link. From the press release:

“There are no major issues raised in Our Common Future for which the foreseeable trends are favourable.”

Failure to address these persistent problems, UNEP says, may undo all the achievements so far on the simpler issues, and may threaten humanity’s survival. But it insists: “The objective is not to present a dark and gloomy scenario, but an urgent call for action.”

I get the objective, but given the response of the world, including this society of ours in the US, the scenario appears pretty dark and gloomy.

Now, the NY Times article, entitled UN warns of rapid decay of environment, is an appropriately scary and concise summary. But hardly anyone is going to read it. Why isn’t news of this report blazing from headlines all across the country, since this is arguably the greatest and most challenging crisis of our age? Every other issue that matters to us in the future fits within the question of whether or not this world will remain habitable — and that question is screaming at us from the oceans, the lakes and rivers, the soils, the very air we breathe.

So, I watched CNN’s ‘Planet in Peril.’ Did you? I was underwhelmed. There was very important and compelling information here, but it seemed to me to remain cerebral, all in the head and not in the heart. Facts, but no clarion call for change.

And, excuse me, but what in h… were they doing putting that crazed ideologue and non-credible climate change denier, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) on as an ‘expert’, an alternative voice on global warming, he who once called global warming ‘the greatest hoax ever perpretrated on the American people?’ Say what?! Inhofe, servant of the oil and gas industries? I suppose they couldn’t find a credible scientist, so why not an incredible politician? Inhofe is one of the most conservative members of the Senate and quite extreme in his views.

This is the kind of reporting that makes me nuts — tells us we’re in trouble, then defuses the emotion and the fear so that we are lulled back to inertia. Environmental decay? Ecological ruin? Heck, here’s another point of view. Pick the one that makes you feel better.

But then, if news of the rapid deterioration of the ecosytems of our planet was screaming from front pages and lead stories on the TV news, folks might get frightened enough to demand action, dramatic action. The longer we go on like this, the less likely we can keep truly catastrophic events from occurrring in the future — beyond the droughts and floods and firestorms and sinking islands and coastal communities and melting permafrost and disappearing glaciers that are already part of our daily life.

If there is good news here, hope, that is, it is that, whether the powerful economic and political interests like it or not, people are beginning to appreciate that we are, as we said the other day, in trouble. Now, the next step is for societies to start rallying together not to fight wars for oil but to save the planet and the life within it.

[tags] united nations environment program, GEO-4, Global Environmental Outlook, environment in decay, CNN planet in peril[/tags]

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12 Responses

  1. Steven Earl Salmony, Ph.D., M.P.A.

    Dear Friends,

    Where have all our leaders gone?

    What can they be thinking and doing?

    I suppose our leaders are so focused upon growing the global economy that they have forgotten how there cannot much longer be such a thing as successful economic globalization, once our planetary home has been ravaged and desecrated.

    Unbridled economic growth, unrestrained per capita consumption and skyrocketing population numbers of the human species in our planetary home can be plainly seen as activities that are dissipating natural resources, degrading the environment and destroying the foundation upon which all life depends upon for its very existence.

    Perhaps the heirs of Ozymandias are only ones among us who are capable of perpetrating such colossal destruction.

    Sincerely,

    Steve

  2. ecologicalhope

    Where have they gone, indeed. Some are out running for president or Congress or governor, raising money from corporate donors that don’t want us to get too scared about ecological decay and the need to change how we live. Some are afraid of the public ridicule they will inevitably attract from FOX and CNN and morning news show pundits. Some are afraid the people in their congregations or neighborhoods or work places or communities will get really mad at them, and on and on.

    And then there is just this inability for so many of us to grasp the seriousness of the situation, to realize we human beings could actually be ruining a whole planet.

    Thanks for commenting, Steve.

  3. Steven Earl Salmony

    Dear Friends,

    Momentum is building. Many are the signs of forward movement and nascent change.

    We will overcome humanity’s momentary collective blindness; our ineffectual leaders; the ignorant naysayers and rankled denialists; and the hysterically deaf, willfully blind and electively mute among us as well as those more clever ones who speak with forked tongues, who peddle disinformation, half-truths and outright lies.

    As intelligent fools with power often do, they widely disseminate and repeat false statements often enough so as to make them appear believable.

    Do not be fooled.

    Support Al Gore, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri and 2000 scientists of the IPCC.

    With their leadership, we can make a difference by changing the world for the better….before the “powers that be” destroy Earth as a fit place for human habitation.

    Always,

    Steve

  4. Steven Earl Salmony, Ph.D., M.P.A.

    After years of careful and skillful research by the International Panel on Climate Change, it seems to me that the time has come to examine whether many too many government officials are behaving malevolently and acting in bad faith by continuing to disseminate disinformation that debunks the established evidence on global warming.

    With the establishment of the scientific consensus on climate change, is it reasonable and sensible to ask of government officials who remain obstructive and in denial of such overwhelming scientific data if they are perfidiously engaged in a violation of public trust and, therefore, malfeasant in office?

    Steven Earl Salmony
    AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population
    http://sustainabilitysoutheast.org/

  5. ecologicalhope

    More and more, I find the neglect of the reality of our changing planet to be immoral to an extreme and, yes, malfeasant. We have the information we need and more than we need. Those that continue to lull people to sleep, who fail to act, need to be held as accountable as those who perpetrate unjust wars, torture and illegal detention. But we haven’t done a good job of that either.

    But after this latest IPCC summary report, neglect of this issue has risen to an unprecedented moral scale. This entire society needs to be called to a permanent change in course. For that, we need steady, consistent and courageous truth-telling and leadership.

  6. Steven Earl Salmony

    Websites like SEH are desperately needed. Thanks.

    From my humble perspective, the news from the IPCC about the world we inhabit is forbidding. The unwelcome evidence appears to relate to aspects of stark biophysical reality that have been uncovered by good science and reported repeatedly by IPCC in recent years. If I may say so, the apparently unforeseen news from the IPCC is not good, even though this news is gained from the practice of good science.

    I prefer to rely on good science and to eschew self-interested-thinking when it comes to sharing an understanding with our brothers and sisters about the way the world in which we live works and about an adequate enough grasp of the “placement” of the human species within the natural order of living things.

    All the widely agreed to self-interested-thinking, from magical thinking and wishful thinking to the preternatural, we see in the world today, when taken together, cannot be favorably compared to even one single thought derived from good science.

    It appears that we have a remarkably large and loud number of people, many of them are our leaders, who are denialists and naysayers with regard to the science of global warming. They have been doing what they are doing now during much of my adult life. What they are saying and doing, I suppose, is derived from one form or another of self-interested-thinking. At least one consequence of their widely shared and consensually validated way of viewing the world could lead the human community into danger. Let me say more now about what I mean.

    Self-interested-thinking is potentially dangerous because it serves to hide the truth of global warming, among other things, as well as “poisons the well” of public discourse.

    Too many of our politicians, economists, big-business benefactors and the talking heads in the mass media are all “whistling the same tune.” What is even worse is the way they entice many appointees and surrogates to whistle that same tune, too. After all, who can resist offerings of great wealth, power and privileges that accrue to those who go along with whatsoever is political convenient, economically expedient, religiously tolerated and socially agreeable. In the face of such temptation, we can readily understand why the scientific gains of the IPCC would be everywhere, in every way, rejected by the denialists and naysayers. The science from the IPCC could forcefully impede their acquisition of more wealth, more power and more privileges.

    Not only are too many leaders trying to hide or otherwise deny the good scientific evidence of human-driven climate change, they are also actively involved in poisoning the well of public discourse by strategically disseminating disinformation. And for what? Evermore power, wealth and privileges for themselves and their minions so they can carefreely play out the “conspicuous consumption fantasies” of their “Me Generation” by living large and unsustainably, come what may, having forsaken the future of their children and forgotten how human life depends upon Earth’s limited resources and frangible ecosystem services for its very existence.

    It seems to me that the human community is fast approaching a crossroads: EITHER we will choose to “stay the current course” of endless economic growth, ever increasing conspicuous per capita consumption and skyrocketing human population numbers OR we will find other ways to go forward. If these distinctly human overproduction, over-consumption and overpopulation activities we now see overspreading the surface of Earth are unsustainable, then I am going to suppose we will insist upon some changes in our behavioral repertoire so that sustainable ways of living in the world are proposed by policymakers and adopted by our leaders. Perhaps fundamental behavior change is in the offing. Yes, I believe that we are all (i.e., people in the developed, underdeveloped and undeveloped worlds) in this “spaceship” together and all of us have some unanticipated duties to perform.

    Thanks to everyone involved with SEH for participating in this wondrous effort to save life as we know it, the ecosphere and Earth’s body from being inadvertently ravaged by certain leviathan-size overgrowth activities of the human species, the ones ominously threatening to overwhelm the planetary home, yes, definitely God’s Creation, in which we have been blessed to reside.

  7. ecologicalhope

    Thank you. We are certainly all in this together.

    For visitors, take a moment to read the long and thoughtful response above. It is getting scary ‘out there’ and all our voices are needed.

    Margaret

  8. Steven Earl Salmony

    Dear Margaret,

    Thanks for all you are doing.

    Perhaps a perspective from one of my colleagues in psychology is helpful. Click on the following link.

    http://www.energybulletin.net/37091.html

    Always,

    Steve

  9. ecologicalhope

    Dear Steve,

    Had a chance this morning to read the article at your link. Thanks! I urge visitors to take the time to read and ponder it. It is significant that there are psychologists willing to embrace the planetary crisis, to try to get us out of this narcissistic period in human evolution, and begin moving us — right through ecological grief, fear, and depression — toward a healthy integrated species living in balance, and in truth, with the Earth that envelopes us and of which we are a part.

    For more, check out the work of Theodore Roszak. If you don’t know his work, check out this essay: http://ecopsychology.athabascau.ca/Final/intro.htm

    The book he edited, “Ecopsychology: Restoring the Earth, Healing the Mind,” from Sierra Club Books, is a great collection of eco-psych. thinkers.

    Margaret

  10. Steven Earl Salmony

    Thanks so much Margaret for the recommendation.

    Please find below an email from a distinguished colleague and a personal friend of mine, with its request to you for assistance.

    Dear Steven,

    FEEDBACK DYNAMICS and the ACCELERATION of CLIMATE CHANGE

    Climate change is non-linear. Once set in motion it is acceleratingly self-perpetuating. There is
    then only a small time-window within which human intervention has any (rapidly diminishing) chance
    of halting the process and returning the system to a stable state. Failure to act effectively
    within that window of opportunity would inevitably precipitate cataclysmic change on a par with the
    five mass extinction events known to have obliterated almost all life on earth.

    This WESTMINSTER BRIEFING (subtitled PLANET EARTH WE HAVE A PROBLEM) was delivered to a packed
    audience in the House of Commons in June 2007. It is now released in the approach to the Bali
    Meeting of the UNFCCC because it presents material not yet addressed by the IPCC, but which is
    absolutely critical to the decision-making process at and beyond that event.

    Click on (if the link is not active, copy and paste the address to your
    browser) then follow the link to BALI & BEYOND to access the Introduction, Summary for Policy
    Makers, Sample Presentations, and Book Order Form.

    FEEDBACK DYNAMICS and the ACCELERATION of CLIMATE CHANGE provides an essential briefing for every
    person and organisation involved in the UNFCCC Bali Meeting. Beyond Bali it lays the foundation for
    all future strategic engagement with the imperative task of climate stabilisation.

    Please do everything in your power to ensure that the material reaches:

    All delegates and participants involved in the UNFCCC Bali Meeting
    Political leaders and members of government at every level of society
    Business leaders with strategic responsibility
    Academics and research institutions working on climate change and environmental studies
    NGOs and organisations of the Civil Society
    Concerned citizens of all ages throughout the world community
    Friends and family, colleagues and contacts
    E-mail lists, groups, listings, networks, postings and web-sites

    With best wishes,

    David Wasdell

    Director: The Apollo-Gaia Project
    (Hosted by the Meridian Programme)
    Meridian House
    115 Poplar High Street
    London E14 0AE
    Tel: +44 (0) 207 987 3600
    E-mail: wasdell@meridian.org.uk
    Web-site: http://www.meridian.org.uk

    [This E-mail scanned for viruses by Declude Version 4.3.46 using the F-Prot Antivirus engine Version 3.16f]

    Always, with thanks,

    Steve

    Steven Earl Salmony
    AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population

  11. D.Bheemeswar

    Thanks for the message. It sounds good that people are ready to face the environ-mental problems. But we should not dilute our campaign on this matter.

  12. Steven Earl Salmony, Ph.D., M.P.A.

    Dear Friends,

    For just a moment, let us consider how to get to the year 2050………from here and now.

    Perhaps we could follow what we already know from good science, reasoning and common sense. We can choose to respond ably and differently, in a more reality-oriented way, to the global challenges before humanity, the challenges that we can manage because they have been induced by the spectacular unrestrained overgrowth of human activities now threatening to engulf the surface of Earth.

    Of course, it is fair to ask what the family of humanity could choose to do “ably and differently.” There are several ideas that come to mind.

    1) Implement a universal, voluntary program that encourages people to limit the number of offspring to one child per family.

    2) Establish an upper limit on the growth of the individual human footprint.

    3) Restrict immediately the reckless dissipation of limited natural resources so that the Earth is given time to replenish them for human benefit.

    4) Substitute clean, renewable sources of energy, through the use of substantial economic incentives, for the fossil fuels we rely upon now.

    5) Recognize that everything human beings do on the surface of our planetary home utterly depend on the finite resources of Earth. One consequence of this realization is understanding that there can be no such thing as an endlessly expanding global economy, given its current scale and growth rate, on a relatively small and noticeably frangible planet the size of Earth.

    Godspeed,

    Steve

    Steven Earl Salmony, Ph.D., M.P.A.
    AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population
    http://sustainabilitysoutheast.org/