If Matt Damon & Co. really wanted to make a movie that would scare American audiences off of fracking for good, they should have just made a movie dramatizing fracking’s potential threat to America’s beer. Instead, what we get is a quaint love story wrapped in a conspiracy movie, draped in a toothless political polemic, festooned with mawkish aimlessness.
Environmental issues? | Right now we’re fucked.
I had somebody laugh at me the other day for using a plastic cup but refusing to drink bottled water. Granted, I should buy a permanent beer pong set so I never have to use disposables again (that’s what we were doing), but the uncommunicated information that was conveyed to me was as follows:
I encoded immediately that to an uninformed person who has an unrealistic ideal of what the word environmentalism means I looked like a hypocrite. This means that if I ID as an environmentalist I am then held to a standard our culture created, more likely some capitalist smearer created. That standard is unrealistic and inevitably unattainable to most people living in a system of widespread exploitation. By circulating that standard as the yardstick to measure me by, the impossibility of it inherently discredits me and devalues my contributions.
It would be the same as saying to a young college student that you cannot be an environmentalist if you drive a car. Not even an electric car because that requires coal pollution, never mind that you cannot afford an electric car, much less to have no transportation to work because in this system you need money to survive.
That told me something else, that unfortunately this person either hadn’t had the opportunity to be made to understand, or just didn’t understand, the difference between individual habits and generating political action. The former is micro whilst the latter is macro.
No amount of me or you refusing plastics or bottled water will put a dent in halting the exploiting of the Earth. Yes, we should continue to do our part, but we have to put pressure where pressure matters most—not on individual choice, but on avenues pushing for political action.
We don’t end the commoditization of water only by a few thousand or million refusing to buy Aquafina. We end it by passing legislation to socialize water resources to community levels. We don’t end the dumping of plastics into landfills only by a few thousand or million refusing to ever use plastic—god the absurdity of it hurts. We do it by supporting community wide initiatives to recycle or move to sustainable hemp based papers.
Until folks realize that though both avenues must be pushed, concentrated political action creates exponentially more leverage. That cannot happen as long as the masses see the surface of a problem and judge individuals for its systemic consequences.
Mainstream activists, mainly those screaming the chants of pacifism in the words of Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, and Martin Luther King Jr., have become deluded to the highest stake of their causes; instead they have come to see violence and non-violence “as if these were political or philosophical games instead of matters of life and death .”
Only those who have experienced violence directly in their lives begin to explore the question of realistic retaliation. Indeed, these are those who come to see the question not as activists, or whatever else by ways of violence upon them, but “rather as human beings—animals—struggling to survive .”
“Having felt your father’s weight upon you in your bed; having stood in clear-cut-and-herbicided moonscape after moonscape, tears streaming down your face; having had your children taken from you, land stolen that belonged to our ancestors since the land was formed, and your way of life destroyed; having sat at a kitchen table, foreclosure notice in front of you for land your parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents worked, shotgun across your knees as you try to decide whether or not to put the barrel in your mouth; feeling the sting of a guard’s baton or the jolt of a stun gun—to suffer this sort of violence directly in your body—is often to undergo some sort of deeply physical transformation. It is often to perceive and be in the world differently .”
The active nonviolence doctrine then comes to teeter the same line as the possibility to human livelihood or death; and the self recognizes then the appropriate response—to fight back, even violently if necessary.
Humans must immediately implement a series of radical measures to halt carbon emissions or prepare for the collapse of entire ecosystems and the displacement, suffering and death of hundreds of millions of the globe’s inhabitants, according to a report commissioned by the World Bank. The continued failure to respond aggressively to climate change, the report warns, will mean that the planet will inevitably warm by at least 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century, ushering in an apocalypse.
The political and corporate elites in the industrialized world continue, in spite of overwhelming scientific data, to place short-term corporate profit and expediency before the protection of human life and the ecosystem. The fossil fuel industry is permitted to determine our relationship to the natural world, dooming future generations. Carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas, increased from its pre-industrial concentration of about 278 parts per million (ppm) to more than 391 ppm in September 2012, with the rate of rise now at 1.8 ppm per year. We have already passed the tipping point of 350 ppm; above that level, life as we have known it cannot be sustained. The CO2 concentration is higher now than at any time in the last 15 million years. The emissions of CO2, currently about 35 billion metric tons per year, are projected to climb to 41 billion metric tons per year by 2020.
Because about 90 percent of the excess heat trapped by the greenhouse effect since 1955 is momentarily in the oceans, we have begun a process that, even if we halted all carbon emissions today, will ensure rising sea levels and major climate disruptions, including the continued melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets as well as the acidification of the oceans. The report estimates that if warming accelerates toward 4 degrees Celsius, sea levels will rise 0.5 to 1 meter, possibly more, by 2100. Sea levels will increase several meters more in the coming centuries. If warming can be keep to 2 degrees or below, sea levels will still rise, by about 20 centimeters by 2100, and probably will continue to rise between 1.5 and 4 meters above present-day levels by the year 2300. Sea-level rise, the report concludes, is likely to be below 2 meters only if warming is kept to well below 1.5 degrees. The rise in sea levels will not be uniform. Coastal areas in tropical regions will be inundated by sea-level rises that are up to 20 percent higher than those in higher latitudes.
The report calls on the leaders of the industrial world to immediately institute radical steps—including a halt to the dependence on fossil fuels—to keep the global temperature rise below 2 degrees C, although the report concedes that even an increase of less than 2 degrees would result in serious damage to the environment and human populations. Without a massive investment in green infrastructure that can adapt to the heat and other new extreme weather, and in the building of efficient public transportation networks and renewable energy systems to minimize carbon emissions, we will succumb to our own stupidity.