Monthly Archives: April 2019

This is a hard and stupid project.

Aw jesus.  I had nearly accomplished some lovely denial.

In her book about the death of her young child, Emily Rapp writes that parents love two things.  They love the child and they love the future of the child.  When they get a terminal diagnosis for their child, even while the child is still present, they suffer the loss of their child’s future.  I have always known that I had a kid for my own enjoyment, but I wasn’t really prepared for Catherine Ingram to be explicit about what ‘no future’ looks like.

Related pieces:

  • A profile of the Extinction Rebellion  I love the slogan “Tell the truth and act like it is real.”  It is the ‘acting like it is real’ that I never see done in state government, despite all our “climate leadership”.  I mean, maybe Jerry Brown is building a survival bunker in Colusa, which actually would be ‘acting like it is real’.  But calling small-scale technocratic systems like cap-and-trade a success while not, for example, banning all production of fossil fuels in CA signaled to all of us that climate change isn’t actually urgent.  Until the State is willing to act like it is real,  citizens won’t either.
  • Fuck these guys, and these ones too. These guys are fucking themselves, so we don’t have to.

It is really hard to live in two futures, so I will not be able to actually believe in near-term societal collapse and do productive work in Regular Life.  And I myself have been thinking of things that make sense in our current world.  Political pressures, ideas for Water, stuff like that.  I will keep going with Deep Adaptation, but if I myself don’t head for the hills, which is unlikely, I will probably revert to blogging about how Betty Yee should be governor next.  That doesn’t mean I don’t believe.  But I can’t manage to hold both futures in my head and I’m not brave enough to switch over yet.

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Deep Adaptation: Our Non-Linear World and Looking Ahead

I re-read World War Z over the weekend, which felt more like a soothing fairy tale about people doing extraordinary things to combat a visible menace that couldn’t be denied or ignored.  So addressable! Such a functional response!

Our Non-Linear World and Looking Ahead

I’m not going to discuss these two sections at length. I do have more to say about later sections.

On this one page, Prof. Bendell wrote:

IPCC … has a track record of significantly underestimating the pace of change

On some other page, he writes:

[R]eported impacts today are at the very worst end of predictions being made in the early 1990’s.

And on yet a different page that comes later, he writes:

The politically permissible scientific consensus is that we need to beneath 2 decrees warming. … That figure was agreed by governments that were dealing with … pressures from  vested interests, particularly corporations.

All the while detailing why the predictions we do have likely underestimate the danger.

The thing that strikes me is how the seriousness of climate change, already underestimated, then gets diluted down the chain of governmental layers. Although California’s 4th Climate Change Assessment is willing to predict large sea-level rise, the most the Coastal Commission requires is that local governments “consider” managed retreat from the coast.  The local governments “consider” managed retreat by promptly dismissing it, and go back to planning* for groins and beach replenishment.

For SGMA, DWR offers climate change guidance (presumably backed by the models with the limitations that Bendell describers). The GSA’s will choose a politically expedient middle ground which may or may not survive review by board members who do not value climate change science.

Although the models aren’t dire enough, and our emissions are outpacing the models, I also see dilution as each level of government walks back a little more from what would be required to face climate change.

Continue reading

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Deep Adaptation, first two sections

Introduction/Locating this Study Within Academia

Prof Bendell doesn’t number his pages, so his analysis is clearly inadequate and civilization will survive after all!  Therefore, I don’t have to wrestle with any implications, which is just as well, since they all suck and I don’t want to. The lack of page numbers is going to make referencing the article difficult.  I’m going to have to approach this by sections.

I have been surprisingly floored by this paper since I read it last week.  More grief and fear than I expected; wakeful nights.  I’ve been glibly cynical and pessimistic for years, but as it turns out, I do not want to do the tasks of grief for societal collapse.  The questions are too hard, and I keep slipping back into denial.  Which is super easy, because we are all doing that together and everything that is ongoing in my life is not about near-term unavertable collapse. But today I’ve read a few more of their papers and agree with them.

In his introduction, Prof. Bendell writes about why he is writing this paper.  He was struck that his review found no academic planning for the most likely outcome.  Rather, everything we see says ‘if humanity doesn’t do this complex and unselfish task on a scale never seen before, it will really be bad’.  Of course, there is no evidence that we will undertake a complex and unselfish task at any scale, so the likely outcome is the really bad one. But even though I thought I had realized it before, seeing that explicitly laid out without the ‘absent a miracle’ step was pretty painful.

I will also say, that none of you brought me any cheer at all.  Nope.  The lot of you, including my mother, were all “yeah, we know.  Gonna be terrible.”   So, I have been in grief and anger this past week, and also switching back the dailiness of our entire surroundings, which make the whole thing easy to ignore.  I’ve thought of a few selfish, white-privilege kind of plans to help my own kid.  But half of the despair is the returning feeling that nothing on a larger scale would work even if I did it.  I would do effective things in a heartbeat, but I cannot imagine what they are. (Do not inform me about green-motivated personal austerity.)

I do want to draw parallels from the failures of world-scale climate change dialogue to the failures of California-scale water dialogue.  Prof. Bendell writes, on some fucking page:

The … field of climate adapation is oriented around ways to maintain our current societies as they face manageable climactic perturbations.

Which looks to me a whole lot like every Californian administration’s water goal of “please, what we have now for just a while longer”.  Which, I am sorry to say, is all I can detect in Crowfoot’s “portfolio approach”.  Portfolio approach TO DO WHAT?  To supply the world with cheap snacks?  To provide clean drinking water to everyone?  To have thriving rivers?  To retire 3 million acres of irrigated ag with equity and dignity?  I can apply a portfolio approach to any of those. But I am worried that the Newsom administration will stick to the default, even as climate change hits us.

We are all doomed.

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