More thoughts rattling around my head crystallized by Slajov Zizek. This argument based on one Zizek credits to Jean-Pierre Dupuy.Global warming is fact. It is clearly demonstrable that the earth's temperature is rising. What is controversial are the causes and ramifications of said global warming. Given the complexity of the global ecosystem (we have difficulty even predicting tomorrow's weather here in the Ohio Valley), these questions will never be definitively answered, except in the context of history. In other words, we will never have a clear and convincing forecast of the future. We will only fully understand the outcome of global warming, environmental catastrophe, after the catastrophe has happened.
It's time to forget global warming and start talking about environmental catastrophe. Our only solution to avoiding catastrophe is to assume the catastrophe as fact. That doesn't mean discussing possibilities; that means acknowledging that catastrophe will happen, and accepting it as part of our reality. Only if we accept catastrophe as fact (it will happen!) can we then move to solve the problem, and therefore avoid the catastrophe. Only if we fully believe in the catastrophe can we enact the measures that hindsight would tell us could solve the problem. We would be, in essence, creating a closed temporal circuit, with the ability to act on a future that we know is going to happen.
We can't know the future, of course. Our solutions will be imperfect, but we will have solutions.
The interesting thing about this idea is that we have proof that it works: this is exactly how the US intelligence agencies have approached terrorism since 9/11. Any time a representative of the US administration was asked to speculate about future terrorist acts, they were very forward about saying that "it's not a question of if, but when, the next terrorist strike will happen". This is not the normal "cover your ass" public statement; this is a way to approach a problem . . . and it has been very effective. Not perfect, but effective.
There are still questions that need to be discussed, such as the likely nature of the environmental catastrophe, the best solutions, and the costs of those solutions versus their benefits. This is exactly the nature of the discussions we have about global terrorism. We need to forget global warming and start talking about environmental catastrophe. The important thing we have to acknowledge is this: environmental catastrophe, like global terrorism, is fact.
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Time for another In Rotation, but I've been listening to pretty much the same old things lately. So how about some books?
- Slavoj Zizek: First As Tragedy, Then As Farce
- Robert Creeley: Collected Poems
- Bruno Schulz: Street of Crocodiles
- Lester Bangs: Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung
- Thorstein Veblen: The Theory of the Leisure Class
- Rainer Maria Rilke: Duino Elegies
- Astra Taylor, ed.: Examined Life
- Witold Gombrowicz: Ferdydurke