Purchase What We Leave Behind
Read more

Excerpt from What We Leave Behind

Insane Solutions (p. 201)

From chapter "The Real World"

Think about the prominent “solutions” suggested to help curb the worst of global warming. What do they have in common? I’m talking about everymajor “solution,” from those proposed by Al Gore (compact fluorescents, inflating tires, reducing packaging, and so on); to James Lovelock (nuclear energy); to Newt Gingrich (giving polluters tax credits to lean them toward voluntarily reducing their carbon emissions); to the various ideas proposed and promoted by scientists, such as the idea of dumping tons of iron, or alternatively, tons of agricultural waste—how conveeeenient!—into the ocean in the hope that this will cause algae to flourish, absorbing CO2 into the algae’s bodies and, by the way, doing god knows how much damage to the already-being-murdered oceans; or that of injecting sulfur particles high into the atmosphere to reflect sunlight back into space; or a further refinement of this idea, put forward officially by the United States government, to put giant mirrors in outer space to reduce the sunlight that arrives here; or (and I can hardly believe I’m not making up these obscenely and insanely stupid ideas, but each one has come from a “respected” source and received a lot of mainstream media attention) an idea pushed by NASA scientists to move the Earth farther from the Sun. I never thought I would see solutions presented that would make me pine for the relative sanity of plants on Ford truck factories.

What all of these “solutions”—and of course the same is true for the “solutions” presented by people like William McDonough, Paul Hawken (who wrote Natural[sic] Capitalismand The Ecology[sic] of Commerce), Al Gore, and nearly all of the so-called environmental intelligentsia (or “Bioneers” as some call them)—is that they all suffer the same stupid and insane reversal of what is real that Andy did. They all take industrial capitalism as a given, as that which mustbe saved, as that which must be maintained at all costs (including the murder of the planet, the murder of all that is real), as the independent variable, as primary; and they take the real, physical world—filled with real physical beings who live, die, make the world more diverse—as secondary, as a dependent variable, as something (never someone, of course) which (never who) must conform to industrial capitalism or die. Even someone as smart and dedicated as Peter Montague, who runs the indispensable Rachel’s Newsletter, can say, about an insane plan to “solve” global warming by burying carbon underground (which of course is where it was before some genius pumped it up and burned it), “What’s at stake: After trillions of tons of carbon dioxide have been buried in the deep earth, if even a tiny proportion of it leaks back out into the atmosphere, the planet could heat rapidly and civilization as we know it could be disrupted.” No, Peter, it’s not civilization we should worry about. Disrupting civilization is a good thing for the planet, which means it’s a good thing. Far more problematical than the possibility that “civilization as we know it could be disrupted” is the very real possibility that the planet (both as we know it and as we have never bothered to learn about it) could die. Another example: in a speech in which he called for “urgent action to fight global warming,” and in which he called global warming “an emergency,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gave the reason he wants urgent action to combat this emergency: “We must be actively engaged in confronting the global challenge of climate change, which is a serious threat to development everywhere.” Never mind it being a serious threat to the planet. He’s worried about “development,” which is in this case code language for industrialization.

This is of course the same perspective of those who do not hide the fact that they are grotesquely anti-environmental. Just recently, Bjorn Lomborg, the latest in a long line of writers who are paid well to deny or understate the damage this culture causes to the natural world finally acknowledged that global warming is happening, and that it is caused by industrial civilization. But his next move was mind-numbingly predictable: he immediately shifted to the fallback position of saying that nothing can (or should) be done about it, stating that it is “somewhat silly” to think that this culture can change.

And it’s not silly to harm or destroy the planet you live on?

As always, it is this culture which is primary, permanent, immutable; and the real world which is secondary, and which (rather than who) must bend to this culture’s will.