Confronting Climate Change: theme for the week of 12/9/12

What is the climate conversation we most need to have now?

Our podcast is now up for the Monday Cafe Call

A lot has been happening recently on the climate front.  Hurricane Sandy put the issue front and center after it was virtually ignored during the elections.  Echoing the anti-apartheid efforts of the 1980's, 350.org has started the new Go Fossil Free campaign, which calls on students to demand that university endowment funds divest from the coal, oil and gas industries.  And the COP18 talks just finished up with another round of failed negotiations, highlighted by a tearful delegate from the storm-ravaged Philippines pleading for action on behalf of the seven billion people on this planet.

Join us this week in the Cafe for a conversation on the varied dimensions of this crisis.  What is moving in the world?  How might this online community participate? What are the personal challenges this subject brings up for you?  Explore these questions together here on our forum, and on each of the three Cafe Calls we will be hosting.  Monday's Vital Conversation will start us off with an overview, Connect2012 on Tuesday will focus on what this community might do and Thursday's Occupy Heart will address the inner struggles a crisis like this evokes.  See the schedule on the right side of this page for times and registration links.

We will be testing out MaestroConference's new "social webinar" feature this week, which allows you to see who else is in your breakouts with you.  Click here to access this feature once you are on a Cafe Call (note: you will need your call-in and PIN handy to sign up).

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It's equally interesting to me Richard, that you picked up on something within my dialogue with Wendell (& not the context).  I'm very grateful you are taking the effort to provide explanation of your differing experiences.  Potentially, it provides a little window into a deeper understanding of our differences as perceivers- we who otherwise also share so many common attributes (which bring us together to do our part to help a world gone wrong, no?).  I'd welcome exploring this even more by you or anyone else.

Your observations are clearly external.  If that surprises you I'll explain.  They deal with subjects and objects in terms of what's outside of yourself and humanity.  It deals with the everyday mechanical processes, including thinking... but not thinking about thinking or feeling.  Known as the gross world, some of these might include, earning income, to cut grass, sex, performing surgery, to fix the toilet, to drive to the store, to build a rocket ship, going to church, to travel to Mexico, going to school, to have a family...  These deal with mostly 'known' or accepted processes and information. They don't automatically deal with "my relationships" to these things, or the world, or even to my own feelings and ideas.  And they don't deal gracefully with what is not known or unknowable.

I think the reason you and other engineers could solve problems together as you describe is because you were unconcerned & unaware whether love or self-interest was driving the solution.  But, if one of you wanted badly to be promoted over the other, another dynamic enters, driving the solution.  Or, if the problem deals with governance of people, & 'people' include yourself, then isn't it likely your own interests may very well drive the solution (even if you might deny it)? 

So, because in my dialogue w Wendell, I'm speaking of the 'inner' perception of experience.  And I may not be smart enough to explain this solely in terms of the external world view.  It might depend on how keen you are to the 'inner' dialogue.  I speculate that people who feel they're getting on just fine dealing with life at predominately external level, have no further need, or maybe they haven't discovered it yet. 

Though I can't help but to participate in the external world, I have not found it alone is adequate to my need for understanding, or for a life in which I can live fully.  For example, to know the truth... that enables me to love you like a brother... to 'see' you & accept you fully just as you are... and to be thankful for you as a human being... would be living more fully.

 

Dyck, I’m glad you’re receptive to exploring our differences in how we perceive.

When I saw the topic, “Confronting Climate Change,” I suppose I unconsciously supplied an object for the verb.  If I remember correctly, I thought we were going to confront the politics of climate change, or the economics of climate change, or probably both.  Anyway, I perceived it as a problem to be solved.

If I were meeting with a group of engineers to discuss the stress analysis for a bridge, it is unlikely we would get into a discussion about our inner feelings towards the analysis.  Some of us might have strong feelings about the bridge, whether it should be built, but airing our feelings during a design review would serve no purpose. 

Because we do not express our inner feelings during a discussion, however, doesn’t mean we don’t have or don’t value intimacy and an inner life.  I just didn’t have any expectation of finding it here.  Apparently you do have such an expectation, and we are not meeting that expectation.  What would it look like (sound like?) if your wants were being met?  Forgive me if you’ve already told us. 

You wrote that my observations were external, and dealt “with subjects and objects in terms of what's outside of yourself and humanity.”  (Actually, some of the engineers were part of humanity.)  In speaking of my observations you write: “They don't automatically deal with "my relationships" to these things, or the world, or even to my own feelings and ideas.”  Are you saying my observations didn’t deal with your “own feelings and ideas?”

What would dealing “gracefully with what is not known or unknowable” look like?

You wrote: “… if the problem deals with governance of people, & 'people' include yourself, then isn't it likely your own interests may very well drive the solution (even if you might deny it)?”  In the case of engineering, I always had an interest in protecting my reputation, but solving problems may be a stronger incentive.  That is, I was sometimes willing to take risks if the payout (in a good solution) was enough.

With respect to “confronting climate change,” I have stated in other forums that I was driven by fear, especially for my grandchildren and g. grandchildren.  I want a solution to this problem. 

I hope I'm stayin with ya Richard. 

I don't know if you'll grant that there is great unknowingness in life... stuff we don't or can't know, paradoxical knowing, stuff we think we know but it's wrong, pieces and parts of knowledge, and perhaps that no knowledge is complete except in God.  What do we do this, ignore it?  Question it?  Meditate on it?  Pray?  Study?  Read books?

First, I might say in my life I'm only concerned enough to do inquiry about the 'inner' knowing which deals not simply with the mechanical aspects of life, but mainly with the human journey to find truth, love, compassion, beauty and the like... to understand who am I and what's my purpose.

My vision of grace is having poise under all conditions, adverse and not, trusting in the will of God.

So, to contemplate what to do with unknowingness appeals to me.  It seems an inquiry... a humble beginning in which to learn.  Then as I learn, how deeply do I take in experiences that present?  And how deeply does it make me go to find relationships to my behaviors and observations? 

How do I ponder the question... if God stood before me how would I know it was real and true? ... would I use my intellect?  would I look for proof or devise a test?  would anything I've ever learned tell me how to discern such a situation?  would I be predisposed to discount the imposter?  If you think this is a silly question I'll conclude we're each concerned with 'other worlds' and leave it at that.

To me the discipline learned and applied as an engineer is certainly applicable in a spiritual dialogue.  But, it apparently needs agility and supplementation to the solely rational approach like any other disclipine.  Isn't it broadly true that highly valued attributes always have another side that may need to be dealt with or overcome?  My observation is that spiritual inquiry takes every bit of intellect and heart and courage and energy we can muster.

Thanks for stayin with me Richard.

Dyck, I’m feeling somewhat guilty because continuing this thread may be off topic, but writing about my favorite unknowns is too attractive to forego.  I’ll try to find some way to tie it to our topic.  You may be more interested in unknown unknowns, Dyck, but I don’t know how to write about or contemplate unknown unknowns.   

Our unknowns (Mysteries) serve to bind us together.  We are like children huddled together for protection from the mysterious shadows.

One of the more interesting unknowns has to do with consciousness.  I recently read an article about a future event dubbed the singularity.  This event is the construction of a computer that is smart enough to build even smarter computers.  At this point, the computers will begin their take-over of the world.  I’ve done some studies in AI (Artificial Intelligence), and I don’t think this event can ever occur.  The author doesn’t even question whether a computer could have consciousness – could be conscious of itself.  Which brings me to one of the most intriguing unknowns.  What is it in our architecture that causes us to be conscious of ourselves and of our surroundings?  Or is it something external to us?

Experiments in quantum physics make this question even more interesting.  Some (split screen) experiments seem to suggest our consciousness is connected to the material world.  Charles Eisenstein wrote in “Sacred Economics” about the need for reconciliation between our material world and our spiritual world.  Perhaps science will make the connection.  (See also “Reenchantment of the World” by Morris Berman)

Much is also unknown about our unconscious, especially our universal or collective unconscious.  Is it possible, as some believe, our collective unconscious is more than just an evolutionary inheritance?  Are Jung’s archetypes from within or from without? 

Time is eternally mysterious.    Are we destined to hurdle forward in one direction along one dimension for all eternity?  Or is it possible to be flipped around through time as happened to Billy Pilgrim in Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse Five?”  And who does the flipping?  Another experiment in quantum physics (delayed decision) seems to suggest that a measurement decision can affect past events.

Death is an unknown.  The sting is mitigated by the possibility of entering our last great learning adventure.  As the old hymn says: “We will understand it better bye and bye.”

You posit an unknown, Dyck, that I don’t remember ever encountering: “if God stood before me how would I know it was real and true? ... would I use my intellect? would I look for proof or devise a test?”  I’ve erased several comments on this topic.  I need to give it some more thought.    

God is perhaps the ultimate mystery.  I rejected the god of the Old Testament in my college days.  (Education corrupts, I guess.)  Now I prefer to think of Her as someone like Mother Nature.  (Or how about Mother Nurture?) 

Sin is a two-edged mystery.  Sin’s reputation was partially restored by Howard Bloom in “The Lucifer Principle.”  Mother Nature used sin and evolution to bring humanity to its present state.  (I did say “partially restored.”) 

My Southern Baptist upbringing gave me an oppressive sense of sin, but I believe most of this sense now comes from evolution.  For example, suicide became a sin because it reduces the numbers in our tribe.  My training in statistics gave me some further complications (unknowns) to contemplate.  Does God consider it a sin when you act, for no good reason, to put yourself in a situation that results in a high probability of death?      

Our religious feelings or maybe evolution gives us a strong urge to preserve life.  Almost all of us feel obligated to protect children.  Most of us, I think, would have put ourselves in danger to save any of those children killed in Newtown.  Some of us, those of us who have already done a lot of living, would probably have traded our lives for one of the children.

Then let us ponder this relevant question.  How could any of us not do all that is within us to save all the children of this planet?  This is why we must seriously confront climate change.

You are indeed a compassionate and vital man, Richard.  Hearing your chivalry makes me feel really good!  You're helping me 'see' you and I genuinely aspire to your stature.

A good deal of what we're engaging in is what I'll call the bridge between the inner and the outer world... the seen and the unseen... the gross and the subtle... the apparent and the real... the paradoxical...

Frankly, it challenges my capacity of intellect & memory.  So, as you may notice I'm propelled to distill at every turn when possible...

I also tend to shun too much use of my intellect for theory or opinion (tho I have plenty), in favor of intuition, rational thinking, question-forming, acute observation, acute observation during self expression, finding that which I admire or aspire to, finding the lesson in every situation, etc..

It's a common misconception that Darwin included the Human Species in his work.  In fact, it along with creation was excluded.  Yet everything up to the Human is included in Evolutionary Theory.  Here is part of the rest of the story. (this is a partial story of creation... if you want to know more or the source, just ask)

Evolution is a process in the growth of consciousness from zero (stone) to full.  Man is at the end of evolution and is the end result... having full consciousness.  Full consciousness however, doesn't imply full use of that consciousness.  To partake of full capacity man must make the journey of 'involution'.  This equally long journey is inward, gradually to weaken and unravel the knots of millions of years of experiences or impressions/sanskaras that evermore dictate behavior (such as eat or be eaten, procreation).  Obviously, these impressions are focused on the center of self.  When, through millions of reincarnations and weakening impressions, the center of self is no more... the knowing of Self as God is realized.

Dick Dewld: no you should not put your own constructs aside to take up mine and no one especially me is superior to any other.  The way I speak apparently gives you the idea that I think otherwise or that I do not find common cause and interest in the story you tell as you stated elsewhere in another comment.  What I find ironic is that when I speak you seem to experience what you care about being dismissed and perhaps invalidated and and when you speak I experience you are telling me to shut up.  I hear often that my delivery leaves a lot to be desired

All I can say is that I am a life long student of metaphysics, care about the subject deeply and love speaking with people at length about it.  I also have found in my experience that I care about practical results and solutions in the physical world and that metaphysics by itself does not seem to concern itself with specifics of what we might do to have the world work for everyone apart from from what I think some people are asserting that pursuing metaphysics and spiritual illumination is itself the solution.  I do not know for sure whether that is true and I for sure do not know if it is true of you. But it is what I experience and I have been dismissed many times apparently for that reason.  

I especially like solutions that have a basis in principles that I find come from metaphysics such as honesty, transparency, justice and unity of all people, consciousness and being.  Are any of these points of common interest?  If you would like to talk about these thing or anything else you think applies please let me know.  Or at least tell me where I am missing the boat or in my opinion both our boats are going to sink.  I do think both inner and outer realities are necessary for a way through the current crisis is to be found.

I think you will agree that the material world is lacking in moral and spiritual groundedness.  On the other hand in my experience and in my opinion world of spirituality is seriously ungrounded in practical matters having to do with public policy.  Especially do I see it alienated from the earth itself as evidenced in our land tenure and tax policies despite all the talk about concern for Gaia and the environment.  I see it entirely possible for spirit and matter to come together in harmony and that when that happens part of the manifestation will be in public policy governing how we conduct our business, how we share the earth and how we treat the earth itself.  Is it possible to have a dialogue involving both of our interests and those of others here?  I am not interested in never talking about public policy at the highest level but that is a choice not for me to decide for others.

If this is bullying, say so again and I will shut up.

 

Dyck Dewald: I suggest renouncing the possibility of privately profiting from ownership of the earth herself would be a terrific spiritual practice and would have profound spiritual effects.  I suggest working for a community wide agreement on this particular issue would have incredibly profound spiritual effects not merely for individuals but for community and for our culture and civilization as a whole.  I am suggesting that taxation of community created land values could be a wonderful way to do this.  I speak from personal experience of having my own spiritual understanding and practice greatly expanded by thinking, writing and speaking about these things. If there are other ways to do this bring 'em on.  That does not mean that you have to drop what else you care about and are doing regardless of how this sounds.  I am only suggesting that we think about including this possibility in the mix.

If the shoe fits...  When someone has one message... and it keeps coming... and it is the answer to every question... and explanations get longer and elaborate... and no matter the other discourse, it comes back around to that singular message...   then something isn't working as relationship between people.  In fact, it's not relationship because the essential qualities for getting a foothold in relationship are missing.    

In this forum many if not most of us have strong feelings and intentions and plenty of intellect.  And we care about our world, about others, and ourselves... but, every inhabitant of earth would claim this, no? 

What is it that makes us different, if we are different?  I think we're more tolerant of one another because we can see we each have our warts and farts.  I need tolerance from others, knowing I share a lot of commonality.   So, I need 'space' for my own journey, to listen to myself and others in order to learn.  Rather than competition & ambition, perhaps there's a basis of affection and safety here that holds us all.  I sense this and it makes me want to be completely honest.

I make the mistake of thinking that rational argument and logic are persuasive or even informative if the emotional aspect is not already engaged.  Please forgive me for repeating my stuff.  Perhaps it might become relevant some other place and time and be of use then.

Wendell, what I've found is that rational argument, logic, and emotional appeal, even when the emotional aspect is already strenuously engaged, will always fail when tribalism is involved. People have loyalties to other people and identify with other people in certain ways, so everyone becomes either "one of us" or "one of them," either "a friend," or "not a friend."

We're well past the point of no return with regard to climate change, so arguments that making it just a little worse is better than theoretically making it much worse, only support making it worse, rather than stopping or even reversing climate change. Those who identify as being civilized and progressive, will not consider arguments that we stop activities which increase climate change, because civilization and progress require the planetary destruction that is driving climate change.

Identity is who we are, or at least who we think or believe we are. So when people find their identities challenged, they raise the drawbridges over their protective moats and defend themselves against any threats to their identities. It is almost impossible for most people to think of existing without being who they are, even if being who they are means that they will soon make it impossible to exist.

So people think of ways they can pretend to oppose climate change without having to stop supporting everything that is driving climate change, in order to protect their identity. You can't convince a person to stop being themself, even if being themself means that they are destroying the planet without which they couldn't exist.

Mark: are you then predicting humanity as a failed experiment? Is there no way to have it work for us and the planet?  If there is no way to have it work successfully however you define that, how do you feel about that (feel, I see what you think) and what woud you have the rest of us do if anything with that? 

Humanity is not a failed experiment, Wendell, civilization is. Surveys show that most voters are comfortable with wars of aggression, one of the biggest drivers of climate change due to the huge amounts of fossil fuels needed to wage eight wars halfway across the globe, and I think the reason is because they know that those wars are the only way they can maintain their comfortable civilized lifestyles.

It makes me feel sad, angry, and frustrated, like when I see a neighbor of mine with diabetes eating unhealthy foods guaranteed to make her condition worse. I've tried to buy her healthier foods, but she likes her comfort foods. She's in a lot of physical pain due to those comfort foods.

I'd like to see people stop hurting themselves, but it's like explaining to my neighbor why the foods she is eating make her condition worse and why she should stop. She listens, she understands what I'm saying, and she knows that I'm right, but she can't stop. She likes me, she knows I care about her, but I've become an annoyance. When I take her to lunch, I choose healthy places, but when she makes her own decisions, they aren't healthy. Just like with my neighbor, I've been so repetitive that everyone here knows exactly what I'd have them do, but they can't, they won't, and they don't want to hear about it any more. I'm just an annoyance.

I'm going to be giving a 5-minute presentation to my co-op's board of directors this afternoon. They'll listen, they'll read the handouts I'll give them, they'll understand, and they'll even agree, but they won't stop doing what they're doing. What they're doing is contrary to their stated values and principles, but they can't stop. Maybe if we're still around in ten years, some of them will come back to me and tell me that I was right, but it will be much too late. I'm low income, but I spent $25 xeroxing those handouts, and I've spent hours every day for over a week honing my 5-minute talk. I know it's probably a complete waste of my time and money, and if my survival wasn't tied up with theirs, I wouldn't even bother. But sometimes there have been breakthroughs, and sometimes I break through to somebody who is a much better communicator and organizer than I am.

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