Posts Tagged ‘Global Warming’

The Weather

July 24, 2022

            “The weather” was once The originating topic of conversation when two strangers or mildly acquainted individuals would meet. Family get-togethers were often marked by talking about “the weather” amongst siblings, perhaps estranged. Analysis finds it was not as much about being the safe cliché that it is, but rather, of a starting point held in common (much as the starting mark of a race is held in common by all the contestants. After the race begins, there is no commonality). The news of the past week has been of extraordinary extreme heat, both here in the US as well as abroad.  And yet, though “the heat” may be a topic of conversation held in common, the weather is not. Joe Manchin, for example, believes the weather in West Virginia differs substantially from that in New England, Texas or the state of Washington. Americans there have nothing in common, except suffering the extreme heat. The weather, taken as a unified system, much as Google, Meta or the market on Wall Street can be considered as a system, is not possible for Mr. Manchin, along with many other political leaders (primarily GOP). “We can’t do anything about the weather” creeps in the age old saw. Analysis finds this to be based on a reliance of the deus ex machina excuse, essentially a belief in the hand of providence at work behind the scenes of a system. Analysis finds it uncanny how this dovetails with many other politically legislated and executive actions conceived and acted upon as articles of fundamental faith. Originally, the GOP adamantly denying global warming was about some mumbled reasoning that the scientific evidence was not completely there. With the extreme heat, the horrendous and prevalent wildfires, the catastrophic flooding in places that haven’t ever experienced such (and hurricane season has just begun!), the GOP position on climate change has evolved, much as the science of global warming has evolved. For the GOP today, God, guns and babies shows up with even something as common as “the weather.”

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The Healthy Practice Of Democracy

February 12, 2022

            In the news this past week was a city council meeting in Yellow Springs Ohio. Or shouldn’t we rather say the news was Dave Chappelle at a city council meeting in Yellow Springs Ohio? After 4 years of the Trump Presidency, we’ve all learned that celebrity place-ment makes a difference, especially in regards to civic proceedings. And the place of the celebrity in this proceeding made all the difference in the world. It also gives an enhanced meaning to “legitimate political discourse.” Like the January 6 original “legitimate political discourse’’, this one was also recorded on video. What we all can see, time after time, is a man getting up to address the city council with regard to proceedings over projected residential housing development. In no uncertain terms the man addressed the council as “clowns’ and told them he would withdraw his own projected development investment if the plan under consideration was passed. There was no back and forth, question and answer for the man was a celebrity. The celebrity was area resident, Dave Chappelle. After the “exchange’ (Not!), rather “legitimate political discourse”, the council withdrew the plan under consideration and approved the one amenable to the celebrity. End of story. Not! The media, both social and commercial (though both are commercial) picked up on the local Ohio story and made it national news.  Some critiqued the celebrity as stifling the development of affordable housing. Others claimed that to be a “smear” of the man. Celebrity smeared or not smeared became the focus of the news story. Analysis finds the event to be very informative and instructional for why, in our contemporary moment, we cannot deal with any of the “crisis” situations that confront us and grow with continued inattention. The Yellow Springs city council was considering two projections for residential land development. One, limited by the land size, offered roughly 100 single family homes to be built on the parcel. The other offered roughly 50% more units but in a mix of single family houses, town houses and apartments. This latter plan offered 2 acres for development as “affordable housing” (built by someone, at some time not specified). After the videotaped “legitimate political discourse” the council opted for the lesser unit single home plan. Not part of the celebrity obsessed media coverage was the ordinary acknowledgement that such council considerations are taking place practically everywhere nationwide. Nor was any attention paid to the fact that continuous expansion through single family housing developments is central to sprawl. And sprawl is unsustainable. The discourse or reasoned exchange (when it doesn’t include celebrities) usually is around low density single family residences and high density multi family housing. The MAGA dream of the 1950’s single family home promise (along with a chicken in every kettle) is incredibly outdated for the current time and concern with global warming. Celebrity investors rely on the promise and keep it on subsidized life support. In the end, there is zero affordable housing projected for Yellow Springs. Again, the same scenario finds itself repeated nationwide. Butt weight, there’s more. Part of the celebrity’s defenders  say new housing is win-win no matter what, and the ripple effect is that it opens up older “undesirable” units as  affordable housing (the rising tide lifts all boats argument). Not necessarily so. The moneyed are always at hand to buy up older residential units to convert (invest) into medical offices, strip malls, convenience store gas stations to serve the new arrivals to the upscale single family housing development. Chappelle himself was threatening to pull just such an investment in a projected comedy club in town. Again, the folks who will be employed at these newly created “jobs” enterprises will need to find affordable housing somewhere else as there will continue to be none in the town where they are  employed, necessitating a lengthy daily commute. This also is unsustainable for global warming, and any public transit solutions are doomed to meet the same fate as affordable housing (public transit fits in well with high density neighborhoods). Once again, the same scenario is replayed across the US. But not covered at all by the celebrity obsessed  media is the debilitating damage  wreaked on democracy when a wealthy celebrity, one member of the 1% in this country, can so easily and effortlessly determine institutions and policy for the entire community. This is not only unsustainable, but detrimental to the healthy practice of democracy.

An Evil Choice Destroys Freedom

July 29, 2019

In an obscure old text entitled New Seeds Of Contemplation, Thomas Merton considers the ubiquitous term “freedom.” The first paragraph of “What Is Liberty?” starts off inauspiciously enough (page 199):

“The mere ability to choose between good and evil is the lowest limit of freedom, and the only thing that is free about it is the fact that we can still choose good.”

Well, yes, that seems to resonate even today, over a half century after it was written. No biggie. Most exchanges regarding freedom assume as much. Merton then goes on to write:

“To the extent that you are free to choose evil, you are not free. An evil choice destroys freedom.”

Intriguing. Followed by:

“We can never choose evil as evil: only as an apparent good. But when we do something that seems to us to be good when it is not really so, we are doing something that we do not really want to do, and therefore we are not really free.”

Cognizant of the incredible morass of philosophic argumentation possible with considering such a provocative position, Analysis would prefer to consider its place in the contemporary interface of current events and “choices.” Merton was primarily interested in the spiritual aspects of liberty and freedom. To channel Robert Mueller, that is not within the purview of this blog. However, curious things unravel and evolve when considering those three paragraphs in light of events and situations that we, as humans and/or citizens, believe we have some say so in today. Belief was Merton’s domain. For the sake of essay, Analysis would like to assume that we have some say in these things, therefore the relevance of freedom and what was written. Global warming immediately springs to mind. “An evil choice destroys freedom.” With regard to the planet, get it wrong and there won’t be the civilization left that we’ve become accustomed to. Other choices that deny this efficacy, appear to promote “we do something that seems to us to be good when it is not really so.” Usually this promoted good that elides long term implications is couched in terms of “jobs,” “consumer demand (for central heating or AC, mobility, commerce, etc.)” or “impossibility (unaffordability).” Analysis finds Merton’s insight to be dead on when it comes to what happens to freedom, along with the belief that we have some say, if the wrong choice is made. “An evil choice destroys freedom.” certainly rings true with regard to the outcomes (and inputs) of global warming. Freedom is certainly something assumed, even taken for granted as a necessary component, of democracy. How else could the demos within the polis have a say otherwise? History has repeatedly revealed sham democracy, with sham choice, here in the US as well as internationally. Currently, in various parts of the globe, struggles exist where the demos takes to heart that “An evil choice destroys freedom.” (recent events in Hong Kong, Sudan, Puerto Rico come to mind). Though written in the interest of spiritual matters, Merton’s words have an application, and resonance, with what is currently occurring regarding the governance of the US today. “An evil choice destroys freedom.”