Sunday, December 28, 2014

Watching Flames, Pascal Bruckner Fiddles, fanaticism of the apocalypse


Over at my WUWTW blogspot one of the most visited posts is  "Pascal Bruckner's "Fanaticism of the Apocalypse" - A Citizen's Response" dated June 18, 2013 which still receives a surprising number of regular viewings.  This prompted me to google his name and see if anything special was going on these days, doesn't seem to be, but I did read another article (ironically posted the day before my first critique) based on his book "Fanaticism of the Apocalypse" that I found disappointing and shallow.  Not a reflection of our real world situation at all.

Worst is Bruckner's seeming insistence that all this concern about what's happening to our climate is some frivolous fad and that all we have to worry about is our worries.  Most disconnected from the reality of global trends and quite frankly begging for a rebuttal, which I am providing, until someone with more intellectual horse power has the nerve, or interest, to take on the great French thinker Monsieur Pascal Bruckner.


I reprint the full text, neither having, nor asking for permission, because Pascal puts himself out there as a great thinker trying to influence the masses, also considering this was posted at The Chronicle of Higher Education, it seems only proper that they allow his words to be examined with a skeptical eye.


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June 17, 2013
Against Environmental Panic

By Pascal Bruckner (4200words)

¶1  In Jesuit schools we were urged to strengthen our faith by spending time in monasteries. We were assigned spiritual exercises to be dutifully written in little notebooks that were supposed to renew the promises made at baptism and to celebrate the virtues of Christian love and succor for the weak. It wasn't enough just to believe; we had to testify to our adherence to the Holy Scriptures and drive Satan out of our hearts. These practices were sanctioned by daily confessions under the guidance of a priest. We all probed our hearts to extirpate the germs of iniquity and to test, with a delicious thrill, the borderline separating grace from sin. We were immersed in an atmosphere of meditative reverence, and the desire to be good gave our days a special contour.

¶2  We knew that God was looking down on us indulgently: We were young, we were allowed to stumble. In his great ledger, he wrote down each of our actions, weighing them with perfect equanimity. We engaged in refined forms of piety in order to gain favors. Regarded from an adult point of view, these childish efforts, which were close to the ancients' spiritual exercises, were not without a certain nobility. They wavered between docility and a feeling of lofty grandeur. At least we learned the art of knowing ourselves, of resisting the turmoil of puberty.

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It seems such a cloistered background might create deep seated life long conscious and subconscious conflicts.  I know that some guidance counselors are so wrapped-up within their own struggles that they too easily transfer their own issues onto the 'client', never "seeing" their client's actual challenges - and I wonder if that may be going on here.  

It is fair to ask Pascal, to ask himself, how much of this missive might be his own struggles with early childhood resentments towards the church, only now transferring those internal struggles into the more lucrative realm of attacking science?
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¶3  What a surprise to witness, half a century later, the powerful return of this frame of mind, but this time under the aegis of science. 

~ ~ ~
What "powerful" are we talking about here?  Media tycoons?  Pundits?  Who?

Please note Pascal never defines what he's referring to "under the aegis of science" simply leaving it hanging in the air and returning to what's going on in the public dialogue.
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Consider the meaning in contemporary jargon of the famous carbon footprint that we all leave behind us. What is it, after all, if not the gaseous equivalent of Original Sin, of the stain that we inflict on our Mother Gaia by the simple fact of being present and breathing? We can all gauge the volume of our emissions, day after day, with the injunction to curtail them, just as children saying their catechisms are supposed to curtail their sins.

~ ~ ~
Perhaps for a religious person "original sin" is as substantial as water - but they are mistaken.  Original sin is a plot point in a metaphysical myth, an imaginary construct just the same.

The Carbon Footprint is another kind of construct, one that has a very real physical component, namely a measure of the amount of carbon dioxide that a person or activity produces with the fossil fuels being burned for said activity.  It is substantive and it has a cumulative physical impact on this planet.  

In other words, Pascal doesn't seem to recognize the difference between the "substantial" and "insubstantial".
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¶4  Ecologism,

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The "Global Weirding" project

I came across a new project that tries to present the many strands of known evidence as collected by the IPCC in an interesting and new way.  It consists of conservative projection of where current climate trends are taking our society and us.   The longer we collectively ignore, the harder it's going to hit.  I myself think this is over optimistic regarding the resilience of our complex society, but that's just me.  In any event, it's worth sharing, take a look:

Global Weirding
{glowb’l-wee-erding} noun

Describes how the rise in average global temperature leads to all sorts of crazy things — from hotter heat spells to colder cold spells, more drought and intense flooding, as well as slow-onset changes such as ocean acidification and sea level rise. Also includes oddball things such as jellyfish clogging up the pipes of nuclear power plants, forcing them to shut down.
Ready! {because it's begun!}

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The "What" and "Who" of the "Global Weirding"

This is a remix of the Fifth Assessment Report (IPCC AR5), the most comprehensive report on climate change ever produced.