Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Vote as if the Future of Humanity Depends on It

I try to steer clear of politics in this blog, as there are so many other voices far more informed and eloquent than mine addressing this topic.  But, I have to say it, aside from watching the United States veer into an authoritarian dictatorship and the end of the American democratic experiment under Trump, aside from being the ONLY nation in the world, under Trump, to be withdrawn from the Paris Accord, aside from having the highest uncontrolled incidence of Covid19, under Trump and isolated by quarantine from the rest of the world, even Canada..............I agree with this writer and his article, and felt I needed to post it.  If you are a U.S. citizen, and care about the planet and the lives of your children and their children, vote.

Vote as if the Climate and the Future of Humanity Depend on It—Because They Do

Trump wants to steer us straight onto the rocks. This election may be humanity’s last shot to prevent utter climate catastrophe.

By Bill McKibben

SEPTEMBER 22, 2020

This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.

To understand the planetary importance of this autumn’s presidential election, check the calendar. Voting ends on November 3—and by a fluke of timing, on the morning of November 4 the United States is scheduled to pull out of the Paris Agreement.

President Trump announced that we would abrogate our Paris commitments during a Rose Garden speech in 2017. But under the terms of the accords, it takes three years to formalize the withdrawal. So on Election Day it won’t be just Americans watching: The people of the world will see whether the country that has poured more carbon into the atmosphere than any other over the course of history will become the only country that refuses to cooperate in the one international effort to do something about the climate crisis.

Trump’s withdrawal benefited oil executives, who have donated millions of dollars to his reelection campaign, and the small, strange fringe of climate deniers who continue to insist that the planet is cooling. But most people living in the rational world were appalled. Polling showed widespread opposition, and by some measures, Trump is more out of line with the American populace on environmental issues than any other. In his withdrawal announcement he said he’d been elected “to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris”; before the day was out, Pittsburgh’s mayor had pledged that his city would follow the guidelines set in the French capital. Young people, above all, have despised the president’s climate moves: Poll after poll shows that climate change is a top-tier issue with them and often the most important one—mostly, I think, because they’ve come to understand how tightly linked it is not just to their future but to questions of justice, equity, and race.

Here’s the truth: At this late date, meeting the promises set in Paris will be nowhere near enough. If you add up the various pledges that nations made at that conference, they plan on moving so timidly that the planet’s temperature will still rise more than 3 degrees Celsius from preindustrial levels. So far, we’ve raised the mercury 1 degree Celsius, and that’s been enough to melt millions of square miles of ice in the Arctic, extend fire seasons for months, and dramatically alter the planet’s rainfall patterns. Settling for 3 degrees is kind of like writing a global suicide note.

Happily, we could go much faster if we wanted. The price of solar and wind power has fallen so fast and so far in the last few years that they are now the cheapest power on earth. There are plenty of calculations to show it will soon be cheaper to build solar and wind farms than to operate the fossil fuel power stations we’ve already built. Climate-smart investments are also better for workers and economic equality. “We need to have climate justice, which means to invest in green energy, [which] creates three times more jobs than to invest in fossil fuel energy,” United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said in an interview with Covering Climate Now in September. If we wanted to make it happen, in other words, an energy revolution is entirely possible. The best new study shows that the United States could cut its current power sector emissions 80 percent by 2035 and create 20 million jobs along the way.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris haven’t pledged to move that quickly, but their climate plan is the farthest-reaching of any presidential ticket in history. More to the point, we can pressure them to go farther and faster. Already, seeing the polling on the wall, they’ve adopted many of the proposals of climate stalwarts like Washington Governor Jay Inslee. A team of Biden and Bernie Sanders representatives worked out a pragmatic but powerful compromise in talks before the Democratic National Convention; the Biden-Harris ticket seems primed to use a transition to green energy as a crucial part of a push to rebuild the pandemic-devastated economy.

Perhaps most important, they’ve pledged to try to lead the rest of the world in the climate fight. The United States has never really done this. Our role as the single biggest producer of hydrocarbons has meant that our response to global warming has always been crippled by the political power of Big Oil. But that power has begun to slip. Once the biggest economic force on the planet, the oil industry is a shadow of its former self. (You could buy all the oil companies in America for less than the cost of Apple; Tesla is worth more than any other auto company on earth.) And so it’s possible that the hammerlock on policy exercised by this reckless industry will loosen if Trump is beaten.

But only if he’s beaten. Four more years will be enough to cement in place his anti-environmental policies and to make sure it’s too late to really change course. The world’s climate scientists declared in 2018 that if we had any chance of meeting sane climate targets, we had to cut emissions almost in half by 2030. That’s less than 10 years away. We’re at the last possible moment to turn the wheel of the supertanker that is our government. Captain Trump wants to steer us straight onto the rocks, mumbling all the while about hoaxes. If we let him do it, history won’t forgive us. Nor will the rest of the world.

Bill McKibben is the founder of climate change campaign, a scholar in residence at Middlebury College, and the author of the new book Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?.

On climate change in California:

On Trump trying to incite civil war:

"To Trump and his core enablers and supporters, the laws of Trump Nation authorize him to do whatever he wants"

Greenland is rapidly melting:

Sunday, September 6, 2020

The Gnostic Gospel of Thomas the Twin

"If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save 
you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring
forth will destroy you." 
 The Gospel of Thomas (Nag Hammadi)
"Do not tell lies, and do not do what you hate,
for all things are plain in the sight of Heaven. For nothing
hidden will not become manifest, and nothing covered will remain
without being uncovered."
The Gospel of Thomas 

I have not thought of this  quote for a while, but it arises of late.  I used to write the first 
quote into the margins of notebooks, a reminder to myself.   The second quote also, I feel, contributes to these reflections.

The first quote above,  from the Gospel of Thomas was found  in 1945 with the Nag Hammadi Gospels, which, I believe, are among  the earliest (3rd Century A.D.) writings from the advent of  Christianity and apparently hidden because they were considered heretical after the Nicean Council. The Council of Nicaea was the first council in the history of the Christian church that was intended to address the entire body of believers - in essence, it was convened by the Emperor Constantine agreed to make Christianity the central religion of Rome, but only if the Council would determine what, exactly, the doctrine of Christianity was to be.  And as a result, many of the early Gnostic Christian groups thus became heretical, and found themselves persecuted by Rome, which was in those days a military force to be reckoned with.  The Nag Hammadi Gospels were hidden for this reason.

The most famous scriptures to come from the translation of the Nag Hammadi Gospels was the Gospel of Thomas, which is essentially described as  a collection of the sayings of Jesus.  

According to Wikipedia, the introduction to the Gospel of Thomas states that "These are the hidden words that the living Jesus spoke and Didymos Judas Thomas wrote them down." Didymus (Greek) and Thomas (Aramaic) both mean "twin".   Some scholars have pointed out that there was a widespread tradition in early church documents, as well as some surviving Christian traditions, that Jesus had a twin brother, by the name of Didymos Judas Thomas, but most feel this is unlikely.    My sense is that the meaning of "twin" can be understood, from the vantage point of the early Gnostic Christianity, as a metaphor.  All are  "twins" of the great teacher, with the same potentiality and the same  origin - this idea, of course, along with most of the Gnostic sects,  would have been highly heretical as the church became an institution and developed the latter idea of Jesus as divine savior, with it's accompanying  hierarchy and later the horrifying, but effective, doctrine of the need to  "saved" by by the Church  in order to attain Heaven in the afterlife instead of terrible, eternal punishment in Hell.

But long before that evolved, Jesus of Nazareth was a visionary, healer and a great Teacher and a  social revolutionary for his time.  He  practiced  poverty and simplicity as he  taught for free in olive groves, including women as well as men among his devotees.  And it is believed by many that what he taught was  much closer to Gnostic Christianity, the Essenes, and even Buddhism than what has evolved into our time, some 2,000 years later. 
"Gnosis (from one of the Greek words for knowledge γνῶσις) is the spiritual knowledge of a saint or  mystically enlightened human being. Within the cultures of the term's provenance (Byzantine and Hellenic) Gnosis was a knowledge or insight into the infinite, divine and uncreated in all rather than knowledge strictly into the finite, natural or material world. Gnosis is a transcendental as well as mature understanding. "  Wikipedia
I've been thinking  about what Jung termed "Shadow" recently.  I believe this  saying from the Gospel of Thomas  is significant to an understanding of this concept.  I carried it about as an encouragement to be an artist, to affirm deeply the life-affirming creative impulse. But one does not have to be a professional artist to "bring forth that which is within".  

"If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you."
We are all creative, in fact, the need to create may be our most profound human drive, right up there with sex and reproduction (which, if you think about it, is all about creation as well).   We come into the world with this energy, this drive, some even say we each come into the world with a creative destiny, a "soul purpose".  We are channels and depositories of creative energy, and through expression of creative energy we are affirmed, healed, we learn, we connect with the world and each other, and we're inspired.  It's the life force.  An individual's unique integrity, personal truth, is also deeply connected to the creative force.

"If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you."

Creative energy denied becomes toxic, stagnant, destructive. I believe Jesus was truly revolutionary in this profound statement. To live without responding to one's authentic creative impulse and innermost drive to a meaningful life is to live with despair that can become carcinogenic, a breeding ground of physical,emotional and psychic disease and destructive social harm. When we deny  authentic expression, when we lie to ourselves and by extension, to others,  we do a great damage to our innermost being.

"Do not tell lies, and do not do what you hate, for all things are plain in the sight of Heaven."

This also is a revolutionary statement for the time Jesus lived in, and a revolutionary statement for our time. To "do what you hate" is to live a hateful life, without personal integrity.  Something that people can become habituated to, something they can and will eventually self-justify.  From that arises true destructive power.

"For nothing hidden will not become manifest, and nothing covered will remain without being uncovered." 

Here the Gospel of the Twin is saying that we live in a Quantum universe.Nothing is really hidden. What is denied (or unconscious) will still manifest, what is seemingly hidden from ourselves or others is nevertheless perceived on unconscious levels.  We're all connected, integral, telepathic.   All things manifest through the creative potential we possess  - we are all creative and collectively co-creative.  But those forces are neutral - they can manifest as positive or negative, consciously or unconsciously. 

I guess what my interpretation of this is is  that one must take responsibility for the marvelous  font and spilling forth of  of creative force that each of  us is innately gifted with.


Wednesday, September 2, 2020

The Minds of Trees...................

tall-trees-of-redwood-national-park by pierre-leclerc

I move among the ankles 
of forest Elders, tread
their moist rugs of moss,
duff of their soft brown carpets.
Far above, their arms are held
open wide to each other, or waving
what they know, what
perplexities and wisdoms they exchange,
unknown to me as were the thoughts

of grownups when in infancy I wandered
into a roofed clearing amidst
human feet and legs and the massive
carved legs of the table,
the minds of people, the minds of trees
equally remote, my attention then
filled with sensations, my attention now
caught by leaf and bark at eye level
and by thoughts of my own, but sometimes
drawn to upgazing-up and up: to wonder
about what rises so far above me into the light. 

Denise Levertov, From Below