Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Can we really rethink civilization

Al Gore, in An Inconvenient Truth, warned us of a "planetary emergency" as a worst case scenario. According to Dianne Dumanoski, award winning author and long time environmental journalist, ecological catastrophe is no longer a worst case scenario--it is inevitable. In her environmental history, The End of the Long Summer: Why We Must Remake Our Civilization to Survive on a Volatile Earth, Dumanoski provides a dismal forecast for the future based on vast quantities of scientific data, which indicates that the ideal climate which has allowed life to flourish on earth for thousands of years is overdue for a seismic change, with or without the help of humanity. Combine this startling fact with the appalling ecological abuse which people have wrought in the last century and it might seem that our days are numbered.

Dumanoski's view of the current crisis delivers an urgent warning that our civilization must prepare for a future of radical uncertainty. She argues that we must rethink the fundamental doctrines of our current culture: growth, progress, and the control of nature. Beyond the buzzwords and hype of "sustainability" or "clean energy," we must learn how to survive Nature's return by nurturing self-sufficiency, flexibility, community, and diversity. All probably good ideas, regardless of our fear of climate change.

My conversation with Diane Dumanoski:

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