To Break the Silence

 

 

 

“And some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak.  We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak.”

Martin Luther King, Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence,  Riverside Church, 4 April 1967

 

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Time to Focus on Lifeboats

We launch this twelfth DP navigation with the most consequential graphic visualization of our prevailing crisis, vividly depicting increases in global surface temp between the years of 1880 and 2021.

 

TIME TO THINK ABOUT LIFEBOATS

The notion of a “desperado philosophy” descends from the plight of Melville’s imagined Pequod, in the midst of its own environmental catastrophe, an experience recorded by sole survivor Ishmael, saved by the “life buoy” of Queequeg’s handcrafted coffin. Queequeg, whose inscribed body was itself a kind of novel, recording the distant past and destiny of his own people.

The practice of desperado philosophy, or some may call it a vocation, requires that we remain calm even in the midst of the most violent riptides. Yes, the ship may be foundering on the rocks of our own past navigational errors; yet we know that panic will only make the situation worse.

Switching metaphors, though we agree with Greta Thunberg that we must act like our house (or ship) is on fire; that does not mean we should trample each other to death on the way to the exits, or scratch & claw over lifejackets.

As climate emergency deepens, whether expressed through the slow violence of drought and famine or through more dramatic phenomena such as bomb cyclones and wildfires, let’s stop focussing on the sinking Titanic and focus on the vibrant creativity required for the design, construction and sustenance of viable lifeboats, by which we mean community-scaled projects with a focus on resilience, skill-building, local self-reliance and climate adaptation.

To those who object that a focus on lifeboats sounds like doom & gloom, we respond: no, doom & gloom is NO lifeboats. 

This year, we will be posting less frequently, likely closer to a monthly rather than weekly rhythm. Each post will feature a “lifeboat” that we believe is worthy of close consideration for DP reader support and even replication. Given the scale of the challenges, there is no limit on how many lifeboats we will need.

In the end, some may work better than others, yet there is no way to make that evaluation in advance.

Some lifeboats may be eminently practical; others may focus on psychological preparation or spiritual resilience. All will play their part in years to come, above all for younger generations whose lifetimes will unfold and evolve within the context of environmental crisis and the unparalleled creative opportunity of conceiving new ways to live in harmony with the whole of life on our miraculous planet.

As always, we rely upon you, our DP community of readers, to guide this voyage. If you know of lifeboats in your own communities worthy of consideration and support, please send links.

We need to communicate, collaborate and co-create now more than ever before. Cheers to all for the year ahead; it promises to be another wild one.

 

 

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Of Wonder & Magic

As longtime readers know, and are likely tired of reading, we strongly believe (a belief grounded in mountains of scientific evidence) that our acute environmental crisis has evolved over hundreds of years through an entrenched, dominant ethos of human supremacism, an ethos in which we treat the world as our oyster, to be extracted, cracked, garnished and consumed.

Thus we close this eleventh DP navigation through the riptides of our present moment with the voice of the peerless Ed Yong, whose deeply exploratory An Immense World is our DP Book of the Year by a considerable margin. In this extraordinary and gracefully written treatise, Yong brilliantly drags us out of our own human sensory bubbles, and into the thrilling lifeworlds of other creatures, whose skills, intelligence and, yes — wisdom — are humbling, to say the least.

Below, excerpts from a recent interview.

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Mirabile Mysterium

 

 

Hark, this herald angel does more than sing!

 

GAUDETE!      CHRISTUS EST NATUS      EX MARIA VIRGINE          GAUDETE!

 

 

 

Grateful for all DP correspondents, readers and friends, we wish you a peaceful and merry Christmas weekend, and final days for the Festival of Light.

 

 

 


When Freedom Comes

This week, as the uprising in Iran continues to unfold in the face of brutal repression, we link to an exceptionally well done video report from the BBC. Highly recommended. 

 

 

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Show & Tell

In response to the typically grandiose claims made by Elon Musk while updating the world on “progress” regarding brain chips, the honorable non-profit, Physicians for Responsible Medicine, released their own Show & Tell.

 

 

 

Noninvasive Brain-Machine Interfaces Are the Future

Devices implanted in the brain come with a myriad of problems, including difficulty of repair and a high potential for severe medical complications. In comparison, noninvasive BMIs can allow for the risk-free monitoring of large-scale neuronal activity across the entire brain. 

While Neuralink continues its invasive, painful, deadly experiments, noninvasive methods—which often rely on brain signals read using an electroencephalogram (EEG)—are already changing patients’ lives and hold even greater promise:

  • Noninvasive BMIs can improve quality of life for older adults and elderly patients. They “have been used for restoring memory and planning using electromagnetic stimulation and biofeedback that modulate activity in a patient’s brain as part of a rehabilitation program….Moreover, invasive [BMIs] that require implantation of the device might be a serious ethical issue. Therefore, non-invasive EEG-based [BMIs]…appear to be the most promising technologies.”
  • They can “assist paralyzed patients by providing access to the world without requiring surgical intervention.”
  • They can allow patients with limited mobility to control robotic arms. “[Invasive BCIs] require a substantial amount of medical and surgical expertise to correctly install and operate, not to mention cost and potential risks to subjects…”
  • They can allow patients with severe tetraplegia to control a wheelchair.
  • Noninvasive BMIs can also allow people to communicate directly using a computer, and research is being done to improve this capability.

The development of noninvasive BMIs should be the focus of innovation, and there is clearly much discussion in support of moving in that direction. Neuralink should halt its animal experiments immediately and invest in human-relevant research.

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DP view: Neuralink is nothing more than a synthesis of technophilic hubris with human supremacist abuse of other sentient beings, in this case, our close relatives.

We are also skeptical of noninvasive BMIs for the simple reason that we live in a time of Inverted Utopia wherein we are unable to imagine the full range of consequences of our technological innovations, particularly when it comes to messing with our brains. 

We close this week’s post with a montage of excerpts from the TV series The 100, regarding a lethal intermingling of brains chips, AI, violence, anthropocentrism, Inverted Utopians, oblivion and extinction:

 

 

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The Greenwashing Machine

As COP27 continues to tie itself up in rhetorical knots and nooses while suppressing and marginalizing those most damaged by the climate crisis, we focus attention on the lucid voice of Guatemalan land protector Andrea Ixchíu.

Excerpts from a recent interview below; image added by DP.

 

THIS IS WHAT GREEN TECH LOOKS LIKE

 

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Ground Zero

This week, we listen once again to strong, uncompromising truth-speaking from Bernadette Demientieff, executive director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee and a relentless advocate for her home ground.

In September 2021, Bernadette won the Sierra Club’s Changemaker Award. They wrote, “The Gwich’in Steering Committee is largely responsible for convincing every major US Bank to pledge not to fund projects that drill for oil and gas in the Arctic Refuge, making this a day-one issue for President Biden.”

Yet challenges in the region remain acute, as the climate crisis deepens and accelerates. Excerpts from a recent dialogue below, with images added by DP. 

 

 

 

 

 

DP verdict on COP27: an echo of COP26.

Blah, blah, blah. 

 

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The Gasping Harvest

Today we celebrate the voice of the poet, journalist and frequent DP correspondent Jon Swan (1929-2022) through the publication of one of his last poems, together with a passage from a BBC radio play in which he played, ever so gloriously.

 

 

And here is that same voice, vividly present along The Loneliest Road:

 

 

Jon Swan’s last missive to DP included the following lines:

The disgraced president can smugly watch
as his corrupt Supremes hack away
at the tree of liberty and the oil boys are given
a pass to pollute. Aber, Vorvaerts!
 

We shall sorely miss his love of language, whether sounded or scribed; his unbounded curiosity and fierce opinions; his unfettered spirit of play; and above all, his magnificently twisted sense of humor that saved many a day.

Gone for now, but if you know how to listen, if you cock your ear, you can hear that voice.

 

Jon Swan, 1929-2022

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From Sparks Into Wildfire

Now comes Nobel Peace Prize winner (2003) Dr. Shirin Ebadi, with a few cogent insights into the spreading wildfire of protest in Iran, excerpted from a recent interview. Image with caption added by DP.

 

 

PORTRAIT OF A SPARK

 

 

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