Category Archives: riptides

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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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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Imperial Imperatives

This week, for reasons that we are sure need not be scribed here, we bend an ear to the distinguished historian Caroline Elkins, author of Legacy of Violence: A History of the British Empire. Excerpts from a recent interview below.

The image documents the detention of alleged participants in the so-called Mau Mau Rebellion, with a caption added by DP.

 

 

THE CIVILIZING PROCESS

 

 

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Downward Toward Barbarism

In the aftermath of yet another lethal school assault, twenty three years after Columbine, we highlight a brief response from The Atlantic staff writer David Frum, with the opening paragraphs  demonstrating that even a notorious warmonger known mostly for coining the spectacularly unhelpful phrase “axis of evil” can, on such a tragic occasion as Uvalde, strike the right notes.

 

We also take note of a public statement made by the honorable coach of the Golden State Warriors, Steve Kerr, providing an exemplary embodiment of what it means to speak truth to power.

 

 

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When Hope Becomes Toxic

While roaming through the fertile and abundant archives of Green Dreamer, always worthy of a close listen, we came across a fascinating passage from post-Humanist philosopher Báyò Akómoláfé, author of These Wilds Beyond our Fences: Letters to My Daughter on Humanity’s Search for Home.

On the welcoming homepage of his highly engaging website, Dr. Akómoláfé writes:

May this decade bring more than just solutions, more than just a future – may it bring words we don’t know yet, and temporalities we have not yet inhabited. May we be slower than speed could calculate, and swifter than the pull of the gravity of words can incarcerate. And may we be visited so thoroughly, and met in wild places so overwhelmingly, that we are left undone. Ready for composting. Ready for the impossible. Welcome to the decade of the fugitive.

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Here Come the Carbon Bombs

This week, we urge careful consideration of timely and essential reporting from The Guardian, detailing a series of fossil fuel “carbon bomb” projects presently underway, or in advanced stages of planning.

These hyper-extractive projects, launched beneath the cover of a looming world war, threaten to push us well past irreversible tipping points, into the terminal stage of global environmental breakdown.

A few graphics relayed below; they speak for themselves.

 

 

Standing against the impending environmental bombscape, we find brave activists such as the formidable Janet Alkire, Chairwoman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, who sent us the below update earlier today:

 

 

Aŋpétu wašté. I bring you an update today about our fight to stop the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL). As you’ll see in our new video, the Tribes of the Oceti Sakowin are united in this mission, and with organizing help from the Great Plains Tribal Water Alliance, we recently gathered to strategize about the best way to achieve our goal of stopping DAPL before it spills and poisons our water. I also recently met with Assistant Secretary of the Army Michael Connor to discuss the disturbing lack of progress and demand transparency with DAPL’s environmental process.

Watch: leaders from across the Oceti Sakowin came together recently to discuss our #NoDAPL strategy.

So far, none of our concerns are being addressed, and the process is compromised by secrecy. Standing Rock has requested a number of basic documents and plans, such as DAPL’s oil spill response plan for the Missouri River. We have received no information whatsoever, and the failure to cooperate with our Tribe and our emergency managers is unacceptable. DAPL, of course, continues to operate illegally, with no permit for its crossing under Lake Oahe on Standing Rock Nation’s doorstep.

I also called upon the Army to consider the Notice of Violation issued by federal regulators against the pipeline’s parent company, Energy Transfer LP, for its repeated violations of pipeline safety rules with DAPL. The only right course of action is for the Army Corps of Engineers to shut down the pipeline now and properly address these violations in the upcoming Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

For now, the EIS is mysteriously stalled, even as Energy Transfer and its related companies continue to display a distressing pattern of oil spills and safety violations. Over a recent 8-year period, nine pipelines owned and controlled by these companies experienced nearly 300 spills — including 50 large spills in High Consequence Areas such as Lake Oahe.

You can see why Tribal leaders are unified in our concern about protecting our water and our resolve to do something about it. I ask you, as a friend in this fight, to stay connected with us and ready to take action as soon as the EIS is released. You’ll be hearing more from me soon. By staying strong together, can we still win justice for Standing Rock and all of the Oceti Sakowin. Mni wiconi — water is life.

Wopila tanka — thank you for staying united with us!

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100 Seconds to Midnight

 

 

 

To which we append this excerpt from a cogent essay by Joseph Cirincione in the journal Responsible Statecraft:

 

 

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Like An Acid

Now come a few trenchant excerpts from a recent interview with Rob Wallace, an evolutionary biologist and public health phylogeographer presently visiting the Institute for Global Studies at the University of Minnesota.

He is author of Big Farms Make Big Flu and the soon to be published Revolution Space, both with Monthly Review Press. Wallace also co-authored Neoliberal Ebola: Modeling Disease Emergence from Finance to Forest and Farm, and Clear-Cutting Disease Control: Capital-Led Deforestation, Public Health Austerity, and Vector-Borne Infection. 

Images added by DP.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fairy Creek

This week, we return again to the blockade at Fairy Creek via the voice of indigenous forest protector Kati George-Jim, interviewed yesterday on Democracy Now. Transcribed excerpts below.

 

 

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Below, a recent video missive from Fairy Creek, as relayed from a DP correspondent.

 

 


Lost Fragments of Soul

In an editorial opening the recent “animals” issue of The Ecological Citizen, Eileen Crist underscores the heavy price we pay when we obscure our animal selves, and abuse our animal kin. We cannot address climate emergency without confronting the dominant ethos of human supremacism, and its dense understory of “petty mind-games.” Excerpts below, with images added by DP.