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.
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.