During a week that has starkly exposed the ethical and spiritual crisis of our times, and as we continue to consider the implications of fresh data confirming the accelerating death spiral of anthropogenic climate breakdown, let us bend our ears to the soulful voice of Terry Tempest Williams, presently Writer in Residence at the Harvard Divinity School.
Below, excerpts from a recent interview, with images from Bear Ears country.
DP commends Harvard Divinity School for taking the lead on forthrightly and compassionately engaging with the deep ethical and spiritual crisis that threatens to envelop us, as human supremacism comes up against its own inherent limits, and as toxic neoliberalism begins to cannibalize itself, having exsanguinated, commodified, consumed and evacuated everything else.
If it ain’t got that swing……
DOO WAH DOO WAH DOO WAH DOO WAH
Having been within twenty feet of a North Atlantic right whale while sea kayaking, we can attest to the magnificence of this severely stressed and endangered creature. From the website of Whale and Dolphin Conservation:
North American WDC executive director Regina Aasmutis-Silvia expanded on the crisis in a recent Living On Earth interview, excerpted below:
The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute has developed an “on call” buoy that would at least mitigate the problem of fixed-line entanglements:
Partan and Ball call their new device an “on-call” buoy. It looks like a giant spool of bright orange thread. On land, the 3.5-foot-high spool with 2,000 feet of line wound around it weighs 340 pounds, but in water, it’s buoyant and floats near the bottom attached to the lobster traps. With a timer or an acoustic signal, the device can be activated to unspool its line and float up to the surface for retrieval.
“Our system is to try to store the vertical line on the seafloor—keeping the lines out of the way of large swimming animals—until the fishing vessel crew releases it and is on site and ready to haul it in,” Partan said.
The technology is listed as “patent pending”. Will it be too little, too late? Unfortunately, we will know the answer to that question within the next few years.
While politicians obey their corporate masters and cheat future generations through the sale of oil, mining and other rights within public lands and national monuments, we turn to Eileen Crist and her brilliant illumination of the heavy price we pay when we think of the natural world as a “resource” to be used by humans, excerpted from a longer essay.
Images are from the exquisite portfolio “Endangered”, by master photographer Tim Flach.
POLAR BEAR TRACKS
As an increasingly extreme administration attempts to sneak a toxic “revenue” provision that would open the Arctic Wildlife Refuge to drilling for fossil fuels into an equally toxic tax bill, we relay the voice of Qwich’in Nation leader Bernadette Demientieff:
Second, an open letter organized by Subhankar Banerjee, Lannan Chair and Professor of Art and Ecology, University of New Mexico:
CARIBOU MIGRATING IN THE MIDST OF THE SIXTH EXTINCTION
Now comes Sandra Lubarsky, Chair of the Department of Sustainable Development at Appalachian State University, with an essay first published in Tikkun magazine in 2011, and excerpted below. The images are from the studio of Gail Boyajian, whose work unabashedly sustains and celebrates the life-affirming exuberance of beauty.
Professor Lubarsky expands on these ideas in a conference lecture that includes a critique of human supremacist aesthetic relativism that results in mindless celebrations of ugliness, as exemplified by the obscene Sugartop condo development excreted by shameless developers upon a once-beautiful Appalachian ridgeline.
EGO DUMP ON DISTANT RIDGE
Returning once more to the words of Sandra Lubarsky:
We are indebted to a faithful DP correspondent for steering us to an excellent 2014 lecture presented by Eileen Crist, in which she articulates a concise overview of what she calls the Human Supremacy Complex, or toxic anthropocentrism.
Professor Crist begins with a reference to an October, 2013 article published in The Economist reporting on a clot of jellyfish inside cooling pipes at a Swedish nuclear reactor, a report that swiftly mutates into an infomercial for a new technology named with the perverse acronym JEROS: Jellyfish Elimination Robotic Swarm. According to its creator, JEROS will chew through even the most exhuberant clot of jellies, and thus keep our nuclear reactors humming.
The entire lecture is linked below, followed by a montage of her slides that convey a useful summary of core questions and arguments. The final image is taken from The Herd, an installation project by Tasha Lewis, whose studio we shall revisit in future posts.
If we refuse to learn how to live responsibly within this “community of unique and exquisite beings”, clinging to the delusion that no matter what ruinous consequence we inflict upon the natural world, our clever technologies will always save us: we shall be obliterated.
Though JEROS robochops jellyfish into mush, it will take more than robot swarms to chew through the lethal clot of our own hubris and arrogance, such that we might embrace the “abundant and ravishing” planet, “inhabited with respect.”