A roundup of news, views and ideas from the mainstream press and the blogosphere. Click on the headline link to see the full article.


What If We Stopped Pretending?

Jonathan Franzen, The New Yorker
The climate apocalypse is coming. To prepare for it, we need to admit that we can’t prevent it.

… it seems to me, in our rapidly darkening world, that the converse of Kafka’s quip is equally true: There is no hope, except for us.

I’m talking, of course, about climate change. The struggle to rein in global carbon emissions and keep the planet from melting down has the feel of Kafka’s fiction. The goal has been clear for thirty years, and despite earnest efforts we’ve made essentially no progress toward reaching it. Today, the scientific evidence verges on irrefutable. If you’re younger than sixty, you have a good chance of witnessing the radical destabilization of life on earth—massive crop failures, apocalyptic fires, imploding economies, epic flooding, hundreds of millions of refugees fleeing regions made uninhabitable by extreme heat or permanent drought. If you’re under thirty, you’re all but guaranteed to witness it.

If you care about the planet, and about the people and animals who live on it, there are two ways to think about this. You can keep on hoping that catastrophe is preventable, and feel ever more frustrated or enraged by the world’s inaction. Or you can accept that disaster is coming, and begin to rethink what it means to have hope.
(September 8, 2019)
Hat tip to Bette for pointing out this article. -BA



Scientists blast Jonathan Franzen’s ‘climate doomist’ opinion column as ‘the worst piece on climate change’

Taylor Nicole Rogers, Business Insider
Scientists and climate experts are furious after a New Yorker opinion column declared the fight against climate change useless.

In an essay entitled “What If We Stop Pretending” published Sunday, journalist and author Jonathan Franzen writes that the destruction of the planet by human-induced climate change is inevitable and that environmentalists and climate change activists are delusional for trying to stop it.
(September 9, 2019)


Pope Francis claims climate in state of ‘emergency’, asks world to ‘abandon’ fossil fuels

Dorothy Cummings McLean, LifeSiteNews
Pope Francis has called upon the world to give up fossil fuels, claiming that the climate is in a state of “emergency” and that this has been caused by human activity.

In his Message for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, an ecumenical celebration held on September 1, the Argentine pontiff encouraged the world to adopt “simpler lifestyles” and to abandon fossil fuels.

“Now is the time to abandon our dependence on fossil fuels and move, quickly and decisively, towards forms of clean energy and a sustainable and circular economy,” he said.
(September 3, 2019)


We Broke the World: Facing the fact of extinction

Roy Scranton, The Baffler
… while many people are conceptually aware that we are currently living through a global mass extinction event, who, if called upon to testify to that fact, could offer compelling witness? Most of us live in a world bereft of wildness except for the occasional visit to government-protected land. “Nature” for most Americans means mostly pests—weeds, deer, Canada geese, squirrels, mosquitos, roaches, rats, mice, bats, the occasional possum—plus perhaps wildflowers in spring, the birds that grace our feeders, and charismatic megafauna captured in documentaries. Our bias toward presence inclines us to “normalize” (as they say) whatever is around us, thus leading us to the mistaken impression that the so-called “Sixth Extinction” we are living through is happening somewhere else, in the Great Barrier Reef or the jungles of Costa Rica. Our presence-ism and presentism obscure from us the horrifying truth that mass extinction is happening all around us and has been happening all around us: our world is a graveyard, and we Homo sapiens are the blight that has made it so.

Thus we come to the draft of the “Summary for policymakers of the global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services,” released on May 6, 2019, which managed to break through the spring’s stupefying buzz of daily news about trade war with China, tensions with Iran, presidential corruption, and the ongoing constitutional crisis with some fairly dire announcements:

… Overall, the IPBES summary tells the policymakers for whom it was written that the destruction human beings have caused their environment is enormous and increasing at an accelerating rate with no end in sight absent “transformative change,”

… These are fundamentally conservative actors in fundamentally conservative institutions deeply committed to status quo structures of power saying, in brief, “We broke the world,” and calling for an immediate, abrupt global social upheaval that would make every other revolutionary moment in human history—the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, the Russian Revolution, World War II, China’s Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution—seem minor by contrast.
(September 2019)

Image: The explosion of gunboat nr. 2 under command of Jan van Speijk, Antwerp, february 5, 1831. Painting (1832) by Martinus Schouman. Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:De_ontploffing_voor_Antwerpen_van_kanonneerboot_nr_2_onder_commando_van_Jan_van_Speijk,_5_februari_1831_(Martinus_Schouman,_1832).jpg