Climate Restoration

It has been clear to most of us out here that our weathers have been erratic sometimes to the extreme. Many have passed this off as 50 or 100-year events. Such arguments may serve as a Band Aid for one event. Indeed, some of the events may have been just such events. However, tens, perhaps hundreds of different 50 and 100-year events in the past few years would seem to defy reason. Deniers however have been arguing unreasonably. Weighed against obscure and probably costly steps being called for to halt barely perceivable changes in the earth’s temperature, denial seems the only recourse. Feeling overwhelmed, many of us will withdraw to the battles we can realistically see, such as next year’s looming debt load or news of Chinese inroads into markets we had come to count on. This is the closest deniers are likely to get to reasoning out a response to the threat of Climate Change. Yet climate control advocates are using pretty complex, long-range reasoning to make their case of impending doom.
As Aristotle (Rhetoric) gloomily observed: logos demands the trained cognitive skill of understanding and weighing evidence; ethos challenges our egos to believe some know-it-all expert; but pathos fires our hearts to commitment and our hands to action. Using reasoning to bring the masses to action is an exercise in arrogance, while speaking from expertise may sway the uncommitted, but deniers will simply deny their lofty, authority. Pushing the right hot button, on the other hand, will spark the benighted to surge toward the light.
The downside of applied pathos is that negative emotions have already been triggered in the hardline hold-outs. For them, greatness has been defined as anything that was not what had been before: greatness as a negative. The strategy of appealing to the emotions was not wrong; it was effective, but its goal was malignant. What if current agencies appeal to a benign goal using the same emotions-based strategy?
I’m suggesting one simple alteration for the climate change activists’ program. Instead of declaring that climate change will doom us all, we could be endorsing climate restoration as a way to a better future. The goal is restoration, a hopeful word that also harkens back to an albeit romanticize way things were. The word “change” is threatening. We feel powerless under its uncertainty. The word “restoration” is promising. We feel hopeful in its confidence.
Agencies and job titles bearing terms, such as “Climate Restoration and Management” seem constructive, focused and orderly. We know that how we call things shapes how we feel about them, and how we feel about them determines how we respond to them when they call upon us. We cannot afford to forget how powerfully we have been influenced by words. Claiming that ‘actions speak louder than words’ may actually hide the power that some words, quietly repeated, had in leading to those very actions.
I’m ready to go. I won’t live to see much of our planet’s health restored, but I live every day hoping my grandson will not have to suffer from my inaction. Lead on into the light.

Here’s what I Meme

Memes are poor substitutes for rationale. Take “racist.” I in no way wish to endorse the word, but look how imprecise it is. If one looks on a person of a different race as inferior, is that racist? What if it’s a person of African descent so judging a Native American? What if it’s a Native American so judging an Italian American? One thing remains the same you might agree; it’s an unwarranted and negative assessment. Well, the “inferior” part is generally fairly negative, but inferior in what way? Biologically? In the broad, surviving-life sense? Then of course, the same inferiority would apply to a very old member of the same race, even the same family. Most physical ways of comparing could only apply to an individual, not a race or almost any whole group. Intellectually? Beside being just as limited as physical comparisons, intellect is too slippery to pin down. Just what are we measuring and on what scale and in what units?

Any aspect comparative “value” of a person we try to measure shackles us in two major ways. The first way is that we rarely have a unit of measure, and when we do, we can hardly be sure that such units apply equally to all. Living a long life sounds good, unless it’s spent in a prison, or is otherwise miserable. How could be compare such a life with the short, happy life of a well-loved, active child who dies quickly in an accident? Years are clear measures in time, but not in quality of life. Most often however a “value” has no dimension to measure. At best we only guess that what we are comparing is not “apples to oranges.” The second way we get tangled is that any “value” one might choose to measure is such a small part of the whole of a person. To even successfully evaluate any aspect, is like successfully measuring the durability of one strand of wool fiber in a whole skein of yearn. That’s a real problem.

The worst result of applying memes to someone as a response to a single event, or even a pattern of events is that that person is then painted with the “unwarranted and negative assessment” we agreed was in the meme. Is it no wonder that that person so besmirched might strike back? Then the initial event is unreconciled, the “racist” has probably put up barriers to the “meme-ing” outside influence, and the world is not in a better place. Not much movement there, but maybe a little backward sliding.

So if it does not good, why do people use memes? It probably goes back to the original sentence here: Memes are poor substitutes for rationale. A rationale requires thinking through, connecting dots, ordering points and expressing them articulately. Does stopping and thinking before speaking risks being spoken over? Perhaps. Can one calm down? Can we be fairly sure we’re being accurate and then going on clearly and sensibly? Stopping is probably the best first step, but we can only stop ourselves; others may have no patience with taking time or giving us time to think, to take in the situation and organize our thoughts. Can we just say, stop? Will we lose the moment? Is that so bad? Then if it is, can we come back to it later without the self-defeating pathos of memes?

If we hope to knit a sweater, we can keep throwing out the yarn when we encounter a bad strand. The bad strand is unpleasant, but it can be repositioned, reinforced or just removed. What’s important is the sweater.

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