Wednesday 3 July 2013

Continence ...

... incontinence ... you know ...                                                                                  Up, Down. 

Canada Day, bummer, yeah ... I later came across this: 'A day of mourning for the lost country of Canada' which at least let me feel a little less crazy & isolated (thanks to the Greenspiration! newsletter for that).

A clear line of thought in a NYT opinion piece by Mark Bittman helped too: Let’s Not Braise the Planet; even if he still thinks some kind of electoral revolution will do the trick. He says, "Let’s make working to turn emissions around a litmus test for every politician who asks for our vote." Unfortunately the next Canadian federal election will be 2015 - too late.

The kickoff to Rob Hopkins' quandary (see here) was an anonymous confidante who concluded,
"Give it another 18 months, 2 years at most, and then the funding and political effort will shift from mitigation and into adaptation and defence."
"Will shift"?! Bollocks! This fricken shift has been underway for years already. Witness Stephen Gardiner's rejection of 'radical abatement' (see here). I asked him to consider Cuba's Special Period ... but he never answered. 
Nonetheless, Mark Bittman's use of the word 'ethics' reminded me to catch up again with our Stephen: he keeps two information web pages at The University of Washington in Seattle: here and here. Why two I wonder?

In one of his recent essays ('Geoengineering and Moral Schizophrenia: What's the Question?', undated but probably written late in 2012) is this nugget:
"For example, the Royal Society’s landmark report on geoengineering explicitly declares that “decarbonisation at the magnitude and rate required [to avoid global average temperatures exceeding 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels this century] remains technically possible” ..."
This report came in 2009 - getting long in the tooth, but competent climate scientists are still telling us that until 2015 we have a chance (tiny but real) to stop CO2 emissions short of a 2°C average global temperature increase.

Target Atmospheric CO2: Where Should Humanity Aim?, James Hansen et al April 2008;


The massive climate threats we must avoid (pdf), Ria Voorhar & Lauri Myllyvirta, January 2013;


2020 emissions levels required to limit warming to below 2 °C, Joeri Rogelj et al, December 2012;


And a note of mine previously in this blog.

Let's just glance at the menu again:
Abatement, Mitigation, Adaptation, 'Technological Miracle'.

Abatement (is vague but) solves the problem. Mitigation is no more than appeasement. Adaptation & resilience are strategies for what to do if the struggle is lost. Technology is a wet dream for little bourgeois boys and girls (who don't know shit from shinola).

The use of words like 'mitigation' shows our Stephen Gardiner's moral schizophrenia in practice. Mitigate: To render (a person, his mind, disposition, or mood) milder, more gentle, or less hostile; to appease, mollify; alleviate (physical or mental pain); to lessen the violence of (a disease); to lighten the burden of (an evil of any kind). Using a vague term to slide along the menu without making any decisions. ... and so on ...

And then there some words that nail it unequivocally - Continence: Self-restraint, in regard to impulse, appetite, or desire; and Incontinence: Want of self-restraint; inability to contain or retain, with particular reference to bodily appetites especially sexual passion; and, inability to retain evacuation especially of urine. That they carry with them tinges of celibacy, a certain resonance with nonsense right-wing fundamentalist exhortations to 'remain a virgin' and so forth ... is, to me, perfectly apt :-)

The thing about these zeitgeist ailments (moral schizophrenia, remember?) is that they are shared: people like Richard Nixon and Stephen Harper are epitomes not exceptions; and this makes the diagnosis into a moral boomerang. Uh oh!

But nevermind guilt and shame - and anyone who is not feeling one or the other or both is simply not listening - the only question worth asking is this: What are the necessary and sufficient actions which will possibly help bring about an acceptable outcome?

And split hairs as you will there is really only one answer - continence. QED. 
Back in the 80s the United Church was earnestly wringing its hands over homosexual ordination. There was a right-wing group, the COC (Committee of Concern) headed by Allen Churchill who happened to be the preacher at the church where I minded the crèche. He gave a sermon one Sunday that I happened to catch in which continence figgured largely - and every time he spoke the word his mouth twisted up tight and he looked as if he was sucking lemons. Luckily for us, continence does not have to be that way ... but I am laughing today to remember this, and laughing again to be so strenuously proposing it as the solution. :-)

I will paraphrase that famous Christian guru - 'The yoke is easy and the burden is light.' (Matthew 11:30)

Truth be told gentle reader I turned my face to the wall some time ago. Interesting that my son saw it almost right away and eventually told me - what a good son he is! Since then, each post here is a temporary re-turning, more-or-less hypothetical and contingent on some clue that has blown across my vision. That said, I am neither desperate nor resigned, no fatalism here; but yes, I am tired and sick.
Be well. 

They let one of her killers go - after eight years of a 27 year sentence ... she might approve.

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