Monday, December 04, 2006

Happiness in Law

Our Happiness is in Keeping the Law; Instauration Manifesto Introduction

By John Taylor; 2006 December 04

They say that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I have been working these years on a book that I think will benefit humanity, but for the life of me I could not find where to start. I am grateful to Al Gore and the producers of the feature documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" for pointing out that step. To see what it is, read the introduction below. For those who live near Dunnville, we are celebrating Human Rights Day by having a showing of that documentary in the Garfield Disher Room of the library next Sunday night, December 10, at 7:30 PM. Our monthly fireside will take place on Tuesday, December 12, same place, and will be on Life After Death, speaker, Betty Frost.

Recently climate scientists gave their highest marks for the accuracy of the science in An Inconvenient Truth. I looked up the reviews of the film on and found virtually unanimous praise for it; Roger Ebert wrote that he had been reviewing films for many years but had never said this about one until now: "You owe it to yourself to see this film." Not long ago, though, the American Association of Science Teachers refused a donation of some 50,000 copies of "Inconvenient Truth," one to each science teacher to show to their classes, because they say that the film is a form of partisan politics and accepting the gift may detract from future fundraising efforts. In other words, some say, they are a shill for the oil and gas industry.

Here is what I have to say about it. Think of the atrocities of the Nazis, the guilt only partially expiated by the Nuremburg trials. Then think of how posterity will judge the shills who persistently ignored the signs of global warming, pushed it out of the public eye and refused to allow anything to be done about it. Bad as the Nazi atrocities were, this looks to be a disaster on a much greater scale. And no wonder Al Gore makes this issue so clear; he has been trying to point out the implications of basic science to policymakers for over two decades! As somebody said, "Democracy is not just ruled by money, it is money." And Gore is no stranger to whoring favors to moneyed interests. But the point is that he is at least trying to reverse the corruption. Where scientists have no voice, he is speaking on their behalf, because paying attention to the scientific writing on the wall is in all of our higher interests.

Our Happiness is in Keeping the Law

Introduction to "The Instauration Manifesto."

Many archeologists believe that the human race evolved its oversized brain in response to the many rapid and severe climate shifts that have taken place irregularly through the past several million years. What could not kill us only made us smarter. Now that global warming is upon us, pre-history repeats itself, only this time the rapid shift is of our own doing. But we can console ourselves that our mental equipment was designed to respond to such crises.

Climate shifts are compounding. The melting of the polar ice caps and the ice sheet over Greenland is well under way. This will raise sea level by many meters and flood populated areas in coastal regions around the globe. Our present arrangements are by any standard grossly inefficient. Waste is part of an infrastructure that belches out ever more of the very greenhouse gasses that, we now know, caused the climate crisis in the first place. In order to function we must pump up our bodies with artificial stimulants and anti-depressants, and these chemicals, released into the environment, are doing further damage to freshwater ecosystems.

As carbon dioxide continues to accumulate in the atmosphere, it is becoming evident that a worse genie may be let out of the bottle. As the permafrost layer melts it is liable to release massive quantities of methane, a far more efficient greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Even at this late date it is still not clear whether this monumental transformation will result in increased warming or the reverse, a stoppage of the Gulf Stream and a sudden plunge into freezing temperatures, an ice age of a thousand years in duration, as has happened at least once before in the geological record.

At stake are many lives, and with the introduction of methane into the atmosphere, perhaps all life as we know it. All in all, the Climate Crisis poses a greater cumulative challenge by orders of magnitude than any natural disaster since the beginning of recorded history. Massive flooding of low lying areas will surely provoke a refugee crisis on an unimagined scale. Hundreds of millions of people, possibly billions, will suddenly be deprived of potable water, food, shelter, livelihood and every other essential of survival. Somehow those living on high ground will have to accommodate a rapid inflow of immigrants without crushing the infrastructure or overloading the ecological mechanisms that maintain agriculture, which in turn keeps us all alive.

These sudden strains could easily bring nature to a tipping point beyond which civilization will not be viable. Such collapses are frighteningly frequent in history, as Jared Diamond's book, Collapse, documents. But difficult as it will be to organize such a mass migration from flooded lowlands, it would be far better than the alternatives, civil war, sudden population drop and any number of Mad Max scenarios of post-apocalyptic anarchy.

Fortunately, with unity and firm political resolve, careful consultation, planning and prompt action, it would be by no means impossible to accommodate any number of climatic refugees with a minimum of violence and dislocation. An adequate response would mean rapid, massive changes to every area of human life, starting with the formation of a world government strong enough to enforce the rule of law and adequately regulate the global economy.

Like a heart pumping blood to every cell in the body, a world federation will have to impose standards and organize a massive overhaul of the infrastructure not just in privileged places but on every spot on high ground. It is the purpose of this manifesto to point out the specific changes to the design of infrastructure that would enable a newly formed world government to reverse the slide to environmental oblivion.

Although the desire to survive adversity should be motive enough, we should be aware that deep down there is much more to it than that. This symphony human culture over thousands of years has been preparing to play. We have bodies and minds designed over millions of years to cooperate in rapid response to dire challenges posed by our environment. To the extent that we are aware of this, we will realize that our happiness as individuals is bound up in seeing that it is resolved. Plato's Socrates, discussing the rudiments of justice, declared:

"For the questions in dispute are by no means trivial, but are, one might say, matters wherein knowledge is noblest and ignorance most shameful -- the sum and substance of them being knowledge or ignorance of who is happy and who is not." (Gorgias, 472c)

We were made to eliminate waste, to be happy in purity, naturally, by living a healthy, moderate lifestyle, by getting involved in one another and promoting the overall good of all humanity. Most of all, each of us is happiest when we know that we are working to remove obstacles to happiness, even at the price of our lives.

"And yet, my friend, I would rather that my lyre should be inharmonious, and that there should be no music in the chorus which I provided; aye, or that the whole world should be at odds with me, and oppose me, rather than that I, who am but one man, should be out of tune with and contradict myself." (Gorgias, 482c)

To be happy each citizen of the planet must see and understand the problem and must devote his or her time and resources to resolving the climate crisis. Our integrity depends upon our resolve to do the right thing.

"Where there is no vision, the people perish (or, cast off restraint): but he that keepeth the law, happy is he." (Prov 29:18, KJV)

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