Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise has been watching the climate world since 2009. What she sees isn't pretty.

Have a Little Faith

An Australian professor has written a book that says we have to:

  • “adopt alternative social practices” in order to reduce our energy consumption
  • “completely alter the way we run our economies
  • “drastically change our behaviour” [bold added; see this press release]

This gentleman is a civil engineer. I’m sure he’s a smart man. But when a civil engineer starts talking about social practices and economic systems he’s left his own field of expertise well and truly behind. What he’s really saying is that, if he ran the world, it would be organized differently.

We’re all entitled to our own personal visions of how the universe should unfold. But it’s important to recognize that those visions are coloured by our temperaments. If we’re a “glass half empty” kind of person we feel apprehensive about everything – including humanity’s ability to cope with the future. If we’re a “glass half full” personality, we feel confident about our collective ability to meet whatever challenges life sends our way.

This professor is a gloomy sort of chap. An earlier media release issued by the university where he and his co-author are employed declares that, in their opinion “the car is doomed.” It says:

  • car use “must be cut by at least 80 per cent
  • road construction must be halted
  • governments should “focus on phasing-out cars
  • governments should force people to use public transit [bold added]

According to the good professor, air travel must also be curtailed. In his words: “An overseas trip might become a once in a life time experience rather than an annual event” [emphasis added].

The professor’s new book argues that we humans place too much faith in technology. Since he believes technology won’t prevent or solve climate change, he thinks the choices and freedoms we currently enjoy must be swept aside in favour of draconian, top-down, command-and-control, hyper-regulation. In other words, state planning of multiple aspects of our lives.

If that sounds like a circle of hell to you, you aren’t alone. Since I personally don’t consider that sort of life worth living, I’m not prepared to go there until every other option has been exhausted first. At the moment, we’re a long way from that sort of desperation.

For me, the delicious part of this story is that the professor’s surname is Moriarty. Released back in 1970, Kelly’s Heroes is one of my favourite movies. A character in that film is also named Moriarty. There’s great deal of affection between him and his commanding officer, played by Canadian-born actor Donald Sutherland. Nevertheless, Sutherland’s character repeatedly urges Moriarty to adopt a more positive attitude. In a moment of exasperation he declares:

Knock it off with them negative waves. Why don’t you dig how beautiful it is out here? Why don’t you say something righteous and hopeful for a change? [hear it here]

It isn’t hard to empathize with the risk-averse Moriartys of the world. This era of fast-paced change can be frightening. Nothing is like it was. The future is uncertain. Many of us also harbour a deep-seated fear that if we step out of line the universe (or God or Gaia) will exact a terrible punishment.

At this moment much of the planet is celebrating renewal, symbolized by the birth of a child and the beginning of a New Year. Perhaps this is an opportunity to stiffen our spines and to fortify our courage – to remind ourselves that humans are ingenious and creative and resourceful.

Like our forefathers and foremothers before us, we shall overcome. As Sutherland’s character would say:

Have a little faith, baby. Have a little faith. [hear it here]

.

h/t Tim Hulsey

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