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I just read on of the more hopeful pieces I have seen in a while regarding environmental degradation, the most disturbing of what I consider the three major crises threatening us today. This crisis has several dimensions: destruction of natural ecosystems, the destruction of many species, over population, and perhaps most worrisome of all, global warming with its attendant “global climate weirding.” All are terrifying in their implications.
For Pagans such as myself there is still another dimension to this issue. We are destroying forms of sentience without even acknowledging we are doing so, forms that once we are able to appreciate them deeply transform our lives, adding beauty, wonder, and delight far beyond what mere human ingenuity can ever provide because we do not truly like being alone. To be alone is to be incapacitated in important ways because we are in fact not alone. Our civilization is autistic, we suffer accordingly, and we need to recover if we are not to do unimaginable damage to our world and to ourselves.
Derrick Jensen is one of those writers I consider most insightful on these ecological issues. He thinks we have already gone too far and that collapse is only a matter of time. John Michael Greer, another very insightful Pagan writer, takes a similar view. To my mind of all the analyses about society and our world that are different from mine, theirs is the one I think most likely might be right if I am mistaken.
Both Jensen and Greer think technology will not help us and I think if we can ultimately address these problems technology will have to help us. So a major issue is the potential impact of new technologies or of new ways of employing old technologies. Particularly important to my mind is whether we can develop safe technologies that have minimal environmental impact, or if we go towards technologies with enormous environmental impacts that require ever expanding efforts to bring ever more parts of the earth under our control. To my mind only the first gives genuine hope. This is why I try and keep an eye on this field. The stakes are enormous.
Today I opened up Stephen Schwartz’s excellent site The Schwartz Report, and came across a wonderful project being built in Arizona, a solar tower. It will be over twice the height of the empire state building and power the equivalent of 150,000 average American homes through the use of solar heated air rising through a tower and running turbines as it does. Once built it will cost essentially nothing to operate. It is also remarkably low tech. It does not solve all our power problems, but I think we can see that towers of this sort could be a major factor in solving the production of electrical power without serious environmental impact. The video included is short and very interesting. Take a look.
(The other two threats are the threat of a corporatist oligarchy destroying what remains of our free society or the threat of a fascist right doing the same. But countries come and go, and as many readers know, increasingly I think it’s time ours went. But those are other discussions.)