What if climate change meant not doom — but abundance?
March 20, 2023 7:26 AM   Subscribe

Rebecca Solnit: How to meet the climate crisis? Redefine 'abundance.' [ungated] - "Much of the reluctance to do what climate change requires comes from the assumption that it means trading abundance for austerity, and trading all our stuff and conveniences for less stuff, less convenience. But what if it meant giving up things we're well rid of, from deadly emissions to nagging feelings of doom and complicity in destruction? What if the austerity is how we live now — and the abundance could be what is to come?"[1,2,3,4]
What if we imagined “wealth” consisting not of the money we stuff into banks or the fossil fuel-derived goods we pile up, but of joy, beauty, friendship, community, closeness to flourishing nature, to good food produced without abuse of labor? What if we were to think of wealth as security in our environments and societies, and as confidence in a viable future?

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers,” William Wordsworth wrote a couple of centuries ago. What would it mean to recover those powers, to be rich in time instead of stuff?

For so many of us, being busy with work has leached away our capacity to pursue true riches. What if we were to prioritize reclaiming our time — to fret less about getting and spending — and instead “spend” this precious resource on creative pursuits, on adventure and learning, on building stronger societies and being better citizens, on caring for the people (and other species and places) we love, on taking care of ourselves?
How Countries Leading on Early Years of Child Care Get It Right [ungated] - "The leaders deliver either on quality or affordability—some on both—and the impacts ripple through public life."

The case for a land value tax is overwhelming [ungated] - "Natural resources are quite different from the capital stock created out of human effort."
Now that western politicians are struggling with low growth, stressed public finances, high inequality, intergenerational tensions and an unstable financial system, they need to consider such a fundamental change in what is taxed...

The moral case for separating the return on natural resources from that on other assets is that the former pre-exist human efforts. Their value depends on the latter, but most definitely not on those of their owners. The land under my house has, for example, increased enormously in value over the past few decades. I did nothing to earn this. It was the result of the efforts of all those who contributed to making London richer, including, of course, the public at large, through their taxes. A large part of the agglomeration value of productive cities is in this way captured by those who happen to own the land...

The political power of landowners, big and small, is why the longstanding arguments of great economists have been ignored for so long.
@nicklockwood@mastodon.social: "we've all witnessed the companies that made us optimistic in the 00s (Google, Apple, Netflix, Valve, etc) turn around and become the monopolistic, rent-seeking dinosaurs they were supposed to save us from."[5,6,7]

The Technium - "This means that it is imperative that we figure out how to shift more of our type 1 growth to type 2 growth, because we won't be able to keep expanding the usual 'more.' We will have to perfect a system that can keep improving and getting better with fewer customers each year, smaller markets and audiences, and fewer workers. That is a huge shift from the past few centuries where every year there has been more of everything."[8,9]

EU announces plans to lead green industrial revolution - "Global investment in the green transition is set to triple by 2030 from $1 trillion last year, the Commission says." As Oil Companies Stay Lean, Workers Move to Renewable Energy [ungated] - "Solar, wind, geothermal, battery and other alternative-energy businesses are adding workers from fossil fuel companies, where employment has fallen."

Global Miners Gear Up for Energy Transition With Deals and Investments [ungated] - "Executives expect Inflation Reduction Act to increase demand for metals including copper."

The Green Energy Revolution Needs a 211-Mile Road Through Pristine Alaskan Wilderness [ungated] - "The Ambler Mining District contains massive lodes of copper, zinc and other minerals essential to cleantech. But extracting them is bound to be dirty."

Billion-Dollar Power Lines Finally Inching Ahead to Help US Grids [ungated] - "Suddenly several big power-line projects in the US are moving ahead, bringing with them a flood of potential wind and solar power."[18]

US Energy Is Changing, and Transforming - "The report is a wealth of statistics and trends that captures something important: decarbonization is now hard-wired at the system level. Decarbonization comes from continued incremental change in some sectors; it also comes from fast-moving transformation in others."[19]

@scienceisstrat1: "Thanks in part to the explosive growth in renewables, Australia has finally begun to decouple growth from greenhouse gas emissions."

How Floating Solar Panels Are Being Used to Power Electric Grids [ungated] - "Solar panels that float on water are becoming a popular clean-energy option for island nations and those with limited land. These photos reveal the possibilities."

The Future of Water - "Kal Penn explores how the western US can cope with a decades-old megadrought and whether recycled wastewater is a solution to the world's limited water supplies."[20] (also btw 'Missing link' protostar may prove solar system's water is older than the sun - "We can now trace the origins of water in our solar system to before the formation of the sun."[21])

Red States' Green Pivot

America's New 'Battery Belt' Is Shifting the Auto Industry South - "Thousands of jobs are being redistributed as factories are moving away from the Great Lakes."

Biden's Green Subsidies Are Attracting Billions of Dollars to Red States [ungated] - "GOP-leaning states, many with ample sun, wind and available land, are luring clean-energy projects boosted by legislation their representatives opposed."[22,23] GOP Governors Tout Green Bona Fides Amid Anti-ESG Backlash [unagted] - "From Alaska to South Dakota to West Virginia, governors increasingly recognize the prospects for renewable energy."

To rein in ESG and protect investors, follow the Florida model - "Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) recently approved measures that require state-run fund managers to 'focus solely on maximizing the highest rate of return.'"

In surprise move, Fla. governor vetoes solar crackdown - "It is highly unusual for a Republican governor to veto a bill from a GOP-controlled Legislature, much less one that was the brainchild of Florida Power & Light [owned by Florida-based renewable energy giant NextEra Energy Inc.]."
Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed a bill [last year] targeting rooftop solar that was backed by the state’s largest electric company and a top political donor, in a move that shocked Florida’s political and energy landscape.

The move is a win for the solar industry and deals a blow to Florida Power & Light Co., which holds significant political sway in the Sunshine State. It also is a win for state Democrats, who largely opposed the bill and have had been unsuccessful in getting any meaningful clean energy legislation passed in Florida...

The bill would have cut the amount of money rooftop solar users could receive for selling excess electricity back to the power grid. In a letter explaining his decision, DeSantis said that Florida doesn’t need to add to customers’ financial woes while the nation copes with increased costs for goods.
DeSantis's Move on Solar Is a Political Calculation [ungated] - "The governor may have no passion for renewable power, but for the moment he's protecting it to grandstand against inflation."

Amid Connections to Ongoing Election Scandals, NextEra Pours Millions into Florida's 2022 Election Cycle - "The majority of Florida Power & Light (FPL) contributions have been to the Florida Republican Party, GOP committees and candidates, and political committees associated with corporate special interests."
The Governor appoints members to the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC), the regulatory body responsible for overseeing utilities and determining their profitability, making influence over the Governor’s office critical to NextEra’s shareholders. Earlier this year, current PSC members, appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, approved FPL’s rate hike, raising Floridian’s monthly bills by over $1.5 billion in the next few years with annual increases through 2025, while increasing FPL’s profits. DeSantis appointees also allowed FPL to pocket over $1 billion in corporate tax savings instead of passing those savings on to customers...

Over the course of DeSantis’ tenure, he used that veto power once to block an anti-rooftop solar bill written by FPL. Otherwise, DeSantis has been largely friendly to NextEra and FPL’s legislative priorities, granting the utility $2.75 million in tax breaks on speculative “green hydrogen,” signing legislation that gave FPL permission to charge customers tens of billions of dollars for burying lines, signing legislation preventing gas bans that would have aided Florida City Gas, and also signing legislation that forced the resignation of utility critic JR Kelly from his leadership of the Office of Public Counsel, which represents ratepayers in rate cases. This legislation allowed for Kelly to be replaced with a former utility lobbyist, Richard Gentry.

The governor’s office also comes with a bully pulpit and executive order authority, both of which DeSantis has used frequently, pushing his “anti-woke” platform on everything from school curriculum to state pensions, unilaterally suspending elected officials, and creating his own “election police agency.” But DeSantis’ election police agency has remained silent on FPL’s connection to election scandals, criminal trials, and ongoing investigations, instead focusing on the arrest of 20 individuals who may have registered to vote while ineligible, despite allegedly being told that they were eligible to vote, and the state’s issuance of voter ID’s.

DeSantis received $25,000 from a dark money non-profit funded by FPL in the 2018 election cycle, according to reporting from the Miami Herald. The non-profit, called “Broken Promises,” first donated the funds to a political committee called Consumers for Energy Fairness. The committee donated $25,000 to DeSantis’ political committee on the next day.

FPL consultants also used Broken Promises to boost a spoiler candidate in a 2018 state senate race in Gainesville, FL, according to previous reporting from Miami Herald. FPL’s consultants used similar spoiler candidate tactics in the 2020 election cycle in three senate races throughout the state. In all races, the Republican won the election.
Nonprofit funded with FPL cash backed DeSantis' 2018 campaign - "Campaigns are not obligated to research the source of money given to them by donors."[24]
  • Supreme Court's 'Dark Money' Rulings Anchor Defense in Ohio Political Corruption Trial [ungated] - "Supreme Court decisions, including in the 2010 Citizens United case, have allowed companies, trade groups and unions to spend unlimited sums supporting political candidates. That has meant more big money in politics, including through nonprofits that aren't legally required to disclose their donors... Generation Now described its mission in tax documents as promoting energy independence and economic development. The group, which was led by Mr. Householder's top political aide, pleaded guilty and acknowledged its real purpose was to take undisclosed donations from FirstEnergy and use them to benefit Mr. Householder and others."
  • Republicans Are Convicted in Ohio Bribery Scheme [ungated] - "Beginning in 2018, Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. secretly funneled more than $60 million through Generation Now and other nonprofits connected to Mr. Householder as it pursued a $1.3 billion state bailout of its two failing nuclear plants. Prosecutors said the scheme included helping Mr. Householder elect friendly Republican lawmakers who then made him House speaker. The bailout legislation passed and was signed into law by Republican Gov. Mike DeWine."
  • A Four-Decade Secret: One Man's Story of Sabotaging Carter's Re-election [ungated] - "A prominent Texas politician said he unwittingly took part in a 1980 tour of the Middle East with a clandestine agenda."[25,26,27]
  • The Man Who Broke The World - "With Carrier, the causal chain went something like this: he invents the underlying technological behind AC trying to build a dehumidifier for a Brooklyn printing company; it turns out that people actually enjoyed being in the room with the device on hot muggy days, so he transforms it into a product targeted at large offices or movie theaters; decades later it comes to the home in the form of central air and window units; the widespread adoption of AC in the post-WWII era suddenly makes it far more tolerable to live in desert or tropical climates, which helps trigger one of the largest migrations in American history, creating the Sun Belt; that migration shifts the balance of the electoral college and plays a critical role in the election of Ronald Reagan. It's not that air conditioning caused Ronald Reagan to be elected; but it's almost certainly true that had the technology not been invented, he would have required a very different electoral path to the White House."[28]
Incoming Florida utility chief's priority: no more scandals - "The new head of Florida Power & Light (FP&L) has at least one important objective above and beyond running U.S. power giant NextEra's crown jewel utility, analysts say: stay out of the headlines."

Florida Set to Become a World Leader in Renewable Energy with 30 Million New Solar Panels - "Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) and its sister company, NextEra Energy Resources, are already some of the world's largest producers of renewable energy from the wind and sun and, when this plan is completed, FPL expects to be the largest utility owner and operator of solar in America."
posted by kliuless (40 comments total) 101 users marked this as a favorite
There's so much to dig into here, and before I do, thank you for such a bounty!
posted by wellifyouinsist at 8:52 AM on March 20, 2023 [5 favorites]

Rebecca Solnit is a comfort in troubled times. Cf. her book on Katrina.
posted by homerica at 9:00 AM on March 20, 2023 [3 favorites]

kliuless, this is a great, great post. I am really looking forward to reading a bunch of these links, but I especially appreciate Solnit's perspective, and I thank you for leading with it.
posted by kristi at 9:04 AM on March 20, 2023 [6 favorites]

I guess I'm going to be the one to dissent. This is more of a linkdump than a post.

Kliuless, I know this is your style, but I really wish you would break this quantity of material up into multiple posts, and make each one more well-focused.

It's impossible to have a coherent discussion about a post containing, by my count, 77(!) links (that's not including the "ungated" links), which vary widely in subject and theme.

MeFi should have limits on how many links and/or topics can be inserted into a post. Past a certain point it just gets ridiculous.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 9:30 AM on March 20, 2023 [41 favorites]

A linkdump arranged very thoughtfully and with great contextual notes!

But it would be easier to handle as different posts, separated more granularly.
posted by knotty knots at 9:41 AM on March 20, 2023 [5 favorites]

The Alachua County Legislative Delegation voted 4-1 March 17 to move a bill affecting Gainesville Regional Utilities to the floor of the Florida House of Representatives.

The bill, filed by Rep. Chuck Clemons, R-Newberry, would move power over regional utilities out of the Gainesville City Commission’s hands by creating a state-appointed GRU Authority board. The board would consist of volunteers from the area served by GRU, appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

It was just announced that DeSantis is going to take over very blue Gainesville's publicly-owned utility company and will probably give it to FPL.

Florida is being looted, hide your kids, hide your wife.
posted by sibboleth at 9:49 AM on March 20, 2023 [3 favorites]

I think one of the many reasons many people below a certain income level can't be satisfied with Enough is because they're scared of losing Everything.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:55 AM on March 20, 2023 [4 favorites]

as I scrolled.. and scrolled.. and scrolled.. I expected to see kliuless and there you are

I do not see how breaking this into several individual posts would be an improvement. Artifice_Eternity, what am I missing? Like other posts from kliuless, I feel like I can favourite this and return at my leisure and work my way through.
posted by elkevelvet at 10:32 AM on March 20, 2023 [17 favorites]

Does the Solnit article seem to anyone else like “it’s okay that we have to change our entire economy because we can change our entire culture to match?”
posted by Selena777 at 10:48 AM on March 20, 2023 [6 favorites]

Great post! I love the depth and am glad you didn’t split this up.
posted by cupcakeninja at 11:03 AM on March 20, 2023

Yes, Selena777, very much! She has more standing to believe that than most people because of her work in disaster zones.

I’ve rearranged a bunch of my life to increase regional, eventually-lower-fuel skills, and it does have huge benefits and I *think* we could do a lot with a little change from many people, but I don’t know. And it’s really hard to coordinate; even among the hairy hippies people disagree about the one luxury worth keeping.

Gotta start now to show options as the disaster lands and more people are willing to change, though.
posted by clew at 11:07 AM on March 20, 2023 [2 favorites]

It’s a lot easier to redefine abundance when you actually do have enough. It would be a lot easier to be satisfied with Enough if 1) I knew how much would be Enough to keep me from spending my old age gumming cat food alone and 2) had some hope of obtaining that amount. I’m not wasting my powers getting and spending, I’m trying like hell to save every dime to provide myself with some measure of safety because nobody else is going to do it. And I’m way better off than most people my age. It’s easy to define abundance as joy, beauty, friendship blah blah when your physical life is basically okay, but I am rapidly becoming aware of what it will mean to be “frail”—it means you just can’t do shit like lift, bend, unscrew things around the house like a normal person—and how lovely it would be to have help, and how unobtainable that help will be, and how that’s going to feel.
posted by HotToddy at 11:07 AM on March 20, 2023 [16 favorites]

Much of the reluctance to do what climate change requires comes from the assumption that it means trading abundance for austerity, and trading all our stuff and conveniences for less stuff, less convenience.

Much of the reluctance to do what climate change requires comes from the ongoing lobbying efforts of the fossil fuel industry. Which is also, oddly enough, the source of all the arguments that it means trading abundance for austerity.

Rooftop solar electricity at under five cents per kilowatt hour levelized and getting cheaper every year is plenty fucking abundant. Let's just get on with it, shall we?
posted by flabdablet at 11:26 AM on March 20, 2023 [5 favorites]

Much of the reluctance to do what climate change requires comes from the ongoing lobbying efforts of the fossil fuel industry. Which is also, oddly enough, the source of all the arguments that it means trading abundance for austerity.

I sort of agree with you, but there are also some environmentalists who seem to have gone completely bonkers. George Monbiot springs to mind. It's like an unholy alliance between the destructors of our habitat and the zealots.

Also, I'm quite fascinated by how differently people are handling this, and specially younger people. For a while, I have been very optimistic, because my own kids, and the kids I teach at university are actively doing something all the time. Wether it is eating vegan food, biking everywhere, learning relevant skills or in the case of my students, specializing in those fields where they can change the world.
But then I talk with colleagues and I realize that I have been living in a bubble -- they talk about kids who are clinically depressed, who can't imagine a future with no holidays in Dubai and Thailand, and who are just sick and tired of having to do projects about climate change and biodiversity at their schools, when they really want to become bankers or car designers.
I think for people of any age who feel that way, it is important to describe the future as abundant rather than as austere.
posted by mumimor at 11:56 AM on March 20, 2023 [2 favorites]

Which is also, oddly enough, the source of all the arguments that it means trading abundance for austerity

This is not true. There are plentiful threads on MetaFilter in the last half year alone featuring hard-green site members who believe that fossil fuel-based travel is wrong, some of whom claim to have given it up wherever possible. One can redefine abundance many ways, but there is no meaningful way to frame “you can no longer travel by air” as abundance. It’s a hypothetical at the moment, and whoever’s making the point tends to leave carve-outs for whatever justification they feel essential (work, family, whatever), but that hardly seems a point favored by the fossil fuel industry. :-)
posted by cupcakeninja at 12:05 PM on March 20, 2023 [1 favorite]

One can redefine abundance many ways, but there is no meaningful way to frame “you can no longer travel by air” as abundance.

Yeah, but those people are just kind of misguided. The MTA subway system alone carries more people daily than every airport and every flight in the US, but look how mass transit threads go. Some forms of transit occupy space in minds rent free, and some have to pay the toll for every passing thought. That doesn't mean the impacts of them or the use of them is equal.
posted by The_Vegetables at 12:22 PM on March 20, 2023 [3 favorites]

Maybe the real abundance was the links we met along the way
posted by librosegretti at 12:26 PM on March 20, 2023 [20 favorites]

Yes, but the MTA has yet to take me somewhere pleasant...

Kidding aside, I appreciate the perspectives here but have a hard time imagining what unseats the people dictating the current prevailing view that isn't violence brought on by increasing hardship and devastation.
posted by jellywerker at 12:27 PM on March 20, 2023

One can redefine abundance many ways, but there is no meaningful way to frame “you can no longer travel by air” as abundance.

Yeah, but those people are just kind of misguided.

Glad to know my friend is misguided in his desire to ever see his children in physical person again, and his sense that being unable to do so would be a bad thing.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 12:29 PM on March 20, 2023 [1 favorite]

I think that person was arguing that people who are for the cessation of easily available plane travel are misguided.
posted by Selena777 at 12:30 PM on March 20, 2023

That wasn't apparent to me, but I will confess to finding the comment a bit confusing overall.

Anyhow, my point was not to contradict the overall argument that many perceptions of sustainability can absolutely be reframed into net gains instead of full losses, but just to agree that it won't work for 100% of things, and there needs to be space for people to mourn the losses of things that are genuinely important to them and genuinely meaningful.

Some of these things just aren't...gonna be any fun or any good on any level, even if they're necessary.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 12:36 PM on March 20, 2023 [4 favorites]

One can redefine abundance many ways, but there is no meaningful way to frame “you can no longer travel by air” as abundance.

The act of "redefining" carries within it a very literal implication of massive change, and of process. In that context, I find your 'there is no meaningful way' statement pretty strident. Nobody on earth right now who lacks access to air travel can be considered to live in abundance? Nobody who ever lived before the 20th century?
posted by dusty potato at 12:39 PM on March 20, 2023 [2 favorites]

I guess I'm going to be the one to dissent. This is more of a linkdump than a post.

I can see how this might not work for some, but I enjoy this style of post, and it breaks up the monotony of single links or tightly narrated fpps. I see this post like a Warburgian constellation, a broad grouping of many items, yet somehow connected, with any and all offering an entry point of exploration. Best of the web in my opinion.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 12:44 PM on March 20, 2023 [8 favorites]

I was just watching a video that claimed that concrete construction emits more CO2 than all transportation put together. This may not be true, but I strongly believe that reducing (rather than eliminating) emissions across all sectors is smarter than eliminating an entire sector (like air travel). But some people prefer "simple" solutions.

We could probably make massive cuts to CO2 emissions from concrete construction, and a lot of those changes could potentially lead to a much higher quality of life for everyone.

We are definitely very soon going to be driving electric cars, and there will also be alternative solutions for air-travel and shipping. Those forms of transportation will be more quiet and less smelly, which will be more luxurious. Just like in Europe and Japan, trains are superfast and super comfortable and in some cases bring you from city center to city center faster than a plane.
Some of the zealots refuse to acknowledge that technology can be part of the change, because some of the idiots imagine technology will let them go on doing what they have always done, mindlessly. The truth is in between those positions, IMO.

The food sector has to change, and the reason that isn't happening is not the potential lack of abundance available to ordinary people, its the food companies not wanting to change their current mode of operation, where both the land and the workers are exploited until they cannot give more, for the profit of very, very few. Remember the Nestle CEO who said he didn't see water as a human right. Those people.

The future will not bring an abundance of McFeast menus, that fully represent everything that is bad about the food industry, including the bad health of the consumers, but there can absolutely be an abundance of food that is tastier and healthier, if we want it and vote for change.
posted by mumimor at 1:24 PM on March 20, 2023 [4 favorites]

America Is Trying to Electrify. There Aren't Enough Electricians.
The average annual electrician salary rose from roughly $50,000 to about $60,000 from 2018 to 2022, an increase roughly in line with the national average, according to the BLS.
Sounds like a lack of pay not a lack of electricians. I'm making twice that (in Canada) but my understanding is union electricians in the states are making about what I am. I'd quit too if expected to work for so little.
posted by Mitheral at 1:27 PM on March 20, 2023 [5 favorites]

Is vegan food better tasting in your opinion, mumimor?
posted by Selena777 at 1:29 PM on March 20, 2023

dusty potato, I take your point and do agree! We live in a time of wild abundance in much of the world right now, either by global or historical standards. And also, I feel that a small but non-zero number of MeFites are wildly out of touch with reality about this issue and the realities of voluntary change, as well as occasionally holding repugnant associated views. (Eye of the beholder, though! I’m basically a no-new-houses guy, for the sake of the environment, etc. Though I do realize that’s not feasible.)

My thinking on this is influenced today by just having flown (conference) for the first time in years, and… it was as busy as ever. I passed through one airport slated for 100,000+ travelers that day. It was as if nothing had changed over the last half-decade since I last flew. It was jarring.
posted by cupcakeninja at 1:46 PM on March 20, 2023

I think what's getting conflated here (incorrectly, and confusingly) are the ideas of abundance and the idea of all climate-forward change being positive.

We can and should redefine abundance away from pure acquisition and growth! But "abundance" isn't a magic word that means "and everyone will love everything about this! Zero hardship whatsoever!" Acting to mitigate the worst outcomes of climate change means that a lot of people are going to lose a lot of things that have shaped and characterized their lives, and no, they're not going to feel fantastic about that just because someone in the Washington Post says "no, really, it's abundance now!!"
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 2:17 PM on March 20, 2023 [4 favorites]

What if the austerity is how we live now — and the abundance could be what is to come?

this is a beautiful thought and one i wish more people would embrace and try to make real. but i doubt there's any money in it.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 2:35 PM on March 20, 2023 [4 favorites]

Well made food tastes better than corporate junk food. If I have the choice between a Mc Feast and a well made plate of beans, I'll take the beans ;-). Joke aside, I am still an omnivore, but in our household we have cut meat consumption down dramatically, to about a tenth of what it was. In accordance with what I wrote above, I don't believe in wiping out an entire food group, but I do believe we can make significant changes. We do not feel deprived at all. We mostly cook from scratch, because we can, but it isn't necessary.

I live in a street that is known for its very many small Middle Eastern restaurants. In them, you can eat delicious vegetarian meals for very little: falafels, soups, manakish with a side of salads, hummus and much more. Or you can eat a little meat with a lot of vegetable food. I see people from all backgrounds eating that way all the time -- it's cheaper than corporate fast food and tastier and more nourishing. If you want to go even cheaper, some local grocers have homemade spinach pies or samosas, and I don't miss meat when I enjoy those pies. Also on the street is a big trade school, and a lot of the students are very obviously from traditional households where dinner is meat based, and they are not holding back at these restaurants. So I believe people can change their habits and enjoy doing so.

Obviously, not everyone is lucky to live in a street like that, but it has to start somewhere...
posted by mumimor at 2:38 PM on March 20, 2023 [6 favorites]

I find it hard to imagine a way out of the building crises of our time without the relatively wealthy parts of humanity making some changes. I think reevaluating work, spending, lifestyle, goals, etc. all need to be part of this on some level. As far as air travel, business travel can probably be greatly reduced via telework. Options besides air become more viable for recreational travel if people aren’t tied into very short vacations like in the US. If the Caribbean is totally unlivable due to temperature, increasing storm devastation and sargassum inundations, that would be a much worse reason to stop flying.
posted by snofoam at 4:17 PM on March 20, 2023 [1 favorite]

Here's the full poem Solnit cites, so worth reading line by line:

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

posted by doctornemo at 4:58 PM on March 20, 2023 [2 favorites]

I was thinking that I'd heard this somewhere before and then it hit me. Have we already forgotten our dreams of Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism? They're only a decade old!
posted by happyfrog at 12:43 AM on March 21, 2023 [3 favorites]

OK so maybe I can't hop on a plane and fly down to Cancun but maybe, with the abundance of free time I might have in a reconfigured future, I could hop on a train.
posted by kaymac at 9:35 AM on March 21, 2023 [2 favorites]

We are all our own devils and we made this world our hell. -oscar wilde

just a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down. - some musical

Solnit is right (again)

We are not in the good place. These are not the good times. We should and WE CAN fix the things about our civilization that are toxic, from our pollution to our mental health and social lives.

F-ck commutes, they waste time and fuel, we can dramatically reduce them with centrally located affordable housing, telecommuting part or full time, and electrified mass transit.

F-ck insecurity in food, housing, healthcare. Throw a dart at a map of oecd countries and clone their social welfare system. Everyone deserves a safety net of food housing etc and we have all the means of providing it. houses sit empty and food rots while the short term pursuit of private profit makes a tourniquette for the poor. Cut the austerity tourniquette, tax the rich, tax the polluters and help the rest of us.

F-ck long hours. We have known for a century that we are being counter productive when we work someone longer than 40 hrs. Raise wages, cut hours, rebalance prices to reflect what is best for workers not what is emotionally satifying for micromanagers.

We work longer hours than people did 50 years ago, 500 years ago, and 5,000 years ago. (see bls, see medevial peasant holiday calendars, see hunter-gather time use studies).

F-ck health insurance companies and f-ck polluters.

Analysis of skeletons show we are barely getting back to the healthyness of 10,000 years ago. Aside from the very important reductions in childhood illness and death, the odd of a 25yr old making it to 64, 75 or 85 now a days resembles closley those odds reconstructed from church records 200 and 700 years ago. And imputed from skeletons pre-agriculture and observations of huntergatherer ligespans. And our longevity is decreasing. We know that the poisons we spread to kill weeds, bugs, rodents, and the villagers of our supposed enemies are sickening us as well.

We are not currently happy, deaths of despair is a major cause of death.

This civilization tried to make money from destroying earth's life support system, and for most of us, it replaced a slavery of iron chains with a cage of debts and poverty.

But this civilization is finished. It can not continue because the earth can not support it. We must either transform this civilation into a materially and biological sustainable successor, or succumb to the self-destruction our industrial imperial technological chemical nightmare has made.

Take your hope and your fear and take action. A better world is possible if we build it, and defend it from the dead-enders who benefited from the status quo.

Action, take action.
posted by anecdotal_grand_theory at 10:28 AM on March 21, 2023 [8 favorites]

There is no shame in being loss-averse, it is natural and helpful. Our lives now are losing time, health and opportunity we can stem the loses by changing.

Aviation: short flights can be electrified, long flights can run on fuels made by biofuels refined by renewable power. Doable now, the cost is higher. We accept price increases when ceo's need bonuses and when war-mongers make windfall profits. We can accept price increases to save our lives.

Food: we can already use renewables to make ammonia ferilizer, we can end the subsidies for animal agriculture and we can electrify transport and use renewables for transport and cold-storage. Give every person food stamps worth 2000 kcal of commodity foods/day, allow them to be used for any food stuff pro-rata.

Mining and refining: arc furnaces with thermal buffers can use renewables, high voltage cabled equipment can make the torque and power needed for oversized haulers, rock face equipment etc.

Cement: the heat needed to make clinker and lime can be suppied by renewables, the CO2 inherent in converting CaCO3 into CaO is unavoidable. So we can minimize unecessary cement by chosing other materials where possible and by capturing and remineralizing the CO2 from the kilns using mined serpentine and similar silicates. The price will be higher, encouraging conservation and substitution.

Money: the relative prices of goods and serivces will shift to reflect the costs of doing these things in a manner compatible with avoiding the extinction of mammals, including humans. you know, thats what markets are for. When winter avocados are expensive and winter blue berrie jam is cheap, the hipsters will cover their toast with jam. Thats not the end of the world, inaction is.


Nothing changes if nothing changes.

Private industry must be regulated and those regulations enforced, and scofflaws nationalized and reformed.
Those who regulate and set policy must be persuaded or replaced.

Our institutions are made of people, and people can choose, be persuaded or coerced. Currently our institutions are captured by status-quo dead-enders.

Persuade, replace, revolution or end of civilization.

"There is no alternative" - some dumb prime minister.
posted by anecdotal_grand_theory at 10:52 AM on March 21, 2023 [2 favorites]

I'm right now preparing a lecture for tomorrow about the post-war national effort to change the entire economy (I'm going to talk mainly about the construction industry). It's pretty impressive! Of course everything they did is what got us here now, but they didn't know that. What I am learning, and teaching tomorrow, is that we can do this if we want to.
What it takes is a coordinated effort across sectors, where everyone chips in, and if everyone keeps learning and improving. It's not like a freight train that just pushes ahead on the given tracks, it's more like a murmuration of starlings, that seems chaotic and in constant movement, but is always on the right path.
They very much took their cue from the US war effort and the post-war industry that grew out of that, but they also chose their own directions, and actually opted out of the Marshall Plan at some point, in order to pursue their own ideas. Fascinating.
(I thought I knew everything about this, which is why I'm doing this last minute. I went to double check some facts, and KAPOW! But sometimes your own changed situation opens your mind to new insights).
posted by mumimor at 1:49 PM on March 21, 2023 [4 favorites]

> "There is no alternative" - some dumb prime minister.

> about the post-war national effort to change the entire economy

'The Spirit of '45' Review: Here Comes Nationalization [cw: nyt ;] - "A documentary from Ken Loach sees the end of World War II as a brief moment of possibility for socialism in Britain."

it's more like a murmuration of starlings

@fasc1nate: "Starlings swarm together to confuse predators in something called a murmuration. Photographer James Crombie captured the precise moment they formed what resembles a giant bird."[1,2,3]
posted by kliuless at 7:42 PM on March 21, 2023

"Of course everything they did is what got us here now, but they didn't know that." -mumimor
The scientists knew.

The corporations knew

The politicians knew

They f-ing knew. They chose this. They murdered us for money and power and the next election cycle.
posted by anecdotal_grand_theory at 12:31 AM on March 22, 2023

It's almost as if Roger Hallam's analysis of where we are is completely correct.
posted by flabdablet at 4:43 AM on March 22, 2023

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