Monday, October 15, 2007

On Global Warming and Blog Activism

So today is National Blogging Day, celebrating a bunch of self-important naval gazing. They'd be able to save the planet if it wasn't for us high-powered people who turn up the fly all over the place, leaving our families, make lots of dough (and give a lot in taxes) and generally make the US GDP go up.

Thomas Friedman, quite succinctly, points out that all this Global Warming prevention is essentially worthless.

Hey, I’m really glad you switched to long-lasting compact fluorescent light bulbs in your house. But the growth in Doha and Dalian ate all your energy savings for breakfast. I’m glad you bought a hybrid car. But Doha and Dalian devoured that before noon....That’s why we’re fooling ourselves. There is no green revolution, or, if there is, the counter-revolution is trumping it at every turn. Without a transformational technological breakthrough in the energy space, all of the incremental gains we’re making will be devoured by the exponential growth of all the new and old “Americans.” - Thomas Friedman, Sep 19, 2007 NYT
In consulting, you typically don't deal with marketing BS but deliver recommendations that "move the needle," or in normal terms have a measurable impact. Therefore, there's only one way to make a measurable impact on global warming.

If you want to stop global warming, nuke India and China back into the stone age.

That's about the only way to stop global warming, folks. Because India and China are full of good, hardworking people who want to make a better life for themselves and the ones they love, just like you and me, and that typically involves electricity, a car, and Air Conditioning.

By recycling a coke can, you actually accelerate global warming, because you perpetuate the capitalist system, free trade, and global economic development. And that activity far outweighs the incremental energy savings of converting a recycled can back into a base form for reuse.

The reality is that we're just going to have to deal with the consequences of a warmer planet, whether we like it or not.

1 comment:

Friendly Ghost said...

Ninja, I am going to respond to the cynical-bitter tone of your blog -- the nothing-can-be-done tone -- with my own brand of bitterness. Hope you like it.

I sincerely pray that in 2008, all of us find contentment and fulfillment in life… but there is a great deal of rethinking as to the nature of contentment and fulfillment.

1) I'm actively praying, in thought and action, that all our earnings and expenditures go into decline mode... and let mine be foremost in leading this trend. I do not wish PROSPERITY on any of us. Contentment, yes, but not prosperity, not richness... because each person's richness beggars hundreds of creatures, unknown to him.

2) I wish and pray that in the year to come, we shall learn to cease the endless quest of ever-higher incomes and conspicuous consumption, competition with our neighbors, colleagues etc. On a personal level and other levels -- social, professional, industry, national and global -- we shall seek NOT TO OUTDO each other, and also not to outdo our own past economic performances. Let us get off this treadmill for three reasons: (i) It is poisoning our planet to death, and causing a wave of mass extinction (ii) It is personally meaningless, unfulfilling, unrewarding and deeply immoral (iii) Another quest patiently awaits us: a fulfilling inward-leading quest, an ageless quest of Magellanic dimensions.

3) I pray that our economic growth ceases and declines. I pray that this happens irrespective of what the citizens or governments of USA, Pakistan or other countries do or think. I hope this happens with a minimum of suffering all around... but as suffering is an inevitable part of this scenario of necessary decline, I pray that my family and I are among the foremost in swallowing this bitter pill and smiling through our tears.

4) I find myself hoping that our NEEDS, principally food and security, are met. However, there is a problem: while need for food can be met rather cheaply, there is no end to our need for 'security'; it is a bottomless pit. My current savings, insurance, retirement annuities etc, may be sufficient to ensure that if I stop earning today, my family has enough to get by for some years until others of my family start earning. This is far more security than any animal would enjoy, more than EVEN ONE of my millions of ancestors may have enjoyed. So let my family, and yours, learn to be content with lower levels of security; this I pray.

5) The nature of our economy and our civilization keeps us on a perpetually moving treadmill. If we stop, we do so at risk of injury! Yet, to stop this infernal device that is poisonous to our planet, we must earnestly believe that there is indeed a life outside this treadmill. I pray for faith that is as monumental and more unshakeable than this infernal machine.

6) A word of caution: mere charity and altruism is not enough. Our love of the world must go beyond charity and philanthropy; it must manifest as something infinitely more meaningful than mere ‘purse service’. Our economies EXPLOIT our altruism as another need, and this includes our concern for a world ravaged by global warming. We are often given the impression that by acts of charity or philanthropy, we can ‘support’ the greening of our planet. We are offered the comfort of thinking that if we pay a tax for our ‘sins’ – such as a carbon tax, buying carbon credits, or paying to plant trees to ‘offset’ our carbon footprint -- we can continue to consume more, produce more, pursue economic growth etc. At the heart of such claims, one discerns cynicism and the same devices that make our economies perpetually grow. These charities and economic devices milk us as surely as corporates manufacturing various goodies; in the end, they lull us to sleep, motivate us to grow some more, and consume the earth some more.

7) Please, I beg you, do not allow your conscience to be lulled back to sleep. Please refuse the comfort of a bed that is lined with the corpses of your fellow creatures on earth and your own descendents, both unborn and already born. Please refuse the blood-tainted pleasures of consumerism and the opium of economic-growthism. In 2008, please awaken fully and stay alert. Please be aware, and step from awareness into action. What lies ahead in the years hereafter is a steep, stony mountain. It is not pleasant, it is not pretty, it is not fun. But I beg you, my fellow citizens of this tiny planet… please accept this bitter pill with grace.

8) In 2008, please do the right thing by voluntarily accepting lower standards of living, cutting up credit cards, paying up consumer loans and refusing inducements to take loans. Please buy less, spend less, and despite discomfort, use public transport instead of private cars. Please be visibly frugal, austere, simple... and inspire others to the same. Please love others enough to refuse to compete with them. The time has come to stop being career-minded, business-minded, commercial-minded, consumer-minded. It is time to give back to this world without expectations. It is time to let go of the collective stranglehold that we have on this planet.

My friends, let us spend more time rediscovering the pleasures of just being with our friends, families, acquaintances, dogs, cats, rivers, plants, trees. Hug and kiss them more, talk to them more, sit with them on the good earth, serve them with greater humility. Be more loving and caring to strangers and casual acquaintances.

And yes, let us learn to lavish on our own inner selves the love and attention that we have hitherto been giving our material possessions, our bank accounts and our portfolio of stocks. Please disinvest in the what is gross and outward, and invest in your sublime self.

Please understand the spirit in which I offer these bitter-sounding greetings, and accept them in good grace.

With all my love,

Monday, October 15, 2007