February 3, 2017

The Environment?

"The environment? It's fucked."

So declared the cartoon whale on a t-shirt I bought Linda 25 years ago. It really got people's attention at the time, but mostly they just laughed uncomfortably and moved on. Linda recently pulled it out of the place that old shirts go to die, and put it into her winter 2017 collection.

If we are going back 25 years in how we treat Mother Earth, you might as well have some authentic and appropriate clothing from the time. Protest like it's 1992!

The 2017 version of the shirt, if there was one, might say something like, "The environment? It's really fucked". Or super fucked, or fucking fucked. It's not just me and my foul mouth, because lots of people are saying, or at least thinking, the exact same thing.

The shirt's sentiment seems appropriate for a time that has the doomsday clock set closer to midnight than since 1952, when the first hydrogen bomb was exploded into the atmosphere by the USA.

Also appropriate for a time that governments propose allowing resource extraction in parks and other protected areas. When Linda and I lived in British Columbia, about 5 years ago, the business-boosting provincial government there was talking about opening up the parks to industrial activities like logging and mining.

At the time I thought, "That is why the powers let us have those parks in the first place - to save all the resources to be used by big business interests at a later date." Thankfully public outcry was enough to delay this terrible idea. Hopefully it will not catch on anywhere else, because if it does, we are really in trouble.

Will we survive this latest version of environmental mayhem? Many species aren't, and whether humans will make it or not is a hot topic of discussion these days. Just do a search for "will humans go extinct" and check out the distressing results. Or don't.

Just like the whale shirt, things are getting seriously cartoony. Surreal, looney tunes, and dystopian are a few words that come to mind. If we don't get serious about this, how will we help the environment get some much needed healing time?

Resistance, that is how, according to scientist Brad Werner. When he was asked by a reporter, "Is the Earth indeed fucked?", Werner replied, "Pretty much, unless people start a serious global rebellion". I do like the sounds of that. Kudos to this complex systems researcher for a bit of truth telling, a rare commodity these days.

"Resistance is basically when people, groups of people, step outside the culture. They adopt a certain set of dynamics that does not fit within the capitalist culture." 
"An important solution is environmental direct action, resistance taken from outside the dominant culture, as in protests, blockades and sabotage by indigenous peoples, workers, anarchists and other activist groups."
- Brad Werner

I can get behind that, as can many Not Buying Anything readers, which warms my soul. Many of us are already doing it. If not, what are you waiting for? If not now, when?

Resist, resist, resist.

Simplify, simplify, simplify.

Then we can ensure Linda's brand new whale shirt for her winter 2042 collection says:

"The Environment? It's Fixed."


  1. Anonymous2/04/2017

    Not sure whether protesting will save the environment. It may come down to basic question of what it is to be human? Is it a rush to teraform our planet, by producing as many luxuries as possible or is it a wider role as humans as cultivators helping to balance the planet?
    The planet will heal once humans are gone and adjust.
    May be this planet has been an attempt by the universe to experiment with consciousness. It could be be that in this universe that it is relatively easy to create consciousness at a simple level, such as human culture. As this relies on networking and institutions it becomes self limiting as ideas such as privilege and wealth disrupt the flow. Evolution itself could be self limiting due to being unable to see the bigger picture.

    1. Alex,

      It appears that to be human is to be fatally flawed, cursed by short-sighted, limited, illogical modes of thought and being. The ways out are known, but not very popular. The only thing that seems certain is that we will continue to progress through the cycle of civilization, and move toward all out collapse before we are willing to take a mass correction.

      Prepare for the worst, hope for the best. And do what we can, where we are at to make improvements at a local level that will help us cope with what is in store for us all.

  2. As usual you are bang on Gregg. Never have I ever been so very grateful to live at the bottom of the world. The cartoonish psychopathic descent of our current world is like watching a slow motion train crash. The tiny glimmer of light I see though is in the millions of people worldwide who suddenly seem to have clicked as a collective group that the shit is about to hit the fan in a major way. I'm heartened by the protests, the marches and the outspokeness of so many against those who profess to lead. In my utopian dream, members and sympathisers of NBA find a safe haven and emerge from this growing darkness to build a new, better and healthier earth. I think it can be done.

    1. Karen,

      You are lucky to be far, far away from the madness. I hear that some people are moving there as a safe haven in troubled times. I wouldn't mind myself.

      We need more utopian dreams. Much is known about dystopian conditions, bud sadly not much is known about possible utopias. We seem to have a romantic attachment to dystopian interpretations of the future, unable as we are to find positive outcomes to our challenges.

      I would love it if our tribe (as Miss Marla said) here at NBA could be part of writing the utopian script for a better world. Linda and I are going to look at "Island" by Aldous Huxley again as we have not read it for many years. Now is a good time to revisit it as it is one of the only utopian novels we are familiar with at the moment.

      Your optimism is a candle in the dark. We CAN do it, but it will be a whole lot of hard, hard work. But fun.

    2. Gregg, many of us here are aware of the sudden interest in our country and very unhappy about the ability of some of the super rich to seemingly be able to buy their way in. It would appear that even in our little version of heaven, we are unable to throw stones due to our glass house . :(
      On the other hand, it would be wonderful if we could add NBA-esque folk to our population. There's a good number here already I think, but more would be awesome. I need lots of bright candles right now, if only so my children can live happily as adults.

  3. Anonymous2/04/2017

    In the most recent issue of Sierra, Edward O. Wilson has a sobering essay calling for a 50/50 split of land of Earth: half for wild nature and half for human endeavors.
    "We are playing a global endgame. Humanity's grasp on the planet is not strong; it is growing weaker...The climate is changing in ways unfavorable to life, except for microbes, jellyfish, and fungi. For many species, these changes are already fatal...Because the problems created by humanity are global and progressive, because the prospect of a point of no return in fast approaching, the problem can't be solved piecemeal. The Half-Earth proposal offers a first, emergency solution commensurate with the magnitude of the problem: By setting aside half the planet in reserve, we can save the living part of the environment and achieve the stabilization required for our own survival."
    He continues:
    "What does knowledge of how nature works tell us about conservation and the Anthropocene? This much is clear: To save biodiversity, it is necessary to obey the precautionary principle in the treatment of Earth's natural ecosystems, and to do so strictly...Avoid nostrums and careless talk about quick fixes, especially those that threaten to harm the natural world beyond return."
    Because it makes me sit with the reality of what MUST change for humans to continue, this is a challenging essay to read. But I am even more upset for the countless non-human species negatively affected (and often killed) by human avarice, stupidity, and carelessness.
    I'm a 37-year old North American woman and have been an environmentalist since at least the age of five. I know there are many Earth-lovers out there, fighting the good fight. But what about the millions who are either clueless, or worse, actively denying the existence of any problem? How do we get through to them?
    Suggestions are welcomed, NBA friends!
    Erin in TX

    1. Erin,

      Great! I have not heard of E.O. Wilson for a while, so good to hear he is still working on things. I love his idea. Can we do it? Are we smart enough to do what we know (and have known for a long time) needs to be done? Can we do it to save our own lives, even if we won't to save the lives of other life forms that share our planet?

      We will get to the unbelieving masses when things get so bad that they have no choice but to face the uncomfortable facts in front of them. Like no clean water, or catastrophic weather, or total ocean collapse, or civil war, or...

      The great leveller is coming, and having lots of money won't save anyone if the soil won't grow healthy food any more.

  4. Anonymous2/04/2017

    I wish that I had some optimism, but I truly believe the environment is fucked.

    My apologies to the rest of the world for our current regime here in USA. Everything I was terrified about seems to be coming true and there doesn't seem much hope to stop it. We can protest, but they are now trying to shut that down as well. There were many of us living here who tried to stop this from happening. It seems we are a selfish, bullying culture only concerned with more stuff.

    It's so good to come here to find my tribe.

    1. Miss Marla,

      If your country does not rebel now, it never will. The current administration is testing the limits and it will be interesting to see how far the downtrodden masses will let them go before saying, "NO MORE".

      Watch what is happening in Standing Rock over the next few days. That will be the model for responding to the power of the people all over the USA. But as those at the front fall, they must be replaced by more of us coming up behind them. Eventually the abusers will tire and have to stop. Eventually they will have to see the futility of trying to stifle the will of the people.

      I have often wondered why the good people of United States allow such awful people to run, or ruin, everything that is good there. So much squandered potential that could really change our world for the better.

      I am glad that you find some solace here, as do Linda and I. However bad things get, we have each other, and that is a beautiful thing.

  5. Well Gregg and Linda, the environment is indeed f****d and your post has caused me to skype my partner in the UK when I should be asleep! I wanted to ask her why she thought people weren't responding to the crisis at hand.

    Her thoughts were that the world is not set up for people to respond easily to the environmental crisis, so they become overwhelmed and do nothing. Most are on the consumer treadmill, most are in some level of debt that keeps them chained to long hours at work. She also pointed out that the media presents just little snippets of what's happening with the environment and people don't link it all up together to get a coherent picture of just how bad things are. Her thought is that it will take a really catastrophic event or series of events to bring about change, because people just see it as all too hard to change unless they really have to.

    We also talked about the fact that screens and social media are basically controlling everyone so that they are too 'drugged up' and 'busy' to respond.

    I wonder if there is a way to move towards a world where the default is the right action? That would be a world where it was so expensive to drive a car that everyone would choose to cycle, walk, or car pool. That would be a world where there were no supermarkets, only farmer's markets and bulk whole foods suppliers, and where one could easily buy second hand and locally made clothing. That would be a world where your town centre housed little shops that repaired everything, from your toaster to your shoes and clothing. It seems some energy therefore needs to go into making it easy for people to do the right thing, rather than energy going into scaring people about what might happen next. I had thought the GFC would wake people up, and I think it did wake many up, but I'm not so sure if the insights people gained at that about the pointlessness of endless consumption really stuck - what do others think?


    1. Anonymous2/05/2017

      You have have a good vision of a alternative future. A problem could be that civilization has been on the wrong path since ancient times and with out oil the poor would provide the power, like in the ancient cultures. A certain group in societies makes up the law and divides assets. People are so indoctrinated that it feels normal to want a expensive car or even a car, trust what doctors say as this professional group has been lobbying hard for power and prestige for 400 years.

      Renewable energy needs to be quickly implemented. Cities should be car free zones. The world needs to go plant based. A universal world income should come into force. National parks need increasing in size. A return to primitivism as described by Lao Zi is probably the way forward. Internal cultivation is key.

  6. Anonymous2/06/2017

    Society is slightly fucked:
    -Females are wearing pink huts and protesting for women rights and refugees. How many of them are wearing clothes made by slaves and children labour? Quite a lot because it is cheap. Who invented to wear safety pins to help poor sods.Are they prepare to hide some refuge in their home.I don't thin so.Everything and all good intention turns into fun and very cheap show.Serious things and problems are solved with dignity, commitment and compassion. Because society is fucked ,more, more is needed to make people happy or to belong. Look at some blogs !If somebody decided to stop buying clothes it is announced in a such a big way ,maybe poor souls expect Nobel prize or earning money from moronic advertising. Nobody is forcing us to go and shop crap we are doing it .I have in my home Solar panels. Done them decade ago with good quality panels and tradesmen. Solar panels are becoming very popular. The quality of panels is gone down. My neighbors are having people on the roof all the time.Quite few people are regretting now.When I was a young girl, my parents went to live on one of little Island Country. Once a month, mother went and got us provisions. Not shopping. Provisions to feed us ,clean us .Everyone had magnificent kitchen garden. Not any more whole place is fucked up with global companies and ugly and fat tourist.Natives are importing food that groves on island. Saffron


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