The above line is from Dune by Frank Herbert, first published in 1965. A stunning blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism and politics, Dune won the first Nebula Award, shared the Hugo Award, and formed the basis of what is undoubtedly the grandest epic in science fiction. The lines in the poster summarize my fears when I attempt to communicate today.
But another line from the same book is my compass.
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides
By the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men
Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will
Shepherds the weak to metamorphose into the dispossessed.
- Samuel L. Jackson from Pulp Fiction
- Metamorphosis written by Franz Kafka
- The Dispossessed written by Ursula K. Le Guin
I modified the lines of Jules, the guy from Pulp Fiction. A movie I watched an unbelievable decade ago. I didn’t even understand the movie in the first sitting. Since then I watch the movie every couple of years. Every time I find new meaning in the illusions. Isn’t Quentin Tarantino a great story teller? He scores a win for Films versus Books in the game of propagating ideas.
The movie presents the complexity of life akin to pulp. And the illusion of existence as fiction; A.K.A Pulp Fiction.
I have been asked a question many times in myriad forms.
What did you do to reduce your carbon footprint? And most recently my friends have asked me for guidelines for individual actions. Specifically with evidence and impact assessment of the net benefits.
- Have one fewer child
- Live car -free
- Volunteer work
- Practice self reflection
- Read any book from the list below
Any of the above options seems like a tall order. Commitment to any of these requires drastic change in our lifestyles. In Atomic Habits, the author suggests setting up of small goals. Followed by habit stacking to reinforce your identity. This approach for solving climate change will not work. Heaps of misinformation lead us astray.
Small actions mean nothing in the larger picture, it’s just a marketing ploy to keep the proles placated.
I found this image when learning about COLLAPSE. Spend a minute here to analyze your position in this spectrum, wrt to our discussion.
There are 7 barriers to comprehend reality. (I don’t claim to understand reality yet). I have grown from the third barrier to the sixth barrier since 2016. Along the way I have met all types of people who are stuck at different barriers.
In 2017 most of my friends were ignorant. In 2020, some of them arrived at Skepticism and Technologism.
Honestly, I oscillate between Pessimism and Acceptance. (To be discussed in upcoming blogs.)
I use the word “metamorphose” in Part 1. Definition: a change of the form or nature of a thing or person into a completely different one.
When you transcend barriers one by one, you intrinsically metamorphose.
Impact of Individual Action
The benefit analysis from Wikipedia is from the page titled “Individual action on climate change”.
There is considerable greenwashing which is part of a larger propaganda. For starters, the Government changed all street lights into LEDs. It’s benefits are nanoscopic, moreover it disincentivizes people from taking meaningful action.
If enough people make some hard lifestyle choices, there may still be a good chance.
The path to solving climate change is complicated. The rich cannot continue to indulge in the sinful pleasures of existence. Rather the alternative, a solution can be adopted from the Annaresti of “The Dispossessed”. I paraphrase the lines of the protagonist from the fictional planet of Annares. People on this planet separated from their home planet Urras. They practice a different type of anarchism called Odonianism.
Now try to visualize the contrast in the two planets:
Urras — An earthlike planet at the peak of technology enabled civilization.
Annares — A moonlike desolate planet where hardly 2 million souls, survive.
“Annares is an ugly world, unlike Urras.
It’s dust and dry hills. The people have big hands and feet, but not big bellies. The towns are small and dull, they are dreary. No palaces. Life is dull and hard work. You can’t always have what you want.
The Urrasti have enough air, enough rain, grass, oceans, food and factories. They are rich, they own. Here you see jewels, whereas on Annares you see the eyes. And in the eyes you see the splendor, the splendor of the human spirit.
Because the Annaresti men and women are free, possessing nothing they are free.
And the Urrasti possessors are possessed. They are all in jail. Each alone, solitary, with a heap of what he owns.”
If you find it hard to grasp, I don’t blame you. The popular media, corporations and even the government have got us blindsided.
Books and other sources
The books are arranged in an ascending order of time taken to read.
- The Great Derangement : Amitav Ghosh | Non-Fiction prose
- Conflicts of Interest : Sunita Narain | Non Fiction short stories
- The Omnivore’s Dilemma : Michael Pollan | Non Fiction journalism
- Underland : Robert Macfarlane | Non Fiction travel
- The Dispossessed : Ursula K. Le. Guin | Fiction dystopian
When you read any of these, you start to sense the complexity of the problem of climate change. One by one you ascend the barriers. So please educate yourselves and talk to your loved ones. For once, think about where do you want to raise your family.
Personally, I feel metropolitan areas are heading towards a scenario portrayed in “The Hunger Games”.
Follow me on goodreads. It may be the best way to maintain a reading habit. By writing reviews of books, it can strengthen your learnings.
Scott Galloway a Marketing Professor in NYU Stern School of Business has insightful observations. For all that’s been written about the Four over the last two decades, no one has captured their power and staggering success as insightfully as Scott Galloway. His analogy is depicted in the image below.
They are also called the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
What is it about the four companies — Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google — that worries you?
In the book, he asks the reader to consider the following:
One, an ad platform that commands, in some markets, a 90 percent share of the most lucrative sector in media, yet avoids anticompetitive regulation through aggressive litigation and lobbyists.
Two, a social media firm that analyzes thousands of images of your children, activates your phone as a listening device, and sells this information to Fortune 500 companies.
Three, a retailer that refuses to pay sales tax, treats its employees poorly, destroys hundreds of thousands of jobs, and yet is celebrated as a paragon of business innovation.
And four, a computer company that withholds information about a domestic act of terrorism from federal investigators, with the support of a fan base that views the firm similar to a religion.
When you connect the dots, seemingly unrelated incidents form a conspiracy theory. Unfortunately, it’s not a joke.
Hence I will continue this topic in smaller digestible parts, using a framework of systems thinking. Systems thinking is a holistic approach to analysis that focuses on the way that a system’s constituent parts interrelate and how systems work over time and within the context of larger systems.
If you have read so far, I have a confession. I don’t think climate change is a problem that will be solved. Utopians are unnatural, life is brutal and inequalities exist in the DNA. Instead I’m suggesting is you can be happier outside the system. Just find yourself a place like Auroville. Or live in glass towers above the clouds (An Altered Carbon reference). You may look into research on Circular economy and the ongoing projects, it seems like a viable solution. Even the Arabs are building a city called NEOM on similar principles.
I’m not making claims I can’t justify with evidence. I ask many questions, which led me to answers. Some I wish I hadn’t found. My experiences are such that my questions change often.
“When your life philosophy is wrong at step one, then anything else you do later will get screwed. Let’s imagine that you believe something that doesn’t line up with reality like “love is suffering,” as I did. That’s exactly what you’ll get then, a relationship filled with suffering and sadness and conflict. But if you can root that belief out and realize that “love is suffering” is just something you learned, or made up, or observed by watching the insane asylum of children-adults, then you’ve got a shot at experiencing a love of fun and laughter and light (and occasional bouts of sadness/conflict but a lot less of them).
But without beliefs that match objective reality, you’ve got no shot. You can’t get anywhere near what you want. You started off in the wrong direction from step one and it should be no surprise when you discover you went the wrong way and ended up some place you didn’t want to be, hating everything in life, and believing everything is unfair and out to cheat you.” — Daniel Jeffries
Rick, an aggressive alcoholic is almost omniscient. Though he is a major nihilist, he is right. The worst mistake you can do in life is indecision in light of new information. Daniel Jeffries says “Will you crumple in despair, knowing the horrifying truth that life is totally meaningless or will you strike out for a life of fun and adventure?”
The truth can be anything relevant to your life. I’m not talking about the Truth with a capital T.
Can you overcome the derangement?
The point of no return is breached,
We continue to slice our right hand,
Barely mitigating the loss of blood,
Remember the legend of the Phoenix
all ends with beginnings.
- When you read Thinking Fast and Slow, you realize the mind is not tamed.
- Wait But Why writer talks about “How to pick a career” in this article.
- Massive open source website — Our World In Data can be a genuine teacher.
- Visualizations of complex concepts are elucidated best here in infographics.
- Sir David Frederick Attenborough’s Living testament and trailer.
- In depth analysis of climate change solutions — Drawdown
- Conceptual clarity on Collapse, especially how to deal with it for the anxious.
- Russel Brand on Indian farmers protest of the new Farm Laws in 2021.
- Zeitgeist a film series relevant to the context.
- Last week’s climate strike rally post on Medium