My favorite author, the late Ursula K LeGuin, wrote about a certain kind of wizard, the patterner, in her Earthsea Trilogy. I am no wizard, but I do see patterns, and then write about them. In the same set of books LeGuin also points out the importance of calling things by their real name, and that only by calling things by their real name can you have power to change things.
Part of looking at patterns is the ability to connect the dots on the events of the day. Part of using the real name of things is speaking truth to power.
Recently in the space of 24 hours the Providence Journal wrote an editorial slamming the Green New Deal titled “Going out on a green limb,” the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (DOT), with the permission of Governor Gina Raimondo, decided to “scoop,” read “steal,” most of the money that has already been dedicated to pedestrian and bike safety and access so that it could be used to fund roads and bridges (including a new off ramp in Speaker Nicholas Mattiello‘s district), and a research paper came out from the Institute for Public Policy Research entitled “This is a Crisis, Facing up to the age of Environmental Breakdown.”
The connection is that opposing the Green New Deal the way the ProJo does is exactly the same mind set as the governor and DOT are showing. The received wisdom of the 1 percent is that it is not possible to take the ecological crisis on planet Earth seriously and it is not possible to take the challenges posed by climate change seriously because the things we would have to do to reverse the damage would take too much power away from the oligarchs. Their solution is to call it socialism, pretend you do not have to discuss it further and then continue on like lemmings over the cliff.
Climate change is the existential crisis of our times, with the only thing that might beat it to the punch being nuclear war set off by crazy oligarchs like the orange headed idiot in the White House. Barring nuclear war, human induced changes in the climate due to the incredibly excessive release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is already causing major disasters from floods to droughts to heatwaves to hurricanes to wildfires. The cost leaps up every year as the temperature rises and the refugees swell in number as the natural disasters drive warfare for resources as well as drive people to seek food and shelter. Often there is no place to return to, especially for the refugees from sea level rise.
Can we please ask a favor?
Funding for our reporting relies entirely on the generosity of readers like you. Our independence is how we are able to write stories that hold RI state and local government officials accountable. All of our stories are free and available to everyone right here at UpriseRI.com. But your support is essential to keeping Steve on the beat, covering the costs of reporting many stories in a single day. If you are able to, please support Uprise RI. Every contribution, big or small is so valuable to us. You provide the motivation and financial support to keep doing what we do. Thank you.
And for the bean counters, rest assured that the cost of transition is less than the cost of continuing on the fossil fuel path.
The ecological crisis is not just climate change, which may be looming faster and more powerfully than any of the other manifestations of the ecological crisis. Other parts of the ecological collapse include the water crisis, the extinction crisis, the deforestation crisis, the collapse of insect populations, the destruction and emptying of the oceans, and the loss of nutrients and soil. And this is not an exhaustive list. Each year the biological life on the planet is diminished by more than 1 percent as we use 1.7 times the biological productivity of the planet each year, with the rate of depletion going faster and faster.
The Governor and the Providence Journal believe the same fantasy, that you can have infinite growth on a finite planet, and that economic growth, the expansion of GDP, is the single most important and beneficial thing they do, despite the fact that it is killing the planet and that almost all of the growth (or rather supposed growth) is ending up in the hands of a tiny sliver of the population while more and more people are falling further and further behind, precisely because of the type of economic growth being fostered. Growing inequality is a threat to both democracy and the economy.
The Governor and Providence Journal intentionally misread the economy (mostly to protect ruling class interests, especially political power), misread the intentions and thinking of those opposed to their power grabs and stealing (often calling the opposition some term related to NIMBY when the opposition is principled opposition to misguided policy that harms communities and the planet), totally misread and ignore the ecology of planet earth that keeps us all fed, and misunderstand how critical green transformation is if our communities are to thrive in the 21st century and beyond. All they seem capable of is protecting the status quo, which means rigging the system for the rich and powerful, and doing everything to prevent real discussion of what the future seems to hold for our communities. It means placing their faith in an economics that is drifting ever further into theoretical models and farther away from what produces prosperity in communities. A discipline that has received wisdom like the business climate is important to the economic prosperity of a community, without any statistical data from the real world to back it up needs to be replaced.