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Thursday, June 15, 2006

Wheels of progress move slowly, progressive wheels move slower

RGR: "I don't think speed of climate change matters unless you start with the assumption that mankind can't change even faster than the climate can. And without a good/bad decision on climate change, how can you even say it matters?"
Astute students of the human condition have observed that people of the fundamentalist and conservative position strive to adopt a black & white perspective. It doesn't really matter what issue you bring up, the missing shades of gray become apparent almost immediately. The good/right way diametrically opposes the bad/wrong way.

In particular, any phenomena having to do with the passage of time drive reactionaries to the point of distraction. The concept of time remains the ultimate "shades of gray" example. Now occupies an infinitesimal fraction in the shades-of-gray spectrum and ultimately gets washed out by the continuous gradient between "long ago" and "far in the future". This might explain why conservatives, such as RGR, in non-religious tones, do not care in the least about climate change. In the mind of a wingnut, the infinitesimal "now" completely swamps out the rest of time, which leads to complacency, and as the thought goes, we can always outpace time.
            Now = right
not Now = wrong
The fact that the world got created only 6000 years ago holds no real riddle to a conservative; it didn't happen now, so who cares? The fact that global warming may accelerate faster than any past historic period doesn't matter either; to them, the future will happen sooner than the time it takes for any mitigating change to kick in. The fact that the oil age has and will last much less than 1% of recorded history does not seem to register in their minds.

I know this argument sounds odd if you have a good appreciation of time, but just remember how everyone has had some type of mental block. This psychotropic malady just happens to afflict the 'minionists. But to place it in a progressive context, just how widespread this attitude has become remains an elusive shades-of-gray measure.

3 Comments:

Professor Anonymous Gerry said...

RGR is sometimes taken out of context because he is always in the middle of flame wars over on PeakOil - so his quick responses aren't always air tight arguments.

In this case he probably means 'as long as climate change is not catostrophic' ... we change along with it and we'll be ok. And that's true. Just as humans changed into this car culture over time, they will learn to change back. No more cheap energy slave to to run the SUV, dishwasher, and air conditioner. How painful that is depends on what you're saying, get out of the 'now' and into the planning, preparation phase. Don't panic in an emergency, but don't put it off either.

The other point, about the myopic 'now' - some advocate ala Zenism, to be in the present moment. I was reading "The Power of Now" by Eckard Toll who secularizes it. And in one funny passage he says live the Now, even if things are bad in the Now they'll change -- and if they are really bad, like you are in a tornado, the worst that can happen is you will die and it will be all over (rough paraphrasing). LOL

6:09 AM  
Professor Blogger WHT said...

Gerry,
Thanks for trying to digest my attempt at Zen.
One deal about RGR is that he does understand oil field dynamics but I don't know if he understands the rules of positive feedback. Not that I would expect a geologist to understand everything, but a runaway system fed by positive feedback can quickly overtake any kind of corrections us humans apply.

As for the rest of your excellent insights, I always that that if you go far enough in one direction, you end up over on the other side, so that Toll ends up sounding vaguely like what I am criticizing. Or that since we are always NOW, then the future and the past never existed and will never exist.

5:51 PM  
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6:04 PM  

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