Oppositional vocabulary is attractive, powerful, often necessary. But focusing on conflict “limits our collective imagination about what we can do to fix complex problems.” Wars on poverty, drugs, terror? None has been won. Can you wage war on a predicament?Continue reading “msb ~099 A war on simplicity?”
An unexpected pleasure to encounter my favourite philosopher on BBC’s Museum of Curiosity! Sadly, Donald Rumsfeld wasn’t a donation to the museum but Lord Butler, author of the (in)famous Butler Inquiry into Britain’s dodgy intelligence case for the Iraq War was a contributor, so Rumsfeld’s famous 2002 ducking of the absence of Iraq’s WMD or terrorist links got an airing. “As we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know … It is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.”Continue reading “msb ~065 On unknown knowns”
Like The Moral Maze, I often ‘miss’ BBC Radio’s Any Questions. But last week’s 70th anniversary special — panellists all in their early 20s — was free of the usual grandstanding. Given the IPCC 1.5C report, climate change was first up. My favourite contributions were from Rizzle Kicks star Jordan Stephens. One of Defra’s young Climate Change Champions in 2006, Jordan spoke at the very last Climate South East conference I organised so it was great to hear him again. “One thing I find intriguing is the angle always seems to be ‘saving the Earth’ when for me the pressing issue is ‘saving us on the Earth‘. The Earth will adjust in some way to whatever poison we’re throwing at it, but ultimately we’ll be the ones who suffer … I feel as though there’s a disregard … that people can disconnect themselves from that, for some reason.”
As the BBC reported before today’s IPPC special report, “for decades, researchers argued the global temperature rise must be kept below 2C by the end of this century to avoid the worst impacts. But scientists now argue that keeping below 1.5C is a far safer limit for the world. Everyone agrees that remaining below that target will not be easy.” Going for Gold in the Understatements Olympics?Continue reading “msb ~049 Last call?”
I’m putting final touches to the next ClimateCultures post. Our latest author is writing on the topic of climate grief, and that’s sent me into other reading on the web in search of extra resources to support her post. I came across a graphic story from artist Perrin Ireland where, in a couple of dozen drawings, she captures some of the weight of anxiety, foreboding and, yes, grief that climate activists — even the simply ‘climate aware’ — can feel weighing them down. Reality is hardest for those facing dire times in the here-and-now, of course; but anticipated realities can be hard for the presently comfortable. Ireland finishes with a hint on how to take it head on: together, rather than alone.Continue reading “msb ~047 Climate grief”
Scratching around the loft’s eaves today — on hands and knees, in torchlight, insulation dust and ancient spider webs as I hunted the cable to a dodgy switch in the bathroom below, I wasn’t thinking of the ‘good old days’ of Cold War claustrophobia. But reading just now about the network of nuclear bunkers that crisscrossed the UK between the 1950s and 1990s, I was almost taken in by the nostalgic tone ofKate Ravilious’ piece for Atlas Obscura. She visited abandoned, decayed outposts restored as visitor attractions: small spaces of uncanny normality projected into the most abnormal of all futures: post-thermonuclear meltdown. What they really represented, of course, was the seemingly infinitely extendable insanity of their present: planned-for Mutually Assured Destruction.Continue reading “msb ~032 Mutually Assured Destruction”
Form follows garbage, a new film by friend and Finding Blake colleague James Murray-White for GroundWork Gallery, follows artist Jan Eric Visser. Visser transforms everyday garbage into art — and a new kind of environmental politics.
I categorised yesterday’s post under Predicaments without actually using the word. Discussing climate change, I’ve favoured ‘predicaments’ over ‘problems’ (even ‘Wicked Problems’) since I read John Michael Greer’s definition. In the Archdruid Report, Greer described the difference: “a problem calls for a solution; the only question is whether one can be found and made to work … A predicament, by contrast, has no solution. Faced with a predicament, people come up with responses. Those responses may succeed, they may fail, or they may fall somewhere in between, but none of them ‘solves’ the predicament, in the sense that none of them makes it go away.” Continue reading “msb ~012 Problematic problems: predicaments”
I’ve been enjoying this Ecologist post by Daniel Christian Wahl, Six key questions in whole systems thinking. As well as advocating the much-needed shift from “reductionist and quantitative analysis informed by the narrative of separation” to interacting with the world as if it were ‘more than the sum of its parts’, he highlights the danger of elevating system levels ‘above’ that of the detail. It’s in the detail that the diversity (also the devil) lies.