“Cosmicity”

I’m coining a new word for the abstract noun “humanity” but with a definition simply broadened to the whole environment with humans as a part. Cosmicity – concern for and on behalf of the whole and every part of the whole.

Places humans in it in our rightful place but without any artificial privilege in the term. Satisfies the latest fashion in green politics for eco-sustainability (even though it has always been the point of human activity).

Could call it “god” in the sense of being that most sacred to us along with the humility that despite being natural, we have our necessarily limited perspective in understanding the whole. And could call it “religion” in the original sense that it can be the thing which binds us culturally. That doesn’t suggest anything supernatural. It needn’t suggest anything ideological according to any existing rules written in tablets of stone or non-secular in how we organise ourselves naturally. “Our” rules and arrangements evolve as does our understanding of natural laws beyond humans.

How hard can it be? I believe in cosmicity.

Thoughts prompted by Liz Oldfield thread re Martin Buber, itself as a response to thoughts prompted by Julian Baggini: [Thread]

“if you hallow this life you meet the living God”

If you hold the living cosmos sacred you’ve done all you can and in doing so you experience (meet) the subjective knowledge that you can never objectively know the whole – maybe.

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[Post Note: Having coined the term, I realise it may just be a restatement of Spinoza’s sub specie aeternitatus ?]

Standing Constitutional Convention aka “People’s Assembly”

This is just a stub, a holding post, for something I promised to write.

Establishing a standing constitutional convention is THE PRIORITY OF OUR TIMES in a UK context if not wider globally. Everywhere from the urgency of anti-establishment, anti-global-capitalist, eco-sustainability SJW agendas, to issues of reform of day-to-day governance, we are led back to this missing piece of the UK jigsaw. With so much constitutional tradition and convention misunderstood and in danger of being thrown out with the anarchic revolutionary bathwater, we don’t so much need a (new) written constitution as a new vehicle for a continuous improvement process.

I first heard of the idea of a standing”Constitutional Convention” from xxxx back in 2015, but it stuck with me because it gave a name to something I had already been wrestling with for a couple of decades, about the direction of social evolution. Since the Brexit / Trump fiascos, every commentator seems to be gravitating to similar “people’s this / people’s that” ideas, including spokespeople for the so-called Extinction Rebellion movement. It’s so important long-term, that it could easily be set up along the wrong lines by those with specific narrower agendas than a better future for all. I fact, almost it’s most important feature is to be a self-bootstrapping process that is not limited by any one party’s values and aims.

I outlined what it should look like most recently in this Brexit-related post, and mentioned it in this series of three posts and related Twitter dialogue – on eco-sustainability – threads which continued beyond those tweets already captured in the blog.

I hesitated to follow-up on the promise immediately because Rupert Read voiced some (IMHO) dubious objectives of his own regarding a People’s Assembly and, wanting to keep the idea politically neutral, I didn’t want to start a  polarising political distraction in the proposal itself.

But – I am drafting the necessary proposal.

Ironically in the last Twitter exchanges with William Peltzer, we noted that the CA (CC / PA) idea was not only not new in recent 21st C times but, as described, it was fulfilling the originally intended role of the 2nd chamber check and balance on the direction of parliament. Ironic because one of the first “reforms” for the CA was to be the Lords itself. That kind of ironic and circular correlation is rarely entirely coincidental, even if causation is almost always infinitely more complex. I’ll be back.

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  • Values it proceeds by. Education of why and how it works. Understanding the bootstrapping.
  • Mechanisms for initial constitution and function. Agenda of currently foreseeable issues. Mechanisms for sustainable evolution.
  • Discussion and reasoning “why” distinct from “what and how” mechanisms and requirements.

Leaky Briefs – Trust In Confidence

The current story about the leak from the UK National Security Council (NSC) is important because it has nothing to do with Huawei (or Brexit, or Trump, or Climate change, or anything other than leaky security).

People are thoroughly used to participants briefing leaks from “internal” meetings – all sides do it to fly their political kites to their ultimate advantage. And journalists accept is as a standards source of staying ahead of the official announcement game. That the very idea of privacy has been trampled.

Transparency is simply another “freedom fetish” that seems to trump all other considerations – a kind of twisted whistle-blowing that no “institution” should be allowed to do business beyond the glare of public and media scrutiny. Ever. At all.

Secrecy – is absolutely essential to good faith dialogue, you need to be able to trust who you are working with as they need to be able to trust you. It’s why it’s called confidentiality. It doesn’t stop the Snowdens the Assanges and assorted SJWs from demanding access to anything and everything by any means.

Conscience driven whistle-blowing is a special case amongst the good-faith participants – but a hacker or a political leaker is not a whistle-blower, even if they turn out to be right in some moral sense. In the long run details are released and the record scrutinised. In the short-term there are very good reasons to maintain confidence. Meta-confidence amongst trusted commentators too, so the media know what is going on in terms of why certain things shouldn’t be “published” just now.

Of course critics and SJWs with decry any cosy closed relationships, but do I really have to spell out why trust and confidence (secrecy for the time-being) matter?

Beyond risk to innocent parties, in a world where everything is treated as objective, fact or not, there is no room for what ifs.

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[Post Note:

It’s become the issue that since the Huawei security concerns were valid public interest the dipstick that released the content from the NSC was justified in doing so. Hell no. The topic was already in public conversation before it became an NSC agenda item in fact and anyone specific (May) said anything specific (minded to go for it despite concerns) about it. NSC confidentiality is separate from public debate. Both can and should happen.]

And Another Thing …

“Hold that thought” quickie post only …

Autism – Greta Thunberg case adds to the list of scientism driven by autism. Previous example is Chris Packham, but it’s a general issue historically with scientism and autistic economics and politics. People who are proud of their autism – which is fine as individual differences and contributions are concerned – but which plays into the objective “evidence-based” fetish when it comes to being scientistic – scientific beyond science that is. All life’s decisions should be based on the best evidence available (at the time), but they are still human decisions – it is scientism to demand every decision affecting humanity meets entirely scientific standards.

Memetics of Mobs vs Individuals – Loudest voices of those with simplest (autistic / scientistic) position spread the clearest (wrongest) messages.

I’m no defender of Scruton’s philosophical views, and I prefer evolution to revolution, but I’ve not read Murray’s piece … on mobs and individuals, it seems. (More Scruton and backlash to the backlash following BBC R4 Today interview Friday morning …)

Objectivisation – The backlash on old white men [- like me;-) -] expressing any opinion contrary to GT, are painted as somehow attacking her, however carefully points are expressed. (I should dig out some Twitter examples?) It’s just another example of reducing any opinion to an us-and-them tribal battle. To turn GT into an “object” of debate. What’s needed is to recognise the relational issues. It’s about how GT – and her qualities – are being used by establishment media and politics and by anti-establishment SJW’s. The people doing the defending are probably more guilty of it than those trying to express constructive criticisms. Constructive criticism needs critical dialogue about the relationships between subjects and objects NOT about subjects and objects qua objects. This goes all the way down from politics to the fundaments of physical science in fact – and is one reason it is really just part of the autistic scientism. The mythical meme that, as objective knowledge, science is somehow the paragon of all human knowledge and understanding – it simply isn’t. This BBC story “fact-checking” GT’s claims for example, under the science banner – gimme strength! Climate change has its scientific content – good and bad – but the problems and their solutions are not themselves scientific.

They are about “governance” of human society.
(The original cybernetics / kybernetes)

EU MEP Elections 2019 – are badly conceived. Obvious now we have large minority voting for anti-EU candidates. If we ever get to May 2019 MEP elections it will be a disaster. Should be proper (con)federal arrangement – delegated upwards from UK parliament. (One already on the Constitutional Assembly work-list.)

As I said in the previous posts – fixing broken democracy – saving it from populism – based on the right “values” – is THE priority agenda item.

Right Analysis, Wrong Conclusion?

This is a further follow-up to my Extinction Rebellion piece from yesterday, (which was itself a follow-up from a couple of days before) and to which I had already added many post notes live yesterday from social media. Things are moving very fast when it comes to climate change 😉

Loads of tweeters and media commentators jumping on the older generation men criticising a youthful autistic girl and missing the real point. Getting side-tracked on spurious ageist and sexist (and ableist) issues. Everyone seems to prefer to pick fights with “others” than to solve problems. Situation normal in our days of warlike polarisation. Even rhetorical warfare has rules, but most ignore them.

Except one:

William Peltzer did actually read and understand what I had written rather than knee-jerk into the media storm.

To which I replied:

“Thanks for reading and responding. Our difference is your non-specific “however we can”. Fire-fighting (the planet) and fixing (the system) ARE the priorities (we agree?) …. More later”

… and here we are.

So to paraphrase where we are?

We gotta do something.
What we’re already doing with the “existing system” isn’t working (fast enough).
What’s really wrong is the existing system.
Let’s smash (or fix?) the system (“however we can”).

I have no problem with “shouting loudest” and “civil disobedience” as the protest tactic – the call to action, the breaking of eggs to make an omelette – a little creative destruction as Marx and Schumpeter might have said. This is not remotely new just increasingly urgent. (And it’s not remotely confined to questions of climate change – a much wider populist failure of democracy across many “social justice” issues …. as I’ve said …. but let’s stick to the current point.)

The problem with creative destruction (smash the system) as the (sole) action plan is – as I’ve already said many times – careful what you wish for, and beware throwing valuable babies out with the bathwater. If you reduce “the system” to some monolithic enemy; smash it, all or nothing, then we are simply trusting the future to the plans of those who shout loudest.

Quite explicitly in fact, says Pelzer above.

Let’s cut to the chase. The problem is the system. There are many institutions and individuals in public and economic service who (a) are doing their moral damnedest, and (b) are more competent and enlightened in terms of governance practicalities than the loudest XR voices. It doesn’t help to lump all public servants (individual humans) as the problem. Sure there are bad eggs and institutional blockages – it’s these we need to be breaking. The polarising “with us or against us populism” is what has most recently led us into this mess.

We can’t simply replace all existing flawed democratic institutions with a leaderless (and institutionless) “occupy” style anarchy – on national and international scales – the scale of climate change.

What we can do however is introduce a standing constitutional convention – aka a people’s assembly – between the electorate and the existing lobby / committee / house institutions. It’s an old idea just become fashionable since, like so many things, it was tagged “people’s”.

Obviously it will be far from perfect first time out, and it will evolve in practice, but it needs to be constituted with the values we … value … collectively … democratically. Not just those who shout loudest.

Last time I recommended the standing constitutional assembly I was focussed on Brexit and Proper-PR as well as Eco-Sustainability – but it gives the briefest outline of what a CA might be (and do).

Democracy may be the worst form of governance except for all the others, but I’ll need a lot of convincing that they who shout loudest is the best form of governance even if it is the most effective for initiating change.

[End Part 1]

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[Part 2]

In the above I cut to the chase – what one thing could we agree to do for the best – (say) a Constitutional (people’s) Assembly.

But Pelzer does make some other good points, worth unpicking:

“Our society is staggeringly ignorant of the (broken democracy) issues”

It certainly has been. Apart from headline national government elections, populations have been remarkably apathetic about governance – locally, regionally, internationally, supra-nationally and globally – until quite recently. Now however the public are very much wound-up by issues of governance. Global business vs national governments, International concern with a dick-head making it to the white-house, the misrepresentation of the EU under the Brexit fiasco, post-truth / fake-news and populist polarisation across so many social issues, science and health, religion and conspiracy theories – all amplified recently by the the ubiquity and (apparent) transparency of social media. People care, even if a sizeable proportion may be misinformed or ignorant of detailed issues.

“media, politicians and businesses have no inclination to changing the status quo”

Sorry, no. These are all manned by real humans – the same as you and I. They are we. It is absolutely unacceptable to tar everyone with the one brush. As I said in Part 1 – there are many virtuous and competent individuals amongst us. It’s the system level functioning that is at fault.

“short term (interests and profits) [are] the only timescale which matters to politicians and public companies”

Short-termism is indeed a major problem – institutionalised at so many levels – from basic psychological gratification, to accounting practices to electoral cycles. Frankly this is a major aspect of introducing a “standing” (ie open-ended) constitutional assembly that evolves on timescales well beyond electoral and accounting cycles. There are of course many detailed practical issues within systems of governance that could also be addressed, to de-incentivise short-termism. That said Pelzer again her tars us all – public servants and company officers – with only caring for the short-term. More us and them bogey-men. This is not helpful for enlightened progress. The problem is systematic.

“your argument would likely have worked as little as 4 years ago”

Yes, the passing of time is making all considerations more urgent and more critical. It is no coincidence that “4 years” is the time associated with the rise in public concern with the populist & post-truth ills I cited above. But plus ca change, some fundamentals never change – there is very little new under the sun – apart from lost time.

“the current penchant for sensationalism and complete disdain for rational argument and factual debate on all sides it comes down to, he who shouts the loudest”

A generalisation again – many of us are resisting that urge – but obviously in this post-truth social-media-amplified world that is increasingly the nature of how messages gain attention. In fact XR campaigning has used every attention-grabbing trick in the direct action playbook. And in terms of grabbing the agenda it works and has worked. But it’s a symptom of the problem we’re trying to fix, not something we should aspire to being how we’d like things to work in future?

“Get the existential problems fixed first, however we can. Government policy and a clear commitment to policies which incentivise businesses and people, should naturally be the first step.”

As I responded initially “however we can” is the $64,000 question. But yes the point of the ship of Theseus analogy is that whilst we firefight we must introduce institutions that incentivise the behaviour and values we aspire to. “However we can” is more than a binary choice between business-as-usual and just-shout-louder. I’ve posited many ideas – too many to repeat here beyond the Constitutional Assembly as a start.

“However with this government and in this country you have no chance of getting a commitment from this government unless you can influence public opinion and drum up media coverage. Back to shouting loudest and protest.”

It’s the normal frustrated position – blame the current government, current and previous generations, damn the lot of ’em to hell. It’s cathartic but is it progressive or even constructive to keep shouting louder once you(we)’ve gained attention. Attention-grabbing, fine. Enlightened future action, no. For two reasons. Shouting is not the way to conduct dialogue with people you need to work with. But even more importantly, the words being shouted suffer as much as any -if not more – from being infected by post-truth propaganda. We still need to find the best – or merely better – ideas, quickly.

Down With This Sort of Thing

The environmental impact of Anthropogenic Climate Change is the biggest problem facing humanity, because it is the greatest consequence of humanity’s greatest failure. Our existential crisis. There is no Planet B.

This is a follow-up to my previous post Extinction Rebellion Backlash.

At root it is a failure of our collective decision-making to act in our best interests – “ours” in the widest inhabitants of the shared cosmos sense. We’re simply the species wielding the greatest power in our neck of the cosmic woods. It’s a failure of our democracy in a word.

When I first mentioned Greta Thunberg (GT) – in suffer the little children or emperor’s suit of clothes mode – I was loathe to criticise her. In fact I described the approving response, to my suggestion she was wrong, as a scary symptom of the problem. It’s easy to criticise, easy to find things wrong, agree to them being wrong, and promote the disagreement rather than dialogue on solutions.

Down with this sort of thing.

With Extinction Rebelling (XR) gaining traction and GT being held up as a spokesperson, she and Rupert Read (RR) are the face of a “movement”.

Protest – including civil disobedience by those prepared for the social & legal consequences – is a fine democratic tradition. A fine tradition mostly in those democratic countries already taking climate change seriously that is.

Prediction – especially about the future – is hard. That’s as true of science as it is of politics. With science the point is to be as objective as possible in evaluating evidence, but to exclude human subjectivity in assumptions and conditions in using the analysis to make predictions. With politics prediction is more about wishful vision, making happen what we want to happen with the people we are. Once science is making predictions beyond its control volume, it too is politics.

And the problem with politics in our times of failed democracy is that not only is it easiest to criticise what’s wrong, it’s even easier if what’s wrong can be personified in a bogey-man or a bogey-tribe. Once science is criticising establishment politics, using its own politics (a) it’s not science and (b) it is simply part of the us and them fetish.

For this reason, I’ve long since stopped being concerned with any specific numbers in science’s claims – they’re not the point. In politics, numbers on the side of a bus are not objective facts, they are weapons with which to beat the other guy. (Climate science has been mostly politics and bad science for decades – but it doesn’t change the urgent existential nature of ACC.) The idea of the 12 years (or 10 or 20) is the call to urgent action. Urgent in political timescales. GT’s “house fire” analogy is badly misleading. It’s more like a ship of Theseus. When your house is on fire, top priority is to save yourself and rescue the other inhabitants and only then to fight the fire. But there is no Planet B. We have to fight the fire and rebuild this house from which we cannot escape whilst it is on fire. The panic – fight or flight – response is not the one we require.

We need urgent enlightened action. But … see failure of democracy. A call to action (by almost any means, by rhetorical use of words and symbolic actions) is fine. It works. It has worked. But in deciding the action, the words and arguments really do matter.

So again, as the face of XR, we need to further analyse GT’s claims. No only did I not want to criticise her individual childlike concern, I didn’t mention her individual self-proclaimed autism. It is sad to hear her talk her black and white position – “there is no partial sustainability, either you are or you aren’t”. Politically, I hear you are either with us or against us.

Those are intelligent people. Careful what you wish for.

The autistic spectrum disorder of one individual isn’t a problem. Indeed, as a basket of inputs, more variety has more value. As the face – voice, god forbid – of a movement we have to be concerned with the autistic position. In fact I’ve spent decades pointing out the dangers of scientism as autism. Using literal science as the driver and basis of belief in politics and economics, as if subjective considerations must be excluded from all human endeavours, not just science itself. A mantra of science or nothing. Another us and them, with us or against us, fetish.

Populist democracy. This is the real root of our existential crisis.

As I’ve said, civil disobedience direct-action protest is a good thing. It has gained the attention required, even though it was manned by people on their kids Easter vacations whilst parliament were out of town. As GT and XR invoke science in their corner. With us or against us, With science or against it, they are committing the scientistic error, but they also debase real science. Worse still, beyond that, we have to question the cause to which XR are actually signed-up.

Are XR really concerned with climate change?

I pointed out in the previous post that XR is not only exploiting direct action in the name of ACC, and cynically invoking science in its support, its active membership has a pedigree of direct action causes – the common thread of which is simply anti-establishment, anti-capitalist revolution. In fact I see it is now clear that is their real cause.

Be careful what you wish for. It’s child abuse coaching kids in revolution against the adult establishment. I thought I was being provocatively tongue-in-cheek when I invoked Pol Pot in Suffer the Little Children, now I’m not so sure. We grown-ups need to wake up to the march of fascism as populist democracy.

Ironically, the fact GT can’t speak to Trump is a microcosm of the problem. The idiot already dismisses claims of “science” – for good but irrelevant reasons –  he’s undoubtedly an idiot. And the scientific response is to put up an autistic view of their position – making Trump’s denial even easier.

The reason society is having trouble getting to grips with ACC urgently enough is because it’s already wrestling with all the other consequences of the reactionary, populist, protest-vote problem. The problem could not be clearer. The solutions ever more complex and interconnected.

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[POST NOTES: And a few more follow-ups:

A more brutal “put down” of GT
– but close to the truth – (see *added below.)

Oh, and did I mention conspiracy theories – all populist “enemies” depend on one:

(*added) Brutal I said. Fair to say this this opinion piece by Brendan O’Neil in Spiked and another by Toadmesiter in the Spectator got hammered for being grown men “mocking” a 16 year old autistic girl communcating in her second language, etc. They and their publishers have previous form too. As I say, she is 16 and she is not only autistic but makes it part of her pitch, so the real issues are there – some truth as I said – but the decision to focus on her personally, rather than on GT and RR as the (now established / adopted) voices of XR is the ad hominem error. The problem is choosing to do it. My choice is to focus on what is being communicated and why – and likely effectiveness.

But there’s many more enlightened responses than the idea of total block on all Oil&Gas business or big businesses generally:

A local MP coincidentally, today

Carbon sequestration and capture. Industrial (CCS) or natural (tree-planting) on an industrial scale.

Meanwhile (as I mentioned in the previous post):

Panic is a great call to action – it’s been call crying wolf for centuries – but it’s a lousy strategy for action. Careful what you wish for.

And what about China? (My position above, it’s part of the dialogue and the solution, but not any argument against XR. The argument against XR is much deeper than that.)

Facts matter when we’re talking about enlightened actions, but they don’t affect the call to action. Capiche?

The underlying problem is our democracy is broken. We need people prepared to work to fix the system, not people whose aim is to smash it.

And another PR stunt. Kinda impressed May didn’t fall for it.

Extinction Rebellion Backlash

I’ve held off writing anything specific about or against Extinction Rebellion (ER) and have made just one observation re Greta Thunberg (GT) – good luck to their consciousness raising efforts on climate change, I prefer to work with than against anyone. (Did also make an observation on meeting Rupert Read of ER last year.)

Where to start with what’s wrong with that?!?

But as their profiles get greater – the “direct action” style protests and mainstream reporting of their actual statements – who’s to blame and what solutions are – they are NOT the people whose words we should be listening to.

Young? Let’s blame the previous generations.

Ordinary people? Let’s blame the rich, the establishment.

It’s pure identity politics. Fascism in a word.

The ER movement is direct action – professional anti-establishment activists. The pedigree runs from CND, Greenpeace and Greenham Common, via Occupy, Anti-Fracking and Mr Compost. It’s anti-social and devoid of solutions, once the “awareness” point is made – unless your real agenda is anarchic anti-establishment motives generally of course? Careful what you wish for in supporting such movements.

Even if we could agree a valid target – oil companies maybe (see later)? – ER are NOT even targeting them. They’re targeting general public disruption. The only awareness they’re raising is how angry and irresponsibly annoying they are. Awareness of climate change as an issue on the public agenda is done already. What we need now is shared understanding of and commitment to solutions.

As an engineer for 40+ years in process plant and transport facilities, probably 40% of that business has been in what people call “fossil fuels” – oil and gas related at various stages in its processing life-cycle (*1). I know what I’m talking about. In fact back in the 80’s when looking at extended supply chains across the business activity of all sectors – all goods and services – over 70% could be seen as driven by the motor car, one way or another.

However, efficiencies – environmental and operational – have been central for at least 30 years. At this point, it’s important to make the distinction between the historically developed world where consumerism drove business growth to adopt carbon industries, and those developing in Asia, Africa and South America that have been steadily climbing larger populations up the same curve. It’s a crude split, obviously, but it affects which end of various spectra solutions need to be applied to have the desired effects.

Anthropogenic Global Warming / Climate Change / Environmental Impact are a given in scale and significance. The debate and action required is less clear and mainly subject to the trading of rhetorical insults.

Oil & Gas is bad? Let’s target the big Oil-Co’s?

(Let’s take the demise of coal as a given – but note China and the like in Africa and elsewhere. But the other fossil fuels? And elsewhere I’ve written in support of smaller modular intrinsically safe nuclear power.)

My position is pretty clear. The suggestion that simply “stopping” all O&G production and use on any timescale, 2025 or whenever, is completely misguided. I support Citizens Climate Lobby – leave it in the ground or pay a fee & dividend carbon tax. – puts the incentives in the right place.

The thing is that as alternative clean energy sources grow (and reduced consumption through efficiencies and behaviour), the proportion of Oil & Gas that goes into “energy” – motive or generative – is falling fast. So called fossil fuels are mainly a source of polymer, chemical, pharmaceutical and construction materials generally. Sure, disposable single-use plastics and littering generally are an absolute disgrace – I think we need to look at the geographic and social sectors most to blame for this (*2). I’ve personally been aghast at this and tending my own garden (in the buddhist practice-what-you-preach sense) for 40 years having seen the damage in east and south-east Asia particularly. The car industries car of the year 2019 is an all electric model. But even electric cars are 40% plastic, even aluminium and steel require energy and carbon. Hi grade steel-making coke comes from oil (and coal). Aluminium extraction has a huge carbon footprint on the electrical energy used in its extraction. Engineering plastics and resins are used – everywhere. And so on. We need fossil feedstocks for a long time to come, even if we stop wasting them as fuel. In fact the real imperative is to stop wasting them, for the core environmental reasons.

The second thing, as well as not 100% banning oil & gas, is being intelligent about where to support it and where to discourage it. My policy is “close-to home” – the opposite of reactionary knee-jerk nimbyism. We should encourage extraction where we have most control to the highest environmental impact standards. eg in my case: UK onshore fracking and UK offshore for example. But not in places where lazy out of sight out of mind practices of waste, human and environmental damage can prevail.  Wherever it happens, the damage is shared by the rest of us on the planet. We need to extract some of it. Let’s do it where it does least damage and where actual externalities are properly recognised in funding and taxation. It’s already happening.

Conservatism and change?

Besides oil & gas being targeted as the bogey-man, there is the more general urgency vs conservative establishment angle here.

The direct-action / activism movement has wider motives that are also misguided IMHO. It’s basically an evolution vs revolution choice.

Sure, some of the Oil-Co’s have been amongst the most conservative and resistant to change. Rex Tillerson’s Exxon is the classic example, but BP, Shell and Statoil for example have been diversifying and divesting at enormous rates. And sure, defence of conservative positions involves rhetorical propaganda that involves “lies” in objective contexts. But so does the “rebellion” case. Whether it’s ER or GT or David Attenbrough, their scripts are propaganda too – on behalf of their (half-right, zero-carbon) case. (I’ll unpick some of these another time, if there is demand.) My point is that once its a “fight” between opposing forces this is the natural consequence. Whichever side “wins”, all real occupants of planet earth doomed.

No, what really matters is understanding the place of conservatism in evolution. The world is full of static patterns, many of them meta-patterns of how things have evolved to work. Reactionaries naturally seize dynamic opportunities for change, indeed immediate individual experience is the main source of all change. But the balance matters. Dynamism without static patterns isn’t change, it’s chaos. In fact in eco-scale bio-evolution, static patterns – species – are what we need. Change is built-in only where it affords the species new opportunities. Conservatism demands high fidelity and fecundity. Many efforts to preserve best copies of what already works, with relatively few significant mutations.

Calls to action – great.

Throwing babies out with ignorant bathwater – no thanks.

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(*1) Full disclosure. I’m semi-retired and today little if any of my income or financial security depends on Oil & Gas business any more than the wider economy for more than a decade, even though as I say I would defend the proportion that did in the decades before. I do support some small UK O&G investments – putting my money where my mouth is – in controllable  projects closer to home.

(*2) A little story. These days we live in a property bounded on three sides by a graveyard. The biggest bane of my life is the plastic tat people use to ornament and tend to the graves of their ex-loved-ones. Firstly the graveyard is littered with it, and secondly one windy day and the hedgerows for miles around are infested with it. I spend more time wandering around with a sack collecting it up for disposal than I care for. I haven’t quite quite got to the point of ripping it directly of the graves at source, but one day soon! (But, as I say, I have long experience of seeing rivers, open-drains and beaches in far-flung places choked with discarded plastic – bottles and bags. No one in our family has ever so much as dropped a piece of litter! I have a longer term initiative that says we should actually incinerate more of the hard to recycle plastic waste – seriously – but that’s a longer story.)