We Win the War; Now the Fight Begins
Bruce Sterling's Viridian Note #00487, sent today, is something of a victory announcement for the Viridian movement. The idea -- the truth -- that the planet is in the midst of an extraordinary climate disaster is no longer a fringe notion, and is no longer something that we have to spend our time repeating. Now comes the effort to do something about it, and that effort will not be easy.
(((We are winning because we were ahead of the curve: we Viridians were an avant-garde who understood, almost ten years ago, that something like this was bound to happen. That does not make us the proper people to actually carry it out. First, we don't have the scale, the resources, or the ability. Second, and let me be very clear to you here: the primrose path to sustainability, even it is construed as sexy, trendy and stylish, will be dark and thorny. Behind Corporate Green is its darker, bloodstained cousin, Khaki Green, and we'll be seeing a lot of that. Sustainability will be a comprehensive revolution in the tenor of daily life. There will be blood on the hands of the people who bring it about. Not because they are bloodthirsty. But because there is so much blood.)))
(((Genuine climate mayhem is underway. It is intensifying fast. People are going to die: of heat, of disease, freezing, starving, drowning and dying of thirst. Not in mere tens of thousands as they did in the Paris heatwave, but in hecatombs. We have a global climate crisis. A real one, not a futurist speculation. People are going to make agonizing sacrifices in increasingly frantic efforts to ameliorate that and redress that crisis. Then, next year, they will discover that the situation is vastly worse than then imagined, and the spillage of blood and treasure and sacred honor that they thought would surely help is a fraction of what was necessary.)))
This isn't a "mission accomplished" celebratory note; it's more the stunned realization that after a decade of pounding one's fists against a stone wall, that wall has now started to crumble.
This new reality is something that the environmental movement had better adjust to quickly. Any green group still banging the drums about trying to "wake us up" to the danger will quickly become irrelevant. The conversations now need to be about how do we handle this in a smart way, with solutions that don't make matters worse, and don't put more power into the hands of the people, the companies, and the movements that brought this disaster to begin with.
Take geoengineering. Treehugger notes today that the Bush administration is now lobbying for "smoke and mirrors" options for blocking sunlight. As someone who has written in abundance on the topic, this galls me. Geoengineering is a last-ditch option; any proposal that it be an early choice is dangerous. Fortunately, the remaining years of this administration are insufficient for any real re-terraforming effort to launch.
That said, I do support academic research into geoengineering methods. Not because I want to see them deployed, but because when pressure mounts to do something big, we need to be able to show precisely why the more obvious options are bad ideas, and -- as may be necessary -- to be able to choose the least-bad options when all the good options are gone. Even if the Bush plans for geoengineering are slowed or stopped, the topic will re-emerge, especially if, as Bruce says, the situation is vastly worse than then imagined.
This is the moment that we've been waiting for. The tipping point has passed, and the voices calling out for real solutions are growing louder by the day. Those of us who have been working on, writing about, thinking about how to deal with this crisis need to step up and be heard. If we hold back, or if we continue to fight the war we've already won, we run the risk of seeing our futures determined by those most culpable for this disaster.