Last Thursday I wrote a post called Mean And Stupid Politics As Usual. That story was about how political lies are used to screw the poor. This was my last post before I took a much-needed break. A commenter on this blog thought I should avoid politics altogether.
Several years ago, Dimitry Orlov advised Americans not to waste their time on politics. That was good advice. Dave, your might feel better if you boycotted the so called election entirely. Your readers will not mind if you skip posting a couple days a week and enjoy the lovely late summer weather of North America.
Suggesting that I take Doomer-in-chief Dmitry Orlov's advice on anything was the straw that broke the camel's back, so I took the break. But why do I write about politics, which Orlov disdains?
On Friday morning I put up a lecture by paleontologist and ecologist Jeremy Jackson, who talked about shifting baselines in the oceans. Shifting baselines refers to the observation that current people think the ocean is doing OK, but if you were able to look at the oceans at generational time scales spanning hundreds of years, you would see the profound degradation of marine ecosystems which has occurred over that time. It is a form of the boiling frog problem.
I don't know how many people watched that video all the way through, but I'll wager not many people did. If you did not watch that video to the end, or at all, you missed Jackson's remarks starting at the 24:51 mark. He is talking about the role of politics in discussions of environmental problems. Here's what he said—
[image left: the rise of slime in the oceans]
Before I came here I ran an oil spill study. It cost three and a half million dollars, it was paid for by your tax dollars. And in that study I discovered that about 90% of all the corals and the reefs that were oiled died. I was immediately labeled as an environmentalist, untrustworthy, and an advocate because I spent your money to do a scientific study and measure something.
Paul Dayton? [He] measured the disappearance of large fish in the kelp forests out there. For that he is [labeled] an environmentalist, and an advocate, and untrustworthy, because he measured the decline in big fish.
And Dave Keeling? Right? Who discovered, first of all, how to measure CO2 in the atmosphere, and then discovered that it rose, has been labeled as an advocate, because he did brilliant science.
So, the "dark side" has labeled information as advocacy, and it's your job as citizens to understand that, and it's your job as citizens to not allow people to tell you that information is anything other than information. What you want to do about it, that's up to you. But it's information.
And in the last five years, what we've seen, is the scientific information unshamedly removed from the discussion. We will talk about global warming, but we won't use the scientific [IPCC] report. We will talk about the state of ocean, but we won't look at the fishing data.
Last year, our friends up [on Capitol Hill], not them, but their boss, released a report saying "Another Great Year For U.S. Fisheries." In that report, if you read it, you will see that they have no data at all for 60% of the species they are legally repsonsible for, and half to 2/3rds of the species they do have data for have declined. But the title of the report is "Another Great Year."
Thus we see that politics is a sure-fire way to avoid difficult discussions of planetary issues like the destruction of marine ecosystems and anthropogenic climate change. Jackson's more specific point is that merely gathering and presenting worrisome scientific information is miscontrued as advocacy. In psychological terms, the scientist is subject to a projection, which is a primitive defense mechanism. In short, he is taken to be somebody he is not.
I too present scientific information on DOTE. I too am subject to projections, mostly by Doomers who must see me as being just like them. I am not like them. For example, I am science-based. I am not sitting around awaiting the Big Collapse as Dmitry Orlov does on his sailboat. That belief is faith-based. But I will write on that subject another time.
Thus we also see, crucially, that understanding politics is central to understanding the Human Condition and our situation in the 21st century. And that is the central point of my writing—I am trying to tell you about the Human Condition and the precarious human situation in the 21st century. I write about politics, as Jeremy Jackson did, from the outside looking in. Human beings are by nature political animals, as Aristotle wrote hundreds of years before the birth of Christ (the common era).
If I ignored politics and the distortions of Reality contained therein, I would be like the blind man who can not understand what color is. Doomers can ignore politics because they believe industrial civilization is rapidly coming to an end, so what's the point of paying attention to what's going on as Jeremy Jackson or I do? In this sense they are mostly oblivious to the large changes occurring on this planet. The collapse itself is construed as a perverse form of Salvation for the Illuminati (the Doomers themselves).
It has occurred to me recently that this blog is an experiment, an experiment which may still fail in some sense. Despite the belief of some readers that this blog is just one among many conveying similar information, this blog is unique because of my approach, which I just described.
It is a pity that some people are incapable of understanding what I am doing on this blog, but that certainly comes as no surprise. I am going to try hard to not let it bother me. One important way of accomplishing this goal is to write about this annoying subject, and that's why I posted today.