This week’s lecture was Future Visions: Ecology and Economics at the End of the World, by Andrew Shepherd.  Notes, thoughts and reactions follow:

We are closing our borders to migrant Pacifica refugees who want to escape the loss of island nations to global climate change to come to New Zealand.

In 15 years, about half a generation, 1 in 4 human beings will be living in metropolises.  Many of theses will be Blade Runner-esque mega-cities.  They risk being zombie towns: lurching forward, but economically dead.

The sixth great extinction of world history is now underway at the hands of human beings.  Natural sound has been archived, some of which cannot be reduced in the wild now.  The chorus of life  praising the creator is systematically killed off.  God may have words with us over that: Wait, after doing that to your first planet, you expect a free pass to my new creation?!

Nature is unconscious to our depredation.  There is no negotiation as we exploit nature.  It is supine.  There will be no negotiation with nature as it changes on us.  We live in a closed system.   Advocates of the market place policies argue we must adapt.  That could prove a rather harsh adaption when the time comes.

Our fantasy, our utopia, may be to image we could return to a pre-scarcity society.  We have become so alienated from place we are talking to each other through remote access, each one of us in our own private cubicules.  Detachment is at the heart of greed.  We want to engage with the simulacrum, not the immediate person.  Our finances have become abstract, numbers on a screen.  Our place is no longer where our feet are standing, it’s a rung up the social ladder.

Our actions are embedded in our grand narratives.  Our survival relies on a consensual response to our crisis.  Who makes the product you buy?  Who recycles the product you dispose?  Build an adequate local culture.

I left wondering.  The new Jerusalem is a dream of the new world, with adequate housing, a just god, life-giving water and an endless supply of fruitful growth.  It is also uninhabited, just out of reach, in the realms of potential.  I am not certain I see the initiative and the dynamic response that could come from communities of faith.  Those who do act remain isolated.  The scale of change to the narrative remains overwhelming.

Lunch in Guiyu, China, where cell phones go to be recycled.

Lunch in Guiyu, China, where cell phones go to be recycled.

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