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Again, this is basic common sense, but you’ll find any number of people doing their level best to evade it these days.
Check out any other issue where the survival of industrial society is at stake, and you’ll see the same thing.
So I began discussing that issue from different angles of approach, and over time the blog gathered an online community of people who found one or more of those angles interesting.
We talked about systems ecology, economics, history and the cycles by which civilizations rise and fall; we hauled the appropriate-technology movement of the Seventies out of the memory hole to which it’s been consigned for the last thirty years, and unpacked some of the things it had to offer, now that we’re experiencing the future that the movement’s spokespeople warned about.
There are good reasons why it hasn’t worked; notably, most activists try to motivate people by threatening them with a really ugly future if they don’t change their ways, and this sort of rhetoric has been done to death for so long that it’s lost what clout it once had.
Yet again, the issue of personal lifestyle choices casts a useful light: if activists who are perfectly willing to devote long hours on their own nickel to the cause can’t apply the same focused will to the task of changing their own lifestyles, will is clearly not enough.
We’ll be discussing Kuhn and his book, , a great deal in posts to come, as it points out some of the crucial reasons why science remains stuck in so many unproductive ruts in our time.
The difficulty with paradigm-driven science, though, is that no matter how good the procedures, questions, and answers mandated by any paradigm may be, sooner or later they stop yielding useful insights into nature.
At this point whatever scientific field has relied on the paradigm in question slams facefirst into crisis; you see the endless circular debates, the frantic elaboration of existing theory, and all the other signs of a discipline that’s lost its way.
Yet even those who have convinced themselves that the fate of the Earth is a moral issue of compelling importance seem, by and large, to be unable to go from that ethical realization to the obvious next step of giving up habits and lifestyle choices that actively harm the global ecosystem. Among those few climate activists who have grasped the failure of knowledge and ethics, it’s common to hear the difficulty framed as a matter of will: if only they can find some way to motivate people to do what’s necessary, they think, people will change their ways and everything will be fine.
That hasn’t worked any better than the other two notions.