The name of this blog, Rainbow Juice, is intentional.
The rainbow signifies unity from diversity. It is holistic. The arch suggests the idea of looking at the over-arching concepts: the big picture. To create a rainbow requires air, fire (the sun) and water (raindrops) and us to see it from the earth.
Juice suggests an extract; hence rainbow juice is extracting the elements from the rainbow, translating them and making them accessible to us. Juice also refreshes us and here it symbolises our nutritional quest for understanding, compassion and enlightenment.

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Existential Grief And Mourning

This is the first of a series of blogpieces seeking to understand our collective and individual response to social and environmental collapse.

The first warning bells sounded fifty years ago with the release of Limits To Growth.1 That ground-breaking study looked at several possible future scenarios based on projections of population. resource use, pollution, food per capita, and industrial output. One of these scenarios the authors termed the Standard model. Since 1972 this has come to be re-phrased as Business As Usual. Recent research and studies have shown that those warning bells rang true.2

We are at the limits to growth. We are nearing collapse.

Many reading this may think that I am speaking of collapse as resulting from climate change. I am…but so much more as well. To borrow a term from the climate change lexicon – we are facing a perfect storm.

This perfect, super, storm is comprised of: climate change, biodiversity loss, deforestation, soil depletion, pollution, water degradation, food scarcity, diminishing fuel reserves. Added to these are the more socially constructed harms of: political polarisation, mass refugee and migration movements, an ever-increasing chasm between rich and poor, techno-addiction, and loss of trust in so-called world leaders. All these, and more, are coming together simultaneously, to create unavoidable collapse.

Whether we know it or not, like it or not, this existential crisis gives rise to grief and mourning.

Five Stages of Grief

In 1969 the Swiss-American psychologist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross postulated five stages of the grief process. Her theories and ideas have little changed in the intervening five decades. Her five stages of grief is a useful model with which to dissect our collective response to existential loss. This first part will explore the stage of Denial. Further Parts will explore the other four stages: Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. A final Part will ask: what does it mean to mourn when faced with the potential extinction of the human species?

Denial

For decades, denial was the default position on climate change for most of the world’s leaders, captains of industry, politicians, and other decision-makers. Within the general population, denial of climate change was also widespread, although this has changed somewhat during the course of this century, with denial less evident within the general population.

More recently, even some of the most recalcitrant of the world’s leaders have shifted and now, at least, acknowledge the reality of climate change.

However, the planetary system has shifted immensely in far less time than it took these leaders to change their minds. It has gone from Climate Change, to Climate Chaos, to Climate and Environmental-Social Collapse within just a few short years.

Collapse goes much deeper than simply Climate Change – it means death. A death of our way of life, perhaps even the death of our very existence on this planet. Such a thought is extremely uncomfortable – so much so that the most common response is denial. Indeed, denial is reasonable and totally understandable. Denial protects us from those uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. At least, it does so until such time as we are capable of moving on.

There is a danger in lingering too long in denial however.

When someone is faced with the death of a loved one, a person in denial wonders how they can go on, perhaps even questioning why they should go on.

Faced with existential death however, our collective denial shifts our response from one of ‘how do I go on’ to a stubborn ‘we will go on.’ Denying the possibility of the extinction of humanity we, collectively, say: it’s business as usual, we won’t change, we’ll keep on keeping on. And so, we will continue to extract minerals from the earth, we will continue to exploit nature for our own ends, we will continue to pollute the land, sea, and air with our waste. Denial says we must keep fuelling the industrial-consumerist machine in whatever way possible.

But!  Denial, ultimately, stops us from seeing the error and foolishness of our ways.

We cannot afford to linger in denial, for the longer we remain in denial, the closer collapse comes, and the harder the fall is likely to be.

Next week will explore anger and bargaining.

Notes:

1. Meadows, Meadows, Randers & Behrens III, The Limits to Growth (Report for the Club of Rome), Universe Books, New York, 1972.

2. For example, https://www.livescience.com/collapse-human-society-limits-to-growth.html (accessed 28 July 2021)

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Bright Green Lies (Book Review)

Can we solve the climate crisis? Not the way we are going claim the authors of Bright Green Lives.1 Using more and more fossil fuels certainly won’t work. (Fossil fuels will only worsen the situation.) However, nor will a switch to alternative, “renewable,” energy sources,

In the search for solutions to carbon emissions many in the climate change movement advocate solar, wind, and other “renewable” sources of energy.

There is an inherent problem within that phrase – ‘renewable sources of energy’ – though. In fact, two problems. First, “renewables” are not renewable. Renewable suggests there is no impact upon the earth and that the electricity produced is carbon-neutral. Both are a myth. Second, is the word “energy.” One of the biggest confusions in the discussion about renewables is the conflation of energy and electricity. Renewables can supply electricity, but not total energy. In fact, electricity production in most countries of the world is no more than 20% of total energy, in some cases much less. This conflation can lead to false claims. The authors cite the case of Germany which is often touted as being a leader in renewables. Bright Green Lies quotes a leading climate change campaigner as lauding Munich obtaining “half its energy from solar panels” on some days. As the authors note, that is physically impossible. In attempting to present credible solutions, such claims for solar and other “renewables,” are irresponsible. Furthermore, such claims send out a message of “false hope,” which surely does nothing for future generations.

These are but two of several myths identified by the authors. Others include the myths of: decoupling, efficiency gains, scaling, and no harm.

The basic problem with “renewables” is that they continue the same industrial progress mentality with which we got ourselves into this mess in the first place. From the mining of materials, to the processing, to fabrication, and to installation; all “renewables” do damage to the environment, often displace local people, and – significantly – require fossil fuels for their construction.

The authors comment on this mentality of damaging the planet in order to save it. “The most important, and simplest, solution to the destruction of the planet is to stop the destruction of the planet.” What could be simpler?

Two western concepts are at the heart of our continued destruction, and the authors take issue with each.

Our western cultural heritage has left us with an anthropocentric, hierarchical, model of the world with humans at the top. The book also hits us in our consumptive belly, and hits hard. Reading this will double you up with a painful recognition that there are no alternatives; there is no “renewable” road to sustainability.

There will be many within the climate change movement who will scorn this book, attempt to counter its arguments, and dismiss it. That will be a pity, because it is only when the “environmental” approach to the earth is reclaimed, that any halting of the destruction of the earth can occur. Admittedly, there are some within the movement who seem to understand this. In fact, I wonder if Greta Thunberg has read this book. When I listen to some of her recent speeches, I suspect she may have, or at least arrived at similar conclusions on her own.2

The authors of Bright Green Lies often deride “environmentalists” for advocating technological solutions that will continue to damage the environment. It is disappointing that the authors choose to use the term “environmentalist” in this way. To my way of thinking, those who continue to advocate for damaging technologies, are not acting from an environmental awareness, but rather from an anthropocentric one. Environmentalism must reclaim its mandate and remove itself from underneath the heavy footfalls of technological industrialism.

“OK, OK,” I hear the cries. “Its all very well telling us that “renewables” are not the solution – what is?” The authors address this in the last two chapters of the book, although a hint of the solutions is made in the very first sentence of the book. The book begins with a note on language, and begins thus:

“It’s customary when writing about nonhumans to use the relative pronoun that rather than who: ‘We cut down the tree that used to grow by the pond,’ not ‘We cut down the tree who used to grow by the pond.”

Simply changing from the first perspective to the second would radically transform our understanding of who we are, where we fit, and how we act.

Bright Green Lies is as important a cautionary book in 2021 as Silent Spring3 was in 1962. If you didn’t read Silent Spring then, read Bright Green Lies now.

P.S. I do have one suggestion to the authors and publishers of this book, if they decide to do a second edition. Please add an Index.

Notes:

1. Derrick Jensen, Lierre Keith, & Max Wilbert, Bright Green Lies: How the Environmental Movement Lost its Way and What we can do about it. Monkfish Book Publishing Co., Rhinebeck, New York, 2021.

2. For example, listen to her speech to the Austrian World Summit, July 2021 here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6eQwAi2U18)

3. Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt, Boston, 1962.

Wednesday, 14 July 2021

What Did You Do In The Peace (A short story)

‘Daddy, can I ask you a question?’

‘Of course, Daughter.’

‘Daddy, what did you do I the peace?’

‘What do you mean Daughter? What peace?’

‘The peace before all these wars. Before the food wars, before the land wars, before the water wars, before the fuel wars. There’s wars everywhere now. The peace before – what did you do?’

‘Well Daughter, I just lived, like everyone else. I didn’t do anything special.’

‘Why not?’

‘What do you mean “why not?”’ Father looked at Daughter with a puzzled expression.

‘Well, its all so bad now. Some people must have tried to do something. Some people must have tried doing something special. Did you?’

‘Special Daughter? There was nothing special to do. We all just lived. You know – slept, ate, went to work. We just lived.’

‘But, but …’

‘But what, Daughter?’ Father was concerned now. What was bothering his daughter? Something was wrong.

Daughter continued, ‘But, if it was a peace, why didn’t it stay that way?’

‘I don’t know Daughter. They say everything just collapsed. The north pole collapsed, so did the south. The Amazon rainforest collapsed. Then there were the ocean currents. They changed. Oceanographers say the whole ocean currents collapsed.’

‘Why Dad? Why did they collapse?’

‘I don’t know Daughter. They just did,’

‘But why?’

Father looked at Daughter. Daughter looked at Father. Neither spoke for what seemed like an Ice Age. Daughter spoke first.

‘Something must have happened Dad. Something must have caused it. There must have been signs.’

‘Signs! Oh yes, there were signs I suppose. But no-one really took them seriously.’

‘Why Dad? Why did no-one take them seriously?’

‘Well, like I said. Everyone was just living.’

Daughter considered this for a moment and then asked, ‘What was living like in the peace?’

‘It was great Daughter. We could go anywhere, do anything, buy whatever we wanted. Living was easy as an old song put it.’

‘But, but Dad.’ Daughter had a grimace on her face now. ‘Dad, what did you do? What did you do to keep the peace?’

‘We didn’t do anything Daughter. There was no need to.’

‘But Dad, didn’t you know? Didn’t anyone warn you of the collapse, and the wars to come?’

‘Well, yes Daughter. But it was all so far away, there was no need to get concerned. Besides, what could we do?’

Daughter gazed at her father intently, tears beginning to form behind her eyelids. ‘So Dad, are you telling me that during the peace you did nothing?’

Father glanced sadly at his daughter, then quickly looked away. He gave a glum nod. 

Monday, 5 July 2021

Conversations With An Eagle (Book Review)

Do you have a space on your bookshelf for those small gems of books full wisdom such as, The Prophet, Jonathon Livingstone Seagull, The Alchemist, The Little Prince? You know, the priceless little gems that you will read several times in your life. If you do, then place Conversations with an Eagle alongside them. If you don’t, then you might like to start such a space with this gem.

Writing under a penname (Anson) the author wishes to remain anonymous. When you read, and begin to understand the content of this gem, the reason for anonymity may become clear. The role of the ego is often discussed by the narrator and the Eagle. The ego can be a block or a shield towards greater understanding. The ego can also be a fierce defender, and protector, of our sense of self-importance.  

The book begins with a brief conversation with the Eagle. The Eagle is asked the purpose of flying and how difficult it is to fly. To this last question the Eagle replies, “Flying is easy, it is growing the feathers that is difficult.” The Eagle then cautions that growing feathers is only possible “with great determination.”

The subsequent conversations with the Eagle elaborate and expand upon what this “great determination” entails.

This is not the place to offer spoilers, except to say that conversations with the Eagle cover such deep and soulful explorations as:

·       the ego,

·       letting go,

·       simplifying,

·       creating space (for feathers to grow into),

·       judging,

·       the relationship between the individual and society/culture,

·       religion,

·       self-awareness and self-reflection,

·       limited beliefs,

·       and so much more.

This is a short book of exquisite dialogic beauty and wisdom. It will not provide you with answers, but it will suggest the questions that need to be asked. It will also advise on the determination needed to find the answers; if, indeed, it is answers you seek.

This book is published by Happy Tadpole Publishing in Coffs Harbour, NSW, Australia. Anyone living in Coffs Harbour will know of the Happy Frog cafĂ© that also sells local, and organic products.  Happy Tadpole Publishing is an offshoot of Happy Frog.

Copies are available for sale at Happy Frog. For those living out of Coffs Harbour, contact Happy Frog directly (go to the Contact Us link on their webpage https://thehappyfrog.com.au/)

Profits from the sale of this book go to Medecins Sans Frontieres (https://www.msf.org/)