October 5, 2020
Grief is a tricky thing. The death of someone we love is a pain we all feel, at some point. Losing a childhood home, or some other location that helped to shape us causes a different kind of grief. For some, features of the landscape can be as important to us as an old friend, or a relative who was there for us since we were born.
But unlike humans, the land endures, and we can find connection in walking the same paths frequented by those we’ve lost, or those who died before we could meet them. We can drink from the same stream as a personal hero, or stand on the same peak as an ancestor. We can add a stone to a cairn, as countless others have done, and know that long after we die, other people will contribute to that same simple, collective effort. Some of them might even be our children, or the children of our friends, or students.
The permanence of the world, relative to ourselves, is a form of conceptual immortality. It’s a continuity with the past, and with the future.
And now it’s changing.
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Thank you for listening, and take care of yourselves.
September 16, 2020
When it comes to climate change, the actions of individual people, and even individual nations, are close to meaningless without global solidarity to deal with the emissions and destructive behavior of multnational corporations.
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August 31, 2020
The realities of our warming world mean that there are hard times ahead. We're facing challenges unlike anything humanity has ever encountered, and we're going to have to change how we do almost everything.
That is not an excuse to give up, and anyone who says it is, is lying.
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August 24, 2020
Of the many ways in which climate change is already affecting our lives, agriculture is probably the most dangerous.
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August 16, 2020
Using only words on paper (or a screen, or braille), how do you generate a feeling of surprised elation? How do you make someone feel hope? It’s easy to write about someone feeling those things, but to actually reliably make a reader feel them seems more difficult, at least for me. Satisfaction, awe, comfort, the feeling of doing something for the first time – humanity is blessed with a nearly endless spectrum of ways to experience the world, and some of them are very difficult to replicate outside of simply living the events that create them.
In my experience, the easiest ones are things like fear and disgust. Our reactions to threats are pretty universal, and pretty near the surface because they generally come from a need for some immediate action. Get away from the scary thing. Wash off the gross thing. It could hurt us. It could make us sick. Pretty much everybody has had some version of those feelings, and they tend to generate strong memories.
That means they’re also very easy to use in politics. It’s why various forms of fear-mongering tend to work so well, and why there’s so much focus on what some like to call “base instincts” or “primal instincts”. Triggering emotional states that demand immediate action puts other instincts and needs on hold, and if you can maintain those feelings in a group of people, it’s far easier to get them to move in the direction that you claim will make those feelings go away. It’s a nasty tactic, because it always works, and because there are real problems in the world.
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