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Common Sense and Ideology

Posted by on Aug 25, 2011 in Ecology | 32 comments

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Lately I came across some some op-eds, which made me think, that some people feel the change in the air. It was a short spark of hope, perhaps now we all get to a public discussion get going, about how to organize our journey into the future.

This spark ignites every once in while, but is soon burned out. It started this time with Thomas L. Friedmann and his op-ed the Earth is Full (1) in the New York Times June 7, 2011, in which he refers to a future society, were consumption is reduced and people will rather live a happy oriented life instead of a society with consumption in constant overdrive as to become a danger to nature and might be an important contributor to Climate Change. A little later I read an article, NYT, June 23, 2011 by Matthieu Ricard (2), who has been trained as a scientist but instead went to the Himalayas to a simple live of contemplation. He makes an interesting point in the article The Future Doesn’t Hurt. Most people on earth live in cities. There, in an artificial environment, the changes in the Climate and in Nature are not as evident as, for instance, in the Himalayas.

On the June 7, 2011 Robert Bryce (3) published a piece called The Gas is Greener. He argues, that alternative Energy is more expensive than natural gas. This was answered by Sam Borgeson and Kevin Fingerman in the National Geographic website, July 5, 2011. The article Correcting Faulty Math on Renewable Energy (4) was posted by Daniel Kammen of World Bank. In it the authors try to refute Mr. Bryce.

Mr. Desmond Tutu was already a topic for a post in this website. On the June 21. 2011 he wrote on the Huffpost Religion about Our Glorious Diversity (6). Also Al Gore wrote in The Rolling Stone, June 22, 2011, about the Climate of Denial (6). He basically recommends, what we, at Nesseq, always advocate, get organized in order to be able to apply pressure on politics and economy.

As already mentioned, the spark of hope, seizing me burnt out pretty quick and left me in darkness. What can possibly come of all those eloquent articles? I also remembered that we come again to the time of the year, where the pundits and specialists meet somewhere in a fancy place, somewhere on earth to discuss Climate Change and Sustainable Development.

It seems to me, that the reason why we are not getting past the point of talking is, that a clear idea of where we want to get and how to do it is missing. All the afore mentioned articles have one thing in common, they express a certain fear and a hope, but no one talks about practical steps what could be done. OK, Mr. Friedman and Mr. Ricard talk about, that in the future we will all have to be content with owning less. But how this will affect the capitalist society is left out of the contemplations. To change a society without clear goals is dangerous. Chaos might reign!

It seems that a Ideology, which defines the goals and the way how to achieve the goal is in order. According to Wikipedia (7), a ideology is a set of ideas that constitutes one’s goals, expectations, and actions. This is exactly what is needed in such times of uncertainty. What is important before such a ideology is formulated is, that the ecological ideology must be based on common sense. If the present ideology of capitalism, which is based on More, Faster, Higher, than the new ideas must be based on the opposite. Slower, Less and not as High as now. Some people will say, that it is not proven whether the Climate Change is caused by man or not and therefore we do not have to change our way of live. The reply to this assertion is a short one.

No one in his right mind can deny the possibility of a Climate Change. If it is caused by man, the solution is a simple one.

We have to change our way of live. If the Climate Change is part of a natural cycle, the challenge is much more serious. No one can tell how deep the oscillation of this cycle will go. Therefore it is our responsibility to get prepared for the very worst-case scenario. Capitalism is not able to adept to such possibilities and for the impending changes in society we need a ideology!

At last I want to express a deep seated fear, ideologies have the peculiarity of outliving history. It has to be clear that a ideology have only a tentative task. A historical situation must be changed and for this a ideology is needed. As soon as the problem is dissolved the ideology must be discarded. To fail to do so, and history is full of gruesome examples, the public has to suffer. It can only be hoped, that the time we need a ecological ideology will be short.


For further reading:

1. The Earth is Full

2. The Future Doesn’t Hurt. Yet.

3. The Gas Is Greener

4. Correcting Faulty Math on Renewable Energy

5. D. Tutu on

6. Our Glorious Diversity

7. Ideology

Picture courtesy of Sam Mugraby




Thomas Paine – Common Sense

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