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(Coffee) Bar Talk on Climate and Love

Love is just a conversation piece these days but I suppose even if you believe these are end-times as an old wise friend of mine in Chinatown who I spoke to this morning after a long worry (not seeing him in the year of lockdown) I suppose a good convo still has its price in emotion. Things fall apart, probably a great novel, but definitely a good title. Arriving at the clubhouse with a book by and/or about Dr. Martin Luther King, who some have forgotten because of later developments, but certainly not I, I was struck by the caption from The New Yorker on the work edited by Clayborne Carson, “illuminates the intellectual underpinnings of King’s courage,” because intellectual underpinnings of courage will be playing a huge role in the leadership of the International Clubhouse Movement in mitigation, adaptation and destructive grief, stress and doubt caused by a damaged and hotly reactive planet. Love was Martin Luther King’s favorite conversation piece.

My goal in this note is to address an intellectual strategy for focusing on the issues most important to our decision-makers and advisors, if they are of sound mind and intending to protect Our Commonwealth. It is important to understand that this includes a recounting of truly fierce opposition presented by my old, resourceful, tradition-minded friend whose scholarly valor is firmly placed in our Cold War heritage. I want to develop his arguments as well because there is a great deal of power in the framework he admits to be defeatist. He states firmly it is too late, the feedback loops are already catastrophic and there are no jobs to meet the disaster of climate refugees. I will, to your interest, I hope, return to his points.

First, I want to potboil a sample of my so-called naive idealism, the paragraph I was working on throughout my bus ride into Seattle from Tacoma. This should provide the relief in which he presented his somewhat furious and caustic reply. I am engrossed in identifying the ideals and realities of climate action ~ persons so engaged in this subject are liable to feel very defeated when comparing what is possible with what is actually being done. Nevertheless, it seems wise to compare the two things and work from what is actually happening. Accordingly, I am sleuthing out topical papers that address the stark realities of where we are starting from in the hopes of focusing arguments where persuasion is necessary and identifying areas of potential improvement based on available resources and services. Any assistance in this would be appreciated.

My bakery companion argues forcefully that there are no jobs for seven billion people on the planet and that migrations could be in the tens of millions. That, he says, is what they are fighting about in Germany, Spain, France and Greece, to name a few countries more readily accessed by refugees than America. He has, he confessed, wrestled with the problem night and day for 20 years. My retort was that for example one reason parents worked hard at traditional Cold War jobs was to acquire an education for their children. Education is easier to come by these days so they don’t have to work as hard. Further, many of us are less structured around planet-destroying industries and more interested in living and enhancing ecological preservation zones. Some of the most workable ideas sound very radical, like cities without cars, but more to the point we have a lot we have achieved and it's time to pull the emergency brake and take a good look at things we have overlooked.

To do this, I would suggest is not that new of an enterprise. For example, the issues of migration and trade are firmly rooted in labor. Climate refugees in other words are not something past experience doesn’t anticipate. Most people would agree that a conscious decision takes place in the moment one either welcomes and humanizes or rejects and victimizes another person. I come from Pittsburgh where the Mayor strongly favors helping refugees and the Housing Authority has tremendous investment in children and their opportunities for learning. They disallow emotional ghettos of the sort to which the poor and alien are often consigned rather than in favor of welcome. The city also has a notorious pride of birthplace and its own form of language, accent, pronunciation and cultural bias. Even among fabulously talented rewilders, who turn acreage of desolation into paradise, the word phytoremediation can ring like, huhn? By what assimilation does that become a word you want to say when drunk?

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