Bird’s Eye: So why hope? You’ve just read four sections about how the US has turned mad abroad, and tyrannical at home, how the Israeli government is at best incompetent or mad (At worst? Both.), how the shadow of the Holocaust looms over us, and now I suggest hope? Absolutely. Orion Magazine has a longish piece suggesting the direction out of the US pit, and Uri Avnery, founder of Gush Shalom, writes about why he remains an optimist and why you should be too. And Forbes shows a realistic possible solution to the energy/ global warming crisis. Yes those were btter pills above, but now it’s sweet dessert. You’ve earned it. Have a second helping of hope… no calories, either.
* America the Possible: A Manifesto, Part I James Gustave Speth Orion Magazine (Thanks, Gabe!)
What is now desperately needed is transformative change in the system itself. To deal successfully with all the challenges America now faces, we must therefore complement reform with at least equal efforts aimed at transformative change to create a new operating system that routinely delivers good results for people and planet.
At the core of this new operating system must be a sustaining economy based on new economic thinking and driven forward by a new politics. The purpose and goal of a sustaining economy is to provide broadly shared prosperity that meets human needs while preserving the earth’s ecological integrity and resilience—in short, a flourishing people and a flourishing nature. That is the paradigm shift we must now seek.
I believe this paradigm shift in the nature and operation of America’s political economy can be best approached through a series of interacting, mutually reinforcing transformations—transformations that attack and undermine the key motivational structures of the current system, transformations that replace these old structures with new arrangements needed for a sustaining economy and a successful democracy.
* Confessions of an Optimist Uri Avnery Counterpunch
Some time ago I bumped into the writer Amos Oz at a wedding and we talked about this curiosity, my optimism. He said that he was a pessimist. Being a pessimist, he said, was a win-win situation. If things turn to the better, you are happy. If things get worse, you are still happy, because you have been right all along.
The trouble with pessimism, I told him, was that it leads nowhere. Pessimism relieves you of any urge to do something. If things are going to get worse anyhow, why bother? Pessimism is a comfortable attitude. It even allows you to be contemptuous of the optimists, who still struggle for a better world. Optimism is for simpletons.
But this is exactly what it’s all about. Only optimists can struggle. If you don’t believe in a better world, a better country, a better society, you can’t fight for them. You can only sit in your armchair in front of the TV, tut-tutting at the stupidity of the human race, and particularly your own people, and feel superior.
Shifting the world’s reliance on fossil fuels to renewable energy sources is important, certainly. But the world’s best chance for achieving timely, disaster-averting climate change may actually be a vegetarian diet, according to a recent report in World Watch Magazine.
“The entire goal of today’s international climate objectives can be achieved by replacing just one-fourth of today’s least eco-friendly food products with better alternatives,” co-author Robert Goodland, a former World Bank Group environmental advisor wrote….A widely cited 2006 report estimated that 18% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions were attributable to cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, camels, pigs and poultry. However, analysis performed by Goodland, with co-writer Jeff Anhang, an environmental specialist at the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation, found that figure to now more accurately be 51%.
Consequently, state the pair, replacing livestock products with meat alternatives would “have far more rapid effects on greenhouse gas emissions and their atmospheric concentrations — and thus on the rate the climate is warming — than actions to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy.”