Introducing…Derrick Jensen

This blogging malarkey is not easy! It’s hard to find the inspiration to write, not that I haven’t tried or that nothing much has happened. On 4 August, we had the joyous news that “three-quarters of the oil from the Deepwater Horizon leak has already evaporated, dispersed, been captured or otherwise eliminated — and that much of the rest is so diluted that it does not seem to pose much additional risk of harm.” Oh, that’s OK then! I wonder at what point ‘dilute’ oil stops entering the food chain? Up whose nostrils did the evaporated oil go? Have the thousands of gallons of dispersants dispersed? And I assume the captured oil will be burned at some point or is it too contaminated with water, meaning it has to be treated (hopefully) and dumped somewhere? I firmly believe that the ecological impacts of this disaster are legion and will carry on for many years, possibly reaching the Atlantic Ocean. The only question is whether we’ll hear about it. Despite being a cynic, the way we accept such bullshit stories never ceases to amaze me. But the media only reports on a tiny fraction of the environmental destruction wreaking havoc across the globe. Yes, the Gulf of Mexico incident was awful but the occurrence of dead zones in waters around the world is steadily increasing. Prior to the 1940s there were less than 25 known dead zones and now there are over 400. Not to mention the incomprehensible floating rafts of plastic waste which grace the world’s oceans. Meanwhile, here on land, we have ever-increasing deforestation, mining, landfills, and the general concretification of nature as if there was no alternative…

OK, I digress (that’s another problem: once I start…). Anyway, four days after we learned that the Gulf of Mexico is all better now, Matt Simmons died suddenly, apparently of a heart attack. Matt wrote Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy, drawing attention to the unreliability of Middle East oil reserves & arguing that the Saudi nation’s oil reserves were nearing their highest levels of production. More recently, he had me a little worried with his “nuke Macondo” stance (no, really, 8 minutes in) but he will be missed. Then, on 1 September, we learned that a study by a German military think tank has analyzed how peak oil might change the global economy. Two months earlier was the Chatham House report on Sustainable Energy Security. Much of the world’s media picked up on these, and similar reports, but so what? There have been reports on peak oil since 1956, when M. King Hubbert made his famous presentation yet many still argue, even in the US, that it’s a distraction to tackling climate change or a conspiracy to stop the rich from getting richer (if only there was such a conspiracy!). The fact that we are turning to tar sands and shale gas as alternatives makes it clear, to me at least, that we are not going to change any time soon, no matter how many reports are written.

So, I have several unfinished posts sitting in a folder somewhere.  It’s hard to know what gets people commenting & debating the issues and it’s hard not to find it all a bit pointless. However, it is amazing to see that people are still looking at this site, despite almost 2 months of silence! So today, I’m going to post about someone I discovered recently, who I am sure some of you will find controversial enough to comment on – Derrick Jensen. Derrick is an activist, very humourous speaker and the author of Endgame and several other books, and I challenge you to listen to him. There’s video footage of Derrick here but as that’s 2 hours of your life, you can get a taster here, where he talks about the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Derrick argues that this culture will soon collapse because of the damage being done to the planet (I can’t argue with that). He argues that we are members of the most destructive culture ever to exist (yup!) and that our assault on the natural world, on indigenous and other cultures, on women and children is unprecedented in magnitude and ferocity. Derrick’s work and life revolve around these questions: Why do we act as we do? What are sane and effective responses to outrageously destructive behavior? What will it take for us to stop the horrors that characterize our way of being? All excellent questions which I have certainly pondered more than once.

For me, the challenge is not how he perceives the world but his attitude to non-violent direct action, which I believe to be a valid response to what’s going on. Not so, according to Derrick, who does an excellent alternative Star Wars. While pacifism has its place, we need much more active resistence. He talks about the need to bring down civilisation. Yes, that does sound a bit drastic but let’s break that down. He defines ‘civilisation’ as any way of life characterised by the growth of cities and he defines ‘cities’ as people living in numbers large enough to require the importation of resources (taken from a recording in Vancouver – scroll down site – keep going & you’ll find the alternative Star Wars!). By ‘bringing down civilisation’ he means depriving the rich of the ability to steal from the poor which is, after all, the history of empire. All wealth comes from natural resources – people, animals, plants, land, minerals, water – we have nothing other than this Earth to sustain us and we are killing it. How should we respond to that? Yes, Derrick’s got my internal pacifist feeling like a pussy. So enjoy, or not, and let me know!

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About The Cheery Pessimist

Waiting for some sign that we will change our ways before it all comes tumbling down...still, you've got to laugh
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One Response to Introducing…Derrick Jensen

  1. Margaret says:

    ‘the way we accept such bullshit stories never ceases to amaze me’

    Aye. Being lucky to have lots of time I can dig into things – mind boggling, inspiring, and horrifying all rolled up into one!

    Time is a problem. Eight hours at work, add in the commute, sorting dinner and you end up with a population who has no interest in digging around let alone find the time.

    Our education system is a problem. I can’t ever remember anyone ever discussing with me the techniques used by the media and how to interpret what is really being said, or how to find ‘reality’. Strangely, they made me spend two years in art class – such a waste of my time! Even worse, I reckon most people think learning is for children and students. Once you are out of school or out of university, they seem to think “that’s it! No more learning! Hurray!”, or at least that’s how I see way too people behave.

    I’m tempted to advocate chucking out all tellies, but when else would I ever get another chance to glimpse the lives of chimpanzees, gorillas or an ant colony?

    Our democracy is a problem. Who sat any of us down and explained what democracy is? I don’t remember that ever happening. No one ever explained to me how it really works, other than I had to vote! Why are our politicians even allowed to lie or mis-represent anything to us? They wouldn’t get away with that in a court? So why can they get away with it ‘on duty’?

    I keep thinking that there are more and more people around who have came out of University and that gives me hope. Then I remember the number of marketing graduates who haven’t ever heard of Chomsky! Now if I understand marketing=propaganda (what’s the approximate sign on a keyboard? Is it ≈?) and Chomsky spends a lot of time writing critiques of the latest bit of propaganda, then how come marketing graduates don’t know?

    Then I throw my hands in the air and act like Private James Frazer.

    We’re Doomed!

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