Building the New Imaginary

Here’s an interesting article about imagining a world beyond consumerism by Jonathon Rowson.  The piece makes distinctions about consumption versus consumerism that I think are helpful.  A critical element to the piece and its impact is the imaginary defined by Sam Earle as follows:

“the encompassing paradigm of ideas, beliefs and practices that makes society possible.”

and goes on to explain:

“The imaginary is not ‘the system’, it’s not ‘the culture’, it’s not ‘the ideology’ — it is our experience of navigating all of these things in search of a sense of acceptable behaviour and desirable forms of life. We are stuck in a consumerist imaginary and it is very hard to see a way out of it because we see through it.”

a few highlights from the piece:

“remember that consumerism as usual is just not an option full stop. If nothing else, consumerism drives our use of fossil fuels, which are the preeminent cause of climate change, a pre-competitive issue for everyone: no viable planet”

Important baseline consideration.  Change is coming.  We can work on change or be run over by change.

Read the article if you have a few minutes.  It’s full of interesting ideas and suggestions.  Maybe it will expand your imaginary slightly.

last quote from the piece:  “As Pablo Picasso once put it: “Everything you can imagine is real.” To which I would add: but only everything you can imagine.”

How are we doing on CO2?

good piece at WAPO with excellent presentation and explanation from Peter Tans.

Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is rising at the fastest rate ever recorded

“For the second year in a row, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have climbed at a record pace. According to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, carbon dioxide levels jumped by three parts per million in both 2015 and 2016 and now rest at about 405 parts per million

… the new NOAA measurements further indicate that carbon dioxide levels are only continuing to grow — and they’re rising at breakneck speed.

It may be a little confusing to consider this news alongside other recent reports, which suggest that global carbon emissions caused by human activity have actually remained fairly flat for the past three years. The fact is, even if emissions have remained pretty stable in recent years, humans are still pouring billions of tons of greenhouse gases into the air each year.

And even if these emission levels really are starting to plateau — and it will be years before we can say whether that’s actually the case, or whether the recent flattening is just a blip on an otherwise upward trend — they’re still evening out at an all-time high, after decades of climbing. Additionally, carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for a long time, Tans noted. This means that new carbon dioxide emissions have a cumulative effect, adding to emissions that were already there.

“So record-high CO2 emissions, even though they stay flat, translates directly into a record-high CO2 increase” in the atmosphere, he said.

Because carbon dioxide hangs around for so long, we’ll be feeling the warming effects of this year’s jump in concentration years in the future — even if we stopped all our greenhouse gas emissions today. And Tans added that it’s not only atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide that we have to worry about, but also oceanic levels as well.”

Don’t worry, be happy!