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Urgent Warning!

The Muddled Middle

Middle of what – the American experiment, western civilization, human progress? How about the middle of geologic earth with billions of years yet to come?

Middle-aged for me? Sure, if I live to be 152. Maybe by then, I’ll know what I should know by now.

Perhaps we’re near the middle of global warming (recently called “climate change” in order to make it seem more ambiguous and less alarming). We’re either halfway to halting and reversing it back to familiar and comfortable pre-industrial levels (meaning almost all of human history) or halfway to collective heat death, an unremitting sauna with no cool-down pool.

Middle of the left/right political divide? What middle? As detailed by Jill Lepore (always a skilled and important writer) in the recent New Yorker, hundreds of Russian hackers, and algorithm bots (that automatically promote any extreme position and wild emotion), along with Donald Trump, together made for a news feed feeding over half of the American public, riling up adamant opinion and caustic division that generated astonishing profits no matter how angry, dysfunctional, and ignored it left the American middle.

Their News Feed had become Donald Trump Feed. He spent the most towards political ads there, reaching more than all the tv networks, BuzzFeed, the Washington Post, and the New York Times combined! Hard to think with riled and muddled thoughts.

Not to worry. Zuckerberg and Facebook have hired fifteen thousand “content managers” and thirty-five thousand “security specialists.” They can afford it if we can’t. Facebook is valued at over a trillion dollars – that’s a thousand, thousand million dollars, recently rapidly stuffed fuller during the 2016 election.

Which was “stolen,” or so the barely-aware middle has been repeatedly told. If they don’t know yet, many stations far to the right of the “fair and balanced” Fox News are launched or looming, eager to say what most will then think.

What if the End Times aren’t near, as prophets have oft warned, but the Middle instead?

New times, current times, old times – these are the Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva of our moments, each active all the time. We’re in the middle of our past becoming our future, there with the blessed opportunity to change course. But as J. Krishnamurti cautioned, how do you know what to do when you’re thinking with the past? Memory theory and cognitive bias keep us meager and muddled compared to what the New might be. (Meditation can let us have peeks at the new.)

Must we let Orwell and Huxley steer distopias? Were we so duped by Mussolini’s jutting jaw as to not see Trump posturing likewise? Is government always the problem, even as we elect a party that thinks so and then makes it so? Round the fallen circle we repeatedly fall. Is this an interlude before the next needless war?

Do the Dark Ages persist? Or is this still the dawning of a Renaissance and Enlightenment? Some would scuttle both to push their gut feeling. “The times, they are[n’t] a changin’.”

At the personal, town, region, nation, and world levels, we need to admit to our muddled middle. Hopefully, skillfully, collectively, we’re ready to opt for universal betterment. We have the means. Do we have the will?

__________________

Enough! Unless you want more.

Here are three things I contributed online last month having to do with: leadership, not falling for cherry-picked “facts,” and a long post about my main theological, scriptural, social, and environmental points.

It’s time to praise and support those leaders who improve on “business as usual.” I wrote this about the CARB in California:

I agree. I’m glad my Oregon (and Washington state, and BC Canada) are largely of one progressive mindset trying to address the horrid consequences of continuing to pump ancient sunlight-generated carbon into our formerly pristine but vulnerable skies.

Fires here, rainbombs elsewhere, oceans rising and toxic – humanity needs to stand up to our responsibility/opportunity. Many are trying; we need more.

The CARB (California Air Resources Board) is helping clean up utility generation, set automobile standards, housing, etc. Biden might be able to launch a major transition of what we make and how we live.

Beyond rescuing us from our own mess, it could lead to life being better than ever. Kudos for real American leadership – political, corporate, and individual!

To Cleantechnica on California’s CARB

A Chipwoman tried to minimize the rising temperatures with carefully selected “facts.” I tried to answer her rationally and without snark. Look close at her graph to get what I meant.

chipwoman  Nio62 • 5 days ago

If the record temperatures (56.7 °C) in 1913 in Death Valley were not climate crisis related, then these temperatures are quite normal and have no correlation to carbon emission in the last 100 years.

Or do you think we already had a climate crisis in 1913?

P.S: If your history knowledge is also incomplete. World War 1 startet 1 year after the record temperatures in Death Valley. ;-)

ByronBradley  chipwoman • 5 days ago

In that we humans started ramping up the burning of wood and coal and gas by 1913, I think it is entirely feasible that the front edge of global heating was already contributing to our heating up. Since then, all the worse, especially in the last few decades. I wouldn’t be flip about the impact of it by finding cherry-picked facts that ignore the obvious and ominous temperature trends over vast periods of time. Now that we know why, we’re ethically (and economically and environmentally) wise to change our evil, or at least former, ways.


chipwoman  ByronBradley • 4 days ago • edited

If you check on the available temp data before 1880 you will discover that we had long hot periods before. The climate crisis referenced 1880 was a very cold year compared to some years before 1880.

ByronBradley  chipwoman • 5 minutes ago

Thanks, Chipwoman. England (the chart was for central England, and it was for only a limited time period) gets its own sort of weather, buffered by the gulfstream, etc. Even so, I see a rising temperature in all seasons of your graph for the time period cited, especially starting in the 1950s. Please note the temperature has risen dramatically since the last year of the graph.

7-12-21 in Cleantechnica article forum on the VW id-4

Finally, for this month, I contributed on Cleantechnica an overly long reply to an author asking why evangelicals don’t adopt EVs (Electric Vehicles). Many were trashing them and the Bible.

It dismays me that many are taught to “believe in the Bible.” I’ve tried to read it but throw it down for all the atrocious behaviors there, believed as if sacred, called on as if to sanction any mean or racist behaviors.

However, I love Genesis One (found on page one, if you wanted to look), especially because this first creation story helps solve the sticky problems brought about by the second creation story, Genesis Two/Three’s Garden of Eden story, made worse by Paul, Augustine, Calvin, etc.

Adam and Eve’s so-called “fall” was to fall into judging good and evil like gods. That led to the shame, blame, and pain of humans estranged from each other, their garden, and their god, supposedly needing redemption by believing in a preposterous rescue scheme, no matter how cruel and misleading.

Tertullian advised, “It is to be believed because it is absurd.”  No wonder science stalled for a thousand years, harbored in the Islamic world.  Belief trumps behavior. Be good by believing, don’t think, and obey.

But Genesis One, for all the gripes about the absurdity of all of natural cosmic and biologic creation taking only six days, earlier solves the confusion about good and evil.

Those “days” could be thought of as eras, stages, coincidently similar to science’s theory of cosmic and natural evolution. Light, water, land, plants, animals, and humans are each literally called “good” by God. And taken all together, S’he says it is “very good.”

I agree.

As to the problematic word “dominion,” it doesn’t have to mean a mean king exploiting his kingdom, as too many kings have tended to do, it might better be read as “sovereign.” Human earthlings have agency, ability, and potentially could be creative, cooperative stewards.

We dominate now, but how, and to what ends? What if we were to live up to our inherent intelligence, conscience, and aesthetics towards those original goods we’re built of?

Finally, missing from Waterworth’s short summary was the conveniently overlooked instruction in Genesis One to “replenish the earth.” Would that we would!

With science, we’ve recently unpacked the workings of the distant cosmos and the interrelated wonders of this good earth. We could replenish the soils, forests, and oceans, systematically make them better every year. We could rise to our human abilities, as persons and as a culture. We could live into our inherent inclination towards the good of all. We would devise ways to meet our needs cleanly and endlessly via solar, wind, and other means and choose to drive electric cars because they’re better for us all.

I suspect evangelicals would also agree.

Scriptures don’t create reality, but in that they’re believed, they have power. Though humanistic, I’ve been in the religion business for 50 years. Religion can be a wasteful, misleading realm, and it can be salvific in realistic ways. Whatever the religions do or don’t, we’ve a planet to rescue, restore, advance, and enjoy. Let the billionaires toy with space. For now, there is nowhere else to go. We need to treasure our precarious biosphere.

I’ve enjoyed Cleantechnica for years precisely because it is a place where many are trying to do their good. Thanks for reading this overly long forum contribution; it is the core of my life’s efforts. I would welcome dialog on this from evangelicals, atheists, and anyone interested – here on this forum or at my web site, www.earthlyreligion.com.

7-21-21 to Cleantechnica article on Evangelicals and EVs

As usual, hardly anyone gets or is interested in my Genesis One thesis. I feel like Van Gogh unsuccessfully trying to sell paintings that later will bring millions.

Or perhaps I’m inflating myself. I’m really more like Einstein. He liked women and had messy hair, much like me. He also tried for a single unifying theory, much like me. He knew we had stumbled into precarious times, much like me.

A Steve Miller song (no, not the Steven Miller who haunts Trumpian circles!) comes to mind:

I’m stuck in the middle with you . . .

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right.

Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.

Steve Miller Band

Byron Carrier

Byron has been using his writing and public speaking to engage, challenge and inspire audiences for over 40 years. Reverend Carrier's mission is to rescue and revive our earthly Eden, including our human worth and potential. If you enjoy his work, consider supporting him with Patreon.

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