Skip to main content

Why such a long silence?

I am guilty of not writing for almost five months, and I feel bad.  Teaching, being a department chair, a fundraiser in chief, getting major research contracts started, trying to write those papers, appear in public, etc., while remodeling my home and trying to spend some time with my family and friends did this to me.

And then I had to remind myself that I must think positively, so that I would not scare my readers and listeners more than necessary.  There has been enough bad news and failures around us, people are stunned and scared, and the last thing they need is more scaremongering.  Let's leave it to Newt.

On the opposite extreme, I was really unnerved by the sunshine forecasts of ever-increasing hydrocarbon production and prosperity in the U.S.  - with no extra effort. These forecasts are based on self-serving delusions, denial and ignorance, and are incredibly dangerous to the well-being of our great country. 

So how do I become a reassuring guide, who at the same time does not avoid  exposing the guided to difficult and very scary truths?

My problem is not new. Here is the end of Canto II of Inferno by Dante Alighieri, written in the year 1300, or so.  Dante is willing himself to learn about Hell first hand and losing his courage at the very beginning.   He is rescued, and he has this to say about regaining courage and power of will:

Such I became with my exhausted strength,
  And such good courage to my heart there coursed,
  That I began, like an intrepid person:
"O she compassionate, who succoured me,
  And courteous thou, who hast obeyed so soon
  The words of truth which she addressed to thee!
Thou hast my heart so with desire disposed
  To the adventure, with these words of thine,
  That to my first intent I have returned.
Now go, for one sole will is in us both,
  Thou Leader, and thou Lord, and Master thou."
  Thus said I to him; and when he had moved,
I entered on the deep and savage way.

(Succoured means helped or aided.)

Trying to be a Dante's student, this is what I said in an interview for The Nation.  I think that's a good start.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A Requiem for the Beautiful Earth

First, let me remind you that a pessimist is an optimist who shed his delusions and denial, and educated himself. Please keep this in mind, if you continue reading. If you don't, that's fine too. You will remain in your blissful bubble of denial and ignorance, which are the dominant genetic traits of most denizens of the fossil superorganism. Please understand that many democratically elected governments know very well about your truth aversion and are making best use of it.

Imagine now that your favorite airline offers a vacation package to a world-class city like the one shown below. That city is Beijing. China is the rising economic superpower that will collapse rather immediately, because there is not enough of the environment left to protect her 1.4 billion people from disease and death. But before China collapses, she will suck dry most of the world that remains. The brutal global competition for resources may precipitate a war between China and US.

By the way, a famous …

All is well on our planet Earth, isn't it?

Please don't act with surprise when I say this: The global climate change is real; global warming is accelerating, especially in the northern hemisphere; and the positive feedbacks that will further exacerbate human condition are kicking in with vengeance.  I am stating the scientifically obvious, but I have not made it clear yet just how bad this climate change will be for us humans. For millennia, we have relied on the "free" environmental services that are going away.  These life-giving services are clean air to breathe, fertile soil, mild temperatures, healthy forests and savannas, healthy rivers, lakes, seas and oceans, sufficient rain, full aquifers, clean drinking water, and ample snowpacks.  When you are in China, in the Middle East, or in Central Valley in California, most or all of these services are either damaged or gone.

Let's fast forward to a recent article under this promising title: Climate report understates threat. This article was written by Dr.…

A Very Brief History of Humans

Have you wondered recently what makes us humans do what we do? Have you pondered why can we be so beautiful at times and act like crazed savages at other times?

Why, for example, President Donald J. Trump, who swore to defend the laws of my United States and to protect our Constitution, is glowing about two Confederate generals?

During the bloody civil war of 1861-1865, the Union of northern states declared loyalty to the U.S. Constitution, while the southern Confederacy fought to destroy my country and keep the savage slavery going.  So how can a U.S. president praise the two major traitors, who fought against everything we stand for and against the U.S. Constitution?

Perhaps human history and nature can give us clues.  So who are we?

Humans are large omnivores, whose ecological niche is to reset (remove mass from) the environment in which they roam. A human requires about 4 square km to roam freely in small egalitarian bands in their natural settings.

Humans are ultra-social ani…