Tuesday 21st of January 2020

Why I've Given Up

Yesterday a friend sent me, via email, an article from ‘The Times Online’ which reveals that scientists have made observations that confirm that the Gulf Stream is slowing, as predicted. Bad news indeed. But it hasn’t had the same effect on me as it might have had a week or so ago. You see,  I've reached the point where I no longer believe the human race has a right to survive on this planet.


A friend who is just finishing his Environmental Science degree at Southern Cross Uni told me the other day that 'they' have decided to top up Sydney's failing water supply by taking 50% of the Nepean's environmental flow.


Now, I've known for a while that humans are basically thick. But when more votes are to be had by allowing your constituents to water their lawn with a hose than in protecting their future and that of countless thousands of creatures that rely on the Nepean for their very existence then the human race has demonstrated stupidity that should and must be rewarded with its own extinction.


I've cut back on my activism. It was inevitable. My partner would keep saying to me, "Why are you struggling so hard to save the human race ... just let it die out, as it deserves to." I finally have to agree with him.


I no longer rejoice when I hear young couples say there's a baby on the way. A cold chill grips my heart. I can't help thinking what these parents are likely to be subjecting their unborn offspring to in such a fragile and uncertain future. I'm not even sure the world is going to remain a comfortable place for us cossetted Westerners during my own lifetime and I'm just about to turn 58.


I shall be relieved if my three adult offspring never present me with grandchildren. I would always be seeing the shadow of the future lying over them as they grew and be very afraid for them.


Things are conspiring to make me much more interested in my antecedents and where I and my DNA have come from. Luckily, being interested in Dark Ages and Medieval historical re-enactment and having just found a strong family link to a ruling dynasty around 500 AD, I am getting a great deal of pleasure from looking backwards instead of forwards.


Watching TV last night, the’Star Wars’ theme music came on. Suddenly in my mind there was this weird link between the chain-mailed knights of the distant past, wielding their massive two-handed swords, and the Jedi brandishing their light sabres. I felt suddenly 'homesick' for the past. Not that I have a great yearning to undergo the privations of such an early time but that, stuck in the present, I have a feeling we're plummeting too fast and with too much momentum into an frightening future. No matter how many activists there are trying to turn the juggernaut around I fear their failure is already assured.


David Suzuki held a lecture tour in Australia for the launch of his book "The Wisdom of the Elders". It must have been around 1992 or 1993. He said then that his observations had led him to calculate that the world had just ten years to turn around the environmental situation or we'd reach the point of no return.


In my opinion, we've not only reached that point, it passed us by, unnoticed by most … just as the beginning of the third millenium clicked over when most of us weren't looking as a result of a calendar miscalculation by Dionysius Exiguus.


My only comforting thought is that even the rich and powerful aren't going to buy themselves out of THIS one.




Give up? Never.

Dear Cloud,

It's hard to disagree with much of what you have written. And I don't want to. I too worry about my kids and their kids but they don't see it the same way I do. They see what we probably saw when we were young with a family starting. We saw hope, a future and life.

We still do, it's just obscured by what is happening in our society. You say you have given up, but maybe you have just given up one sort of activity which has worn you out with little perceived result. You have said you have found other interests and that is hope. History has all the lessons we need if only our so called leaders would heed the past.

Much as we may or may not like it we are our parents and our children are us. Slightly different version of course but much alike. There's a line in a movie called " Jumanji " where the main character disappeared at about age 10 from his family into a jungle for thirty years or so. A fantasy story based on a board game. When the main character was rescued from the years spent growing up by himself in the jungle he had a series of adventures but one line he had was spot on for me. He said words to this effect " 30 years in the jungle and I'm still my father ".

Don't know why that came to mind, just something about your interest in heritage I think. No great point, nothing deep.

Maybe it's just time for you to look after yourself first and regather your strength. Either way you are here Cloud and that tells me something too. I think that is that you still do hope even if you don't have hope.

I hope and dream and have just joined the battle so I am fresh and ready to stand. Take a break and just focus on you while others have a go. When we're worn out maybe you will be able to have another go. But sit here with us too please.

Best to you.


Cloud, your reaction is utterly understandable, and I often share it. I've posted to similar effect here and on Webdiary a couple of times, usually just after some particularly disgusting piece of news (of which there are so many) had breached.


Some time ago I had a brief email correspondence with a group of Bolivian activists. These people were far more practically committed in their attempts to effect political change than I ever have been, in far more difficult circumstances. When I expressed this kind of dismay to them, and asked them how on earth they could summon the motivation and hope needed to continue their activities, the response I got was to this effect: "You politically-active people from rich countries are  basically fighting for your convictions, but for us every fight -- for water, to improve our environment -- every one is part of a daily fight for survival." 


I think that's true. We feel defeated because we are wealthy enough, and the threats to us seem relatively distant enough, that we have the option to be quietistic and just live our normal, mostly pleasant, lives. Many people worldwide don't have this option, because nothing resembling a decent 'normal life' is available to them.


There's no moral to this. I still oscillate.

new life

Dear Cloud, don't be so down on yourself. If you think you are overdoing the worrying about the world, well just say lovely things to your neighbours and friends. Show them that you are the wonderful person you are.

My father used to say two wrongs don't make it right.  So when some one hurts you, just smile. Always let them know who you vote for, don't be afraid to always say what is right for the country perhaps someone may listen and repeat it, and so it goes around.  I am going to be a  grandmother I only found out 2 days ago and I am so happy because this child is coming in to a loving and kind family and so would your grandchildren. We set the example and I am sure they follow.

So chin up and just have a rest from it for a while. I like to do a lot of cross stitch quilting and embroidery and work in my garden. I said I was not going to comment on this line any more for some time but I read your piece and I was concerned about you, and I know where you are coming from. Just be happy you are a good person, and when you feel like saying more about the world do it then, in the meantime have rest from it and  do your own thing. I can really recomend quilting,  the fabric and colours that you put together remind us of the goodness that is out there,  there are so many good people in this world really when you think about it.  take that break and think of yourself for a while put your self first the trouble is a lot of people who worry about the world don't do that, it is time for you.

The More Negative We Are the More Positive We Blow Up

Andrea Dworkin once observed in a tongue-in-cheek fashion that men knew everything… no matter how stupid or inexperienced or arrogant or ignorant they were ... 'The tyranny of the majority is even more pronounced when the minority in question repudiates not just the majority's opinion, but the social contract as such. The failure of the democrats to adequately resolve this predicament is considered a significant flaw in democracy.' Does Democracy have Weaknesses? It has been said you can live your life one of two ways. The first is through trial & error, and the second is through other people's experiences. We should aim not to create great events but to make small ones count as life is full of wonder, curiosity and hope ... Reading about other generations before us we know that every negative little event can be changed into positive ... Jozef Virtual Reference

Some Negative Stories Do Bug Me Though ...

Only after the last tree has been cut down, only after the last fish has been caught, only after the last river has been poisoned, only then will you realize that money cannot be eaten. - Cree Saying. This is one of those sayings I keep in my favourite photo album together with newspaper clippings which expose the shallowness of certain reckless characters ... Bush Aide Softened Greenhouse Gas Links to Global Warming Our Changing Planet For those who do not subscribe to the NYTimes consider using the following Login details for www.nytimes.com bugmenot87 bugmenot (courtesy of 'bug me not' website) Jozef Virtual Reference

The End Game: all else is basketweaving

In case anyone missed it ... and absolutely NO-ONE should miss it ... listening to this interview is a must:

Late Night Live, Monday Sept 12, with Tim Flannery

(interview can be listened to online or downloaded as MP3/podcast)

While I was very grateful for the compassionate response to my posting "Why I've given up", and I sincerely thank those respondents, the 'warm fuzzies' I got (and the therapeutic putting-up-of-feet) have done nothing to change my mind about the fact that every other forum on this web page is merely concerned with re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

While you're reading this, the permafrost is melting. And if you think that doesn't concern you, may I gently but urgently suggest you do some reading on the subject.