“The lessons learned from unanticipated accidents at three different nuclear power plants should reassure us of what? That future unanticipated problems with other nuclear power plants won’t be serious? That engineers have acquired clearer foresight and the potentially catastrophic risks of nuclear power generation have been eliminated? That once the utility companies see that the goal of maximizing profit has led to unacceptable levels of risk they will stop maximizing profits? That complex systems that create risk can be made safe with more complexity? That there will never be another “normal accident”, the term coined for failure that can be understood in hindsight but cannot be predicted because of the complexity of the system? And don’t forget that the problem of the safety of nuclear waste storage has never been solved. We’ve made our point.”
grasping the nettle.
A forthright & highly philosophical confrontation with the encircling climate catastrophe. Gentle, composed & extremely reasonable, it stares down one of the most distressing & minacious events with a calm humanity & even occasional humour.
Authored by two senior academics with a long history in the terrain, the book argues more with a careful, hyper-rational & almost overly-considerate tone, eschewing the data bludgeoning & cavalcade of terrifying (but all real) statistics & fallout metrics that generally soak the subject.
It is a different approach, & very much a valid one.
Reading the hardcore, front line & non-ameliorated reporting & predictions on climate catastrophe, tipping points & collapse is extremely troubling indeed.
To be honest, the in-depth, really grim assessment, no punches pulled stuff detailing the worst elements are probably only really analysed & confronted by a small community, as the implications are just so extreme, frightening & demoralising.
I was bracing for this book to be a lot harsher.
These guys aren’t shirking or sugaring it at all, but they have decided to be as pragmatic & composed on the extremity, & accept the emergency rather than detailing its specific horrors & the avalanche of facts that underscore it.
As they reiterate, they are neither nihilists, defeatists, misanthropes nor accelerationists – & they are not saying that the deal is foreclosed & the casket confirmed in an absolutist sense.
What ensues is an exceptionally careful & non-panicked exploration & evaluation drawing on a rich system of sources & methodology.
It is not strictly academic by any means, preferring a much more open, myriad & cross-discipline modal of appointment to struggle for solutions & escapology (they would prefer the term “mitigation” as they don’t think we are avoiding “it”).
Reading wise this makes the material much more engrossing, but it is also valid for bringing another approach to the “multiple cascading crisis” they describe.
“technological fundamentalism,” – This fundamentalism is a religious style faith in the ability of societiies to solve problems with high energy and high technology, including the problems created by past use of that energy and technology.”
it is revealing that the same scammer advocating such perfect panaceas are those that would benefit financially on a humongous scale from the very replacement & reliance on the new technological fixes they sell as salvation.
Could the con be any more naked?
“extend and pretend”.
“Human capabilities should always be deployed with an eye on fallibility. We need to use technology judiciously, in a way that allows us to adjust to our inevitable mistakes rather than magnify the consequences of those mistakes.”
“Technological fundamentalism seems to think we can remain in free-fall forever through innovation.”
“Miracle Chemical #1 is introduced but later found to cause problems and banned, replaced by Miracle Chemical #2, which is later found to cause problems and banned, replaced by Miracle Chemical #3 … Lather, rinse, repeat.”
“First world dominance was strengthened at the cost of greater third world dependency. Third world agriculture moved towards being as brittle as first world farming.”
“Do we really need to dream about colonizing Mars? What if sky gods and Mars colonies are the sign of an atrophied imagination.”
in the plethora of wisdom throughout the book, I do think that both Jackson & Jensen have overlooked something regarding their excellent criticism of both capitalism & over consumption.
There is a supremely deceptive – if not definitively duplicitous – camouflage & mass conning by capitalism – where it pretends & is treated like it is optional, consensual & democratic.
That is one of the biggest lies going, as it is one of the most brutally compulsory & regularly inescapable forces of harm imposing itself onto & into peoples lives with a supreme, remorseless & relentless tyranny.
It is totally dictatorial – but dressed & presented like it is a choice.
Ask yourself this …. where the fuck is your opt out????????????
how many people, given the chance, would leap at the chance for an alternative?
No – not false alternatives … not vagrancy, or communism, or caveman, just a viable alternative where the flesh-ripping, life-devouring, energy-sapping, existence ruining, world-killing hounds of capitalism where not on you every minute of every day & the only way to perform any action as the only recognized currency & “gatekeeper” to all life-related functions, assets & resources was “dirty money”?
How many people have to reluctantly acquiesce or “resort” to capitalism – just as a result to try & actually escape it?
To get the bare necessities to even begin to make an attempt at surviving without it or with reduced reliance?
What framework or infrastructure exists – at all – for you or anybody to “do without” capitalism?
Is there any choice?
Are people being “forced”?
Is any alternative available?
If there was, how many people – horrified, unstimulated, shattered, disapproving, disillusioned, incongruous or incompatible – with capitalism – would eagerly opt for the/an alternative that suited them better?
& would that also include a “more meaningful” & less consumptive/destructive living cycle & circumstances for the person practising?
I think that at least half the planet, at least half, is fucking done with capitalism. But they are strictly, strictly denied, obstructed & even forbidden from exercising a more wholesome alternative by a sick & despotic machine that knows exactly what it is doing.
& that really is a silent tyranny.
Forcing people to stay on the crack of capitalism is horrendous for the environment too.
Alternatives & sanctuaries from the mad -slavering-toxic-monster need to be present, accessible, numerous & overt.
Then you will see an “exodus” from the poisoned chalice of capitalism’s crack dens, which would have a ginormous reductive effect on consumption, waste, contamination, extraction, pollution et al.
Folks may also then have the time to tend to the kind of radical restoration & ecocentric enrichment & replenishment movements/projects that are going to be central to reversing this mess/doom/nadir & the ravages of the petroleum plague.
& with that, they will also resolve the “crisis of meaning” that Jensen & Jackson write so accurately about in this rather brilliant book.
Wes Jackson and Robert Jensen, 2022, Notre Dame Press, 148 pages