Possible Foreword

My purpose is to show that if cultures are to end further acceleration of the climate change, they are causing, then new ways of life must be found, which no longer cause it. Tinkering with improvements to our current ways of life is futile. We must each of us change how we live, or else be changed forever by our own effects.
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Such new ways of life could be very much happier than the lives we live today. Philosophers from every age have told us that living on less is a recipe for happiness. In short, we must do without just about everything, which the power of fossil fuels has given us in the last hundred years. From now on, we shall be reliant on – not fossil mass, but biomass and all its diversity. What’s more we cannot burn that biomass and biodiversity, but must do all we can to become a part of the biological cycles, which provide our food, clothing, building materials, but not alas, our fuels. We need optimum biomass and optimum photosynthesis. By optimum, I mean the durable maximum.
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The benign, almost infinitely-complex, but self-regulating life-cycles of the Holocene, which have enabled all that we call civilisation, are deflating – the gas of lost lives escaping, like wind from a punctured Earth. Instead of optimum cycles, we tend towards dead linear chaos – that is, the simple causes and effects of the fossil-fuelled and bio-fuelled human cultures. The simple mind of Narcissus has inflated, as his means of subsistence has withered. Perversely, in consequence, he considers himself, newly powerful – a geo-engineer; cloud-seeder; genetic sequence-holder; the ender of history.
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The Anthropocene is not too grand a term. Our oil-powered actions have been monumental.
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Images of a bloke sawing trunk-side of a branch he’s sitting on, or earnestly building a sea wall to protect his oil refinery are classic slap-stick comedies. The same plots are also tragic. Tragedy looks on with the heart, while comedy views it with the mind. The heart knows what is deeply true, but mind has the solutions. It can find tools to fight what breaks the heart.
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The tragedy of a consumed Earth is too great to bear. Even comedy seems too glib; too clever by half… and so we shut down both mind and heart. We must somehow open them again. I’ve seen no signs of an opening yet.
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There is a place where we may pass the deeply heart-felt between the humours of generations. It is old as human cultures. It exists. It is powerful, but is mostly unspoken. It is called the common. A clear-eyed comic revival will be necessary to find solutions to our tragedy. What is the common? – it is an inherited code for the good life. How much space can we take as an individual in larger society and as a species among all the other species?
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There is a small chance that we can partially heal our punctured Earth and live convivial lives inside those self-sustaining living cycles. The odds are against it. We can only change the odds by changing how we live – by changing the causes of the Anthropocene – that is, ourselves. In developed economies, such as the UK, personal CO.2 budgets are long over-spent. We cannot undue that damage – proposed negative emissions are a sordid, escapist fantasy. And why lobby for carbon taxes to encourage what we must do anyway?
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Banks, corporations, governments and their propaganda departments – newspapers, radio and television stations, such as the BBC persuade us not to do the right thing – to remain in their currently lucrative enclosures – to rely on marvellous, yet-to-be-devised technologies, combined with newly-presented, green consumer choices and the same elite’s similar “provision” of liberal democracy.
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They tell us that all will be provided – each from its particular, specialist, rent-gathering enclosure.
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This little book argues to the contrary. We can only change the culture by first changing ourselves and we can only find ourselves, by stepping onto the common.
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If we think, in the ecomodernist manner, that we can devise “renewable” methods to power our currently-massive energy demands, then we’ve not a hope in hell. Biofuels for current levels of aviation alone, will require (per annum) 17 million sq. kilometres, or six times the area of all the arable fields in the world. That is, 68% of Earth’s total land area. A similar calculation would apply for timber-fuelled power stations (such as Drax) for electric aviation. Now, start apportioning the world’s forests… I had the above from Anna-Lotta Jadinge on Twitter, but the calculations are easy for anyone – back of an envelope stuff – use your own envelope. Her figures are UN figures. Next calculate for the family car, industrial machinery, domestic heat, light and air conditioning, commercial road transport, shipping, internet provision…
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Ingenuity cannot replace resources. We will very shortly have consumed the Earth.
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The Seventeenth Century English population (for example) was a thirteenth of today. Nevertheless, the land was stripped bare of trees for fuel, construction and ship building. The landscape was pillaged – truly desolate. Economic chaos was inevitable. Then, coal came to the rescue. In the centuries since, many millions of years-worth of sequestered photo synthesis have continued the rescue, but at a terrible, cumulative price. All the atmospheric CO.2, emitted from then, to now, remains – thickening the roof of the global greenhouse. We cannot thin the roof, we can only end further contributions to it.
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Some woodland has been allowed to return – but not enough. From all its cropland, grassland and forest, English photosynthesis cannot match English CO.2 from English, ordinary ways of life, which fly upwards in a contrary and suicidal direction. That sky motorway shows life loudly accelerating upwards as gas, while the downward photosynthetic gas lanes return more quietly towards terrestrial life. The human metaphor is appropriate. It describes the Anthropocene. Human fire swells and life (including human life) withers.
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If we think that “wicked corporations”, or bad government are responsible for that CO.2, then we are truly deluded. We, ordinary people buy the services. We are the physics, which burns the fuel. Corporations and governments are but an abstract coercion. When did you last see a corporation? We burn fuel every day. This is personal.

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