some Mary Oliver and creepypasta
First off - good luck with the apartment, what a pickle! I cringed reading this as I have been in similar situations myself.
What a shock / honour to be quoted in your newsletter! I'm very much looking forward to reading other people's thoughts on this. I watched the whole series of Extrapolations and was thoroughly broken-hearted by the end because (SPOILER ALERT) they show a world where the corporations / one-percenters continue to reign supreme and our beautiful planet is thoroughly destroyed and although a few people still try to turn things around, most don't and so it's too late. The thought of this actually being the future of humanity and our beautiful planet terrifies me.
This ties into my dismay just this week after listening to a 7am podcast about how crap Labor is being on climate action: they are still approving new fossil fuel projects here there and everywhere, their Safeguard Mechanism is a paltry start and we're not likely to get anything else out of them this term of government. This last Federal election was supposed to be the climate election because we must make bold climate action this decade. Yet we are already in 2023 and our government is doing the bare minimum. I write letters to MP's. I sign petitions. I post on socials to share info. Things are not changing fast enough and I am losing hope that we aren't going to be in the situation Extrapolations paints for the future.
I've been thinking lately about trauma. Not so much the big T trauma but the more invisible or discounted trauma. I've been listening to/reading Gabor Maté (a Canadian physician who has specialized in his retirement in addiction and trauma--- he would be an amazing person for you to interview, Sarah!!). He was given away to a stranger as an infant during WWII by his mother to save him from starvation in the ghetto. He was returned to his mother 6 weeks later but that sense of abandonment lived in his cells throughout his life. Trauma that happens before conscious memory seems to be the most insidious because it makes you feel crazy (I have first hand experience with this) Luckily for me, my mom talked freely about the birth trauma I experienced so I was able to connect the dots. I wonder about all the traumatized people in the world already and how we can help them heal and how there are going to be many more traumas due to climate change. Because hurt people are doing more damage everyday.
Children already feel it. I can't pick up a nature book for my 7yo without it mentioning the climate crisis. Even the ones from the 90s..... While this may seem like progress, I think it actually exacerbates the trauma and despair. In a flawed attempt to give them small actions to help and to ameliorate their helplessness, it puts the onus of responsibility on them while introducing more horror they can truly do nothing about. The worst of it is the disillusionment - if adults know this, why don't they help? This is trauma: not only the existential threat (or forgone conclusion) itself, but the aloneness in knowing the adults cant or wont help. I believe the most enduring salve for really any horror or trauma is connection, the opposite of aloneness. We return to ourselves, to each other, to the Earth time and again, with persistence, with care, with intention. We root in our interconnectedness, yes in hopes that it creates larger change, but also as the means to our shared soul survival through this grief and difficulty. We hold space for each other with care, we nourish ourselves and each other as we engage in activism and as we step away from it to nurture our nervous systems and hearts. We find beauty and wonder in the every day. We gift ourselves the very things that make being alive a joy while also giving love and attention to the parts of us suffering the most through the climate crisis. We remember that we are part of a universal fabric and that while there are people here stymieing our shot at existence, they are specks of dust in a vast unknown. And we continue to push - with creativity, connection, passion, art, ingenuity, ferocity. Thankful there are likeminded people like all of you. Sending care and commitment to us all.
Nostalgia certainly isn't what it used to be 😉
I few random thoughts:
On the AI issue, firstly, Sarah, I really loved your interview with Genevieve Bell. I feel like she’s a voice of reason and sanity amid the noise, confusion and hysteria. I wonder if you would consider inviting her back for a follow-up interview? I’d love to see her speak more to the things we should be worried about, and not just the things we shouldn’t.
There are a few things that I’m not seeing enough discussion of regarding AI at the moment, including the following:
– when AI is set to replace so many jobs (some of them quite rapidly), why are we not talking seriously about introducing a Universal Basic Income (UBI) or other measures that will cushion the blow for the huge number of workers who may find themselves suddenly unemployed?
– I’m much less concerned about the idea of AI surpassing human intelligence and taking over the world than I am about the possibility of what these technologies could do in the near-term – for example, enabling people to hack into highly sensitive data, commit huge acts of fraud, bring down global banking systems etc etc. I think these are all very real possibilities with potentially catastrophic consequences.
– I’ve seen some discussion, but not nearly enough, about the built-in bias of most existing AI technologies. I’m really worried about how rapidly these systems are being developed and deployed and that it will be very difficult to go back and address these issues if this isn’t addressed seriously soon. I’m still hoping that you might be able to get someone like Timnit Gebru onto Wild to speak further to this. On that note, I feel that everyone in the media needs to be thinking about who they’re platforming to speak about AI – as Genevieve referred to in her interview, there’s so much amazing work being done by First Nations academics and researchers in this space. The Indigenous Knowledge Systems Lab at Deakin University, run by Tyson Yunkaporta and Old Ways New, founded by Angie Abdilla, are two organisations doing incredible work, who I would love to hear more from. White people have had the mic on this issue for way too long (especially those with links to Longtermism…).
On anemoia (not a great-sounding word...):
– Reading this made me immediately think about an experience I had in Borneo in 2019. My family and I had spent a week in the jungles of Danum Valley, one of the last areas of primary rainforest left in Southeast Asia – a beautiful unspoilt wilderness on the east coast of Sabah that made us feel as though we’d stepped back in time to another age. On the long bus ride back to the other side of the island, we passed endless rows of palm oil plantations, and as I looked out the window, I imagined what backpacking would look like when my children grow up – picturing them trekking not through ancient jungles, but walking through monoculture tree plantations. Of course, it’s more than likely that this generation won’t be able to travel very far at all in the future – a result of both climate breakdown and the resulting geopolitical conflicts that will probably make travel impossible for anyone but the uber-wealthy, who will no doubt still have their private jets and private islands that have been artificially elevated above sea level…
– Thinking about the concept of anemoia also reminded me of this Prince Ea video from a few years back:
On the vaping ban:
– While I’m very happy to hear this on the one-hand (as a passionate anti-smoker), I agree with you that there’s a good chance that this could lead to new conditions and diagnoses emerging, and an overprescription of medications – and of course, little to no examination of the underlying issues that are causing the rise in vaping in the first place…
On the possibility of our care running out:
– I haven’t yet seen Extrapolations, but Racheal’s comment gave me pause for thought too. It’s scary to imagine living 15 years from now and seeing that no progress has been made, or worse – that we’re in an even more dire predicament. I know I mentioned this film the other day, but it’s nearing the end of its cinema run, and for those who haven’t seen it yet, please, please, please try to catch ‘The Giants’ on the big screen. There are so many lessons to be learnt from Bob Brown’s 50 years of activism. While so many other activists have come and gone (mostly due to burnout), Bob’s energy had never wavered – he’s been so consistent for so many decades. I think there are probably a range of reasons for this, but two that stand out to me are 1) that he’s always been very focussed on his mission – his priority has been to protect the ancient forests and rivers of lutruwita/Tasmania; and while his foundation now campaigns on other related issues, that mission is still its highest priority; and 2) Bob’s always maintained a strong and very deep connection to the places he’s trying to save – he still spends much of his time in nature and he’s said that this is where he draws his strength from.
If you don’t have a chance to see ‘The Giants’ in the cinema, this is another great doco on Bob Brown and the fight to save takayna that also touches on some of these things:
I can totally understand Racheal’s concern. The Greens and others say a lot of things that sound good - but we need to be conscious they do not have the responsibility of Government and their audience is far from universal. I see the govt implementing a progressive agenda across a very broad policy front while bringing the community with them. We need to transition urgently, but from my experience, we risk everything without the community on board.
As far as I know the govt has approved a couple of extensions to existing fossil fuel projects, it has approved one small metallurgical coal mine and I understand it has rejected a few new coal proposals – importantly I think legally all of these can only be considered under existing Law. The govt is currently reforming environment laws so that climate change can be better included in consideration of new projects.
The Safeguard Mechanism is about managing down emissions of existing projects and driving investment in low emissions technology. From my reading it should be effective and is a move in the right direction. For example, I understand it is driving a significant move to electrify mining vehicles – and as fossil fuel use at mine sites reduce, fuel tax credits (fossil fuel ‘subsidies’) will reduce.
Behind the scenes LEAN still works on guiding Labor policy. Currently it is developing policy initiatives around a range of significant climate drivers including land as a carbon asset, plantation timber, land clearing and methane emission reduction.
I’m no expert Racheal but is hope this his helpful
To be honest I don’t know where to start and what questions to ask in regards to AI. I don’t know what I don’t know- where are the blind spots? The whole realm of AI feels like a big black hole to me.
I listened to your podcast with Genevieve Bell thinking it’s a great place to start and appreciated her clear explanations and thinking around AI. However, I went on to listen to a 3hour conversation on AI between Nate Hagens and Daniel Schamchtenberger on TGS podcast and found they explored complexities, nuances and layers that I’m still processing.
I think Mary Oliver’s words that you shared are just perfect. I feel I am in a TBC space and to keep learning what I can and see what emerges with how to think through it all.
With energy and climate change, I had an “Ah ha!” moment while listening to Nate and Art Berman talk about the various uses of oil. That oil isn’t just used for gasoline and electricity, that so many things and processes require oil, including asphalt for roads. This felt like a moment where light was shone on a blind spot. I would like a learning experience like this with AI. Like ‘Oh, I now understand the extent to which AI has been a part of my life + the way our world functions.’ I think it will help inform my boundaries with AI.
I love the point you make about kids and vaping. From my perspective, we are raising a generation of kids with highly dysregulated nervous systems, and we are busy teaching them maths and geography and technology, without teaching them what I consider the essentials of life - how to process emotion, interact skillfully with the world, and regulate their nervous systems. The world would be a different place if we grew up knowing how to bring ourselves back to a baseline of calm and operate from this place.
Firstly thanks again for your tenacity and resilience in continuing to voice the unspeakable, to keep spotlighting the elephant (s) in the room...even when you wonder if anyone is listening. They are - but many can only bow their heads and hope its not real - but I believe more and more ARE listening. I see your courage and it always gives me a sliver of hope.
Its hard. Ive been following the climate crisis/global warming emergency for over 15 years. Got politically active for 4 years - helping establish an independent political party (Independents for Climate Action Now) which eventually folded before last election due to Lib Govt sneakily changing the membership requirements in order to wipe out small parties, but not before I believe we were influential in connecting the dots and helping plant seeds for the much better supported Teals Independent movement.
But exhaustion and frustration take its toll. The 'Biz as usual' world, the online troll armies dictating how to think, relationship turmoil, moving from my home town etc etc...sucked my 60yr old energy but as the dust settles, I know I will find another niche to protest against our "leaders" apathy and blind idiocy, once again. Gotta go down fighting dont we?
Hope you find the right apartment and sacred space for you soon.
I think being FOR Climate solutions creates more energy for the same, but being Against Capitalism per se zaps your energy. Maybe your focus could be redirected?
Firstly, very excited for your travelling adventures Sarah! Wishing you an inspired time. Some things I believe are not being thought through or properly challenged (and the increasing tendency to self-censor): gender ideology and new accompanying laws that do away with parental consent for medical intervention of minors. As Camille Paglia said: "anyone who collaborates with the intrusion of a developing mind and body is committing child abuse." Another thing is childhood vaccines, and medical coercion, and our unwillingness to at least question them, or allow heteredox views without immediately discrediting them as "anti-vax". And lastly, blind faith in authority ("the science") or experts (experts that agree with the chosen narrative) such as what we experienced during covid.
Also I'm finding the answers are opposite to what I'd normally think..covid has attenuated that million fold.. those who o thought wpild be opposed to the Vax and lock downs were all fir it and vice versa. When to me, personally, covid was never ever about health and I lost almost all with it. And it still isn't. It's become totally political and dog eat dog. I see for more unhappy people on the planet. More worn out men and perplexed and stressed ladies and everyone is pretty mich on edge. And wary. So wary of one another. This is what breaks me the most. It's become man against man. Dog eat dog. When it ought be communities rallying together and love conquers all ...ya know. Anyway back to the vape thing...I see it is linked with trauma. Like smoking is a way to avoid what's really goijg on or linked to throat chakra and SPEAKInG up and speaking ones truth. The vapes are also more linked with GI issues. Unliek smoking which is tsr and nicotine these nasty chemicals seem to go straight into the GI tract and then stomach and we are seeing for more stomach issues with users which is already the case for those suffering ptsd etc...I just want more humans. More nature. More real. And I'm not getting it. X
Sarah - Try and buy some bluetooth sleep buds. I’m a light sleeper too, living with teen/young adult kids who were destroying my sleep with their comings and goings from our family home. Then I discovered Bose sleep buds which have changed my life - noisy holiday rentals, traffic, neighbouring parties, none of it is an issue any more. I’m on my second pair. Better sleep, better peace of mind. Not cheap but what price good sleep!
Sarah, I wish there were answers to the questions. It is easy to fall into fear,and forget to live the fullest life we can. D
I sit with things too long. I liked it when I operated on impulse and went with the flow. Too near that black pill t .b.h. despair is real. A.I I can't stand it. I just spoke to a lady who went to the movies, all self check in...soon. there. Will .be.no.human.doing.customer.service. one gripe of mine. Who users take away coffee?? To avoid going out snd getting it yourself? Bundle of lazy arse privileged people....part of my joy is in the meeting and conversation in line....some places you cannot order human to human. Anyway, she said....we are going to go back to ww2 times. Her parents lived in tents. It's dire. As for vapes....they are not ok but then it's like all the weed smokers who do ot to stay COOL MAN, WHEN UNDERNEATH, there us so much unresolved trauma and they are angry a.f coming off..someone planned it. I just cannot believe Australia. Lucky country. Of mateship. No more....those at the top are the most corrupt. I always always try and see the underdogs point of view..but now I have no say. As I have become buried in the rubble. Vapes won't go away. People will find ways, but they are dangerous . A.I is taking jOBs and more and more...how can we say this is ok!!!????? How can we see what tiny bit of la d we have left developed in the name of progress. Everything. Is chaotic. I loved that you see lovers hold hands and pash. That's I what I stay alive for . The witnessing. Even if it's not me. Not sure I'll make 50
A comment on anemoia....
I have been having some really frustrating conversations with my Dad of late (I've had to move back home due to illness...which I suspect is somewhat caused by the despair and anxiety I have been feeling around the state of the world for a few years now) and the article about ambiguous grief really summed up what I've been trying to say to him. I've been trying to say that young people's poor mental health is due to a grieving, knowing that their future looks a lot worse than their past with a greater certainty than previous generations have felt on such a large scale. His argument is always that 'life is always a cycle' and that 'everyone thought the world was going to end during the Cold War'. I've always argued that its access to information that is different now, that we simply cannot escape ever hearing about it. He simply does not get why me and my siblings are really struggling to make our way in the world and I have just had to give up trying. He wants to continue living in his bubble and I feel that this is representative of a lot of people, particularly of that generation, who just want their nice retirement and not to think about it. I feel there is too little wisdom in old age to help the younger generations navigate what is to come. We are mostly on our own it feels. I've been thinking about this a lot because I've been looking into Aboriginal spirituality, and indigenous spiritual practices generally, to try and make sense of it all. I cannot even begin to imagine the depths of the grief they must be feeling around all this...that the knowledge they have cultivated for so long is continually being dismissed and lost.