Reflections on the future

Father’s Day ….

….. was OK in the morning but for some reason I was in a dark mood in the afternoon.

(And if you want to skip today’s post I don’t blame you at all. This is not my usual style albeit it is important.)

I was reflecting on the state of the world. Global population was well in excess of seven billion people. The longevity of those people was increasing. That’s good news. The health standards were increasing. That’s also good news.

However, the pressure on farming is intense. More and more land is required. The natural world is under supreme pressure. Extinction rates of many natural species are soaring.

Planet Earth has far too many people!

OK, maybe in time the population level will come down but right now it is too high.

Then in came Tom Engelhardt’s latest essay. I read it and reflected. Is it too dark to post? Then Jeannie said that if you really want to share it then publish it.

Here it is, published with Tom’s kind permission.

ooOOoo

Tomgram: Engelhardt, Trump Change

Posted by Tom Engelhardt at 4:23pm, June 16, 2019.
Follow TomDispatch on Twitter @TomDispatch.

If Donald Trump Is the Symptom…
Then What’s the Disease?

By Tom Engelhardt
Don’t try to deny it! The political temperature of this country is rising fast. Call it Trump change or Trump warming, if you want, but grasp one thing: increasingly, you’re in a different land and, whatever happens to Donald Trump, the results down the line are likely to be ever less pretty. Trump change isn’t just an American phenomenon, it’s distinctly global. After all, from Australia to India, the Philippines to Hungary, Donald Trumps and their supporters keep getting elected or reelected and, according to a recent CNN poll, a majority of Americans think Trump himself will win again in 2020 (though, at the moment, battleground-state polls look grim for him).

Still, whether or not he gets a second term in the White House, he only seems like the problem, partially because no president, no politician, no one in history has ever gotten such 24/7 media coverage of every twitch, tweet, bizarre statement, falsehood, or fantasy he expresses (or even the clothes he wears). Think of it this way: we’re in a moment in which the only thing the media can’t imagine saying about Donald Trump is: “You’re fired!” And believe me, that’s just one sign of a media — and a country — with a temperature that’s anything but 98.6.

Since you-know-who is always there, always being discussed, always @(un)realdonaldtrump, it’s easy enough to imagine that everything that’s going wrong — or, if you happen to be part of his famed base, right (even if that right isn’t so damned hot for you) — is due to him. When we’re gripped by such thinking and the temperature’s rising, it hardly matters that just about everything he’s “done” actually preceded him. That includes favoring the 1%, deporting record numbers of illegal immigrants, and making war (unsuccessfully) or threatening to do so across significant parts of the planet.

Here, then, is the question of the day, the sort you’d ask about any patient with a rising temperature: If Donald Trump is only the symptom, what’s the disease?

Blowback Central

Let me say that the late Chalmers Johnson would have understood President Trump perfectly. The Donald clearly arrived on the scene as blowback — the CIA term of tradecraft Johnson first put into our everyday vocabulary — from at least two things: an American imperium gone wrong with its never-ending wars, ever-rising military budgets, and ever-expanding national security state, and a new “gilded age” in which three men (Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Warren Buffett) have more wealth than the bottom half of society and the .01% have one of their own, a billionaire, in the Oval Office. (If you want to add a third blowback factor, try a media turned upside down by new ways of communicating and increasingly desperate to glue eyes to screens as ad revenues, budgets, and staffs shrank and the talking heads of cable news multiplied.)

Now, I don’t mean to sell Donald Trump short in any way. Give that former reality TV star credit. Unlike either Hillary Clinton or any of his Republican opponents in the 2016 election campaign, he sensed that there were voters in profusion in the American heartland who felt that things were not going well and were eager for a candidate just like the one he was ready to become. (There were, of course, other natural audiences for a disruptive, self-promoting billionaire as well, including various millionaires and billionaires ready to support him, the Russians, the Saudis… well, you know the list). His skill, however, never lay in what he could actually do (mainly, in these years, cut taxes for the wealthy, impose tariffs, and tweet his head off). It lay in his ability to catch the blowback mood of that moment in a single slogan — Make America Great Again, or MAGA — that he trademarked in November 2012, only days after Mitt Romney lost his bid for the presidency to Barack Obama.

Yes, four years later in the 2016 election, others began to notice the impact of that slogan. You couldn’t miss the multiplying MAGA hats, after all. Hillary Clinton’s advisers even briefly came up with the lamest response imaginable to it: Make America Whole Again, or MAWA. But what few at the time really noted was the crucial word in that phrase: “again.” Politically speaking, that single blowback word might then have been the most daring in the English language. In 2016, Donald Trump functionally said what no other candidate or politician of any significance in America dared to say: that the United States was no longer the greatest, most indispensable, most exceptionable nation or superpower or hyper-power ever to exist on Planet Earth.

That represented a groundbreaking recognition of reality. At the time, it didn’t matter whether you were Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, or Marco Rubio, you had to acknowledge some version of that formula of exceptionalism. Trump didn’t and, believe me, that rang a bell in the American heartland, where lots of people had felt, however indirectly, the blowback from all those years of taxpayer-funded fruitless war, while not benefitting from infrastructure building or much of anything else. They experienced blowback from a country in which new billionaires were constantly being created, while the financial distance between CEO salaries and those of workers grew exponentially vaster by the year, and the financing of the political system became a 1% affair.

With that slogan, The Donald caught the spirit of a moment in which both imperial and economic decline, however unacknowledged by the Washington political elite, had indeed begun. In the process, as I wrote at that time, he crossed a psychologically taboo line and became America’s first declinist candidate for president. MAGA captured a feeling already at large that tomorrow would be worse than today, which was already worse than yesterday. As it turned out, it mattered not at all that the billionaire conman spouting that trademarked phrase had long been part of the problem, not the solution.

He caught the essence of the moment, in other words, but certainly didn’t faintly cause it in the years when he financed Trump Tower, watched his five Atlantic City casinos go bankrupt, and hosted The Apprentice. In that election campaign, he captured a previously forbidden reality of the twenty-first century. For example, I was already writing this in June 2016, five months before he was elected president:

“In its halcyon days, Washington could overthrow governments, install Shahs or other rulers, do more or less what it wanted across significant parts of the globe and reap rewards, while (as in the case of Iran) not paying any price, blowback-style, for decades, if at all. That was imperial power in the blaze of the noonday sun. These days, in case you hadn’t noticed, blowback for our imperial actions seems to arrive as if by high-speed rail (of which by the way, the greatest power on the planet has yet to build a single mile, if you want a quick measure of decline).

“Despite having a more massive, technologically advanced, and better funded military than any other power or even group of powers on the planet, in the last decade and a half of constant war across the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa, the U.S. has won nothing, nada, zilch. Its unending wars have, in fact, led nowhere in a world growing more chaotic by the second.”

Mind you, three years later the United States remains a staggeringly powerful imperial force, with hundreds of military bases still scattered across the globe, while its economic clout — its corporations control about half the planet’s wealth — similarly remains beyond compare. Yet, even in 2016, it shouldn’t have been hard to see that the American Century was indeed ending well before its 100 years were up. It shouldn’t have been hard to grasp, as Donald Trump intuitively did, that this country, however powerful, was already both a declining empire — thank you, George W. Bush for invading Iraq! Mission Accomplished! — and a declining economic system (both of which still looked great indeed, if you happened to be profiting from them). That intuition and that slogan gave Trump his moment in… well, dare I call it “the afternoon sun”? They made him president.

MTPGA

In a sense, all of this should have been expectable enough. Despite the oddity of Donald Trump himself, there was little new in it, even for the imperial power that its enthusiasts once thought stood at “the end of history.” You don’t need to look far, after all, for evidence of the decline of empires. You don’t even have to think back to the implosion of the Soviet Union in 1991, almost three decades ago in what now seems like the Stone Age. (Admittedly, Russian President Vladimir Putin, a brilliant imagineer, has brought back a facsimile of the old Soviet Union, even if, in reality, Russia is now a rickety, fraying petro-state.)

Just take a glance across the Atlantic at Great Britain at this moment. And imagine that three-quarters of a century ago, that modest-sized island nation still controlled all of India, colonies across the planet, and an impressive military and colonial service. Go back even further and you’ll find yourself in a time when it was the true superpower of planet Earth. What a force it was — industrially, militarily, colonially — until, of course, it wasn’t.

If you happen to be looking for imperial lessons, you could perhaps say that some empires end not with a bang but with a Brexit. Despite all the pomp and circumstance (tweeting and insults) during the visit of the Trump royal family (Donald, Melania, Ivanka, Jared, Donald Jr., Eric, and Tiffany) to the British royals, led by a queen who, at 93, can remember better days, here’s something hard to deny: with Brexit (no matter how it turns out), the Earth’s former superpower has landed in the sub-basement of history. Great Britain? Obviously that adjective has to change.

In the meantime, across the planet, China, another once great imperial power, perhaps the greatest in the long history of this planet, is clearly on the rise again from another kind of sub-basement. That, in turn, is deeply worrying the leadership, civilian and military, of the planet’s “lone superpower.” Its president, in response, is wielding his weapon of choice — tariffs — while the U.S. military prepares for an almost unimaginable future war with that upstart nation, possibly starting in the South China Sea.

Meanwhile, the still-dominant power on the planet is, however incrementally, heading down. It’s nowhere near that sub-basement, of course — anything but. It’s still a rich, immensely powerful land. Its unsuccessful wars, however, go on without surcease, the political temperature rises, and democratic institutions continue to fray — all of which began well before Donald Trump entered the Oval Office and, in fact, helped ensure that he would make it there in the first place.

And yet none of this, not even imperial decline itself, quite captures the “disease” of which The Donald is now such an obvious symptom. After all, while the rise and fall of imperial powers has been an essential part of history, the planetary context for that process is now changing in an unprecedented way. And that’s not just because, since the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, growing numbers of countries have come to possess the power to take the planet down in a cataclysm of fire and ice (as in nuclear winter). It’s also because history, as we’ve known it, including the rise and fall of empires, is now, in a sense, melting away.

Trump change, the rising political temperature stirred by the growing populist right, is taking place in the context of (and, worse yet, aiding and abetting) record global temperatures, the melting of ice across the planet, the rise of sea levels and the future drowning of coastlines (and cities), the creation of yet more refugees, the increasing fierceness of fires and droughts, and the intensification of storms. In the midst of it all, an almost unimaginable wave of extinctions is occurring, with a possible million plant and animal species, some crucial to human existence, already on the verge of departure.

Never before in history has the rise and decline of imperial powers taken place in the context of the decline of the planet itself. Try, for instance, to imagine what a “risen” China will look like in an age in which one of its most populous regions, the north China plain, may by century’s end be next to uninhabitable, given the killing heat waves of the future.

In the context of both Trump change and climate change, we’re obviously still awaiting our true transformative president, the one who is not a symptom of decline, but a factor in trying to right this country and the Earth before it’s too late. You know, the one who will take as his or her slogan, MTPGA (Make The Planet Great Again).

Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture. He runs TomDispatch.com and is a fellow of the Type Media Center. His sixth and latest book is A Nation Unmade by War (Dispatch Books).

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Books, John Feffer’s new dystopian novel (the second in the Splinterlands series) Frostlands,Beverly Gologorsky’s novel Every Body Has a Story, and Tom Engelhardt’s A Nation Unmade by War, as well as Alfred McCoy’s In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power and John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II.

Copyright 2019 Tom Engelhardt

ooOOoo

I’m 74. I don’t know how long I’ve got.

Part of me wants to live for a long time. That’s why I am vegan and trying to stay as fit as I can. (I’m also aware that Jeannie’s Parkinson’s Disease is a terminal disease and that in the latter stages she will need me to look after her.)

But then again I’m not sure I want to live in a world that continues to degrade especially continues to degrade in natural ways.

What’s the answer?

What do others who are on or around my age think about it?

What is the disease?

27 thoughts on “Reflections on the future

  1. An interesting read Paul, We are the ‘disease’… simple.. because we all of us have a responsibility to our earth. We all have a responsibility,yet seldom do we own that responsibility

    We have all been so caught up in the man-made-greed-game.. Of wanting THINGS… Everyone wants something for nothing. We all want cheaper, so we exploit others, sending goods for manufacture overseas for profit, it comes from the top to the bottom.. We see the destruction of forests for palm oil plantations products we all buy. Yet we cannot connect the dots!… We cannot expect to the world to change until We change ourselves!..

    We all want our say, our bit of control. And more and more can not see the other side of an argument as an opinion, its becoming its often My way is right so your way is wrong..

    There is no compromising anymore its all about labels of Left and Right, This party or that party, this set of beliefs against another, or if you are not with us you are against us.. Society in general is becoming conditioned to a certain set of programming we allow, because we are complacent and do nothing
    We each want, want, Want.. Yet none of us are prepared to GIVE..

    The Native Americans got it right, We can not eat Money when no crops are growing when all the fish are gone and when all the trees are cut and the ocean is poisoned. And the air we breath turns bad..
    WE HAVE TO LIVE IN BALANCE..
    We cannot blame others if we are not prepared to alter our own life styles, to stop using plastic, and think of eco friendly ways of helping preserve our environment.
    We cannot have it all ways..

    So until we find a solution I think the Earth herself will find the antibiotic to eliminate the disease of man.. She is already giving us plenty of warning signs… But we dismiss it.. Thinking we will keep on going.. But this world has proven throughout Ancient History she from time to time goes through her own cleansing cycles.. Just because we think we are intelligent we are not immune..

    I and my husband are of a that elderly age where we too like you Paul look and ponder upon the world of electronics, and the technical advancements of the world, yet we cannot fathom renewable energy or build homes energy efficient.. We keep doing things the same old way..

    We both have grandchildren and worry for what their future will face

    Its the same in political circles .. And its all falling apart because no one is willing to change their habits… No one is willing to take responsibility.. They put it off for the next generation and so on.

    Well Gaia herself will I am afraid force all of us to rethink and change, because she is already sending us warning after warning, and it is falling upon the youngest who are going on their school strikes to shake up politicians into at least acknowledging Earth has a problem..

    The planet has I am sure rid itself of huge slices of populations in the past and we have risen and not learnt. Maybe the majority of mankind is she/he can not learn how to love nature, he has to dominate it, and he destroys it.. Until it destroys him..

    The world is a pendulum.. And Great Nations rise, and Great Nations Fall, History has shown this over and over.. Well we are living in Extreme Times of Great Changes, and until we wake up to what we are ALL doing.. We are all going to be in for a shake up in the not too distant future..

    Sorry for the long rant.. But Gaia is in need of our help.. And all we little folks can do, is to be the best we can, and keep bringing awareness to others..

    Much love to you and Jeanie Paul.. Have a great day.. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “I think the Earth herself will find the antibiotic to eliminate the disease of man.. “ That sentence jumped out from your comprehensive and lovely reply. I think you and your husband are correct; that the planet will ultimately have its say and it may not be far off either. I feel for my grandson, he is 8, a bright and cheerful young man, who will soon be old enough to know what the future holds. I still need to think about your reply because I’m sure there’s more to say.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Strange time of life, Paul, I’m not far behind you at 66. And the first thing that came to mind after reading your last question is ‘the disease is greed.’ Then I read Sue’s comment, though not unusual for she and I to feel the same with regards to earthly matters. And in conclusion too, I agree with her. All we can do is what we can do (our best).

    There is a sacred practice in Hawaii called Ho’oponopono, which won’t be summarized in any simple statement, but in essence, it means, ‘All I can do is all I can do.’ We put ourselves in tune with our hearts and search for forgiveness, both with regards to others, but also perhaps most importantly the self. And despite occasional forays into our own feelings of darkness, we do not cave in to despair, it’s toxic to the system and paralyzes us. We give where we can. We attune to what is needed in our own corner of the world, and offer what we can, what our hearts call us to do. We cannot solve the problems of the world at large, we can only do what we can, where we can. Shrink it down, be accountable. Live sustainably and share ideas and what we have with others. Let go of what we do not need (which, for the average person in the West is a LOT) and pass it on to those who might use it. Lend a hand without burning ourselves out. And get our hands dirty – in the soil! Working with the earth is so instructive. It puts me in touch with life and death and acceptance of same. It teaches me that what I put in comes back to me. And it steadies thoughts, focuses the monkey mind on something useful and productive. It synchronizes head and heart and hands to the pulse of the earth.

    The other thing that occurs to me is we choose what to put into our bodies. Not just food or other substances which is key to good health at any age, but what we choose to ingest in the way of information. One must be informed (perhaps), but in the global stream of information, there are a zillion choices as to what to zero in ond so much of that is op ed rather than simply ‘news.’ Personally I largely opt out of it. What I need to know will surely filter down to me and fairly quickly these days. I try and keep one foot in each world, one in my core values and earth-based ‘reality’ and the other in fair step with emergent technology, because like it or not, it seems to be where the future is leading. It doesn’t take much of my time either, and keeps my brain cells awake. But most of my time is spent in the gardens and preparing healthy food and nurturing relationships. My husband and I often joke about being boring people, but we like it that way. Addictions and distractions are not what keep us going. We live in nature, in silence, with the dogs and birds and plants. And though we are sort of loners by nature, we do connect with others – Chris mostly in his work. And me on my bike, stopping to chat with locals who are out walking and working in service jobs (post office, markets). And distantly with friends and family. I don’t worry unduly about the future, though one does wonder more and more as one ages. Yet all I can do is what I can do. I simply live today as best I can.

    All the best to you both and all, Paul. Don’t ever worry about what you post – if people don’t respond to it, so be it. If you are moved to offer your thoughts here, by all means, do. It’s how we share our basic humanity. Aloha and love.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I understand. It would be unrealistic to remain sunny and light all the time. One must delve into the darkness once in awhile, as night follows day. So I seek ground(!) xoxo ;D

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  3. I feel he’s way-over hyping Trump. Problem is, social media can amplify something that is really quite small. Actual lunatic Trump supporters isn’t large, they’re vastly outnumbered. It’s like Fox News. By the attention they get you’d think they have an enormous audience. That’s not the case at all. The best ever Fox viewership in primetime was 2.4 million. That’s it: 2.4 million. And that was primetime. NBC on an avergae night has ten-times more viewers.

    And yes, there are far too many human beings. Vertical farming and cultured meat could alleviate a great deal of pressure, but we need to stabilise the population at around 5 billion max. That seems like a pipe dream when just two countries (India and China) pretty much share 3.5 billion between them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, John. Bela had it spot on: We have to what we have to do! (Or words to that effect.) Ultimately Jean and I make our own decisions. And on the broader stage there’s not much that we can do. Except hope!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. So Tom is waiting for THE man, the TRANSFORMATIVE president. How astoundingly naive! Tom is looking for a Guide (Fuhrer in German)… and didn’t find him in Trump. Wow.

    Trump is nothing, just a symptom, as Tom recognizes. Obsessing about Trump, what I nicknamed Trump Derangement Syndrome, is itself a symptom of the same degeneracy of the head found in many trump followers.

    Forget Donald. What matters are transformative ideas, and transformative moods to go with them. Looking for THE man, or THE woman is a cop-out. Voters have to get involved… and the best for that would be to have more referendums, motivating people to find out what is really going on.

    Trump was elected, because Democratic voters realized, in a few key states, that they were lied to about, and exploited by, globalization… truly an instrument of world plutocracy, which has instituted laws full of loopholes to serve itself. So actually Trump had one good, big idea, which other, media controlling plutocrats hated him for. (That doesn’t excuse the many small bad ideas of Trump…)

    What Tom is about, in the end, as with most pundits, is the celebrity cult. But the celebrity cult of individuals hides the true landscape where the problems lay, the landscape of ideas. But ideas are hard. It’s much more comfortable to wallop among the softest ideas.

    So let’s keep it simple: vote Senator Elizabeth Warren… That’s where the transformative ideas are (I observe). For the deep background, on many of these ideas, my site and its several millions original words (and ideas), will open windows on 10,000 years of civilization…

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      1. Let me quote Tom’s conclusion:
        In the context of both Trump change and climate change, we’re obviously still awaiting our true TRANSFORMATIVE president, the one who is not a symptom of decline, but a factor in trying to right this country and the Earth before it’s too late.
        Well we shouldn’t wait for the Messiah.
        Let’s debate ideas, instead… As you do! ;-)!

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  5. I am almost your age and you ask ‘what’s the disease’….number one: in my lifetime ONLY, the world has increased from 3B to over 7B…unbelievable. All of whom need something to eat, some place to put their waste, someone to love, something to do, a skill to share, and to graduate from childish thinking (me-me-me) to adult rational thinking where there is no place for lawlessness, shouting without hearing, ‘my way only’, and a great turning from even THINKING about a sustainable morality, let alone the practice of it. Daily, headlines pass my eyes that make me cry…for the natural world, for our beautiful planet, for the people of good will and humanity who increasingly are shouted down by the gimme, buy me, take me crowd. I share each and every one of your concerns. But focussing on one Mr. Donald J Trump is profoundly lacking in imagination…that’s a pity of the highest magnitude. We have become the ‘third world’ that we so wanted to ‘help’. And all the Bernies or Elizabeths will not be able to turn this juggernaut around. How’s that for ‘optimism’…😉

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    1. Well your observations are pretty accurate if you ask me! It comes back to Bela’s comment, “All I can do is all I can do.”, but the trick is to stop looking too far out and concentrate on what each of us can do. Easier said than done!

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  6. One silly notion is that of the US “unsuccessful wars”. Like which one was “unsuccessful”? Vietnam? The US is now allied to Vietnam (against you know whom). Iraq? Why would the war have been unsuccessful in Iraq, from the US point of view? Because the Iraqis don’t sell enough oil and gas to make US frackers grossly unprofitable? Quite the opposite, obviously! Afghanistan? Keep your enemies closer and in a state of complete degeneracy, test ever more sophisticated weaponry in real war conditions…

    Contrarily to legend, the USA, as a nation is exactly where it wants to be, militarily. Economically, Trump is forcing plutocrats out of China. Slowly, but surely. That’s also strategic.

    In 1936, France did a huge mistake: instead of going to war in Spain, as the Republic there had requested, France listened to the perfidic Anglo-Saxon plutocracy from London and Washington, and, after all, didn’t intervene.

    Consequence: in the week following May 10, 1940, it turned out that the vastly superior Franco-British forces didn’t function correctly, in part because of a number of relatively small, easy to correct, problems they were unaware of (no radio in tanks, no communications with air forces, non combat trained pilots… and the enemy on speed, methamphetamines). By the time the French and British military adjusted, a week later, 70 crack French divisions were encircled, cut out of supplies, France and Britain had lost the battle of France.

    Morality: When confronted by enemies, it’s better to fight them, than ignore them. If nothing else, it keeps the training up, prevents surprises like May 1940. If France had intervened in Spain in 1936, maybe an unending low key war with Nazism would have started. It would have been better than the alternative…. A Holocaust (100 million killed, about 5% of world population), followed by the so-called “American Century”… we are more in the “American Century” than ever. Whereas France and Britain were allied and competitors of the USA in 1940, now they are just the US little helpers.

    Want a good slogan? MEGA! Make Earth Great Again!

    How to get there? Once again, first, by learning significant facts. On the CO2 crisis, the number one fact is that 93% of the world primary energy comes from making CO2. That number is sobering enough. To get out of that will require more than a windmill in every backyard. The cynical plan of the US Deep State is to lead the charge into the climate crisis, thanks to the world’s, and history’s greatest fossil fuel production, ever,… All this because, as a Chinese proverb has it, every crisis is an opportunity.

    The US is in the best position to maximize the crisis of the biosphere… and maximize the profits it will bring. That’s the plan. Obviously, most US citizens know this, and know enough to know that they shouldn’t know more. So they focus on Trump’s hairdo, and Trump’s tweets. It’s escapism.

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    1. Patrice, your knowledge of world history is superb. And I am not competent to discuss it point by point. All I/Jeannie can do is to ‘brush our own yard’ so to speak and hope that the natural world gives us all sufficient time to find a new way!

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  7. Thanks for this interesting article Paul. I am nearly 66 and every day I read and think a lot about these things. I think that the Baby Boomer generation (in the developed countries of the west) has had the very best years of human existence, avoiding WW1, the great Depression, WW2 etc and being beneficiaries of so much medical, scientific and technological progress. Those of us who’ve lived in the west have never had to worry about finding enough food or clean water, unlike so many people in poor parts of the world. Because of contraception, we’ve been able to limit the size of our families and have seen much progress in the spread of equal rights and opportunities to women, coloured people, the disabled and others as well as the introduction of pensions and welfare assistance.
    But as the article states, the appeal of right wing populism seems to be spreading throughout the developed world and is catering to the anger and angst of many people, as economic conditions have got worse over the last decade.
    Environmentally, what’s happening around the planet is a nightmare. Rather than trying to ameliorate the loss of animal and plant species, Trump and other leaders like Brazil’s President Bolsonaro are accelerating the destruction of Earth’s biosphere and waterways, including America’s great national parks and the Amazon rainforest. It seems to me that half the people in the developed countries are quite alarmed about it all, whilst the other half are too busily preoccupied with consumption and watching reality tv to read or care. Wilful ignorance and intellectual laziness is what’s responsible for the election of opinionated loudmouth, anti science narcissists (and liars) who promise to solve all their problems.
    All we can do is to live our own lives ethically, with kindness and to reduce our consumption levels. To donate to good causes and to vote properly. And to accept what we cannot change. We should make positive efforts to enjoy the present moment and to really appreciate the simple, beautiful things of everyday life, like trees, flowers, nature and our precious pets. If possible we should try to cultivate friendships and to stay in touch with like minded people, so we don’t feel so alone in our anxieties.
    As far as end of life goes, should there be a sudden dramatic deterioration in our lives because of some international event (natural or man made) which looks like it would be ongoing, I have no intention to stick around. Yes, like you, I’d like to live as long as I can (and am on the path to veganism myself) but, as we all know, ultimately there’s one guaranteed thing in life – apart from taxes. I would not want that to be slow and prolonged and, for this reason, I have joined Exit International and will shortly be attending a Workshop in order to be updated on new developments whereby one can take control of the end of life process.
    Sorry to be so ‘dark’, but it’s something we must all think about as we get older. Unfortunately, for many children alive today and those about to be born in the lucky countries of the west, it’s something they may have to contemplate before they even reach ‘old age’.

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    1. Oh wow, Margaret, what a profoundly interesting reply. We may be at opposite ends of the world but intellectually we are neighbors! I was born just six months before the end of World War II in London. On May 8th, 1945 my mother was reputed to have looked at me and say: “You are going to live.” Yes, we have had the very best of life and, like you, I want the end to be managed. To that end I will examine Exit International as it’s an organization I haven’t heard of before. Well said!

      Like

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