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A Pessimistic Pause

My normal tendency is to be optimistic, to assume that somehow things will turn out okay for the most part. But there are times when bad news gets through and I decide that we are just plain doomed–and if not me or my generation exactly, then my kid(s) and theirs. Michael Klare’s recent article in the Nation [1] was one of those bits of news. He writes about the geo-politics of natural gas, arguing that as that version of fossil fuel becomes increasingly important to the function of the industrialized global economy, struggles over access and control of gas will intensify, even, perhaps, eclipsing the current level of political jockeying we currently see regarding crude oil. This is not exactly news to us at Chelsea Green, what with having published Julian Darley’s High Noon for Natural Gas last year, which provides an in depth look at the situation…

… Still, Klare’s article is a depressing reminder of the challenges we face (where “we” means every last person on the planet, and that’s a big group of people, only a relatively small number of whom know what’s up, let alone are in a position to try to effect meaningful change). Doomed, I say, doomed, DOOMED!

Well, maybe not. A decent night’s rest, some tea [2], the presence of committed co-workers, these things help to righten my outlook. Feeling better about the future doesn’t mean that there’s any less work to be done to ensure that we get ourselves on a path towards decent lives and sustainable societies [3]. There’s more than enough need for reducing [4], reusing [5], recycling [6], and revolutionizing [7] to go around. But there’s not going to be any hope for success if we don’t have hopeful attitudes. It’s a necessary ingredient, though insufficient on its own, and sometimes has the characterisitc of being self-perpetuating. As long as it inspires combined thought and action–like the ortho-praxis of the liberation theologists–then it earns the right to self-perpetuation.