TOO LITTLE TOO LATE: Zen and Climate Change
There are few issues raising as great a concern, and few as assiduously avoided, as that of climate change, and its potential impact on the world we live in. Of course, proximate causes — seemingly intransigent and intractable threats such as posed by mass shootings, particularly of schoolchildren — must take priority in our daily lives over relatively distant and invisible ones such as global warming.
LOOKING TO OUR LEADERS
Watching the Democratic debates for the looming presidential campaign, and the Republican response, such as it is, is a bit like watching a flock of ostriches squabbling with each other, while trying to keep their heads firmly ensconced in the sand. The only candidate who ran on an unashamedly platform putting climate change first and foremost resigned from the race after gaining too little traction in the early going.
Disappointing is a cosmic understatement. All issues are not equal. We need a sense of priority that is in line with reality. All opinions are not equal. We need the information to make a decision, at least as much as we need to make that decision. Making decisions in the absence of information, or based on faux facts, may be very much in vogue, but is fraught with unintended consequences, also cosmic.
Speaking of which, meanwhile the other party is partying like it’s 1999. Or rather 1959. The relatively wealthy, and their handmaidens, are happily exploiting the resources of the planet they happen to own or control. Regardless of the fact that their very consumption is fueling the decline of the environment. Regardless, but not oblivious, in my judgment. Although if believing a lie is necessary to looking at yourself in the mirror, you tend to become a true believer.
Speaking of which, the older of a famed pair of anti-climate-science billionaire brothers — who, not incidentally, made their fortunes in fossil fuels — died recently. His assets are estimated at fifty billion dollars. That’s billion with a “B,” as we used to say, when billionaires were not so commonplace. I look upon this particular life-and-death story as a fifty-billion dollar failure.
By that I mean, what good did it do for this person to die with fifty billion dollars in pocket change left over, so to speak? On what projects might that money have been spent, projects that may have been beneficial or productive? If not to himself, then to others? Where will that wealth go now? Left to his heirs, who are most likely already well-fixed? It would sponsor one hell of a first-class funeral.
If you are hearing class envy, listen again. The wealth is no longer enjoyed by the man, who is dead. He no longer owns it. He never did, really, other than in the Marxian sense that ownership is determined by utility. To what utility, what grand purpose, did he put the power of all that wealth, during his lifetime? Conservative causes is the conventional answer. What is conservative about denying climate change? What are we going to conserve, if not the planet?
The Metta Sutta admonishes “Let one not take upon oneself the burden of riches.” We tend to think that if we win the lottery, all our problems will be over. Even fifty billion dollars could not buy off aging, sickness and death.