Editor’s note: Science, touted to be objective, is far from so. As Lewis Mumford explains and Derrick writes extensively in Myth of Human Supremacy, any tool cannot be separated from the overall social structure under which it was created and operates. Likewise, science, as a way of thought, was created under a paradigm of dominance of nature. Much of the scientific discoveries have been pursued for the same purpose. Neither climate science, not climate solution is an exception.
The following article is a part of a blog by Indrajit Samarajiva. DGR does not espouse the views express in this article in its entirety.
By Indrajit Samarajiva / indi.ca
The response then is what about solar panels and more efficiency and the green revolution to come. Yes science technically got us into this hole, but it’s also going to get us out. Which is to say, when you’re in a hole, keep digging I guess. Literally. The ‘green revolution’ requires digging huge amounts of lithium and copper and other rare earth minerals out of more and more obscure reserve (using massive amounts of diesel of course). This captive revolution is not in fact a revolt against the power relations and godless philosophical rot that both run and ruin the world. It is just more window dressing on a burning house.
Electric batteries will not square the circle that personal vehicles are wildly inefficient. What we need is public transport and the destruction of roads and cars, not more inventions catering to peoples laziness and greed, which is what science is focused on right now. They are effectively deck managers on the Titanic, asking if you’d like a virgin mojito instead of the alcoholic one. The ship is still running on massive inequality, extraction, and fundamental ignorance, and the ship is still going down.
Shoveling ‘green’ energy into the same voracious greed of the 1% and the heavily marketed dream of everyone else living like that simply isn’t going to work. The fact is that science is being used to change the engine on a train that’s simply on the wrong track. It will still reach its destination, which is collapse.
At that point the tools of science (which are agnostic) can theoretically be used to balance the thermostat, just as cyanobacteria figured it out after they froze the Earth with their oxygen emissions. But that requires wisdom, accumulated over millions of years by our photosynthetic ancestors. Scientists—like children finding their fathers gun—have dug up and burnt those very photosynthetic ancestors and marveled at their own power. But it was all stolen glory, and now the climate is taking it all back. The debt incurred by scientific hubris yoked to capitalist greed is the death of 90% of species, including much of our own.
Science is thus not a way out of climate collapse. It is its most proximate cause. The way out means going backwards through science to philosophy (whence it sprung) and unfucking that. It involves going even further to the gods and stories that west Asian philosophers discarded and scorned. Hence the answer is not in the popular science novels you see in airport bookshops. They (and you) are part of the problem.
The answers are in the ancient (and frankly superior) civilizations crushed by western science and technology crashing on their shores, in the ancient wisdom rejected as superstition, and in the simple experience of being a human on earth, sitting still, not consuming much, and inhaling and exhaling oxygen under the trees. I don’t know what the answer is, but I know that we’ve got to go much deeper than science. We’re in a hole. The answer is definitely not more blind faith in the shovel.
Have I written this before? Sorta — How Science Is Not Good
I couldn’t agree with this more, except that ALL civilization and agriculture are the problem. But I think that we need to dig deeper to get at the root of the problem. Obsession with science is a mere symptom of gross overuse of and obsession with the intellect.
Obsessing on the intellect is one of the fundamental problems with humans that I identified years ago (see https://rewilding.org/fixing-humans-by-expanding-our-consciousness/ for more details). The intellect is merely a tool, and like anything else, overuse of it creates bad results. Humans obsess on the intellect to the detriment of things like wisdom and empathy, so we get results like destruction of the Earth and all the life here. Gross overuse of the intellect isn’t the only problem, but it’s definitely one of the main ones. Without this overuse, the type of science correctly condemned here would not exist.
I do need to say that there are good scientific disciplines that are not, or at least that don’t have to be, destructive or harmful. Wildlife- and marine biology, ecology, astronomy, and theoretical physics are example of the “good” scientific disciplines, though those have also been perverted into harmful ones in some cases by using harmful scientific disciplines to enhance them. The Tao of Physics and The Turning Point are excellent books showing how good science comes to the same conclusions as eastern spiritual disciplines regarding life in general. Science at its core is just a search for knowledge, which is a good thing. Because of their obsession with the intellect, humans have turned most of science into a force that’s destroying the Earth and all the life here, as the author states. We don’t need to eliminate science, we need to put the intellect in its place and focus on wisdom and empathy instead.
If Mr. or Ms. Samarajiva had used “unfucking” at the beginning of the essay (rather than the end), I would have known not to bother reading further. To summarize: Too many mixed metaphors to discern anything, other than that English is not his or her first language.