9 Paragraphs on the dialectic of gas fracking, sea turtles, and discursive empathy

I was reading this article, and would debate some points, but overall I found it brief – thought provoking – and challenging to some of my assumptions

The Coming Global Oil Crisis | Fracking the Future

The author contemplates the overall headlines and bylines of some New York Times articles, essentially asking, ‘Is Shale Gas A Ponzi Scheme?’

From the abstract, ..The author questions the long-term reality of shale gas production and especially the financial underpinnings. Critics charge that the articles were poorly written or that the author has an agenda. Both sides are dancing around… Activists are rightfully worried about the environmental impacts of the new method of “fracking” (fracturing) shale formations to extract natural gas.
But neither side is asking the fundamental question:
What are we going to do when we run out of tricks to extract more fossil fuels?!
We are fracking our future.
Is there anyone out there who cares about our children?

This is something I’ve long considered, the discursive and dialectical gap between Progressives and Conservatives in matters of ecology. Which is peculiar because environmental conservation, and ecological concerns, when you go early enough had some traditionalist and conservative roots.

Something that comes into the discourse of most environmentalists I know, constantly, unconsciously, is intense compassion for flora and fauna and the Planet itself, not just buzz words these word choices shed light on deep areas of emotional concern, often connected to a spirituality or religiosity closely tied in to the earth. They utterly fail, in their discourse and rhetoric, to connect to broader concerns of the day to day public outside their circle. And indeed, at times, emotionally react when I’ve pointed this out. Yet their futures are entwined.

Every species, except humanity, displays more compassion for their own, which is not to say none for others, but among mammals those closest, one’s brood, and extended kin and groupings, then larger species – and sometimes witnessing intense mercy and compassion outside of one’s species. Among mammals only humanity displaces its compassion far outside of its circles. This is an interesting clue to the axial centrality of the human condition for only humanity consistently displays capacity for intense compassion and mercy (as well as intense cruelty) towards those outside of immediate brood,family, ken, tribe, ethnos, nation, race, and species (and though tempted to argue with me, as you contemplate this deep down inside, you know I’m right.. you may argue, but I know, that as you think this over, even if you disagree or the statement arouses intense emotions, you know deep inside that I speak truth here…)

In sharing their environmental concerns and passions with, and in speaking with, the broader population, I observe that environmentally concerned and aware people without immediate families, single or not exclusively sexually pair bonded or married, with offspring, who are either of an alternative spirituality or religiosity, or agnostic, or atheist, and who are broadly speaking progressive and humanist in their fundamental dispositions, are unable to bridge, rhetorical and discursive gaps – unable to articulate their core visions in meaningful ways – until they display an equal concern for HUMAN futures, HUMAN kin, and most of all LOCAL and NATIONAL futures and kin and survival. On average emotionally normative people care a lot more about their offspring than sea turtles. This makes them normal, indeed, with sea turtles who care more about their eggs and offspring than rabbits or humans – don’t be silly and ask me how I know this, if you must know I’m telepathic, and can speak South Pacific Sea turtleese, so get off my back already before I ask my sea turtle buddies to pay you a visit and chat on the correctness of my perspective..

So, in Islamic terms, I’m thinking of taking an ‘ikhtilaf‘ in perspectives, and performing a sort of ‘tarkeebjma’a, taking scattered differing fragments of perspectives and a unifying and synthesis of the same, of perspectives and outlooks. You see – the environment affects us all, you, me, humanity, and sea turtles – liberals, conservatives, and moderates – progressives, traditionalists, radicals, reactionaries, and revolutionaries – left, right, middle – Jacobean, GerondianGuelf, Ghibbiline – Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Pagan, Agnostic, Atheist – all alike – the environment is what we eat, breathe, drink, live in, die in, fight in, make love in, birth in, grow in, defecate in, piss in, throw our trash in, sow our crops in, and reap our rewards in. From the earth ye are born, and to it your husk is returned, under 4 feet of earth. Thus this affair and matter concerns all, she or he who is unable to encompass all concerns in their discourse, and possess empathy for all concerns will not be able to defend those concerns they are most passionate about, concerns that affect us all.

Fracking is a classic example, in affecting the environment it affects Poor Appalachians by setting their drinking water on fire, giving them cancerous lesions when they shower, and destroying utterly their mountains and towns etc. (sadly they are the one poor in America that NO ONE really bothers caring about – on large – and NO ONE defends, or even mentions other than making hillbilly jokes. Being “poor white trash” is as much of a social liability in this country than being ” a nigger.” Urban poor, both white and minorities, are on the radar – no one even mentions poor white people living in crushing poverty and squalor in shacks in the middle of the mountains. Dirt poor southern rural blacks in places like Alabama and Georgia are also off the radar too, but that’s a story for another day, because we speak of fracking here, which puts us among mountain folk..)

On the other side of fracking are “jobs” and “taxes” and economic benefits such as fuel, in an age in which depriving these also have intense drawbacks and causes suffering. You try telling someone whose jobs rely on the gas or oil industry your shale operation, your pipeline, your refinery is evil! – they will say F— you that’s my job, you NPR listening to, elite and privileged, college liberal, are YOU going to feed my family and me?– and frankly.. are you? Are you going to provide for his family, if he looses his job? If you can’t see and have empathy and compassion for other people’s situations and propose WORKING solutions, or at least open the discourse to discuss possibilities of WORKING solutions, then what are you doing? Really? Cultivate compassion for people you don’t know and have only heard of, just as you would cultivate compassion for sea turtles or seals.

1 Comment

  1. Addendum: Snarky and pretentious alternet articles on the “defects of the conservative brain” when it comes to environmental matters are not only disgusting, and patently transparent – for one who reads considerable amounts of social biology, and environmental psychology literature from the right making similar claims about the inveterate biological stupidity of liberals and progressives – all of this illustrates the basic schizoid tendencies of the modern Western political dialectic…

    And the inability of scientists, acting as paid whores for either side, to transcend this dialectic..

    The fact that we even have a “left and right” wing on the same brain addled bird, both “wings” incapable of seeing outside their safety zones of opinion, a “nurturing” party and an “authoritarian” party – all of this is schizoid and, even, somewhat Bipolar. Modern Anglo-American politics are Bipolar, there you have it – why NONE of us can actually get things done, and instead retreat to ghettos of opinion and incompetent talking-point based rhetoric…

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