Saturday, July 15, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

Man, if I could have Billmon's baby, I would. Here's what he wrote about An Inconvenient Truth., turning it into a larger essay on the press.


Anonymous Alan said...

A fine essay--he's going in my best blogs bookmarks. I had read Billmon before but not an essay this good.

It's mostly about the press, but has some juicy bits about others:[Humans are] intelligent enough as a species to create problems we're not bright enough, or adaptable enough, to solve. I don’t know. But if extinction, or a return to the dark ages, is indeed our fate – or our grandchildren’s fate, anyway – I think it will be a Hobson’s choice as to which cultural tendency will bear the largest share of the blame: the arrogant empiricism that has made human society into an instrument of technological progress instead of the other way around, the ignorant prejudices of the masses, who are happy to consume the material benefits of the Enlightenment but unwilling to assume intellectual responsibility for them, or the cynical nihilism of corporate and political elites who are willing to play upon the latter in order to perpetuate the former, which is, after all is said and done, their ultimate claim to power.That is one hell of a great sentence, both stylistically and in it's insights. Rare to see both in the same essay.

Unlike the popular and political cultures, corporate America is utterly rationalist – more so now, perhaps, than at any time in the past – but it also defines rationality as utility maximization in the current time period. Or, to paraphrase Al Gore quoting Upton Sinclair: It’s hard to make someone understand something if his salary depends on him not understanding it – especially if the costs of not understanding can be deferred to future generations.This update of the old Sinclair chestnut really spells out why environmental action is so hard to achieve.

Saturday, 15 July, 2006  

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