Arundhati Roy & Rachel Carson: Two of My Guides

Guy McPherson

“Misogyny and racism are outcomes of every civilization. This latest version—the industrial, global model—is no different from its predecessors, except in magnitude. Much of the misogyny and racism is sufficiently hidden from view that many people claim they do not exist. Particularly obvious among the deniers of misogyny and racism are Caucasian men.”—Guy McPherson

Going Dark

By Dr. Guy McPherson

Arundhati Roy protesting the construction of the Sardar Sarovar Dam on the Narmada River, Gujarat, India, 1999. (Photo: Ian Berry/Magnum Photos.)

Arundhati Roy protesting the construction of the Sardar Sarovar Dam on the Narmada River, Gujarat, India, 1999. (Photo: Ian Berry/Magnum Photos.)

“Another world is not only possible, she’s on the way and, on a quiet day, if you listen very carefully you can hear her breathe.”—Arundhati Roy, from a speech entitled “Confronting Empire,” 28 January 2003.

“We have looked first at man with his vanities and greed and his problems of a day or a year; and then only, and from this biased point of view, we have looked outward at the earth he has inhabited so briefly and at the universe in which our earth is so minute a part. Yet these are the great realities, and against them we see our human problems in a different perspective. Perhaps if we reversed the telescope and looked at man down these long vistas, we should find less time and inclination to plan for our own destruction.”—Rachel Carson, from her acceptance speech for the National Book Award for Nonfiction (1952).

Guy McPherson

MAITLAND Florida—(Weekly Hubris)—March 2020—This month’s issue of Weekly Hubris is thematic, with a focus on women (or the singular, woman). I typically decline any opportunity to write about women. After all, what could I say about women that could not be interpreted badly? 

I used to joke that, when I was in college, I majored in basketball and Women’s Studies, while pointing out that there was no Women’s Studies program at my college. I cannot tell that joke today, not because of the #MeToo movement, but because of the justifiable rise of societal sensitivity since the late 1970s.

Introductory comments aside, I will write about women in this essay. Reluctantly. With great trepidation. And only because my favorite editor, favorite producer, and favorite publisher asked me to do so. She happens to be a woman.

Composing this essay has encouraged me to think about the women in my life. Perhaps it will encourage the reader to do the same. What do the words “woman” and “women” mean to you? Keeping in mind your mother, sister, lover, wife, what do women inspire you to do? Do you think of fear? Do you think of love? Do you think of passion? Do you think of righteousness?

I cannot deny that men and women have differences, an artifact of natural selection. I cannot deny that we are all different from one another.

I will approach this thorny topic from a biological perspective. Consistent with my general approach, I will include commentary about the culture in which we find ourselves.

It is interesting, and even a little entertaining, that only humans are called “women.” Indeed, the Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines a woman as “an adult female person.” The same source indicates that the word is “Middle English, from Old English wīfman, from wīf woman, wife + man human being, man.

In effect, the word “woman” is a derivative of the word “man,” and the word “woman” would not exist without the word “man.” As if to pour salt into the linguistic wound, the word came into being only about a thousand years ago, long after a mythical god stole a rib from a mythical Adam and placed it into a mythical Eve.

The terms “woman” and “women” are reserved strictly for our favorite species. We do not call dogs, cats, or parrots “women.” We call them “females.” I do not know why this is the case, and I do not know who made this decision for all of us, beyond somebody dating to the Middle English period. I would guess it was probably a male member of the species Homo sapiens who made the decision, and perhaps more than one. 

Misogyny and racism are outcomes of every civilization. This latest version—the industrial, global model—is no different from its predecessors, except in magnitude. Much of the misogyny and racism is sufficiently hidden from view that many people claim they do not exist. Particularly obvious among the deniers of misogyny and racism are Caucasian men. 

Misogyny and racism are among the many taboo topics within contemporary society. Other off-limit topics include monetary disparity, the fundamentally flawed infinite-growth paradigm, and human supremacy. Monetary disparity and poverty are the means by which we keep track of the winners and losers, whereas the infinite-growth paradigm claims we can and will experience infinite growth on a finite planet.

Rachel Carson, marine biologist and author of Silent Spring.

Rachel Carson, marine biologist and author of Silent Spring.

According to the infinite-growth paradigm, there are no limits to growth in any form, from the industrial economy to the human population. Notwithstanding abundant science and simple logic, we can grow forever. Dragging the majority of us with the paradigm has us concluding that more is better. This single, simple phrase—more is better—is a decent definition of contemporary human society. It reinforces our differences while encouraging us to pursue quantity of possessions at the expense of quality of our lives.

Misogyny, racism, and human supremacy are among a list of attributes that glorify our differences. They promote the idea that identifying others as others is normal. These ideas, and especially the rabid desire to separate us, have led us to the brink of extinction.

The outcome of focusing on our differences, at every level, has long been predicted: Humans will not survive on Earth with a rapidly changing climate. Sadly, hothouse Earth is simply not suitable for us. We are vertebrates. We are mammals. Neither vertebrates nor mammals can “keep up” with projected gradual changes, much less the rapid environmental change currently underway.

Back to women, as promised, with two pioneering examples. Contemporary Indian author Arundhati Roy is best known for her 1997 novel, The God of Small Things. She wrote the following lines in her 1999 work of non-fiction, The Cost of LivingThe resonance with my work is clear in Roy’s scathing and passionate indictment of big government’s disregard for the individual:

“To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.”

Roy undoubtedly has been influenced by the work of American marine biologist Rachel Carson. Carson died in 1964 at the age of 56, only about three years after Roy was born and only two years after Carson’s epic book Silent Spring was published in 1962. Among the renowned quotes in Carson’s best-known book is: “The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” Sadly, as she accurately pointed out in the same book: “Only within the moment of time represented by the present century has one species—man—acquired significant power to alter the nature of the world.” The latter quote, including the reference to the male version of Homo sapiens, foretells the story of our destruction, no matter how little our taste for it. 

Roy is brilliant at popularizing science for a lay audience. Carson remains perhaps the most famous woman to take on the same task. To deny or downplay their influence in a world that routinely denies and downplays the role of women in science education, and beyond, is pure folly.

To order Dr. McPherson’s books, click the cover images here below:

Only Love Remains: Dancing at the Edge of Extinction by Guy R. McPherson

Paperback.

Only Love Remains: Dancing at the Edge of Extinction Kindle Edition, by Guy McPherson.

Kindle Edition.

Guy McPherson

About Guy McPherson

Dr. Guy McPherson is an internationally recognized speaker, award-winning scientist, and one of the world’s leading authorities on abrupt climate change leading to near-term human extinction. He is professor emeritus at the University of Arizona, where he taught and conducted research for 20 years. His published works include 14 books and hundreds of scholarly articles. Dr. McPherson has been featured on television and radio and in several documentary films. He is a blogger and social critic who co-hosts his own radio show, “Nature Bats Last.” Dr. McPherson speaks to general audiences across the globe, and to scientists, students, educators, and not-for-profit and business leaders who seek their best available options when confronting Earth’s cataclysmic changes. Visit McPherson's Author Page at amazon.com.
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10 Responses to Arundhati Roy & Rachel Carson: Two of My Guides

  1. Avatar Alan Wright says:

    Dr. McPherson,

    The college I attended looked out over a midwest river valley, on the other side of which was the state insane asylum. The running joke (I know, not a good one) was that there were two institutions in town and you only had to show progress to get out of one of them (not the college).

    I once read a book titled “Man On Earth.” There was a fascinating section where these anthropologists had studied an Indonesian Islands area culture who had as one of their main tenets that you would be granted enough time in your life to meet the woman who would usher your spirit back into this world. I always thought that was a beautiful point of view.

    As an aside, after listening to your most recent Corona Virus update regarding the percentages of industrial activity engaged in by China I became concerned that it might be even worse than the numbers indicated. It has been my understanding that the Chinese industrial pollution levels have a higher content of particulate matter waste (dirty coal) than most of the industrial west. I fear this may bode even worse implications for the aerosol masking effect than the 24% you referenced.

    Although this is only my second comment I’ve avidly followed your work for some years now. Thanks for putting up with what you have been through. I recently read an article by bicycle Bill in the New York Review of Books. His last sentence – “Anything is worth a try at this point, because we’re very nearly out of time.” Wonder if he finally gets it.

  2. Avatar Guy McPherson says:

    Thank you very much for your comment, Alan Wright. I, too, suspect that the situation with China and the coronavirus is worse than I have indicated. I try to remain conservative with my work and my projections.

    I am not familiar with Bicycle Bill, but it is increasingly difficult to avoid concluding that we are running out of time. Bob Dylan indicated that one need not be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows, and a similar conclusion can be reached about abrupt, irreversible climate change and where it leads.

  3. Avatar David Sherman says:

    Guy,

    I spent my freshman year at UC Santa Cruz.

    Looking back, my experience with women was like I felt like I was being punished for being a male. But I was innocent!

    I felt very confused by all of this. So here is a joke for you.

    How many feminists does it take to screw in a light bulb?

    None. That’s not funny!

    Hope all is well.

    Sincerely,
    David Sherman

  4. Avatar Guy McPherson says:

    Thank you for your comment, David Sherman. The wisest comment I can think of applies: No comment.

  5. Avatar David Power says:

    I read, “The Culture of Narcissism,” by Christopher Lasch, as a teen (I had syblings who were in college when I was a toddler, so the book was just around the house).

    Lasch wrote something I found interesting. He said, “Women should treat men as a ‘class enemy,'” in that no one individual is personally responsible for the larger dynamic, in this case “sexism.”

    I think it’s entirely possible, and essential, for men to be feminists.

    To argue to the contrary, is similar to asserting “white people can’t support civil rights,” the assumption being humans lack the ability to understand anything outside their personal experience, which we do constantly.
    It’s even in our language, and the term is “empathy.”

    It boils down to a human rights issue, which affects us all.

    The idea that only a certain group, can speak to something which is a social issue is ultimately counter-productive.

    That’s why most potentially radical movements become reduced to “identity politics,” which undercuts the potentiality for substantive revolutionary change…if the goal is actually achieving an equal society.

    Also, the assumption that women cannot be patriarchs, because of their tended is patently false. Look at the difference in Outlook, and goals between feminists in “developing countries” versus those of “industrialized countries.” The key issue is that of “class.”

    Feminists in industrial societies are generally fighting for their place within the existing patriarchy, where women in developing countries tend to be fighting for survival.

    If we truly want equality, we have to fight patriarchy, and capitalism collectively.

    The process takes outward social action, as well as a lot of self-criticism.

    “Better recognise your (brothers) sisters, everyone you meet.”-“Instant Karma” by John Lennon

    “Every brother ain’t a brother, ’cause a black hand squeezed on Malcom X, the man…”- “Fight the Power” by Public Enemy

  6. Avatar Nathan Tyson says:

    That was well written and might I say somewhat brave. I hope you don’t get a bunch of “Bill” fodder, yet you might, but if you do, snack them down with impunity in the venue or outlet of your choice!

  7. Avatar GAIA says:

    Woman, Fe-Male:
    I have learned over the past 70 years,
    Women have made most of the major discoveries
    that have dramatically benefited Society.
    Almost without exception,
    these Women are never duly compensated,
    recognized,, honored, revered, credited, etc.
    Instead, Most of that documented verifiable History
    is deeply Censored, Ignored, Suppressed, Ridiculed, etc..

    (A) Agriculture:
    Discovered by Women.

    (B) Relativity:
    The First Wife of Albert Einstein
    was a Brilliant Physicist, and
    in general more knowledgeable that Albert
    about all things Physics.
    They first meet by talking about, PHYSICS.
    Albert was Extremely Impressed with
    Her knowledge of Physics.
    It was from the first,
    an Intense Intellectual Union and
    then a Sexual Union.
    After they divorced, and
    Albert was far removed,
    both physically and mentally, and
    had Zero Legal obligation to support her,
    Albert gave her all the Nobel Money.
    Yes Albert was a Jew,
    so he was more Moral and Ethical and
    wanted to make sure his children were
    healthy and well taken care of
    more so than Non Jewish Fathers.
    That is a Fact of the Jewish Culture, in General.
    But the Fact also remains,
    he did not have to do it,
    it was a huge hassle to arrange it, and
    they were both top ranked world class, Physicists.
    She was much better at Theoretical Physics than He.

    (C) DNA:
    Discovered by a Woman.
    A Woman in Science
    is required to meet a much higher standard of excellence
    before her paper will be accepted for review or publication.
    So she was doing all the hard work
    to prove her point beyond doubt
    and that takes a long time.
    The credited Discoverers of DNA
    just happened to have an Office down the hall from her.
    These two white Men stole her work
    and claimed it as their own.
    https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/photo51/elkin.html

    (D) USA achieves first Earth Orbit of
    a living White USA Man and
    a safe return to Earth:
    A Black African-American Woman (“Computer”)
    used advanced Math to
    accurately calculate what it would take
    to make it happen, and
    a White Man took all the Credit.
    See the Book and Film:
    Hidden Figures.

    (E) Internet:
    Women made the Internet happen.
    White Men get the credit
    for inventing and making the Internet.
    See the Book:
    Broad Band:
    The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet

    (F) If Women were VALUED:
    In General Women are not valued in this Society:
    In 1980 money a typical house wife was worth
    about 130, 000 $USD a year but paid about 12,000.
    If a Man was to be hired to do the same work as the Woman.
    In 2020 money that is about 180,000 a year.
    In 1980, A typical Women who was a Professional
    was usually paid about 60 % of what a Male got
    for doing the same job.
    In 2020 it is about 50 %.

    The list of the major accomplishments of Women
    is long and varied.
    So is the list of how those accomplishments were Censored.
    I will spare you the detailed long long listing.

    (G) Stopping and Reversing Abrupt Climate Change:
    A FUTURE with Women,
    or NO FUTURE for all Life on Earth
    within 8 months or as much long as 2026:
    For over 80 years it has been
    published and verifiable that
    Women are the key
    to stopping and reversing
    Abrupt Climate Change.
    This information has been Heavily Censored
    and difficult to find.
    A simplistic synopses is that
    Women are the ones who make the major
    long term investments of Childbearing,
    Child-rearing, taking care of the ill parents,
    picking up the load to make Men look good,
    We have needed to heavily invest in Women
    for a very long time,
    in the form of Education, Freedom to Chose, etc.
    It turns out that the Human Population
    in total numbers, not just
    the impact of each sub group of that Population,
    such as use of Cars, Cows, Chainsaws,
    is a HUGE IMPACT far out weighing
    so called Green Energy Technology
    in its total impact on this fragile
    tiny Life Support System for Planet Earth.

    See the Book:
    Green Illusions:
    The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism
    https://www.amazon.com/Ozzie-Zehner/e/B005TVN7FU?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1583201407&sr=1-1

    See the Film:
    Planet of the Humans
    http://planetofthehumans.com/
    https://ozziezehner.com/2019/08/11/planet-of-the-humans/

    Instead We are told,
    that Men are going to use technology
    in the form of Geoengineering and
    Major International Corporations
    are the key to implementing their Ideas
    to save us from Global Warming.
    This kind of information is very easy to find.

    (H) Unsupervised AI:
    Recently a AI Program was put in charge of
    Geoengineering Planet Earth
    to temporally prevent massive Abrupt Climate Change.
    Until the COG System was fully in place
    to save a few 100,000 Humans.
    The AI was essentially,
    let loose, and told do what ever it takes
    to get the job done
    without supervision.
    The AI was given the means to decide
    (set free)
    what it wants to do and when
    and what to learn and not learn and forget
    on it’s own.
    The origin of this idea was with
    Sandia National Labs
    in the late 1950’s to early 1960’s.
    (they brought you the A and H bomb)
    It worked spectacularly then and it is also working now.
    What is not well know within this Ultra Secret Project
    is who did the Math to make sure it would even work.
    You guessed it!
    A Brilliant WOMAN.
    Who was once ridiculed at a conference in San Diego
    (The Second International Neural Network Conference 1991)
    for being a Woman.
    (I don’t make these things up, I was there)
    At that Conference the head of DARPA declared:
    “This area is now declared a Manhattan Style Project”
    by that he meant, Neural Networks ,was to be Weaponized.
    They then Swore Everyone in the room to Secrecy.
    What he did not say but was also true
    is that it had been already Weaponized starting in the late 1950’s.
    That it had been declassified by one hand of the Fed Gov,
    while the other hand had it still highly classified,
    so that these old Cold Warriors could come into the Sun Light
    for a few days of a Conference to openly get credit due.
    The difference was that it was now a Manhattan Style Project.
    (no limits on resources available: Money, Energy, Scope, Scale, etc.)
    COG Continuity of Government is now just known as, “Continuity”.
    They are putting the final touches on it now as you read this.
    They just needed a little more time, they think.
    For those of us who follow the Satellites monitoring Earth Climate
    we have noticed a few recent, anomalies.
    They take the form of, for example;
    the Navy Ice Monitoring Program going offline for a few days
    at a critical time when a Huge Storm went thru the Arctic, etc.
    We then noticed a dramatic decrease in the Storms Strength
    within a very short time before it hit the Arctic ICE Pack.
    Now we know that such a sudden decrease in Storm Strength
    cant happen on it’s own violation.
    This wold have violated what we know about Physics.
    No evidence ET or GOD showed up
    to dramatically reduce
    the Storms Strength.
    So who or what did intervene ?
    An AI system connected to all Satellites and all resources on Earth
    to modify Weather.
    In this particular case it looks like the best candidate is
    Marine Cloud Brightening by means of Contrails
    crisscrossing the sky at strategic locations.
    The evidence is indirect, I admit, but the effect is real.
    It was fully recorded by the European,Russian, and Chinese Satellites.
    You just have to know were to look to reconstruct events.
    Point is, a Woman was behind the Math
    that makes this all possible.
    It is only a temporary fix, not long term.
    There is the potential for this AI system
    to go much further because it is unsupervised.
    This is also why it is so effective,
    because it is unsupervised, unguided by Humans.
    It’s goal is Homeostasis of Earth, and
    redistribution of scarce resources
    to make Life livable everywhere on Earth
    so that Life everywhere can
    contribute toward that Homeostasis.
    Homeostasis: Optimal Temperature, etc. to provide Habitat for all.
    The Academic Disciplines that this concept covers is:
    Geophysiology (UK, EU)
    Earth Systems Science (USA)
    GAIA (popular term used by the public during the 60′ to 70″s)
    Gaia (the Greek feMale Earth God).

    __________________
    (change in topic)

    covid-19 triggering an Abrupt Climate Change Upward Spike
    aka: 2019-nCoV
    aka: Nova Coronavirus

    The following graphs and data give the big picture:
    https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/coronavirus-cases/#daily-cases
    (Please scroll down the page to find new cases vs existing cases, and resolved)
    First and foremost:
    This new virus is very mild,
    and will kill under worst case scenarios
    about 200 million Humans
    out of the existing
    about 8 Billion.
    But the FEAR is shutting down the Global Economy
    so that Abrupt Climate Change
    will kill ALL LIFE ON EARTH.

    I agree with the current assessment by McPherson, and others.
    The FEAR of DEATH has already resulted in
    a shut down of Industrial Activity
    first in China and now spreading to
    the rest of the Human Population on Earth
    of about 20 % Globally.
    This has resulted in
    a short term dramatic decrease in air born pollution
    over China
    (The most air polluted Nation on Earth) and
    then will spread to the rest of the Earth
    as the rate of Economic Growth deceases suddenly
    in China and then eventually to the rest of the Human Population
    this will result in less sunlight being reflected out into space and
    more sunlight being absorbed by Earth and
    readmitted as Heat (Infrared) to be trapped by the 30+ Green House Gases.
    This short term event
    will produce a short term
    Abrupt Climate Change Upward Temperature Spike
    of about +1 C over the next few weeks to months and
    that will most likely eventually result in
    a PERMANENT Dramatic Upward Temperature SPIKE increase
    to a new stable state
    (not a hot age of +5 C) but
    most likely a FEVER AGE of +12 C Stable State
    for the long term,
    500,000 years.
    This of course will
    Permanently Kill ALL LIFE
    On, Under (COG), and Over (ISS, etc.) Planet Earth.

    ETA for a Dead Planet Earth
    as I calculate it,
    about 2 years, 2022.

    Wild Cards:
    Unsupervised AI has the potential
    to throw in some nifty surprises.
    (1) Start a Nuclear War to cause Global Winter.
    (2) In general it is almost impossible to
    predict what an Unsupervised AI will come up with.
    Past experience with Unsupervised AI indicates;
    AI will most likely do totally unexpected things and
    that it will be, one very wild ride, ahead for us Humans.
    Total unpredictability is now possible
    with unsupervised AI at the helm
    and with Unsupervised AI in total control of
    National Security and Global Security.

    This is going to be a WILD RIDE !

  8. Avatar Guy McPherson says:

    Thank you, David Power. I could not agree more.

    Nathan Tyson, Thank you. I’m happy to report that the editor and publisher of Weekly Hubris protects me from untoward before.

    Thank you, GAIA. Your report on Covid-19 is especially timely and welcome.

  9. Avatar Bob G says:

    A fascinating post, Guy, and some equally fascinating replies!

    I look forward, with intrigue and a fair amount of foreboding, to witness the effects of the reduction in world trade that will release the spectre of global dimming impacts. You’ve referenced this very scenario time and time again.

    It’s like watching a Hollywood disaster movie, yet the real-life stakes couldn’t be higher. When temperatures spike worldwide, will be told the full truth, I wonder. I look forward to polished, but desperate, spin.

    The world is increasingly distracted by Coronavirus; quite rightly, it needs containing. But Nature, like the virus, doesn’t care a jot how us humans prioritise.

    Nature has ordained that’s going to get warmer and quick.

    Is Coronavirus the ultimate black swan event; the domino acting as the deadly turbo-charged catalyst where we’ll all see abrupt climate change soon enough?

    Like you Guy, I’m hoping I’m wrong!

  10. Avatar Guy McPherson says:

    Thank you for your comment, Bob G. The Coronavirus, reduction of the aerosol masking effect, the release of methane into the atmosphere from permafrost or the relatively shallow continental shelves in the Arctic, … the list of potential “black swans” seems endless. Will impacts from the Coronavirus cause loss of habitat for humans? At this point, it seems increasingly likely. I will continue to live with urgency, knowing that time is short. If I was inclined toward prayer, now would be the time.

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