Global Warming And The Future Of Humanity: An Interview With Noam Chomsky And Graciela Chichilnisky

Photo: en.wikipedia.org

Noam Chomsky

Graciela Chichilinsky

Graciela Chichilinsky

truth-out.org. September 2016. How serious of an issue is climate change? Does global warming really threaten human civilization? Can it be reversed, or is it already late?

In this interview for Truthout, two scholars, Noam Chomsky, one of the world’s leading public intellectuals, and Graciela Chichilnisky, a renowned economist and climate change authority who wrote and designed the carbon market of the Kyoto Protocol, concur on a few key points. First of all, global warming and climate change constitute the greatest challenge facing humanity, and may pose an even greater threat to our species than that of nuclear weapons. Secondly, the operations of the capitalist world economy are at the core of the climate change threat because of over-reliance on fossil fuels and a perverse sense of economic values. Thirdly, the world needs to adopt alternative energy systems as quickly as possible. And finally, it is crucial to explore technologies to assist us in reversing climate change — as time is running out.

C. J. Polychroniou: A consensus seems to be emerging among scientists and even political and social analysts that global warming and climate change represent the greatest threat to the planet. Do you concur with this view, and why?

Noam Chomsky: I agree with the conclusion of the experts who set the Doomsday Clock for the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. They have moved the Clock two minutes closer to midnight — three minutes to midnight — because of the increasing threats of nuclear war and global warming. That seems to me a credible judgment. Review of the record shows that it’s a near miracle that we have survived the nuclear age. There have been repeated cases when nuclear war came ominously close, often a result of malfunctioning of early-warning systems and other accidents, sometimes [as a result of] highly adventurist acts of political leaders. It has been known for some time that a major nuclear war might lead to nuclear winter that would destroy the attacker as well as the target. And threats are now mounting, particularly at the Russian border, confirming the prediction of George Kennan and other prominent figures that NATO expansion, particularly the way it was undertaken, would prove to be a “tragic mistake,” a “policy error of historic proportions.”

As for climate change, it’s by now widely accepted by the scientific community that we have entered a new geological era, the Anthropocene, in which the Earth’s climate is being radically modified by human action, creating a very different planet, one that may not be able to sustain organized human life in anything like a form we would want to tolerate. There is good reason to believe that we have already entered the Sixth Extinction, a period of destruction of species on a massive scale, comparable to the Fifth Extinction 65 million years ago, when three-quarters of the species on earth were destroyed, apparently by a huge asteroid. Atmospheric CO2 is rising at a rate unprecedented in the geological record since 55 million years ago. There is concern — to quote a statement by 150 distinguished scientists — that “global warming, amplified by feedbacks from polar ice melt, methane release from permafrost, and extensive fires, may become irreversible,” with catastrophic consequences for life on Earth, humans included — and not in the distant future. Sea level rise and destruction of water resources as glaciers melt alone may have horrendous human consequences.

Graciela Chichilnisky: The consensus is that climate change ranks along with nuclear warfare as the top two risks facing human civilization. If nuclear warfare is believed to be somewhat controlled, then climate change is now the greatest threat.

As difficult as it is to eliminate the risk of nuclear warfare, it requires fewer changes to the global economy than does averting or reversing climate change. Climate change is due to the use of energy for industrial growth, which has been and is overwhelmingly based on fossil fuels. Changing an economic system that is bent on uncontrolled and poorly measured economic growth and depends on fossil energy for its main objectives, is much more difficult than changing how nuclear energy is used for military purposes. Some think it may be impossible.

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Knud S. Larsen, Reidar Ommundsen & Kees van der Veer ~ Being Human: Relationships And You

veerhuman17 x 24 cm
520 pag.
€ 49,50
ISBN 978 90 5170 994 0
NUR 770
2008

A Social Psychological Analysis

This book represents a new look at social psychology and relationships for the discerning reader and university student. The title of the book argues forcefully that the very nature of being human is defined by our relationships with others, our lovers, family, and our functional or dysfunctional interactions.
Written in easy to follow logical progression the volume covers all major topical areas of social psychology, with results of empirical research of the most recent years included. A common project between American and European social psychologists the book seeks to build a bridge between research findings in both regions of the world. In doing so the interpretations of the research takes a critical stand toward dysfunction in modern societies, and in particular the consequences of endless war and repression.

Including topics as varied as an overview of the theoretical domains of social psychology and recent research on morality, justice and the law, the book promises a stimulating introduction to contemporary views of what it means to be human.
A major emphasis of the book is the effect of culture in all major topical areas of social psychology including conceptions of the self, attraction, relationships and love, social cognition, attitude formation and behavior, influences of group membership, social influence, persuasion, hostile images, aggression and altruism, and moral behavior.

Table of contents

Preface
Introduction
1. The Theoretical Domain and Methods of Social Psychology
2. Cultural and Social Dimensions of the Self
3. Attraction and Relationships: The Journey from Initial Attachments to Romantic Love
4. Social Cognition: How We Think about the Social World
5. Attitude Formation and Behavior
6. The Influences of Group Membership
7. Processes of Social Influence: Conformity, Compliance and Obedience
8. Persuasion
9. Hostile Inter-group Behavior: Prejudice, Stereotypes, and Discrimination
10. Aggression: The Common Thread of Humanity
11. Altruism and Prosocial Behavior
12. Morality: Competition, Justice and Cooperation
References

“Therefore this reading has a rare and valuable feature, that of making a link between American and European social psychology: “Being human: Relationships and you” is an excellent example of how the two lines of thought are actually articulated…it is clearly written, using a professional yet assessable language and therefore easy to read by even the non-specialist public…always pointing to the fact that social psychology is not “just a science” but it deals with issues that constitute the substance of our existence as humans”.

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Graham Greene And Mexico ~ A Hint Of An Explanation

GrahamGreene

Graham Greene 1904 – 1991

In a short letter to the press, in which he referred to Mexico, Graham Greene substantially expressed his view of the world.
“I must thank Mr. Richard West for his understanding notice of The Quiet American. No critic before, that I can remember, has thus pinpointed my abhorrence of the American liberal conscience whose results I have seen at work in Mexico, Vietnam, Haiti and Chile.”
(Yours, etc., Letters to the Press. 1979)

Mexico is a peripheral country with a difficult history, and undeniably the very long border that it shares with the most powerful nation on earth has largely determined its fate.
After his trip to Mexico in 1938, Greene had very hard words to say about the latter country, but then he spoke with equal harshness about the “hell” he had left behind in his English birthplace, Berkhamsted. He “loathed” Mexico…” but there were times when it seemed as if there were worse places. Mexico “was idolatry and oppression, starvation and casual violence, but you lived under the shadow of religion – of God or the Devil.”
However, the United States was worse:
“It wasn’t evil, it wasn’t anything at all, it was just the drugstore and the Coca Cola, the hamburger, the sinless empty graceless chromium world.”
(Lawless Roads)

He also expressed abhorrence for what he saw on the German ship that took him back to Europe:
“Spanish violence, German Stupidity, Anglo-Saxon absurdity…the whole world is exhibited in a kind of crazy montage.”
(Ibidem)

As war approached, he wrote: “Violence came nearer – Mexico is a state of mind.” In “the grit of the London afternoon”, he said, “I wondered why I had disliked Mexico so much.” Indeed, upon asking himself why Mexico had seemed so bad and London so good, he responded: “I couldn’t remember”.
And we ourselves can repeat the same unanswered question. Why such virulent hatred of Mexico? We know that his money was devalued there, that he caught dysentery there, that the fallout from the libel suit that he had lost awaited him upon his return to England, and that he lost his reading glasses, among other things that could so exasperate a man that he would express his discontent in his writing, but I recall that it was one of Greene’s friends, dear Judith Adamson, who described one of his experiences in Mexico as unfair. Why?

GreeneAgentThe answer might lie in the fact that he never mentioned all the purposes of his trip.
In The Confidential Agent, one of the three books that Greene wrote after returning to England, working on it at the same time as The Power and the Glory, he makes no mention whatsoever of Mexico, but it is hard to believe that the said work had nothing to do with such an important experience as his trip there.
D, the main character in The Confidential Agent, goes to England in pursuit of an important coal contract that will enable the government he represents to fight the fascist rebels in the Spanish Civil War, though Greene never explicitly states that the country in question is Spain. The said confidential agent knows that his bosses don’t trust him and have good reason not to do so, just as he has good reason to mistrust them.
We, who know Greene only to the extent that he wanted us to know him, are aware that writers recount their own lives as if they were those of other people, and describe the lives of others as if they were their own. Might he not, then, have transferred to a character called D, in a completely different setting, his own real experiences as a confidential agent in Mexico?
Besides wishing to witness the religious persecution in Mexico first-hand, his mission might also have been to report on developments in the aforesaid country and regarding its resources -above all its petroleum- in view of the imminent outbreak of the Second World War. Read more

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Auke van der Berg ~ Buurvrouw

buurvrouw1978 94 9201 009 4
112 pagina’s
14 x 21 cm
Euro 10,00

Als je door de stad wandelt, kuier je temidden van duizend en een verhalen. De een is goedgemutst, een ander redt het maar net, allemaal proberen we er iets van te maken.

Stukjes, kronkels, cursiefjes, we hebben er verschillende namen voor. Voor die notities die je maakt als je door de stad wandelt.
In Buurvrouw zijn zo rond de vijftig van de stukjes gebundeld die Auke van der Berg in de afgelopen tijd schreef.
Zijn oude buurvrouw, de bibliothecaresse van de dorpsbibliotheek, de taxichauffeur die niet weet wat houden van is en de junk die rekent op pensioen komen voorbij, net als de verpleegster die ontslagen wordt en de consultant die door toeval weet hoe de wereld in elkaar steekt.

De bundel is verschenen bij uitgeverij Rheia. Rozenberg verzorgt de rechtstreekse bestellingen.

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Joseph Conrad Collection

Joseph Conrad was born to Polish parents in 1857 in Berdychiv, which is part of modern Ukraine. As a young man he spent 19 years as a merchant marine sailing on French and British ships. His years at sea and the various persons he encountered served as inspiration for events and characters in his subsequent literary career. English was his third language (after Polish and French), which imbues his writing with a distinct style.
The Joseph Conrad collection contains manuscripts, letters, documents, and photographs. Of particular significance are manuscripts for several of his novels, including Almayer’s Folly (1895), Chance (1913), and Victory (1915). His outgoing correspondence includes letters to Henry D. Davray, Norman Douglas, Henry James, Alfred A. Knopf, and others.

Incoming correspondence has been excluded from this online collection due to copyright concerns.

This collection was digitized as part of Project REVEAL (Read and View English & American Literature).

Go to: http://hrc.contentdm.oclc.org/

Joseph Conrad ~ Nostromo

Author’s Note
“Nostromo” is the most anxiously meditated of the longer novels which belong to the period following upon the publication of the “Typhoon” volume of short stories.
I don’t mean to say that I became then conscious of any impending change in my mentality and in my attitude towards the tasks of my writing life. And perhaps there was never any change, except in that mysterious, extraneous thing which has nothing to do with the theories of art; a subtle change in the nature of the inspiration; a phenomenon for which I can not in any way be held responsible. What, however, did cause me some concern was that after finishing the last story of the “Typhoon” volume it seemed somehow that there was nothing more in the world to write about. Read more

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The Gates of Damascus

Someone else’s things are in the house: school notebooks that don’t belong to Asma, a cardboard box of cheap cookies Hala would never buy, a small bottle of Syrian perfume. My cupboard is full of junk, and there’s an unfamiliar dress hanging on the line.
Hala comes in around noon, in a hurry, plastic bags full of groceries in both hands. She looks tired – her face is swollen. ‘I thought you’d never come back!’ We hug, clumsily as always.
‘We have guests,’ she says.
‘Yes, I noticed.’
‘Sahar and Aisha, they’re not staying long.’ Sahar is a Christian, I suddenly remember, her husband a Muslim. There you have it – the religious differences everyone has been talking about during the last few days don’t apply to Hala and her friends.
‘Have you heard the news? They say the prisoners are going to be released. Sahar is having her house fixed up; that’s why she’s staying here.’
‘What about Ahmed?’
Hala shrugs. ‘He asked me to bring him his winter clothes. That means he’s planning to stay for a while.’

She begins peeling potatoes in the kitchen; the children will be coming home any minute. I bring in the folding table from the hallway, pull up a plastic chair and apply myself to the green beans. Hala gives me a searching look. ‘How was it? Anything interesting happen?’ She sounds skeptical.
I tell her about Father Léon’s weird cap, the grumbling hikers, the ups and downs of Louise’s love life. I suddenly realize that when I arrived in Syria I didn’t even know whether Hala was a Christian or a Muslim – we didn’t talk about those things back then.
‘Do you consider me a typical Christian? Have you ever thought of me that way?’
Hala laughs in surprise. ‘No, what makes you think that?’
‘Oh, I don’t know, I just wondered.’

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