The Climate in Emergency

A weekly blog on science, news, and ideas related to climate change


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Big Deals, Variously Shaded Green

About that Green New Deal?

In preparation for writing today’s post, I reread my article on the GND, and I got angry. Not angry at what I wrote, I stand by my work, but angry at what I didn’t write and the fact that I need to write it.

Simply put, the GND is a statement of intention that includes a commitment to make the changes scientists say we need to make in order to avert climate catastrophe–why is this a radical assertion? Why are even most self-described environmentalists even considering doing anything else? The proposition that averting catastrophe might be too expensive is–

It’s unforgivable.

There. I said it. Too many of us are too used to ignoring reality, so when somebody says something like this we tend not to really notice. I almost let it slip by myself. But the fact of the matter is that some of the best, and best-informed, minds on the planet tell us that we must make radical changes very quickly OR ELSE. That’s real. That’s the situation. It’s not propaganda, it’s not fear-mongering, it’s not an alternative fact, it’s the reality we live with. It’s unavoidable. And anyone who favors gradual transition (let alone no transition) over rapid, near-term decarbonization is either ignoring that reality or actively choosing their own short-term gain at the expense of the future of everybody and everything else.

Now, that doesn’t mean that Representative Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal is the only possible solution, or even the best solution. Her approach combines a commitment to rapid decarbonization with a commitment to participatory social justice and a massive government spending program most probably funded, at least initially, by deficit spending. Sounds pretty good to me, but there’s certainly room for people to share the environmental commitment while disagreeing over details, or even disagreeing with the other parts of her vision entirely. I mean, yes, disavowing a commitment to social justice is also unforgivable, but for different reasons. You can be a stinker of a person and still stand ready to do something about climate change.

As for deficit spending, I’m not an economist. I have to bow to other heads on that one, and the other heads have various differing opinions.

But we need a emergency response plan for climate, and we need it now, and it must include the following components:

  1. A commitment to rapid decarbonization within the timeline suggested by current science.
  2. A  plan to cope with the fact that certain powerful people don’t want to decarbonize and will fight climate action tooth and nail.
  3. A method of decarbonization that is a net social good. Climate action needs to be an additional reason to do the right thing, not an excuse to do the wrong thing.

How are we going to get off fossil fuel and quickly as we must? I don’t know, but that doesn’t change the fact that we do need to do it. We simply have to figure it  out–and figure it out damn quickly.

Green New Deals (Plural)

As you may now, the Green New Deal resolution sponsored in the House by Representative Ocasio-Cortez was introduced to the Senate, sponsored by a group of Democrats–none of whom voted for it. They voted “present.” I really don’t understand the strategy there, but be that as it may, several of them offered alternatives immediately afterwards. There are Republican alternatives, too. By way of keeping tabs on an evolving situation, let’s take a look at these options.

The Green Real Deal

The Green Real Deal is a Republican answer to the GND. It was drafted by Representative, Matt Gaetz (R-FL), a Trump supporter hostile to environmental regulation (he introduced a purely symbolic bill to abolish the EPA last year) who nonetheless seems genuinely interested in doing something about climate change. His proposal doesn’t meet my criteria (it contains no timeline for reducing emissions) but is at least a Republican entry to the conversation–overall, a good thing, or at least the beginning of a good thing. I’ve been saying for a long time that it’s bad for the country for the Democrats to be the only ones attempting to address climate change; we need everybody at the table, a real diversity of ideas.

The Real Deal has existed in at least some form since March, but was officially introduced to the House of Representatives in early April. According to a draft copy of the Real Deal, the proposal is substantially a less-ambitious version of the GND–and a less-ambitious resolution might indeed be a good starting place. If we can get everybody to agree on some basic principles now, maybe we can built to meaningful action later? The problem is that the Real Deal includes a call for “free and fair” energy development on Federal land and “eliminating” or “modernizing” various regulations, and “modernizing the implementation of” the National Environmental Policy Act in order to speed the development of various alternative energy options.

Even if we give Mr. Gaetz a pass and assume he is acting in good faith, it doesn’t take much of a leap to conclude that such changes would be promptly taken advantage of by fossil fuel companies.

The Green Real Deal contains no concrete goals and calls for no new limitations on fossil fuel use, only vague or voluntary steps, while calling for further dismantling of current environmental protections.

Hmmm.

Carper’s Resolution

Back in February, Democrat Senator Tom Carper, of Delaware, introduced a resolution, since co-sponsored by all Senate Democrats, meant as a less-ambitious starting point and something at least the whole party can agree on.

Here it is:

Climate change is real, human activity during the last century is the dominant cause of the climate crisis; and the United States and Congress should take immediate action to address the challenge of climate change.

You don’t get less ambitious than that, but at least it’s something. I’m curious as to whether Mr. Gaetz will sign on to it, when and if it reaches the House. He really should, given the content of his own proposal.

The New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy

Let’s just leave aside the negative connotations of the term “Manhattan Project” for now. “Moon shot” is a much better analogy, seeing as President Kennedy’s challenge didn’t create a fifth horseman of the apocalypse, but never mind. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) meant to invoke the image of intensive government investment in innovation as a way to solve a pressing problem. And it’s not a bad proposal.

Mr. Alexander lists ten technological challenges, including greener buildings and better batteries, calls for a doubling of Federal funding on research, and sets a goal of meeting all ten challenges within five years. Some of his priorities are debatable, but that’s OK: I’m sure they’ll be debated.

The only real drawback I see is that our current problem is not really technological, but rather political, cultural, and economic–we’re not making anywhere near full use of the technological solutions we have. Mr. Alexander’s proposal does nothing to assure that we’ll use new technological solutions, either. And no matter how much clean energy we produce, there’s no guarantee we’ll use less dirty energy. More likely, our total energy use will simply increase, without definitive leadership to the contrary.

But while the New Manhattan Project won’t solve the climate crisis by itself, it could do substantial good as one piece of a larger solution. Increased funding and leadership in technology for clean energy can only be a public and planetary good, and the effort will spur both economic activity in the clean energy sector and ongoing public discussion of climate-related issues. As long as Mr. Alexander does not use his proposal as a rhetorical device for fighting against other people’s proposals, he could be part of the solution.

A Framework for Climate Action in the US Congress

Representative Paul Tonko has proposed a “framework,” a set of principles which he suggests all proposed legislation should follow. It’s a simple, straight-forward document that differs from the Green New Deal only in being much less detailed and in not being as assertive in its rhetoric–but the first principle is “Adopt science-based targets for Greenhouse Gas Neutrality by Mid-Century,” so it’s really just as ambitious.

The only problem is it’s not a resolution–it doesn’t ask anyone to formally and publicly commit to it. Perhaps Mr. Tonko judges that formal commitment is strategically counterproductive at this time. He may be right, I don’t know. But I’d like to see such a commitment made, and made soon.

Keeping the Pressure Up

I have not attempted to make this list exhaustive, nor have I looked for the most up-to-date news on all proposals. I don’t want this post to get too long. My intention is to explore alternatives and foster conversation. But it’s important to realize that the alternatives to the GND are not being put forward in a vacuum–a critical component is the political reality that American people want at least some climate action.

It’s up to us to keep the pressure up. If we do, the Green New Deal Resolution, or some reasonable alternative to it, will pass, followed by meaningful climate legislation. Unfortunately, I remain unable to find anyone organizing public demonstrations in the United States.

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Catching Up

There’s this thing that happens when I do several weeks of re-posts and excerpts for whatever reason–so many things happen that I could be writing about that it all builds up and then when I come back to writing new posts, I don’t know which topic to pick up. I can’t decide.

So to clear the decks, here’s what we’ve missed.

Severe Weather

January and February brought record-breaking temperatures to parts of South America and Australia (Australia’s heat waves were so bad that infrastructure was damaged and wild fruit bats fell dead out of the trees) as well as floods in some areas and severe droughts in others. The Northern Hemisphere, meanwhile, had bitter cold in some areas and record-breaking warmth in others, due to a destabilized polar vortex, possibly climate change-related–and some areas had massive snowfalls, which is not generally a sign of unusual cold (it doesn’t have to be very cold for snow) but simply a wintery version of a flood.

The American Midwest flooded severely through March, largely as a result of huge snowfalls, causing major damage to stored crops and to farm lands and equipment–much of which isn’t covered by any existing disaster relief program because this particular kind of disaster has never happened before.

Meanwhile, Southern Africa also saw catastrophic flooding in March, the result of a cyclone (the same kind of storm is called a hurricane in the Atlantic) that made landfall just days after unrelated rainstorms caused regional flooding. Cyclone Idai was an odd storm. Though only a Class 2, which seems minor by American or Asian standards, it was the most powerful cyclone ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere, and it developed mostly between Madagascar and Africa–apparently storms in that area don’t usually become powerful, but this one had an unusually warm pool of water beneath it, a story we should find familiar. The fact that the area between Madagascar and Africa is not large also suggests to me that Idai underwent rapid intensification, another familiar sign of the new normal.

Migrants continue to head north from Honduras, partly because worsening droughts and rising temperatures are destroying their farms back home. Even if the US were better prepared to handle the crisis well, the flood of refugees would be a challenge.

Then there was the night in April when the entire US Eastern Seaboard was under a tornado watch and some tornadoes dropped down–I’m not bothering to link to a source on that one because I spent part of that night huddled in the guest bathroom with my dogs listening to weird noises on the roof. I am my source.

Of course, it’s still difficult to be sure that a rash of weird weather is actually as abnormal as it seems. Ours is a big world, and there’s lots of room for bad luck in it, while good luck occurs in other places–and I still have not found any figures addressing changes in the number of extreme events over time. But not only is extreme weather symptomatic of climate change in general, but many of these events involve types of extreme weather specifically linked to climate change, such as rapidly intensifying tropical cyclones, heat waves, and a destabilized polar vortex.

Climate Protests

I talked about the recent series of climate protests in Europe, mostly led by teens and children, last month. Well, there’s been another one, this time in London, and it was huge, involving the arrest of 1000 protestors (mostly for protesting in places they didn’t have permits for), and organized by a group called Extinction Rebellion that is less than a year old. They are deliberately disruptive, with an aim towards calling attention to the emergency we are in. Greta Thunberg participated, and addressed Parliament (I’m unclear as to whether she literally spoke within the halls of power or if she delivered her speech elsewhere, trusting they would learn of it).

The action was part of a planned world-wide week of protests, but I have been unable to find any confirmation of events outside of London. Either they didn’t happen or they have been hushed up. Somehow. Coverage of the London events have been quite minimal.

Politics

The Green New Deal continues to percolate through the national conversation–there are articles about it published this week, and various alternatives are being proposed and debated. Great!

Meanwhile, approximately 187 people are now running for president, and more may soon declare, and I’m going to have to write about all of them with respect to climate sooner or later.

So, What’s the Story?

Obviously, there is plenty to talk about. And I’m going to talk about a lot of it. You should, too. We need to keep climate change in the public eye.


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Before Passover

A lot of stuff is going on–there has been lots severe weather to talk about, climate refugees, climate protests, and the potential of the fire at Note Dame as a metaphor. However, I’m rushing to finish a deadline right now, so I’ll get into all of that next week and give you this post on Passover, which starts soon.

Passover and Climate Change

I wrote this some years ago when I noticed “climate change and Easter” turned up virtually nothing but “climate change and Passover” turned up some very interesting articles. Not being Jewish myself, I couldn’t really add anything, but I compiled a short review of the material I found.

This year I’ve just edited it slightly.

Passover: The Four Signs of Climate Change Action

This article uses the story of Moses as an illustration of how spiritual awakening can fuel action and then frames climate change specifically in terms of the themes of the holiday. Modern poetry and Biblical quotes give the short piece great emotional punch.

Signing on to an energy covenant as a family and as an institution becomes an ethical imperative and a sacred task. Passover shows the way — the reawakening of the Earth to new life, the reawakening of our spirit to new possibilities, the transformative recognition of self-empowerment — for we stand on holy ground…and our name is called.

The Miracles of Passover and Climate Change

This article treats the Exodus story as an allegory of our current environmental crisis. It is more literalist, less mystical, than the previous piece, but, interestingly, it refers to our dependence on fossil fuel as a form of slavery.

These past few days, I have been looking through the Passover Haggadah, preparing to lead my Passover Seder. As I sat there reading over some of the miracles of Passover, a slight shiver ran down my back. I have never looked at the ten plagues through the perspective of climate change. Could the Exodus be not just a celebration of our freedom from slavery, but a warning against our consumption of our resources?

Palms, Passover, and Climate Change

This one is an outline of an event that is both an interfaith spiritual service and a political demonstration.
The people move into the streets. Chanting and singing as they go, carrying a portable large-sized globe of Planet Earth, waving the Palm branches, they walk toward a Pyramid of Power of our own day: perhaps an office of Exxon or BP, or a coal-fired power station, or a bank that invests in a coal company that is destroying the mountains of West Virginia,  or a religious or academic or governmental institution which they could call on to end its investments in Big Carbon and invest in renewable energy companies instead.

At Passover and Easter, Remembering Climate Refugees

This one is an essay on the human rights dimension of climate change, explored through the language of both the Christian and Jewish moral traditions.
In modern Jewish social justice ideology, tikkun ‘olam (Repairing the World) has become a critical concept in inspiring people to act. It is the hope that the redemption of humanity and Creation can come through the human choices that we all make in our everyday lives. In the last part of the Passover Seder we look towards that ongoing redemptive process with hope and determination.
So while I am not myself able to write much that is coherent at the moment, plenty of other people have no such limitation.


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Looking to Easter

Hi, all.

Next week is both Easter and Passover. I’ve therefore decided to post my Easter article today, leaving next week free for Passover.

The following article is a re-edited version of a post I wrote three years ago.

Easter is the commemoration of the death of a political prisoner at the hands of the State. I’ve always found the thought of Jesus-as-activist much more intriguing than the possibility of His resurrection–which might be because I’m not Christian, but I know dedicated Christians who seem to feel the same way. It’s a fact that being a good person can be dangerous. It’s also true that we keep having good people anyway.

I’ve decided to honor the incontrovertible miracle of bravery in the face of persecution by acknowledging climate change martyrs–scientists who are being harassed, even threatened, because of their work on climate. Some may be murdered, if the problem persists. They keep working.

The harassment goes back to the mid-1990’s, but has been increasing in recent years. Examples taken from the various articles I read for this piece (and have linked to) include: threats to “see to it” that a scientist would be fired; vague threats on a scientist’s children’s safety; the deposit of a dead rat on a scientist’s doorstep; the display of a noose by an audience member during a public talk by a climate scientist; and multiple, spurious accusations of fraud or other wrongdoing on the part of climate scientists.

That last may seem less frightening than the physical threats, but it’s actually much more sinister. After all, it is illegal to physically attack someone, so the chance of anyone actually making good on a death threat are very low–but it is not illegal to file so many Freedom of Information Act requests or legal challenges over the use of government money that the target cannot conduct research.

Some researchers are becoming afraid to speak out on climate change, sometimes asking that their names not be associated with their work. Others labor on behind locks that have been changed and phone numbers that have been de-listed. This is happening.

Curiously, the problem is largely American. Australian climate scientists have also been harassed, but not on the scale of what their American counterparts have had to deal with. And while Canada has had a serious problem with high-level climate denial in the past, it never bubbled over into organized harassment of scientists. Britain and continental Europe and Japan have seen little of the problem, although scientists there are very concerned for their American and Australian colleagues. Climate-denial in general is specific to the English-speaking world, at least in part because organized climate denial is propagated largely by American organizations–that speak English. That the United States is at the center of the problem should, perhaps, not be much of a surprise. After all, the United States is key to global climate action–without American leadership, meaningful emissions reduction is unlikely to happen. With American leadership, we have a chance. And since the only way to accomplish meaningful emissions reduction is to stop burning fossil fuel, if I owned a boatload of stock in the fossil fuel industries and had no conscience whatsoever, I’d try to take out American interest in climate. Wouldn’t you? And, clearly, attacking American climate scientists is part of that effort.

The recent rise in harassment dates to over ten years ago, when two events occurred in quick succession: the release of the 2007 IPCC Report, which seemed on the verge of triggering meaningful climate action in the United States; and the election of a black man as President of the United States. The latter made possible the rise of the Tea Party, a movement that is demonstrably fueled by racist resentment rather than ideological concerns about government and yet is funded by the Koch brothers (plus Rupert Murdock), oilmen whose personal racism (do an internet search on “are the Kochs racist?”) is obviously less important than their investment in preventing climate action–they also fund the Heartland Institute, which is a major driver of American climate denial.

That the American version of hostility to climate action became deeply enmeshed with suspicion of government over-reach at the same time that the government was headed by a black man may not be a complete coincidence.

I do not raise the specter of racism simply to discredit climate deniers, but rather to suggest a mechanism whereby American conservative populism may have been hijacked and made to serve an anti-environmentalist agenda.

Some attacks on climate scientists–and by “attacks” I mean everything from threats to legal action to deliberate bureaucratic nonsense–have been perpetrated by individuals, others by organized climate-denier groups. Some of the most frightening, to me, anyway, come from government officials, including Lamar Smith, the (now former) Chair of the Science Committee of the US House of Representatives, and (now former) Virginia Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli.

Scientists themselves are not passive before all of this, and are fighting back, both individually and collectively. The Union of Concerned Scientists particularly is taking action, but needs money, and possibly other support. They need money with which to fight spurious lawsuits and stave off equally spurious bureaucratic demands which, together, might otherwise stop American climate scientists from working. I’m posting a link to their request again, here. Please support them.

Silencing inconvenient people is not an American thing to do–and when it happens anyway, the American thing to do is to stand up and do something about it.

I chose “Ideas Are Bullet-proof” as title for the original version of this post. It’s a quote from the movie, V for Vendetta. The bad-guy has the hero riddled with bullets, and yet the hero does not fall but ultimately triggers the fall of the corrupt and authoritarian government–because while the hero is not personally immortal, ideas cannot be murdered. I had occasion to remember the quote recently–a friend of mine, a political organizer and activist and a deeply religious man, wrote something on Facebook that, knowing him as I do, reminded me of the ultimate futility of trying to erase ideas by attacking inconvenient people.

I have just asked his permission to share his post with you:

A few minutes before Easter. I love this annual celebration of the underlying reality that empires can’t kill the Spirit, and that a spiritual wholeness is resurrected every time we take loving and wise action in the world around us. I see the life of Jesus as one of the most powerful patterns and examples of radical faithfulness. Miracles continue to happen. Blessed be.


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The Ecology of Predator and Pray

Here’s an article I wrote for college umpteen years ago. Today got busy, so I’m providing this for your reading pleasure this week. Oh, and no, the title is not a typo.

-C.

Just before Yule this past year, I was chatting on the phone with a friend of mine, Robert, while doing some sewing. I turned to do something in the kitchen only to discover upon my return that my cat, her ulcerated tumors bleeding again, had covered my workspace, including my dress pattern, with irregular, red spots. I hustled around trying to separate my patterns so they could dry and protect my fabric without interrupting the flow of conversation, whose subject seemed bizarrely civilized under the circumstances; we were discussing the genome of the grape and the proper ways to serve different kinds of wine while I stared, transfixed, at the red, Rorschached blotches like footprints, stalking, taking, slowly, my cat.

Here, observe, three views of life on Earth.

One:

Saturday morning in January, warm, hot as May; the breeze moves, gentle, as I stand on the sidewalk waiting for the bus by the Ethan Allen furniture store and St. Phillips Lutheran Church, chickweeds growing in delicate riot by my feet, so far so good, but also dandelions, clover, greening grass, while the trees stand mute above like skeletons. This isn’t right; though the air is pleasant on my simple skin I can’t enjoy it. This weather is as apocalyptic as last summer’s heat waves when I lay, sick and dreaming, too hot to work, all thought, all feeling driven off by the eternal, heavy, heat, save one; this isn’t the way it’s supposed to be, but this is the way it is going to be, more often now, because of us. A funeral procession drives by, headed by slowly flashing police escort, dozens and dozens of cars of mute, hard-eyed people. Most of the cars have only a single passenger, or at most, two. An oil truck cuts through the line to make a delivery to the strip mall behind me, its presence as lyric to the day as a line of poetry. I wonder, whose funeral is it?

Two:

My cat wants to go out, and I can deny her nothing, except for all the things I have denied her and all the things it simply isn’t mine to give; this leash, for example, is a compromise between her exuberance and her body, too sick to take a rabies vaccine. She has never gotten fully comfortable outside and never developed her body to its feline potential; as far as I know, she has never climbed more than a few feet up a tree. Probably, she never will, now. Maybe she might have if I had simply let her out and hoped she didn’t get bitten, or maybe I should have gone out with her more, for longer. Who am I to draw this line here? Who am I to bring a cat in out of the sun just because I have something else I need or want to do? These are judgments I do not feel competent to make and I never have felt competent to make them through these long years of one kind of leash or another hanging between us, yet make them I must. Nothing that I gave her could ever have been enough to absolve her of further desserts. We walk, and she pauses to scent-mark the bottom twig on the lilac bush, rubbing it with her nose, her gums, sniffing it delicately. I sniff it after her and compare the scent to that of one higher up, above the reach of cats and foxes. I fancy I can detect a difference. She stalks a bird in the ivy bed, and I flatten myself out behind her, trying to move forward without frightening her quarry, giving her as much range as possible with the leash, my arm, and the length of my outstretched body. The bird must have flown while neither of us noticed, for now it is no longer there. The day is fine and high and blue, and she doesn’t seem to know she’s sick. Or, at least she doesn’t favor herself, she goes full-bore, always, along her small, plucky way. I mean, what else does she have to do? It’s not like she’s going to get better, it isn’t like she has time to spare in self-pity. She just plays the cards she’s dealt. This animal is a carnivore, whose kind prune and in so pruning, create the reproductive exuberance of small rodents and birds. Fed on organic ground beef through the agency of human loyalty and partisanship, this cat has lived almost nine years. In that time, how many steers have died young for her?

Three:

Walking through campus I can see that the remaining old elms are dying; they have brownish yellow stripes running up the grey and furrowed trunks. My Dad told me about Dutch elm disease when I was little; I have never known a time when its inundations were not part of my history, but as I’ve been watching, over the better part of thirty years, the pandemic has progressed and more of the great cambium fountains have come down. When I was little, I remember, the elms met over the walkways, across the greens. I remember walking, on Community Day, a visceral memory; the smell of cotton candy and funnel cake, a grown-up hand—whose? I only remember the hand—in mine, and above an arching green roof full of multicolored balloons escaped from the careless hands of other children. The greens are open, now, the places of most of the giants taken by smaller trees, another kind of elm, I think, their stems slowly thickening into adulthood. My friend, Robert, is an ecologist who is busy mapping the community types of my state. When I brought him here, on the way to a coffee shop, he remarked that the campus probably counted as Modified Meadow or Modified Hardwood Forest. He’s grasping at straws; this isn’t altered, this is new: American Collegiate, typified by dying elms, manicured grass and a fauna of Frisbee players, grey squirrels, and playful dogs. No matter how aberrant this slow death of trees seems to me, the elms would never have died in such numbers if they hadn’t been planted unnaturally thick to begin with.

Humans are capable of a certain impartial perspective, but at heart we’re partisan animals living in a non-partisan world. Global warming and human-associated habitat destruction are surely no more radical than the asteroid that marked the KT boundary. Life recovered, growing even more diverse in time, and will again; nothing stays the same for long. Similarly, the birthrate of any given species is adjusted to its mortality rate; if it takes three dozen mice born per one that makes it to adulthood to keep even with the hunger of cats, then that is the number that mother mice produce, yet every pup is an individual. One could say each mouse deserves a full and happy life, just as every cat does, but it is the nature of both cats and mice, in their fullness, to produce more than can so live; to lower the mortality rate would require lowering the birthrate which would change the nature of the animals’ lives. Anyway, which individuals don’t get born in that case? Isn’t it better to live for at least a little while? Like climate change and disaster, death and even personal tragedy are just part of how things work; if these things did not exist, life as a whole would be different and probably the poorer for it.

Yet we are partisan, and we must behave in partisan ways; we act, we do one thing rather than another, and so we must make choices based on some judgment, some assessment of value, even if the value is a purely private priority. Mass extinctions happen, and in the grand scheme of things may not actually be a problem, but I must throw my small weight either for this one or against it, and I do not want a mass extinction on my watch, on my conscience. Plants, animals, and diseases do invade each other’s territory; humans may be causing an unprecedented invasion, but we are not causing the only one. Communities adapt and change. Diversity will recover. Nonetheless, I want my trees not to die of some imported disease, even if their gothic branches were themselves an artificial presence. And I want my Gertie to have not had cancer to begin with, I don’t care if she’s no better or worse than a mouse or a beef steer–or me, for that matter, I wanted this one, this particular one, to get the proverbial sun, moon and stars. That I, a mortal human, couldn’t reach them for her does not reduce the injustice any less.

We live in a world of change and transformation; one thing eats another, one thing subsumes another, one thing takes another’s place. Even if it were possible to pick sides, once and for all, on moral grounds, it would not be possible on physical grounds, for not only does the success of a predator mean the failure of a prey animal–and vice versa–but it is the very opposition, the very dynamism of the system, that makes the system in the first place. Under whatever happy façade of civilization or rationalization, we are incontrovertibly members of a system where things break and change and die as an inevitable matter of course, without violating the integrity of the whole. Under whatever veneer of educated perspective, however, we remain organisms who fight and try to win.