Radical Hope in a Turbulent World

This new year begins with multiple global climate threats.

Devastating fires burning in Australia are forcing thousands to be pushed to the water’s edge. Evacuations are occurring. Wildlife is being devastated. Nearly half a billion birds and animals are feared dead. The smoke from the fires drifts across the Tasman Sea, turning New Zealand glaciers black, which will accelerate the ice melting from climate change.

Flooding in Indonesia:

The flooding has highlighted Indonesia’s infrastructure problems.
Jakarta is home to 10 million people, or 30 million including those in its greater metropolitan area. It is prone to earthquakes and flooding and is rapidly sinking due to uncontrolled extraction of ground water. Congestion is also estimated to cost the economy $6.5 billion a year.
President Joko Widodo announced in August that the capital will move to a site in sparsely populated East Kalimantan province on Borneo island, known for rainforests and orangutans.

Indonesia capital floods leave 43 dead, 397,000 displaced.” By NINIEK KARMINI, Associated Press, January 2, 2020

Flooding in the Midwest. Some of the levees damaged in last year’s flooding have not been repaired.

As central U.S. producers make plans to harvest corn and soybeans in a year marked by record rain and flooding, prospects already indicate the 2020 crop year could bring more of the same. That’s because one of the building blocks of spring flooding — ample amounts of soil moisture — is already in place.

High soil moisture after the fall season, which can serve as a priming mechanism for flooding.

Frozen ground, causing late winter or early spring precipitation to run off instead of infiltrating the soil.

High snowpack, offering meltwater for flooding.

A rapid spring melt, causing snow to quickly turn into liquid and add to flooding. Spring rain itself.

Midwest Flooding: 2020 High Water Possible – 5 Ingredients for Flood – DTN September 26, 2019 By Bryce Anderson DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist

Venice, Miami and other coastal cities are experiencing flooding as sea levels rise.


Surface concentrations of methane are increasing in the arctic.


These massive situations are beyond human control. And yet people continue to think in terms of the status quo. Even in the face of the environmental devastation occurring in Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, speaking about the coal industry, says “I am not going to write off the jobs of thousands of Australians by walking away from traditional industries.”

We feel hopeless. Yet this is what “radical hope” is about. We need a new vision to help us navigate through environmental collapse. We can’t cling to the status quo. In the end we may well join the thousands of species that are already extinct.

But we need to live the best we can for ourselves and our children now. As I wrote yesterday, we need a new vision, and the willingness to change our culture to implement that vision.

Who can give us that vision? As Jonathan Lear writes in Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation, the Crow Nation supported their youth on a vision quest.

The Crow had an established practice for pushing at the limits of their understanding: they encouraged the younger members of the tribe (typically boys) to go off into nature and dream. For the Crow, the visions one had in a dream could provide access to the order of the world beyond anything available to ordinary conscious understanding.

Jonathan Lear. Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation (Kindle Locations 664-668). Kindle Edition.

Is there a way we can create similar conditions for youth or others to obtain a vision today?

This entry was posted in climate change, Green New Deal, Indigenous, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, Native Americans, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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