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Naomi Klein 談危機上癮

Naomi Klein: Addicted to risk

 

 

講者: Naomi Klein

2010年12月演講,2011年1月在TEDWomen上線

 

翻譯:                劉契良

編輯:                洪曉慧

簡繁轉換:            趙弘

後制:                劉契良

字幕影片後制:        謝旻均

 

影片請按此下載

 

MAC及手持裝置版本請按此下載

 

閱讀中文字幕純文字版本

 

關於這場演講

出席本場演講之前,記者 Naomi Klein 正搭船前往墨西哥灣探查受「英國石油」冒險鑽油毒害的災難性後果,我們的社會已對挖掘新能源與新金融操作等高風險行為上癮,而大眾卻總是要在災難後為其善後,Klein 提問:替代方案何在?

 

關於 Naomi Klein

在她的最新著作中,Naomi Klein 質疑:「什麼讓我們的文化如此傾向於魯莽的高風險賭局?又為何總是由女性來善後?」

 

為何要聽她演講:

在 2011 年 1 月 13 日版的紐約《民族報》中,Naomi Klein 報導了 2010 年中最高層級的失事事件之一:「英國石油」於墨西哥灣的漏油事件,她所發現的是一系列因為大型企業危機管理不當所引起的非計劃性後果。

 

在其 2007 著作《震撼主義:災難資本主義的興起》中,Naomi Klein 指出企業及親資本主義的政府不只從災難與衝突中獲益,而且還積極地剝削身處危機中的國家,如 Klein 所定義,「震撼主義」會在恐怖攻擊、颶風及政權轉變之後產生,企業利益會突然襲擊迷惘的人們,迫其改寫偏袒商業與全球化的規範,在她深層歷史脈絡及仔細探訪原由的著作中,Klein 展示出商業與危機之間的關聯性。《震撼主義》由 Michael Winterbottom 改編成主題式的記錄片,並於 2010 年的日舞影展中首映。

 

Klein 的前一本著作《No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies》單挑大型品牌對文化及政府無所不在的影響,後因論述過於具有說服力,還讓 Nike 跳出來逐項反駁。她是《民族報》與《衛報》的固定專欄作家,現時正忙於寫作新書,內容是關於生態債務的概念,有興趣者可上她的 Twitter:@NaomiAKlein。

 

「沒有幾本書可以真正幫我們瞭解現代,《震撼主義》正是其中一本」。

 

John Gray,《衛報》

 

Naomi Klein 的英語網上資料

網站:NaomiKlein.org

Twitter:@NaomiAKlein

文章:《The Search for BP's Oil》

  

[TED科技娛樂設計]
已有中譯字幕的TED影片目錄(繁體)(簡體)。請注意繁簡目錄是不一樣的。

 「翻譯編輯:myoops.org

 

 

 我做了一件我從未做過的事,我隨研究船在海上待了一週,我並非科學家,但我隨著一支卓越的科學團隊出航,成員來自南佛州大學,他們追蹤 BP 漏油的行踪,地點是墨西哥灣,順道一提,這是我們所搭的船,這些科學家並非要研究漏油及分散劑對大型動動的影響,鳥類或海龜或海豚等美麗的動物,他們專研小東西,因為稍大一些的東西吃牠們,最後,大型動物再吃掉後者,他們所發現的是,就算是微量的漏油及分散劑,對浮游生物都是劇毒,這真是壞消息,因為那麼多的生命要依賴浮游生物為生,不同於我們幾個月前所聽到關於 75% 的漏油好像神奇地消失了,而我們也無需再操心,事實是,這場災難還在蔓延,影響仍在食物鏈中攀升,這應不是什麼令人驚訝的事,Rachel Carson,現代環境主義教母早警告過這一切,且是早在 1962 年,她指出,那些握權者,她起的名號,在鄉野全面噴灑劇毒殺蟲劑,像 DDT,他們只試圖殺死小東西,昆蟲,而非鳥類,但他們忘了,事實是,鳥類以昆蟲為食,知更鳥就吃很多蟲,而後者卻滿身盡是 DDT,結果是知更鳥的蛋無法孵化,鳴禽大量死亡,鄉鎮沉寂了,其書名因而題作「死寂春天」,我試圖定位出讓我一直回到墨西哥灣主題的原因,因為我是加拿大人,沒有任何遠祖可溯,我認為原因是我不認為我們全面地體會到這場災難的意涵,針對目睹一口油井裂縫對世界帶來的災難,針對看著地球「油血」在直播電視上噴發,一天 24 小時,持續數月如此,更糟的是我們長久以來自我催眠,宣稱我們的工具與技術已能控制自然,頓時間,我們面對的是自己的軟弱,失控,當原油大量噴出,各種遏制的企圖皆是大量包覆、大量消除,最令人難忘的是那個垃圾孔,多麼聰明的想法!將廢輪胎和高爾夫球塞到那個位於世界底下的孔洞中,而更惹人注目的,對比於從油井中噴射出的驚人力量,是魯莽,因魯莽解除對那力量的束縛,草率、缺乏計劃,而且顯見於運營模式,從探勘到清理,如果有一點是 BP 水質改善專案所欲顯明,那便是,如同一種文化,我們已太過願意下賭注,對於那些珍貴與無可取代的東西,而且在下注時還不做 B 計劃,毫無退場策略。

 

 

而 BP 更不是我們近代第一次經歷過的災難,我們的領袖打油戰,訴說著快樂的童話,以一種優雅姿態與迎賓式的遊行,然後是經年的死傷嚴控,科學怪人自毀式的圍攻與澎湃群湧,當然還有反暴動,一樣的是沒有退場策略,我們的金融天才也不可免俗的成為類似的過度自信受害者,自我催眠,將泡沫經濟視為新款市場,一種永不潰盤的經濟,一旦無可避免地崩盤時,最棒、最聰明的做法是像堵住漏油垃圾孔一般地,抛入大量急需的公共財,堵住一種大不相同的漏洞,BP 漏油事件的洞已堵住,至少暫時如此,但已耗盡巨額代價,我們要想想,為何不斷地讓這等事發生,因為我們正身處最高風險的賭局當中,要決定該做啥,或不該做啥,關於氣候變化,各位皆知,大量的時間已投入,在美國與全世界皆然,在氣候議題的辯論上,但問題卻圍繞在「如果 IPC 科學家都是錯的呢」?現在還有更切題的問題出現,如麻省理工學院物理學家 Evelyn Fox Keller 所言:「如果那些科學家都是對的呢」?因為風險、氣候危機清楚地要我們根據謹慎的原則行動,理論是當人類健康及環境面臨重大危機且當潛在損害是無法逆轉時,我們不能等待完美的科學必然性,最好是嘗試沿著謹慎的邊線前進,更明顯的是證明施行安全性的重擔不應加諸在會受傷害的公眾身上,而是從中獲利的產業,但富國的氣候政策,如果真有這等政策存在的話,那並非是根據謹慎,反是成本-利益的分析,找出經濟學家相信將會對我們 GDP 造成最小影響的行動進程,相反地,不問謹慎所需,像我們如何能儘快地避開潛在的大災難,反問些怪問題,像是,「我們還能撐到什麼時候才要認真地降低廢氣排放?可以推延到 2020 年、2030、2050 年嗎」?或問,「地球還能再變熱多少生物仍能存活下去?可以再升個兩度、三度、或我們目前所面臨的攝氏四度大關」?另外,假設我們能安全地控制地球的超複雜的氣候系統,宛如有個溫變自動啟閉裝置,讓地球不太熱,也不太冷,溫度剛好,好像金髮女孩式的經濟模式,那完全是幻想,那不是來自氣候科學家,而是經濟學家將他們機械式對科學的思維強加在我們身上,事實是,我們根本不瞭解,我們所製造的熱氣何時會變得過燙,藉由回饋迴路。

 

 

所以,我們再次看到為何我們要以這般瘋狂的高風險行為來對待珍貴的事物?有很多的解釋可能已開始從各位的心中跳出來,諸如:貪婪,這是個常見的解釋,真實性很高,因為高風險行為,誠如大家所知,獲利頗豐,另一個常聽到關於魯莽的解釋是傲慢,貪婪與傲慢緊密相交,尤其是在對魯莽的解釋上,舉例而言,您如是一位 35 歲的銀行家,被「運」回家的次數超過腦部手術的 100 倍,您需要一服說帖,一則故事,繼續幹下去,因為選擇不多,您要不是手腕超級高明,可以閃過你在下賭系統的懲罰,或是超級天才,舉世未見那種,這兩種選擇,高明手腕與超級天才,都會讓您大幅地過度自信,因此讓您更傾向於在未來下更大的賭注,Tony Hayward,前 BP總裁,桌上有塊匾牌,刻著以下這句鼓舞人心的標語,「你會想怎麼嘗試,如果已知不會失敗」?這已是塊熱門匾牌,尤其是對成就比預期更高的人士,我敢打賭,在場有些人擁有這塊牌,不要覺得不好意思,將失敗的恐懼丟到腦後,可以是好事一件,如果應用在訓練三項全能競賽或準備 TED 演講時,但我個人認為,擁有左右我們經濟和蹂躪我們生態權力的人,最好是在牆上掛幅伊卡洛斯的相片(譯註:過度自負,終墜海身亡的神話),因為,不一定要是這一神話人物,但我希望他們設想失敗的可能性,時時如此,所以,我們貪婪、過度自信/傲慢。但因為我們身處 TEDWomen 會場,讓我們考慮另一個因素,那可能在細部上會連結到社會性魯莽,我不會在這一點上過度嘮叨,但研究顯示,身為投資者,女人較不傾向於接受魯莽的風險,相對於男人,正確來說,因為,一如我們早已知曉,女人較不會受囚於過度自信,但男人卻較可能受苦,結果是薪水較少、老被罵還是有好處,至少對社會而言,相對地,老是被提醒說,你具天賦、萬中選一、天生領袖,有其獨特的社會性負面影響,而這個問題,稱之為特權風險,讓我們更靠近到我們集體魯莽的根源,因為我們沒有人,至少針對北半球而言,沒有任何男女能完全豁免於這則訊息之外。

 

 

我想說的是(螢幕:故事的力量),無論是積極相信或是有意識地扺抗,我們的文化仍緊握著特定的原型故事集,關於我們的優越,勝過其他人與自然,關於新疆界,征服先鋒的說帖,證明宿命的說帖,天啟與救世的說帖,且當你以為這些故事已遁入歷史,我們已克服這思維,它們卻在最奇怪的地方蹦出來,舉例而言,像這則讓我跌破眼鏡的廣告,掛在女廁外,堪薩斯城市機場,宣傳摩托羅拉的新款耐用手機,Yes,廣告上確實寫著,「賞大地一巴掌」,我並不是要單挑摩托羅拉,那是副案,我的用意是,他們不是贊助商吧?!但這是以其方式,這是愚鈍的版本,關於我們的原始故事,我們不斷掌擊大地且未嚐惡果,我們總是贏,因為主宰自然是我們的宿命,但這不是我們自述關於自然的唯一童話。還有一則,同等重要,關於大地的強大養育與復原力,我們永不會使其豐富匱乏,再次引用 Tony Hayward 的話,「墨西哥灣是非常大的海灣,我們所造成的漏油及分散劑劑量和海水相比微不足道」,換句話說,海洋那麼大,她吞得下,這是對上限的低估,也使得我們接受魯莽風險化作可能,因為這是我們真正的主要說帖,無論我們搞得多糟,永遠都有更多,更多水、更多地、更多未挖掘的資源,新經濟泡沬會取代舊的、新科技會再發明出來,以處理我們上次搞砸的爛攤,從某層面看來,這則故事關乎美洲開拓,假設無邊的疆界,歐洲人逃往的所在,這也是現代資本主義的說帖,因為正是這塊土地的富饒,創造出了我們的經濟體系,沒有永久成長便無法生存,與無限供應的新疆界,問題是,說帖永遠都是謊言,地球永遠都存在極限,只是我們看不見,我們正邁向那些極限,很多層面皆然,我相信,大家都明瞭這一點,但我們自覺深陷某種說帖迴圈中,我們不只不斷地講述、重述相同的老掉牙故事,我們現在還變本加利,狂熱與狂怒,老實說,已到了分裂陣營的地步,如何解釋文化空間遭到莎拉·裴林的侵佔?!一會兒敦促我們「探油,寶貝,探油」,因為上帝將那些資源埋到地下就是要讓我們去採探,另一會兒,又展示阿拉斯加原始美的野性驕傲,在她熱門的實境電視秀上,這兩則孿生訊息令人欣慰也令人抓狂,好像要我們忘卻那些悚然的恐懼,我們終於撞壁的恐懼,地球仍是無極限,永遠都會再發現新疆界,停止擔心,繼續血拼。

 

 

但那會不會只是莎拉·裴林和她的實境電視秀,在環保圈中,我們常聽到的是,與其轉換到具高風險的可更新能源,我們不如就照舊吧!不幸地,這種評量過於樂觀,事實是我們已耗盡太多易得的石化能源,我們現在得深進更高風險的操作領域,極端能源的時代,這意謂著從最深的水域中探油,包括冰封的北極海,要在那裡清理漏油會是根本不可能,這也意謂著大規模的水壓斷岩,以取出天然氣及大規模露天探煤作業,還有其他前所未見的探勘,最具爭議的是焦油砂,我總是好奇,為何那麼少非加拿大人知道亞伯達省的焦油砂,今年預計將成為美國進口油料第一名,所以值得花點時間瞭解其實作,因為我相信那訴說了魯莽和我們目前所處的位置就像其他小細節,螢幕上是焦油砂的蘊藏地,埋在其中最後一片美麗北方森林的底下,焦油砂並非液態,無法挖個洞就噴油,焦油砂所含原油是固態,混雜著沙土,為了開採,首先必需砍樹、刮去表土,才能採得焦油沙,過程需要大量的水,廢水隨後打入大型的毒池塘,這對當地原住民可是壞消息,因為他們住在下游,報導得癌率極高,看著這些影像,很難想像其運營的規模,但其實已可從太空中看得到,而且大小會成長到和英格蘭國土一樣,我發現實際上能從搬運礦石的傾倒卡車大小看出點端倪,這是有史以來最大的一台,輪邊那點是實人,我的重點是,這不是採油,甚至不是探礦,這是在剝地皮,大範圍、鮮活的景觀被強迫剝除,僅留單色的灰淡,我必需承認,同時也很擔憂,這會是令人厭惡的事,如果這真不排出極量的碳,事實上,平均而言,將這污穢黏滑的油物轉為原油所產生的溫室氣體污染是提煉傳統原油的三倍,以加拿大為例。

 

 

如何形容這檔事?如果不是一種集體精神錯亂?我們都明瞭要學習住在地球表面,憑藉著太陽能、風力與海浪能源,我們卻瘋狂地挖掘,取出最髒,會排放所能想像之最具污染性的東西,這是我們無限成長故事,帶我們走向的盡頭,來到加拿大國土中央的大黑洞,一個地球受重創的地方,那裡,就像 BP 自噴油井,我們只能站著看,並慚愧自責,如 Jared Diamond 和其他人已展示,這便是文明自盡,用腳猛踩油門,同時,那更是應踩剎車的時候,問題是我們的主要說帖,已對此有一套說法,我們在最後一刻終將獲救,就像好萊塢電影,就像「被提」般升天,但當然,我們的俗世宗教是科技,各位可能已注意到愈來愈多像這樣的標語,地球工學形式的概念,如其名所指是當地球升溫時,我也許可以發射硫酸鹽和鋁微粒到平流層中,以折射一些太陽光回到太空中,用意是能為地球降溫,最古怪的的計劃是,我沒有虛構,是將花園水管,18 哩半,直插入天空,由氣球提住,噴灑二氧化硫,以更多污染來解決污染,將其試想成終極版的漏油垃圾孔,這項研究中的嚴肅科學家們都強調,這些技術完全未經測試,他們不知成效如何,更不瞭會有何種可怕的副作用會因此產生,然而,地球工學的提議,仍受到某些圈子的歡迎,特別是媒體圈,歡欣鼓舞的鬆了口氣,終於找到逃脫方案了,科技新疆界終於被發現,最重要地,我們完全不需改變生活模式,對有些人而言,其救世主是穿著飄逸長袍的人,有些人則敬仰拿著花園水管的人,我們極需一些新故事,我們需要其中具有不同英雄的故事且願意接受不同的風險,勇於正視魯莽行徑的風險,將謹慎原則置入實作,甚至是要透過直接行動,像數以百計的年輕人甘冒被捕風險,因為他們要阻止骯髒的電場或對抗削山頭採煤場的設立,我們需要故事用以取代無限成長的線性說帖,改成環形說帖,提醒我們此去彼回的道理,這是我們唯一的家園,無處可逃,稱其為羯磨或物理,行動或反應,稱之為謹慎,這原則提醒我們,生命誠可貴,不能冒險用以換取任何利益,感謝聆聽。

(掌聲)

 

 

以下為系統擷取之英文原文

About this talk

Days before this talk, journalist Naomi Klein was on a boat in the Gulf of Mexico, looking at the catastrophic results of BP's risky pursuit of oil. Our societies have become addicted to extreme risk in finding new energy, new financial instruments and more ... and too often, we're left to clean up a mess afterward. Klein's question: What's the backup plan?

About Naomi Klein

In her latest work, Naomi Klein wonders: What makes our culture so prone to the reckless high-stakes gamble, and why are women so frequently called upon to clean up the mess? Full bio and more links

Transcript

I just did something I've never done before. I spent a week at sea on a research vessel. Now I'm not a scientist, but I was accompanying a remarkable scientific team from the University of South Florida who have been tracking the travels of BP's oil in the Gulf of Mexico. This is the boat we were on, by the way. The scientists I was with were not studying the effect of the oil and dispersants on the big stuff -- the birds, the turtles, the dolphins, the glamorous stuff. They're looking at the really little stuff that gets eaten by the slightly less little stuff that eventually gets eaten by the big stuff. And what they're finding is that even trace amounts of oil and dispersants can be highly toxic to phytoplankton, which is very bad news, because so much life depends on it. So contrary to what we heard a few months back about how 75 percent of that oil sort of magically disappeared and we didn't have to worry about it, this disaster is still unfolding. It's still working its way up the food chain. Now this shouldn't come as a surprise to us. Rachel Carson -- the Godmother of modern environmentalism -- warned us about this very thing back in 1962. She pointed out that the control men -- as she called them -- who carpet-bombed towns and fields with toxic insecticides like DDT, were only trying to kill the little stuff, the insects, not the birds. But they forgot this: the fact that birds dine on grubs, that robins eat lots of worms now saturated with DDT. And so, robin eggs failed to hatch, songbirds died en masse, towns fell silent. Thus the title "Silent Spring." I've been trying to pinpoint what keeps drawing me back to the Gulf of Mexico, because I'm Canadian, and I can draw no ancestral ties. And I think what it is, is I don't think we have fully come to terms with the meaning of this disaster, with what it meant to witness a hole ripped in our world, with what it meant to watch the contents of the Earth gush forth on live TV 24 hours a day for months. After telling ourselves for so long that our tools and technology can control nature, suddenly we were face-to-face with our weakness, with our lack of control, as the oil burst out of every attempt to contain it -- top hats, top kills and, most memorably, the junk shot -- the bright idea of firing old tires and golf balls down that hole in the world. But even more striking than the ferocious power emanating from that well, was the recklessness with which that power was unleashed -- the carelessness, the lack of planning, that characterized the operation from drilling to clean up. If there is one thing BP's watery improve act made clear, it is that, as a culture, we have become far too willing to gamble with things that are precious and irreplaceable -- and to do so without a back-up plan, without an exit strategy. And BP was hardly our first experience of this in recent years. Our leaders barrel into wars, telling themselves happy stories about cakewalks and welcome parades, then it is years of deadly damage control, Frankensteins of sieges and surges and counter-insurgencies, and once again, no exit strategy. Our financial wizards routinely fall victim to similar overconfidence, convincing themselves that the latest bubble is a new kind of market -- the kind that never goes down. And when it inevitably does, the best and the brightest reach for the financial equivalent of the junk shot -- in this case, throwing massive amounts of much-needed public money down a very different kind of hole. As with BP, the hole does get plugged, at least temporarily, but not before exacting a tremendous price. We have to figure out why we keep letting this happen, because we are in the midst of what may be our highest-stakes gamble of all: deciding what to do, or not to do, about climate change. Now as you know, a great deal of time is spent, in this country and around the world, inside the climate debate. On the question of, "What if the IPC scientists are all wrong?" Now a far more relevant question -- as MIT physicist Evelyn Fox Keller puts it -- is, "What if those scientists are right?" Given the stakes, the climate crisis clearly calls for us to act based on the precautionary principle -- the theory that holds that when human health and the environment are significantly at risk and when the potential damage is irreversible, we cannot afford to wait for perfect scientific certainty. Better to err on the side of caution. More overt, the burden of proving that a practice is safe should not be placed on the public that would be harmed, but rather on the industry that stands to profit. But climate policy in the wealthy world -- to the extent that such a thing exists -- is not based on precaution, but rather on cost-benefit analysis -- finding the course of action that economists believe will have the least impact on our GDP. So rather than asking, as precaution would demand, what can we do as quickly as possible to avoid potential catastrophe, we ask bizarre questions like this: "What is the latest possible moment we can wait before we begin seriously lowering emissions? Can we put this off til 2020, 2030, 2050?" Or we ask, "How much hotter can we let the planet get and still survive? Can we go with two degrees, three degrees, or -- where we're currently going -- four degrees Celsius?" And by the way, the assumption that we can safely control the Earth's awesomely complex climate system as if it had a thermostat, making the planet not too hot, not too cold, but just right -- sort of Goldilocks style -- this is pure fantasy, and it's not coming from the climate scientists; it's coming from the economists imposing their mechanistic thinking on the science. The fact is that we simply don't know when the warming that we create will be utterly overwhelmed by feedback loops. So once again, why do we take these crazy risks with the precious? A range of explanations may be popping into your mind by now, like greed. This is a popular explanation, and there's lots of truth to it. Because taking big risks, as we all know, pays a lot of money. Another explanation that you often hear for recklessness is hubris. And greed and hubris are intimately intertwined when it comes to recklessness. For instance, if you happen to be a 35 year-old banker taking home 100 times more than a brain surgeon, then you need a narrative, you need a story that makes that disparity okay. And you actually don't have a lot of options. You're either an incredibly good scammer, and you're getting away with it -- you gamed the system -- or you're some kind of boy genius, the likes of which the world has never seen. Now both of these options -- the boy genius and the scammer -- are going to make you vastly overconfident and therefore more prone to taking even bigger risks in the future. By the way, Tony Hayward, the former CEO of BP, had a plaque on his desk inscribed with this inspirational slogan: "What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?" Now this is actually a popular plaque, and this is a crowd of overachievers, so I'm betting that some of you have this plaque. Don't feel ashamed. Putting fear of failure out of your mind can be a very good thing if you're training for a triathlon or preparing to give a TEDTalk, but personally, I think people with the power to detonate our economy and ravage our ecology would do better having a picture of Icarus hanging from the wall, because -- maybe not that one in particular -- but I want them thinking about the possibility of failure all of the time. So we have greed, we've got overconfidence/hubris, but since we're here at TEDWomen, let's consider one other factor that could be contributing in some small way to societal recklessness. Now I'm not going to belabor this point, but studies do show that, as investors, women are much less prone to taking reckless risks than men, precisely because, as we've already heard, women tend not to suffer from overconfidence in the same way that men do. So it turns out that being paid less and praised less has its upsides -- for society at least. The flip side of this is that constantly being told that you are gifted, chosen and born to rule has distinct societal downsides. And this problem -- call it the perils of privilege -- brings us closer, I think, to the root of our collective recklessness. Because none of us -- at least in the global North -- neither men nor women, are fully exempt from this message. Here's what I'm talking about. Whether we actively believe them or consciously reject them, our culture remains in the grips of certain archetypal stories about our supremacy over others and over nature. The narrative of the newly-discovered frontier and the conquering pioneer, the narrative of manifest destiny, the narrative of apocalypse and salvation. And just when you think these stories are fading into history, and that we've gotten over them, they pop up in the strangest places. For instance, I stumbled across this advertisement outside the women's washroom in the Kansas City airport. It's for Motorola's new Rugged cellphone, and yes, it really does say, "Slap mother nature in the face." And I'm not just showing it to pick on Motorola -- that's just a bonus. I'm showing it because -- they're not a sponsor, are they? -- because, in its own way, this is a crass version of our founding story. We slapped mother nature around and won. And we always win, because dominating nature is our destiny. But this is not the only fairytale we tell ourselves about nature. There's another one, equally important, about how that very same mother nature is so nurturing and so resilient that we can never make a dent in her abundance. Let's hear from Tony Hayward again. "The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of oil and dispersant that we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume." In other words, the ocean is big; she can take it. It is this underlying assumption of limitlessness that makes it possible to take the reckless risks that we do. Because this is our real master-narrative: However much we mess up, there will always be more -- more water, more land, more untapped resources. A new bubble will replace the old one. A new technology will come along to fix the messes we made with the last one. In a way, that is the story of the settling of the Americas, the supposedly inexhaustible frontier to which Europeans escaped. And it's also the story of modern capitalism. Because it was the wealth from this land that gave birth to our economic system, one that cannot survive without perpetual growth and an unending supply of new frontiers. Now the problem is that the story was always a lie. The Earth always did have limits, they were just beyond our sights. And now we are hitting those limits on multiple fronts. I believe that we know this, yet we find ourselves trapped in a kind of narrative loop. Not only do we continue to tell and retell the same tired stories, but we are now doing so with a frenzy and a fury that, frankly, verges on camp. How else to explain the cultural space occupied by Sarah Palin. Now on the one hand, exhorting us to "drill baby drill," because God put those resources into the ground in order for us to exploit them, and on the other, glorying in the wilderness of Alaska's untouched beauty on her hit reality TV show. The twin message is as comforting as it is mad. Ignore those creeping fears that we have finally hit the wall. There are still no limits. There will always be another frontier. So stop worrying and keep shopping. Now, would that this were just about Sarah Palin and her reality TV show. In environmental circles, we often here that, rather than shifting to renewables, we are continuing with business as usual. This assessment, unfortunately, is far too optimistic. The truth is that we have already exhausted so much of the easily-accessible fossil fuels that we have already entered a far riskier business era, the era of extreme energy. So that means drilling for oil in the deepest water, including the icy Arctic seas where a clean up may simply be impossible. It means large-scale hydraulic fracking for gas and massive strip mining operations for coal, the likes of which we haven't yet seen. And most controversially, it means the tar sands. I'm always surprised by how little people outside of Canada know about the Alberta tar sands, which this year are projected to become the number one source of imported oil to the United States. It's worth taking a moment to understand this practice, because I believe it speaks to recklessness and the path we're on like little else. So this is where the tar sands live, under one of the last magnificent Boreal forests. The oil is not liquid; you can't just drill a hole and pump it out. Tar sand's oil is solid, mixed in with the soil. So to get at it, you first have to get rid of the trees. Then you rip off the topsoil and get at that oily sand. The process requires a huge amount of water, which is then pumped into massive toxic tailing ponds. That's very bad news for local indigenous people living downstream who are reporting alarmingly high cancer rates. Now looking at these images, it's difficult to grasp the scale of this operation, which can already be seen from space and could grow to an area the size of England. I find it helps actually to look at the dump trucks that move the earth, the largest ever built. That's a person down there by the wheel. My point is that this is not oil drilling, it's not even mining. It is terrestrial skinning. Vast, vivid landscapes are being gutted, left monochromatic gray. Now I should confess that as I'm concerned this would be an abomination if it emitted not one particle of carbon. But the truth is that on average turning that gunk into crude oil produces about three times more greenhouse gas pollution than it does to produce conventional oil in Canada. How else to describe this, but as a form of mass insanity? Just when we know we need to be learning to live on the surface of our planet, off the power of sun, wind and waves, we are frantically digging to get at the dirtiest, highest-emitting stuff imaginable. This is where our story of endless growth has taken us, to this blackhole at the center of my country -- a place of such planetary pain that, like the BP gusher, one can only stand to look at it for so long. As Jared Diamond and others have shown us, this is how civilizations commit suicide, by slamming their foot on the accelerator at the exact moment when they should be putting on the brakes. The problem is that our master-narrative has an answer for that too. At the very last minute, we are going to get saved just like in every Hollywood movie, just like in the Rapture. But of course our secular religion is technology. Now you may have noticed more and more headlines like these. The idea behind this form of geoengineering as it's called is that, as the planet heats up, we may be able to shoot sulfates and aluminum particles into the stratosphere to reflect some of the sun's rays back to space, thereby cooling the planet. The wackiest plan -- and I'm not making this up -- would put what is essentially a garden hose 18 and a half miles high into the sky, suspended by balloons, to spew sulfur dioxide. So, solving the problem of pollution with more pollution. Think of it as the ultimate junk shot. The serious scientists involved in this research all stress that these techniques are entirely untested. They don't know if they'll work, and they have no idea what kind of terrifying side-effects they could unleash. Nevertheless, the mere mention of geoengineering is being greeted in some circles -- particularly media circles -- with a relief tinged with euphoria. An escape hatch has been reached. A new frontier has been found. Most importantly, we don't have to change our lifestyles after all. You see for some people, their savior is a guy in a flowing robe. For other people, it's a guy with a garden hose. We badly need some new stories. We need stories that have different kinds of heroes willing to take different kinds of risks -- risks that confront recklessness head on, that put the precautionary principle into practice, even if that means through direct action -- like hundreds of young people will to get arrested blocking dirty power plants or fighting mountaintop removal coal mining. We need stories that replace that linear narrative of endless growth with circular narratives that remind us that what goes around comes around, that this is our only home; there is no escape hatch. Call it karma, call it physics, action and reaction, call it precaution: the principle that reminds us that life is too precious to be risked for any profit. Thank you. (Applause)
 


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