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  1. #1
    Senior Member cacaia's Avatar
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    Default Climate change and Nihilism

    Hello, all. I've been called a "person with Nihilistic thoughts" by some both here at the forum and in my family.
    One of my sisters is a climate change activist, which I think it's honorable- to a certain degree. The way she goes about it is very preachy and uninspiring. It's more of a guilt trip, really.
    Anytime you try to point out something positive or hopeful, she hits you with a "if we don't make climate change an emergency, and if you don't come with me to this, that, and that rally, you are an evil person".
    I have explained my view to her, and she is absolutely flustered by it.
    My view is this- we are not the first, nor the last, species headed toward extinction to happen here on earth. I believe there were a total of 6 mass extinctions on earth, and we are just part of that cycle. Also, humans knew for years they were affecting the planet and making climate change accelerate at breakneck speeds, and the entire human race, despite many individual's efforts, have failed to do anything about it. Now, in this critical moment, people are either just going about their business or freaking out about extinction.
    I say, humans, as fascinating and wonderful as they are, are also leeches upon the earth- parasites that consume all they can and consume some more, and destroy plants, animals, etc with no mercy. I don't think it's worth it- I say let nature run its course.
    And a part of me wonders- Is this nihilism even good? Why am I not freaking out like my sister? Why do I just shrug, knowing my whole world, myself, those I love, may perish and be extinct?
    What are your own thoughts on climate change and the future of humankind as well as other species?

  2. #2
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    I never fathom nihilist. I wouldn't say I am like your sister, a raving activist of any sort, but the idea that nothing in our life really has meaning or value...

    why do you even choose to continue to exist then? Like...nihilism...if I was a nihilist I would have long killed myself. Humans often actually are leeches, and shitty, and all around make you just bang your head in disappointment. If this world has no meaning, if nothing we do means anything, why live? I don't find nihilism even...healthy I guess. Unfathomable, at the least. To me it sounds like chronic depression, a hot desert, a world where we only eat plain bread without butter. I am also fairly religious so I have this sort of strong belief in morality too so...

    I believe we should just care about earth, climate change or not, because God formed everything, and He intended for it to be cared for.
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  3. #3
    Somber and irritated cascadeco's Avatar
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    I would be content to 'let nature run its course' if all humans were wiped off the planet. Then nature (minus us ravagers and plunderers - and yes, I'm aware certain people will feel the need to emphasize that we are part of nature too) would indeed run its course free from our tyranny.

    I want to cry when I think of it. I am periodically on my facebook feed getting notices of various birds or snails now extinct or virtually extinct, and it will only continue. I got one the other day about a bird in Florida, and I thought to myself, welp, not sure I'll be able to get myself to Florida to see that beautiful little guy before he has ceased to exist.

    Oh sure, our ecosystem today is the result of millions of previous extinctions, but at least we can know nature did play out. (Though I would still *grieve* for the vanishings) Now? Bah. Pretty much no one cares about anything but their own comforts - in terms of the global culture. If people continue to put up a stink about the 'inconvenience' of lack of disposable cups or not being able to do or go some such place because it might harm something else that actually exists (gasp) or any number of small life changes, then people really don't give two shits when it comes down to it. And yes, the result will be a lot of extinctions, with the bonus of them being due to us. Some companies and entities do strive towards these larger changes and are aware so at least it's not universal. But yeah, the majority could care less and the world does not operate on long range thinking and implications.

    Climate change is fast tracking things; but we would still have had the honor of obliterating things via habitat loss and pollution, introduction of exotics that destroy endemic populations, and so on.

    Nihilism for me? No way. I suppose I go the depressed and hate humanity route.
    "...On and on and on and on he strode, far out over the sands, singing wildly to the sea, crying to greet the advent of the life that had cried to him." - James Joyce

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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by cacaia View Post
    My view is this- we are not the first, nor the last, species headed toward extinction to happen here on earth. I believe there were a total of 6 mass extinctions on earth, and we are just part of that cycle. Also, humans knew for years they were affecting the planet and making climate change accelerate at breakneck speeds, and the entire human race, despite many individual's efforts, have failed to do anything about it. Now, in this critical moment, people are either just going about their business or freaking out about extinction.
    I say, humans, as fascinating and wonderful as they are, are also leeches upon the earth- parasites that consume all they can and consume some more, and destroy plants, animals, etc with no mercy. I don't think it's worth it- I say let nature run its course.
    I sympathize with your views all up until your conclusion, which is a well-deserved condemnation of rampant greed, neo-imperialism, and the vacant apathy symptomatic of modern culture vs the natural world, though it's critical to point out that humans and their forebears have continued to co-evolve, subsist on proportionately, and commune with their natural environments for millions of years without impacting global temperatures, climate systems, and marine environments until starting around 400 tya. Where even then, on a minimal scale of over-hunting, deforestation, and slash-and-burn agriculture, the style of human civilization characteristic of domination (unfettered mineral extraction, over-fishing and hunting, warfare) is exactly like plague behaviors of insects and rodents after population booms really came into stride. All species go extinct, that is an undeniable exigence of life. Given the style of globalized economies and the historical context of our era, human civilization has reached plague values as an organism (microplastics and industry waste inflict not only ocean wildlife, but our toddlers now) and the various industries and their spokesman will continue to deny ecosystem failure sheerly out of wont of profit and maintaining the current power structures of globalized capitalism, despite the obvious consequences of persistent el nino/la nina, toxified, warming oceans, and deforestation. The lesson here is the style of human subsistence, not the animal itself. The most catastrophic extinction event yet discovered (the Permian-Triassic extinction) occurred 250 million years ago and wiped out almost all species resulted from something eerily similar to our current age: increased greenhouse gases (CO2 and methane) and drastic temperature spikes. No humans involved that time, so why hesitate to reverse or slow the onset of another Ice Age now?

    Quote Originally Posted by cacaia View Post
    And a part of me wonders- Is this nihilism even good? Why am I not freaking out like my sister? Why do I just shrug, knowing my whole world, myself, those I love, may perish and be extinct?
    What are your own thoughts on climate change and the future of humankind as well as other species?
    It's unlikely that billions can be herded to overhaul their lifestyles, outlooks, and local understanding to retrofit their relationship with the natural world, and certainly not within a generation. In the same way that Rachel Carson shocked industrialized culture and spooked Americans to suddenly introspect on the wonders and all-too-convenient applications of the chemical industry (as they blithely sprayed themselves down with DDT), so too does this generation need constant reminder to change how they buy, eat, and listen to authority figures so that their offspring can hopefully halt or reverse what futurists since the 80s have predicted to be a future of famine, overpopulation, and dystopia.

    There are numerous examples of isolated human cultures both past and present that coexisted with and even honored the wildlife and biomes they subsisted on. To echo writers ranging from EO Wilson, Rachel Carson, Peter Matthiessen, Buckminster Fuller to Alan Weisman: there is grace and dignity to live as an animal and the culmination of modernism is an extreme denial of that.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member ceecee's Avatar
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    I've run across more people with nihilistic thoughts on climate change than I wanted. I lol at the claims of absolutely not caring about climate change. If that were the case there would be an even bigger surge in suicide.

    I feel they come to this conclusion because the solution is larger than they can comprehend. They also seem to think activists are only preaching individual lifestyle changes but in reality activism is aimed more at corporate and government - the ones actually responsible and governments that coddle them. Individual change, like eating less meat or using less disposable plastic is, let's face it, so incredibly hard for these people that they feel climate change rhetoric is nothing more than an attack on their values or culture or lifestyle (even typing that sounds insane but I'm only relating what people have said to me).

    We already see plenty of people that do not care if their lives deteriorate, regardless of the reason. So long as the people they believe deserve it most, suffer as well. But this is never the actual entities that cause their economic and physical suffering - they blame people like immigrants. So like the OP says - just shrug and let things take their course. Because doing nothing is much easier and much less difficult to think about.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by ceecee View Post
    I've run across more people with nihilistic thoughts on climate change than I wanted. I lol at the claims of absolutely not caring about climate change. If that were the case there would be an even bigger surge in suicide.

    I feel they come to this conclusion because the solution is larger than they can comprehend. They also seem to think activists are only preaching individual lifestyle changes but in reality activism is aimed more at corporate and government - the ones actually responsible and governments that coddle them. Individual change, like eating less meat or using less disposable plastic is, let's face it, so incredibly hard for these people that they feel climate change rhetoric is nothing more than an attack on their values or culture or lifestyle (even typing that sounds insane but I'm only relating what people have said to me).

    We already see plenty of people that do not care if their lives deteriorate, regardless of the reason. So long as the people they believe deserve it most, suffer as well. But this is never the actual entities that cause their economic and physical suffering - they blame people like immigrants. So like the OP says - just shrug and let things take their course. Because doing nothing is much easier and much less difficult to think about.
    I've seen that sort of thing too, although there was a massive debate at the end of the nineties (I think, could have been earlier) among people reading the eco-anarchist Bookchin about the differences between what he called social anarchism and lifestyle anarchism, it tapped into some earlier schismatic tendendies I guess as Bookchin used to be a Trotskyist but also a lot of ecological battles between (so called) deep greens (Earth First!) and pale greens (Green Party, conservationists).

    That debate has since been subsumed, like a lot of dichotomies, in a kind of "why not both?" response, which I reckon makes sense personally, mainly as it did not come down to differences about ends but means and the prevailing view became, which makes sense to me, why exclude anything, small/parochial or large/structural.


    I worked with a trash compactor in a small (definitely by US standards) town supermarket once crushing all the packaging which was used before you even got the length of fast moving consumer goods packaging and it was MASSIVE and that really put home efforts at recycling, reducing and refusing efforts in perspective.

    Which is not taking into account the incredible environmental impact the world's militaries have, there is no way that your entire air miles and car exhaust emissions for an entire life time are likely to offset the impact of military aircraft or nuclear subs in a few training or war game runs. A lot of the panicks about fuels are often to do with first strike capacities being impacted and not even civilian transport, let alone industry and commerce.

    Individual lifestyle changes are cool but I think ultimately they are often about taste as their impact is so small.

    The only exception I can think of is how popular Veganism is in Australia, my brother has friends who live there and they very devoted to that cause but they have said that veganism is so popular there it is no inconvenience and a lot of the actual animal content in food, clothing etc. has been reduced even where it still exists (I've eaten some vegan "meat" or "chicken" pies which have made me think about this).

    I do think the PCS (personal, cultural, structural) change model is interesting and probably correct but I have real reservations about each of those being equally weighted, the sphere of interest is always going to be much, much greater than the actual sphere of personal influence for instance. Its the confusion about this, individual or personal opinion mattering, which I think gives rise to trolling and some of the more extreme attempts of individuals to engage in thought policing of themselves, family members or friends and others.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member anticlimatic's Avatar
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    I genuinely feel sorry for people who substitute having a life with being an activist for whatever trendy cause they think will earn them the peace and love they are lacking.
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    FRACTALICIOUS phobik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by anticlimatic View Post
    I genuinely feel sorry for people who substitute having a life with being an activist for whatever trendy cause they think will earn them the peace and love they are lacking.
    you can replace the subject with any other object. If you wanna get really meta, the post itself can become the object. Such is the human experience.
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    Senior Member anticlimatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phobik View Post
    you can replace the subject with any other object. If you wanna get really meta, the post itself can become the object. Such is the human experience.
    I think just about any other object is more effective than the one I mentioned. Including this one.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by anticlimatic View Post
    I genuinely feel sorry for people who substitute having a life with being an activist for whatever trendy cause they think will earn them the peace and love they are lacking.
    This is what I think about cynical capitalist libertarians, conservatives and other sorts of alt righters.
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