557: Planet of the Extraenvironmentalists

KMO welcomes Dr. Justin Ritchie, co-creator of the Extraenvironmentalist Podcast, back to the C-Realm to discuss the controversy around the documentary, Planet of the Humans. The film calls out mainstream environmentalist organizations like the Sierra Club and environmentalist celebrities like Bill McKibben for endorsing feel-good measures which aim at preserving the industrial lifestyle but which are inadequate for sustaining the bioshpere. Critics of the film respond that the criticisms it levels are all based on information that is long out of date.

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5 Comments

  1. Chris Harrison on May 13, 2020 at 8:36 am

    Hi KMO,

    I cannot tell you how happy I was to hear Justin Ritchie’s voice over the interwebs again after he and Seth so thoughtlessly abandoned the Extraenvironmentalist podcast several years ago without even considering how that would impact their long-term listeners! I’m kidding about that last part… well, sort of. And it was indeed an excellent and grounded conversation about a topic that so many people have been reacting in such emotional ways. I for one have largely steered clear of the buzz around that movie. I haven’t watched it, I haven’t watched any of the rebuttals to it — aside from Richard Heinberg’s written response to it which I also found to be quite measured in acknowledging some of the arguments made by the filmmaking team while pushing back on other claims of theirs from a place of rationality.

    But I was most moved by your commentary at the end. I am lucky to be in a position where my household’s financial standing is still secure — we have become practiced at living well below our means for years now, and both my wife and I are still employed. But despite my personal position, I increasingly find myself filled with rage and a desire for revenge when I see the manner in which those elected to preside over the federal and state kleptocracies are using the pandemic as an excuse to further enrich those already at the heights of the economy while turning the screws tighter on everyone else. I heard this state of affairs best described by Irami Osei-Frimpong (The Funky Academic) in one of his Rising appearances when he said that the federal and state governments had conscripted the workforce of the country, and the product they were having them create was public safety. But they refused to pay the conscripted workforce for this work. When stated that way, I think the patent injustice and unfairness of it all becomes glaringly obvious.

    Then again, as I said a couple of years back, fairness is largely a middle class concept. Those at the top know the game is rigged in their favor and work tirelessly to keep it that way. Those at the bottom know the game is rigged against them and that they have to fight like hell to force any concessions. It is only the comfortable middle class that talks of these kinds of things in terms of fairness and unfairness.

    As a FB friend you also know and who appeared on an episode of your podcast said recently, “I alternate between believing we will need a lot of love to get through this and advocating for guillotines,” and I told him that I never felt such alignment with another human being than I did at that statement. It’s impossible to not feel like a good culling of the rich and powerful of this country is part of the solution.

    As for me, I’m taking my relatively secure (but soul-deadening) job and leaving it in about 6 weeks to dive into a cooperative regenerative farming venture in my community. I had already planned to step away from my engineering job around the end of the year and embark on an ag venture while also diving into the household economy, but a friend of mine whose dad owns a 29 acre farm that my friend is trying to start up again approached me about going in on it with him, and I gave my 2 months notice so as to not leave my project in a lurch and now I’m playing out the string of the transition.

    David Holmgren advocated for 10-20% of the industrial middle and upper middle class to voluntarily opt out of the industrial economy in his “Crash on Demand: Welcome to the Brown Tech Future,” in order to withdraw their labor and consumption as kind of a last ditch effort to stop runaway climate change, with the idea that if they did so that it could crash the global economy (a decision Holmgren did not take lightly). After reading that I knew that I had to move myself — and my family — in that direction. So that’s part of the work I’ve been doing, honing my own skills and building up needed infrastructure while bringing my family around to supporting this path. And when I read Holmgren’s most recent book, Retrosuburbia, I knew I had found a good source on the “how” to make that happen. Along those lines, I’m also heading up the development of a “homesteaders’ grange” in my community as a decentralized network of people to share and teach each other skills, and eventually share labor to help each other out with projects to increase their household (and our community) resilience. So I’ve decided to dive down really locally as a means to hopefully help myself and others in our community mitigate the worst impacts of a decrepit economy likely to meet us on the other side of the pandemic. I know that love, patience, trust, and connection are key towards this. Yet every day when I read the national news I cannot help but think that guillotines and bullets maybe have a role to play, despite my knowledge of how that is a losing proposition given the government’s wholesale monopoly on violence.

    After years of reading about how societies collapse, I never really thought I’d find myself in the midst of one. Yet, here we are….

    Best to you KMO,
    Chris Harrison
    Warwick, NY

  2. L33tminion on May 13, 2020 at 3:33 pm

    You begin this episode with the inversion of the demographic pyramid and end with Biden. It seems to me that Biden, and Biden’s messaging, has a very strong appeal with one group of very reliable voters. I think underplaying the role of voter preferences and popular sentiment gives an overly pessimistic picture of the prospect for political change. The Boomers will not be with us forever.

  3. Paul Daugherty on May 14, 2020 at 3:43 pm

    KMO, Great show as always. I miss the extraenvironmentalist 4 hour long podcasts, so it was good to hear from Justin.

    I’m pissed off too. I feel like leadership has failed at every level. We see thousands standing in food lines. My neighbors are selling all their shit on facebook to put food on the table, and all we hear is how things will get back to normal as soon as the economy opens. Alot of my frustration is the lack of honesty from our leadership and media. No one with authority says that things are not going to get back to normal and that people who are out of work today have little prospect for paying their mortage in the future. I think that people need to be told the truth so that we can decide how to proceed. It is hard to make an informed decision how to move forward when one does not have the facts.

  4. Bryan Winchell on May 15, 2020 at 9:11 am

    Hi KMO (and Chris Harrison…I want to address you, as well, but first KMO),

    First, I’ve connected with you a few times over the years since I first heard the C-Realm in, I believe, 2006. I’m the guy who asked you over the winter about creating a podcast riffing off the C-Realm name and yeah, I went ahead and did it, with the B&P Realm. Been putting out two podcasts per week, each about an hour long; first 30 minutes is a topic and the last 30 minutes is me reading my 2015 novel.

    Anyway, yes, I was very excited to hear, um, Dr. Justin Ritchie … nicely done Justin! … on this week’s episode and I only got about halfway through before I used your discussion as a jumping off point for my most recent episode. So thanks for the inspiration and I hope it ‘s OK to share the link for it.

    But the main reason I wanted to comment was, like others, I LOVED the rant at the end. I’ve actually taken about 15 seconds out of it as a clip for an upcoming episode of mine where I address the issue of ANGER and then put some of my own fire around it.

    I point out in my clip that you are expressing the anger FOR the collective, how WE are getting shafted by this System. This is VERY important to me. The reason is, over the past few months when I’ve raised some of my fears and concerns, I’ve had pushback from some people, saying, “But Bryan, is it like that where you live?” I’ve pointed out to them many times that my sense of justice does not start and end with myself; no, for me, real justice is the sort of justice that Eugene Debs talked about, what’s the famous quote, so long as one man remains in prison, I am not free.

    Like you, our family’s finances have only taken a small hit. But like Chris Harrison, I’m in a strange situation where last summer and fall I had some rather intense personal experiences that convinced me I needed to quit my teaching job of 15 years at the end of this March. I was then headed to the U.S. and was going to take a cross-country trip via any form of transportation besides me driving a car by myself (mostly Amtrak) and then write a book about “my American homeland.” I’m looking at the U.S. map on my wall here now and seeing that around now I’d be either leaving colorado or alredy into Kansas. Alas…

    Anyway, I feel deeply for what you guys are going through over there and believe a drdop out and drop into Nature sort of move like Chris is doing is wise. For myself, I’m still figuring out the logistics of all that. Like you, though, I will NOT be shamed into voting for two people who I think are absolute train wrecks as candidates. There’s even a part of me that thinks Trump may be better because he is less competent and the System will fall apart faster. Who knows? All I know is neither he nor Biden nor anybody else the Democrats might foist upon us to replace that zombie when he falls into his eternal slumber will be someone I will put my energy behind. Let the System flail about in its death throes, I’ve no need to throw it a lifeline.

    Okay, anyway, great podcast as always and keep the FIRE coming! Personally, I also believe strongly that the LOVE is the deeper place to come from, but we can be angry from a place of love and that is exactly what you were doing.

    Here’s the link to my podcast for anyone interested (it’s finishing up here when it gets to episode 40 and then I’m going to branch into 4 different ones):

    https://anchor.fm/the-bp-realm/episodes/Ep–34-B-and-P-are-for-The-Bullshit-of-Picking-a-Side-Plus-Book-4–Chapters-7-and-8-of-The-Teacher-and-the-Tree-Man-ee1tqj

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