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With Climate Change No Longer in the Future, Adaptation Speeds Up

Shanelle

Member
With Climate Change No Longer in the Future, Adaptation Speeds Up

There's a meeting on Thursday in LA about adapting to the changing climate. While sea level rise and wildfires pose huge threats, my main concern is the collapse of agriculture and the impact this will have on people in cities (and everywhere, really). Agriculture is highly sensitive to climate change. Most city dwellers have no access to land to grow their own food, so they need to come up with really creative ways to grow food. How can communities in a city like Los Angeles come together to start growing at least some of their own food and what methods should they use? I have a few in mind (such as greenhouse food production and vertical farming) but would like to hear more ideas.

With regard to wildfires, I've heard suggestions like building more fire-proof houses, but it seems to me many people are just going to have to relocate. If the government is not going to help people move, then what can communities do to help with this process?

If eco-socialists want to engage in this discussion, that would be great!
 

Sandra Lindberg

Moderator
You and I are equally concerned about what will happen to food for humans (and for other animals) as climate change proceeds.

Not knowing LA very well (I know San Diego better, but even that is knowledge some two decades old), I am wondering how much of brown field lots or vacant lots can be found in LA. In Detroit and Chicago, some of these sites have been cleaned up to allow for food production. In some cases, it's squatters who simply begin to use the land (if it's contaminated with heavy metals, raised bed or container gardening is the choice). In other cases nfp's or city departments or schools or community groups help to start gardens with local people. On Detroit, I like this blog post from Brooklyn because it emphasizes what small community groups are doing: http://www.brooklynfeed.com/2009/04/urban-gardens-in-detroit/. And this post from Chicago focuses on community gardens in Little Village, a southeast neighborhood in Chicago: Community Garden | LVEJO.

In Decatur IL, after attending the Marxist Center Conference this December in Colorado and meeting so many people focused on organizing in all sorts of neighborhoods, I am returning to some very small community organizing projects that will help people on my block to start with coordinate work around growing food. I'll let you know how it goes. Meetings begin in mid-January.

The last idea I want to share is that people may want to study how food is grown in areas that are much drier or warmer than where they currently live. I have gardened and grown food in San Diego, Boise, central Illinois and northeastern Illinois. All of them had special needs I had to study. But these days I'm also reading about gardening practices in the Mediterranean, Mexico, Texas and New Mexico, especially how they cope with very hot, full sun and very little water. I'm going to site more beds in high shade locations and create ways to use light cloth to shade full sun beds. I'm also adding more rain barrels and making sure that any leaves, branches or large limbs on our city lot stay on the city lot, as mulch, compost or wood that goes into permaculture beds. I'm also hedging my bets when I plant new shrubs or trees, considering their suitability for one growing zone warmer than mine and trying to choose native varieties for better hardiness. I'm even growing veggies suited for one zone warmer. For example, it's getting harder to grow greens around here, except for very early and very late in the season. Okra, on the other hand, grows like a champ in my yard these days. Okra used to be hard to grow around here. All of this is about adaptation--at least as long as adaptation remains possible.

Along with all of this food, though, I also focus on pushing back on local city policy that could potentially worsen climate change around here. For example, I am pushing for the City to increase its budget for maintaining, replacing and removing dead trees on city property. That part of the city budget has experienced cuts for several years and it's starting to be a problem for the local area, which was/is forested all through the Sangamon watershed. So very small scale and larger organizing are both needed to deal with climate change.

Thank you for making this post. It's important to consider this aspect of organizing.
 

Shanelle

Member
Thanks, Sandra! I love that people in your community will start growing food for each other! I have been talking to people in my community about doing the same. And yes, please let me know how it goes with the people you'll be working with!!!

I attached below the list of cities that David sent in his email about unavoidable flooding so that people can look at the risk of flooding in their area and think about whether they'd like to leave or not.

And now I'll just post here what I wrote to the list about cities and why I think people should consider moving to a rural area rather than a city:

Cities are the apex of imperial living and they would not exist without surrounding areas to exploit. I never said people should escape to the woods. I've always supported autonomous community building and I always will. The push to cram everyone into cities rests on the assumption that food, water, and fuel will always be delivered to city dwellers. As Desmond Morris pointed out: "The city is not a concrete jungle, it is a human zoo."

The reason I don't endorse the idea of "sustainable cities" is because cities are inherently unsustainable. When you have too many people occupying a piece of land (the city), there's no way for them to survive on that land unless an enormous amount of resources are extracted from beyond the city boundaries and shipped to those people in cities. Cities generate incredible violence in order to sustain the ever-increasing number of people who live in them (most city dwellers are oblivious to this, because so much of the violence occurs outside of the cities and it is enacted on the city dwellers' behalf). People who live on land that the civilized wish to exploit are either killed or forced to work highly exploitative jobs to provide goods for people who live in cities. John Zerzan put it quite well: "To guarantee such an artificial subsistence, city fathers turn inevitably to war, that chronic civilizational staple." External landbases are exploited and resources are stolen from other populations. There's no way this set of living arrangements could be maintained without extraordinary violence.

Cities also need representative government. People should view the city the same way they view the zoo. Zoos need zookeepers. Zoos need people in charge to oversee the whole operation. Likewise, cities would not be able to function without representative government. When people are organized into cities, the power of the individual is stripped away, as well as the power of face-to-face voluntary associations, and people are forced to surrender to their rulers. It's absurd that people think it's OK to force non-human animals to live in cages (in zoos), and equally absurd that people think there's nothing wrong with living in a completely man-made environment (in cities). Human and non-human animals were never meant to live this way. So instead, I've promoted a close-to-nature, durable set of living arrangements (smaller, agrarian communities in which each individual can be part of the decision-making process).

Gunther pointed out that even eco-communities alter the land. I agree with that. Anything other than a hunter-gatherer way of life is going to alter the land. Even when people grow food, for example, we're destroying habitat that many non-human animals need to survive.

My views are much more in line with anarcho-primitivism than eco-socialism. Civilizations were massively unsustainable, even before capitalism. So there is a deeper issue here than just capitalism.

Imagine what it will be like for those non-human animals when zookeepers can no longer feed them. Imagine what it will be like when food stops being delivered to human animals in cities. They are completely powerless. I can't imagine a worse situation to be in which is why I think people should consider either a) moving out of the city with a group of people to start a self-sufficient community in a rural area or b) working with people in your city to try to ease the coming collapse. Preparing for near-term societal collapse will be much more difficult for people in cities but there are still steps they can take to ease the coming collapse and increase self-reliance. We need to declare a climate change emergency. People can hold weekly community meetings, make the switch to solar immediately, grow some of their own food and share it with each other, and turn community centers and schools into emergency shelters with medicine, food, and water, if need be. We can create a very supportive environment. The goal here is to minimize human and non-human animal suffering. People don't want to burn, starve or suffocate to death. Most of us prefer to die in a way that's pain-free. There won't be food in grocery stores and there won't be fuel at the filling stations, so the important question is what can people do right now to try to reduce human and non-human animal suffering?

I don't know if anybody caught Clive Hamilton's new piece, 467 ways to die on a warming globe. He points out the obvious:

Disasters, food shortages and waves of immigration will magnify resentment against the rich, who will be attempting to insulate themselves from the turmoil around them.

But they too depend on the infrastructure of urban life – electricity and water supply, sewerage and waste disposal, transport systems for food and so on. And they can’t insulate themselves from social upheaval.

Some communities will learn to adapt more effectively. Smaller, cooperative communities will be best placed to adapt themselves to endure the troubles.

Some of the folks in Extinction Rebellion are really talking about the possibility that abrupt climate change will lead to near-term societal collapse (or extinction), but it hasn't stopped them from organizing. There is actually a lot of organizing that can be done around this. I also think Jem Bendell did a very good thing by releasing his "Deep Adapation" paper. I'm really glad he's been moving forward with this and he's working with students and activists on it. Since we're all in this together, there is an opportunity here for everyone to really build on this.

Here is the link to Jem Bendell's important paper: https://www.lifeworth.com/deepadaptation.pdf
 

Attachments

David J

Member
Reading the Deep Adaptation paper, I am struck by the convergence with much of the "Prepper" movement I see around me, the politics of which are impossible to characterize; part Millenialist, part New Age, part Elders of Zion. Which then reminds me of the analysis around the current Yellow Vest uprising, whose politics also seem blurred and co-mingled and less than coherent. A sign of the times? Collapse will make strange bedfellows, I imagine. As Auden put it, "we would rather be ruined than changed."

What I would ask is : adaptation to what? 2 degrees C? 3? 5? Each strategy would need to be radically different. For instance, from how to grow food to how to protect food from marauding gangs. Also, adaptation presumes a linear progression, while "extinction" demolishes that narrative.
 

Shanelle

Member
Hahaha yeah, I definitely agree that collapse will make strange bedfellows! I also agree with you that after a certain point, adaptation won't be possible. This is how Jem Bendell put it:

“The evidence before us suggests that we are set for disruptive and uncontrollable levels of climate change, bringing starvation, destruction, migration, disease and war. We need to appreciate what kind of adaptation is possible. The discussion I’m inviting is about collective responses to reduce harm, rather than how a few people could tough it out to survive longer than others."
 

Sandra Lindberg

Moderator
Reading the Deep Adaptation paper, I am struck by the convergence with much of the "Prepper" movement I see around me, the politics of which are impossible to characterize; part Millenialist, part New Age, part Elders of Zion. Which then reminds me of the analysis around the current Yellow Vest uprising, whose politics also seem blurred and co-mingled and less than coherent. A sign of the times? Collapse will make strange bedfellows, I imagine. As Auden put it, "we would rather be ruined than changed."

What I would ask is : adaptation to what? 2 degrees C? 3? 5? Each strategy would need to be radically different. For instance, from how to grow food to how to protect food from marauding gangs. Also, adaptation presumes a linear progression, while "extinction" demolishes that narrative.
I agree with much of what you write. With so many unknown variables connected to climate change, attempting to reduce harm will be an ever changing goal. The same, though, can be said for organizing or political activity. For example, about 5 electrical companies have now decided to set somewhat ambitious goals for the expansion of renewable energy generation. The actions are not enough, but even a few weeks ago many of us would have said such shifts in thinking were impossible. Organizing in CO, for example, will likely have to change and adapt to electric company developments there. Whether we're organizing civil disobedience or survival strategies--and I am with Shanelle on this: we need both--we will have to day by day take our best shot at making plans. And as a friend and I have discussed, we can expect that government and industry leaders will not necessarily be honest about what is happening. That reality is another reason I feel SCNCC is so important. There are many people who post information here, gathering multiple perspectives at one place for us to review. Because of the breadth of perspectives SCNCC can offer, we can provide what would otherwise take a great deal of time to track down.

I know those of us who post on this site don't always agree, but in my opinion that is one of our strengths. What we must at all costs do is refuse to participate in a capitalist perspective that creates hierarchies of truth between different positions. I hope we can resist dismissing anyone by simply characterizing the person using a label of some kind. For example, while I do not choose to bivouac in an underground bunker and store large amounts of supplies, people who are doing such things are also learning about food preservation and other useful skills that I might one day wish I had.

I keet reminding myself that the capitalist system's best hope of having a few control large numbers of us lies in the system's ability to sow distrust, fear and disrespect among us. I will not play into that and I hope others join me in that approach.

We move forward together.
 

Shanelle

Member
Thanks for engaging in this discussion, David and Sandra. I really appreciate it!

I have talked to activists around Los Angeles about this and we've discussed possibly moving forward with some kind of plan to ease the pain of collapse. I think a lot of organizations don't discuss things like abrupt climate change and collapse because they don't want people to give up, but it's too important to not discuss. There is actually a lot of organizing that can be done with this information in mind. I will let you know how it goes! :)
 
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