The Gaia PhD is about Storytelling Solutions to Climate and Water Before 6th Extinction is Inevitable

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Let’s create a new kind of university and a new society.  One that is about the living systems of living planet, ‘Gaia’.  Kenneth, Jens, and I are beginning the Gaia PhD.  Think of it as a different bet on the future than academic capitalism that has turned university education into just another corporatized commodity, and part of the climate denial machine. Think of Gaia PhD as a way to actually be interdisciplinary instead of insular silos. Or a way to work on solutions to global warming and changes to the water cycle. As the temperature of the planet warms from CO2 emissions, the water cycle shifts more vapor is held in the atmosphere, sea levels rise, ocean acidification takes place, there are both more droughts and more flash flooding.

I am a storytelling researcher. To do something about global warming and avert the Sixth Extinction, we will have to change the storytelling.  “There’s anywhere from 97% to 99% consensus among the world’s scientists studying this problem, that climate change is real and human caused” (Michael Mann). The climate denial storytelling machine is managing the narrative, so the politicians and the public deliver the myths about climate instead of the climate science research findings.

I am not convinced that we can wait for the US government to change its ways. Exxon has known since 1977 that the fossil fuel industries were causing global warming (source). It has spent 30 million in adverts promoting climate denial (source). Add to this what the Koch Brothers have spent: “Koch Family Foundations have spent $127,006,756 directly financing 92 groups that have attacked climate change science and policy solutions, from 1997-2017” (source).
Despite Exxon and Koch brothers denial machine, the climate scientists are in 97% agreement about global warming, about climate change resulting from industrial activity, much of it from fossil fuel emissions since the industrial revolution (source):
A Skeptical Science peer-reviewed survey of all (over 12,000) peer-reviewed abstracts on the subject ‘global climate change‘ and ‘global warming’ published between 1991 and 2011 (Cook et al. 2013) found that over 97% of the papers taking a position on the subject agreed with the consensus position that humans are causing global warming” (IBID.). The Top 10 Climate Myths that Fossil Fuel Industries and Koch brothers use to manage the climate change narrative.

 

Climate Myth What the Science Says
1 Climate‘s changed before” Climate reacts to whatever forces it to change at the time; humans are now the dominant forcing.
2 “It’s the sun” In the last 35 years of global warming, sun and climate have been going in opposite directions
3 “It’s not bad” Negative impacts of global warming on agriculture, health & environment far outweigh any positives.
4 “There is no consensus” 97% of climate experts agree humans are causing global warming.
5 “It’s cooling” The last decade 2000-2009 was the hottest on record.
6 “Models are unreliable” Models successfully reproduce temperatures since 1900 globally, by land, in the air and the ocean.
7 “Temp record is unreliable” The warming trend is the same in rural and urban areas, measured by thermometers and satellites.
8 “Animals and plants can adapt” Global warming will cause mass extinctions of species that cannot adapt on short time scales.
9 “It hasn’t warmed since 1998” Every part of the Earth’s climate system has continued warming since 1998, with 2015 shattering temperature records.
10 “Antarctica is gaining ice” Satellites measure Antarctica losing land ice at an accelerating rate.

See all 197 myths and what climate scientists are telling us.

Why is the climate denial myth-making happening? To manage the narrative about climate change, to keep it a debate, rather than accepting the consensus among climate scientists. Why? Follow the money. The longer Exon and Koch brothers delate politicians from making policy changes to the status quo, the more money they make.

You can watch this YouTube to get a sense of where I live in New Mexico. We get 10 inches of rain. There is drought and flash flooding.

To Change the Course of History, Change the Storytelling. We can make new bets on the future. We can learn important lessons from Mother Nature.  
Few people in my community are harvesting the rain water. We live in a county that is too poor to take care of its roadways. Yes, we pay our taxes, but we have to take care of our own county roads. Our horse ranch has an arroyo running through it.
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In lower left is more vegetation because it’s the lowest area on the property. An arroyo flows diagonally from upper right to lower left, then crosses Dunn Drive and heads on towards the city of Las Cruces. Another arroyo (Arroyo Seco), also a county road that is not maintained by anyone but volunteers runs from higher ground (the Organ Mountains) and to the city catchments.  The city cares for Dunn Drive north of Aldrich, but does not care for Dunn Drive because when it hits our address, it become county road (and is not maintained at all). There once was a 90 plus man down Dunn that had a tractor and would smooth out the bumps, but no one has seen him. Aldrich road from our home going a long city block to the west is also not maintained. Some dude owns a property on the land, and is refusing the city access on Aldrich, so that road is not maintained (you have to live here to understand how complex the rights to which agency of the government can do what or not). Across Dunn to the east is the Bureau of Land Management land, and city and county have not quite figured out who has jurisdiction.
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In the foreground are photo voltaic that I installed, and in the background are ones we had professionally installed. I welded up the frames and dug the post holes for ones I installed. The systems produce enough electric that El Paso Electric pays us 100 to 200 dollars each month for our excess capacity.
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I set up an observation post using some aluminum for shade I recycled from an old solar water heater system that got struck by lightning, frying the pumps along with the PV inverter (which we replaced).
To get some understanding of the growing gap between Gaia and humanity, especially in the US, I have begun to do some detailed observations, to gather antenarrative material. Antenarrative is the ‘stuff’ before, beneath, between, becoming, beyond both narrative and story forms, and it’s all the bets on our future. The status quo bet of the US government is that  western capitalism and academic capitalism are going to save us by carbon credits, privatizing city (municipal) water services and commodifying freshwater around the world. Some put their faith in the narrative called triple bottom line, while others favor a circular economy narrative, will answer the challenge of global warming.
The problem with the triple bottom line (profit, people, & planet) narrative is it is really just a profit strategy exploding people and planet. The problem I see with circular economy narrative, is it ignores its own growth trajectory. Circular economy is defined as an economic system aimed at minimizing waste and making the most of natural resources. That sounds ideal, until you stop to realize, economic systems keep growing requiring more and more natural resources (oil, gas, water) to sustain them.  Sorry to inform you. More recycling and reducing waste in the circular economy, is a circular narrative, a circular logic that is ignoring the realities of growth and greed.
To change the future we need to change the storytelling about water and climate, and what must be done about it now.
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The Extinction Rebellion is happening (join). Water warrior vigils are happening (Join ). People are rebelling, using peaceful protest and civil disobedience to change the storytelling about climate change.

 

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