And she knows where we’re headed.
1 remarkable leader
Leonard Cohen doesn’t know how close he got to penning the themesong for global neo-conservatism, 2017-style. When I first heard it, I assumed he meant that people who understood global limits would prevail over the dying remnant of those who thought we could trash the place indefinitely. That change would come from within society, a painless morph driven by intelligence and reason.*
The reverse has happened. The mass populace bought the mantra that ‘the market’ will sort everything out like an invisible hand. That sounds to me like just another thing to believe in for those who need to believe in things, but there you go. The neoconservatives (neocons) have won, and it’s rapidly looking like we will all lose as a result.
Or maybe not. It appears that although the masses are uneducable as to the limits to growth, even as the global edifice totters around them, they occasionally select far and clear-sighted leaders. For whatever reason, they elect Ghandi, Mandela, Roosevelt, Carter.
There is one leader today who has my admiration as perhaps the last great intellect currently standing at the head of any influential nation on the planet. She also has my heartfelt sympathy.
German chancellor Angela Merkel makes the news for a lot of reasons, none of which are the one I respect her for. For me, her crowning glory is a succinct little essay she penned in 1998 called The Role of Science in Sustainable Development – it’s online if you google that title. Next time you have a few free minutes, it’s worth a read. She could have written the stuff I’ve written here these last few years, just clearer and earlier.
She’s remarkable. It means that she understands the refugee groundswell arriving on her doorstep in the last few years for what it is, the biggest exodus in human history, depletion-driven and bound to escalate. Religious bigotry and suicidal anger are symptoms, not causes.
It means she knows that Germany is vulnerable to energy curtailment. She knows that when an energy exporter (like Russia) uses more and more of its finite product at home, there’s less and less available for export. She will have noted Britain, Indonesia and Egypt have gone from being net energy exporters to net energy importers, and the political/social repercussions that will result. She knows that when Saudi Arabia and Russia inevitably follow suit, it’s game over globally. Germany, and an overflowing dance-card of others, will have to go to war. Or collapse. Or both. She will also know that the process over the last couple of decades, where Germany exported physical goods in return for IOUS from an increasingly bankrupt southern Europe, was a temporary hallucination.
Give Merkel her due. Germany is aiming to be sustainably-energised as fast as (they think) they can under current conditions. They have a grid powered by French reactors to the west and coal to the east. Their solar resource is to the south, their wind to the north, and their cities doing the receiving cannot be practicably shifted, so the four trans-power companies have a sequenced plan to alter their transmission lines.
But it won’t be enough. I attended a lecture by a fellow from a 1000-person think-tank looking into this and he stated that their target was 35% renewable by 2050. Too little, too late, and that’s only their electricity, not the stuff which shifts their supplies up and down the autobahns.
The Merkel problem is the Obama problem is the Carter problem. Whether the mass ignorance is chosen (denial, fear, cognitive dissonance and religious belief being possible reasons) or via media failure, or via a wired-in DNA requirement for species survival in the early stages of evolvement, it seems to be across the board. If someone is honest enough to say times are about to get tougher, they can expect to be voted out. Winston Churchill famously told the punters they were in for a rough ride but he was already in power, not hustling for votes. Carter was voted out for voicing what Merkel – at some point – must explain.
The neocons have taken Manhattan and I suspect they now have their eyes on Berlin.
There’s a photo on the internet of a hand-bag designer (editor’s note: Ivanka Trump) sitting next to Merkel, a woman with a physics PHD and a long history as a world leader. The look on Merkel’s face is priceless.
We should be thankful that one of them knows what is going on.
They sentencedsent me to 20 years of boredom For trying to change the system from within I’m coming now, I’m coming to reward them First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin First we take Manhattan, Leonard Cohen (1986)
* When asked about the meaning of the song, Leonard Cohen said at one point he couldn’t remember what he wrote it about, later that it could mean what the listener wants it to mean, but he also once wrote that it was about terrorism.
“It is a terrorist song. I think it’s a response to terrorism. There’s something about terrorism that I’ve always admired. The fact that there are no alibis or no compromises. That position is always very attractive. I don’t like it when it’s manifested on the physical plane - I don’t really enjoy the terrorist activities.”