Reading over Chris Lydon’s musings from the Symi Symposium in Greece left me feeling melancholy and despairing; and a thought that has been crystallizing in my mind just started running over and over again in my internal dialogue: our institutions are paralyzed by egotism, self-interest, and inefficiency.

Lydon gives a lucid description of the air of hopelessness hanging over the Symposium, as innovative thinkers and leaders gather to discuss “the near impossibility of rescuing the human habitat from earthly ruin”, and this from yesterday’s Democracy Now! headlines:

The United Nation’s World Meteorological Organization has warned that record-breaking weather extremes have been recorded in almost every continent this year, with global land temperatures reaching their highest levels since records began in 1800. The WMO said it tracked an alarming incidence of unusually adverse weather from Europe and Asia to Latin America, the Middle East and Africa. In South Asia monsoons have killed more than 500 people and displaced more than 10 million others. In the Middle East, the first documented cyclone in the Arabian Sea was reported in June. In China heavy rains affected more than 13 million people. England and Wales had their wettest May and June since records began in 1766, resulting in extensive flooding and more than $6 billion in damage. Germany swung from its driest April since 1901 to its wettest May on record. Argentina and Chile saw unusually cold winter temperatures in July while South Africa had its first significant snowfall since 1981 in June.

We know what to do, and it isn’t so difficult really. Reforestation need not be complicated. But it takes commitment, and capital investment, and yes, leadership. We have no recourse to stave off this disaster. Our institutions are paralyzed. And we as individuals are left to fight as hard as we can for as long as we can, loosely allied with our communities, more strongly so with our families; and we will also be called upon to pick up the pieces as the biosphere inevitably shakes apart.

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