New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted

Archive for the ‘Kent Shifferd’

The Carbon Crisis

February 07, 2014 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Economy, Kent Shifferd

Can We Fix Humanity’s ‘Biggest Mistake’ in Time?

by Kent Shifferd

The great release of carbon-based energy began in the second half of the eighteenth century, prompting the poet William Blake to coin his famous line about “England’s dark, satanic mills.” All history before that was characterized by an organic tool kit. Our technology was mostly biodegradable and not very powerful. Nature was strong — humanity was weak. I am not suggesting we want to revert to that relationship, but did we go in the right direction, and if not, what can we do about it now?

Why was the release of carbon energies humanity’s greatest mistake? The answer is simple; it has led to the severe damage to the biosphere we now see all around us. The biosphere, that thin zone of life that surrounds the earth like the skin on an apple, is the only place in this solar system that we can live and we are utterly dependent upon its natural processes. It provides oxygen to breathe, water to drink, and soil that produces all our food. As everyone knows, it is a vastly complicated, living web whose interconnections we will never fully understand. The release of carbon energy has made it possible for us to recklessly pull apart the strands. (more…)

Planetary Emergency

May 28, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Kent Shifferd

‘We Need to Invent a New Way of Life’

by Kent Shifferd

We humans are facing a perfect storm of crises of our own making that could bring a sudden and ugly end to the way of life we have known, but we are not paying attention.

We are all focused on small things — our jobs, the fate of our favorite sports team, the price of gas, the latest clothing fad, the newest app for our smartphone.  For most of us our view is too limited, too narrow and too confined to the present moment. We are looking down at our feet when we should be looking up and outward to the future. We are happily oblivious to the one big thing that will determine our fate. Without realizing it, we stand on the brink of a planetary emergency brought on by our pride and our ignorance. (more…)

Peace and the Spirit

July 08, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Kent Shifferd, Politics

Truth, Power, and the Ultimate Ground of Being

by Kent Shifferd

Treaties, non-aggression pacts, techniques of conflict resolution (e.g., nonviolent communication, reflective listening, mutual gains bargaining), institutional structures for the control of interstate violence (e.g., UN, ICC), disarmament schemes, peace studies curricula — all are necessary to creating a lasting peace; but they are just the mechanics, the tools of peace. They can lie there on the bench or they can be picked up and put to use.

But they are useless without the Spirit, that difficult-to-describe-in-words something which, when you see or hear it, you instantly recognize its presence. It’s the difference between me droning on in a classroom about the second START Treaty and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s voice ringing out, “I have a dream today!” Close your eyes for a moment and recall the sound of that to your mind… (more…)

The Paradox of Peace

March 25, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Kent Shifferd, Politics

Despite Appearances, Are We Headed Toward a Better World?

by Kent Shifferd

With the 20th century having been the bloodiest in history, and with bombs falling in Libya, explosions in Iraq, Hamas rockets falling on Israel, and a seemingly endless war in Afghanistan, the answer to the question of whether peace is possible seems an obvious “No!” But if you take the long view and look at the totality of trends that have been going on more or less unnoticed for two centuries, it could well be a “Maybe.”

Consider this: after thousands of years of warfare, the first organized peace societies in history began to form and work in the early 19th century.  By 1899 their efforts resulted in the calling of the inaugural world peace conference, and out of that came the first-ever court to adjudicate disputes between nations, the so-called “World Court” (its actual name is the International Court of Justice).  By itself it was not enough to stop World War I, but some 22 more trends developed over the century and are ongoing today, which when viewed together make the 20th century not only the bloodiest, but also the century marked by  more progress toward controlling war than in any other in history.  Ironic and paradoxical, yes, but it was a century of peace. (more…)