Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Green Filter

Yesterday I was reintroduced to our society's version of a “green economy” while attending a training session sponsored by my county's main workforce center. While it was really just a plug for a local community college, it reminded me why I've shied away from enthusiastically seeking a job in the field: the green economy, as presently defined and practiced, isn't likely to significantly improve our chances of avoiding the global catastrophe I see lurking in the near future.

There's a popular expression, which I hate, that pops into my head when I write things like that: “Don't let the perfect be enemy of the good.” Sure, green jobs aren't going to solve all our problems, but they're better than what we're doing now – or so the logic goes. That's like saying, using my Titanic analogy, that turning the ship so it hits the iceberg at a slightly different angle is better than turning the ship so far that the passengers think you aren't taking them to their destination (assuming we can even do so, and in enough time to avoid impact). Sorry, but maybe perfect is what we need right now, along with a lot more lifeboats.

When I got home from the “training” I got a call from a recruiter about a contract-to-hire position as a technical writer, the transitional career I've been in since the late 1990s. It was a not-so-subtle reminder that cash is running out, and to use another expression I hate, “Beggars can't be choosers.” As idealistic as I am, as committed to trying to fix whatever I can, homelessness is not an option I'm willing to consider, especially since I'm not alone in this. If I get a chance to interview with an organization that isn't full-bore trying to kill the planet (involved in oil, global finance, war-making, or supporting right-wing politics, for example), I'll probably take it, and figure out how to use the job to do more good than bad.

In the mean time, I'll continue to use each new experience to narrow my search for what I want to spend most of my time doing. What I've learned so far is that I want to focus on increasing biodiversity, or at least curbing its loss. The key to this is the famous HIPPO acronym that I learned about by reading E. O. Wilson's work, which nicely summarizes the negative human impacts on other species. I've generalized this in my concept of consumption, which is proportional to the global ecological footprint. Reduce the footprint, and we can increase biodiversity; it's that simple. The big problem I've grappled with, of course, is the possible (and I consider likely) loss of human population that would accompany it, which appears to only be solvable by increasing the planet's natural carrying capacity (its “natural capacity”), or, more simply, the amount of other life. What this would practically translate into is the subject of my ongoing work (er, hobby) of defining an “ideal world.” From a career-search perspective, it confirms my inclination to move toward anything involving ecology, such as ecology with a conservation focus, human ecology, or social ecology.

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