Could looking at much less elaborated ways of living, and unsnarling the complications raised by our intensely overwound culture reveal something about our encounter with global warming which seems to have escaped us so far?
This writer has been reading ethnographies, ethnographies of the Ju/wasi, (some refer to them as the San) the world’s oldest people (that is, people descended directly from the original human inhabitants of Earth), who once occupied almost all of East Africa, and more recently the Kalahari Desert; and ethnographies of the inhabitants of Zanskar, one of the world’s most inaccessible people living poles apart in the high Himalayas.
|Uncomplicated living in Zanskar|
Why read about people living distantly from our supremely dominant global, “civilized” cultures in the great cities of London, Washington, Rome, Paris, Berlin, and other Great Capitals of the Western World? What can they possibly teach us that we don’t already know, and that we don’t need to know? What is to be learned there? And why does this writer keep gnawing away at the question: Why is it that Western Culture (and that includes coal-burning countries like China) seems hell-bent on destroying the home in which it lives?
What would it take for the dominant global culture to reverse itself 180 degrees? And what kinds of reversal are we talking about? And how can anyone refer to a dominant global culture monolithically, when it includes kids who “get it?” Are those kids a separate culture? Why does it matter? If we are talking about the clash of fundamental ideas of being in the world, why do we talk about the proponents of those ideas in the same breath?
The Ju/wasi have inhabited Botswana for a known period of 60,000 years. Their oral cultural memory of the skies of 58,000 B .C. tell them where to look for constellations which the unschooled eye cannot possibly find (because over a geological time period, far beyond the scope of human time, the skies shift infinitesimally slowly). Gift exchanging is a huge part of their daily lives, a practice which guarantees that no individuals can ever amass great wealth to the imporverishment of others. They lived happily this way for 60,000 years.
|Ju/Wasi building a fire from scratch|
If the human race had lived an existence as uncomplicated as the Ju/Wasi have, the climate of this planet might still have been able to cradle human existence in a more benevolent way.
|Zanskar Buddhist monastery|
The Buddhist inhabitants of Zanskar weave the fabric which becomes their one suit of clothes, which they patch, and re-sew over a lifetime. At 16,000 feet, well above the tree line, the inhabitants mostly subsist on a diet of barley and peas, wild and cultivated; some onions, radishes, cucumbers and potatoes (grown in tiny kitchen gardens) and their yaks give them yak butter. Of these they make tea (served with butter); tsampa (barley flour moistened and kneaded with water to make cakes, often eaten cold); and chang, a drink made of fermented barley which makes the drinker warm and quite happy. To guard their animals from wolves, they occasionally sleep outdoors in temperatures of minus 40 degrees. To plant grains above the snow line, they build piles of soil which they spread over the snow in early Spring. The darkness of that earth forces the snow to melt allowing them to plant their grains early enough to harvest them before the first freeze. In other words, they make use of the very feed back loop that’s now over heating our Earth such that, as polar ice melts exposing the dark sea to sunlight, it further warms an already overheating planet. They live happily this way and have lived happily for as long as they have inhabited their kingdom.
If the human race had lived an existence as simple as the Zanskaris, the climate of this planet might still have been able to cradle our existence in a more benevolent way.
What does all this suggest?
While our planet gets trashed, please ask this airline to reduce its carbon footprint with carbon offsets at
Support Sunrise with your generous dollars by buying from their offerings at
Help the Union of Concerned Scientists sustain clean energy's winning streak while contributing at
Did you know 40% of Fresno’s school children are unhoused? Please tell the USDA to stop the attacks on food assistance programs for hungry Americans at
Extra credit. Release an innocent black man from Missouri’s attorney general’s determination not to free him at
Can’t be stopped: young climate activists storm COP 25 stage.
Thunberg named Time’s person of the year.
Calling for “Climate President,” more than 500 groups demand next administration take immediate action.
Timed to COP 25, and decrying EU proposal to address climate collapse by 2015 as too little, too late, Greenpeace activists stage spectacular House on Fire spectacle in Brussels.
|Greenpeace sets the world on fire|
Lavrov states Russia ready to extend new START treaty.
More war lies debunked: UN unable to link Saudi, Aramco attacks to Iran.
Supreme Court rejects “free speech” challenge by Wireless Association CTIA against Berkeley’s cell phone right to know about how cell phones harm you law.
House Democrats pass bill restoring Voting Rights Act after Supreme “Court” decision guts it.
Coal resupply train blocked in two states.
World’s big sleep out (some of it in rainy LA) as thousands world over spend night outside in solidarity with the homeless.
Environmental Health trust to take legal action challenging FCC that 20th century techniques can't evaluate 21st century technology.
Boston suburb of Brookline first East Coast city to ban oil and natural gas infrastructure in new construction projects.
Do they know something we don’t: 100 Italian municipalities pass resolutions against 5G.
Never in America: Mexico’s government launches massive seized assets auction for “Robin Hood” program benefitting the very poor and destitute.
Indonesian steel craftsmanship revives as builders demonstrate the superior strength of bamboo.
Six hundred kilometers of roads blocked as French strikes urging withdrawal of pension “reform” draft law continue.
100 California cities reject PG & E’s bankruptcy proposal, demanding it be broken up.
Seven men sentenced for murder of visionary Honduran social movement leader Berta Cáceres.
NRA investigation widens as New York AG delivers new subpoena.
After House progressive push to strengthen drug pricing billPelosi eats crow.
Chipping away at the Little King: North Dakota county votes to accept refugees, defying #45 executive order.
School fights back after ICE detains Connecticut high school sophomore.
Small, predominantly black Georgia town gets election officials to reopen polling station closed in disenfranchising effort.
Houston cop gets in McConnell’s face: “You’re either here for women [victims of domestic violence] or you’re here for the NRA."
Texas sheriff’s deputy arrested for conducting unlawful strip searches of six women.
Packed Berkeley tenants union, reconvening on short notice, endorses Bernie Sanders.
After non-profit college forgives $141 million in student debt, Sanders points out there’s only $1,685,456,413,335 more to go.
U.S. government drops prosecution of Max Blumenthal after jailing journalist on false charges [covering Venezuelan Embassy protection events.]
Journalism is not dead yet as rank-and-file news writer wins CWA News Guild presidency.
Brian Eno launches Julian Assange campaign.
President of National Nurses United testifies at health care Congressional hearing re: passing Medicare for All!
Following budget cuts, S. F. City supervisors move to save CCSF classes.
Methodist church nativity scene depicts Mary, Jesus and Joseph as separated and caged family.
Wisconsin high school senior opens mosque doors, sheltering over 100 peers during school shooting.
Pawn shop worker in Hurricane, Utah, saves falling infant while mom's busy shopping for shotguns.