Colloquy Downeast Blue Hill Maine

Colloquy Downeast

Spirited Conversations in Great Company

FacilitatorNorm Olsen & Larry Benoit
Date & TimeWednesdays, March 24, 31, April 7, 14, 2021
2:00 – 4:00 pm
LocationVia Zoom - Register for a Link
Available Spaces13

While the pandemic is different in form and origin from climate change, many of its social, economic, political and international consequences — and the fact of significant science denial –are similar to those projected for climate change:

— global impact.

— vast unemployment and social need.

— disruption of food supply chains in both the developed and underdeveloped world, and possibility of huge refugee migrations, including across national borders.

— interruption and rearrangement of global supply chains for millions of non-food products.

— exacerbation of income inequality, sectarian persecution, nationalistic fervor.

— challenges to national and international interests… everywhere.

And, perhaps most importantly, an American population half of which denies the existence of both the coronavirus and climate change, or at least of humankind’s impact on climate change. Can that half of the population be brought to accept scientific consensus and support climate action?

A sampling of topics for possible discussion:

What is the net difference in impact between a world awash in oil too cheap to cover production costs and transportation, and a world that must cease using oil in order to save humanity?

Closer to home, what is the net difference in impact between a lobster industry with no lobsters to catch and a lobster industry with plenty of lobsters but with no customers?  What is the net difference in impact between a Grand Lake Stream village with water too warm for trout and a Grand Lake Stream with plenty of fish but no visiting “sports” for local businesses to serve?

As discussed in the attached article, and in light of the Administration’s overturn of nearly 100 environmental protections, will the pandemic generate a new recognition of the climate threat and a call to action, or reduce it to a remote, seemingly far-in-the-future possibility?

  • Do our current clear skies strengthen environmentalists, or convince opponents that Mother Earth can easily regenerate itself without our help?
  • Put another way, just how much cataclysm does it take to convince people of the need for climate change action?
  • And does history provide any examples of lasting positive societal change following catastrophes?
  • In parallel, we will devote part of one session to the national security implications of both the cononavirus and climate change.  As the experience of the past three administrations shows, leaders have initially been unwilling to recognize the national security implications of international health issues, only to be brought up short by, respectively, HIV/AIDS, SARS and Ebola, and now the coronavirus.

One exemplar of these implications is the refugee situation, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, broadly writ.  The global community and teetering regional governments are already stressed by sustaining a few million refugees  including a million refugees on the volatile Syria-Jordan border.  Add to that a deadly pandemic.  How then will we handle the recently forecast multiple Billions of refugees resulting from climate change?  (Note: A single billion refugees equals a million new refugees … each week … for 20 years….)

This colloquy is a follow-on to a successful winter 2020 colloquy hosted by Hans Carlson, and ongoing weekly discussions among several participants via Zoom.

As this is a dynamic, current and rapidly developing topic, fast outpacing publishers’ calendars, and with a new Administration, we will rely primarily on contemporaneous materials, primarily articles, and look to our traditionally well read colloquy participants to bring to the discussion, both in advance of the colloquy and between sessions, materials from their wide range of readings.

In addition, we will use as base resources two succinct works on social, political and environmental action: The Future We Choose, by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac, both key players in the Paris Climate Accord; and Timothy Snyder’s On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons From The Twentieth Century.

From The New York Times:

Will the Coronavirus Crisis Trump the Climate Crisis?

The battle over how to spend recovery funds — to quickly restore the old economy or invest in a greener one — will define the post-pandemic world.


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