Thursday, September 08, 2005

Welcome to Earth 2.0

Living in America means being isolated from reality in so many ways. Poverty is invisible, for the most part. Nature is beautiful and disneyfied. Technology provides us with an endless stream of toys. The past has a shallow grip; our culture is one of endless escape and reinvention, and we get to think of history as a series of triumphs and progress. Evil and suffering happen out there, on other continents.

That's why 9/11 was such a shock -- people aren't supposed to hate us, and they certainly aren't supposed to attack us here. And New Orleans -- which I don't think we've processed yet -- is a similar shock. Nature isn't supposed to intrude on our lives in such a dramatic fashion. There have been plenty of previous hurricanes and other natural disasters, but we've always been on top of them. Not any more.

Bill McKibben has more on this theme

Our rulers have insisted by both word and deed that the laws of physics and chemistry do not apply to us. That delusion will now start to vanish. Katrina marks Year One of our new calendar, the start of an age in which the physical world has flipped from sure and secure to volatile and unhinged. New Orleans doesn't look like the America we've lived in. But it very much resembles the planet we will inhabit the rest of our lives.

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