Blackspot

The Unacknowledged Test

Those who understand experience in this second sense will grasp climate change as a perilous existential and civilizational trial.

Experts agree that we are experiencing perilous climate change that calls the fate of our experiment in civilization into question. As severe weather strikes one continent and mysterious die-offs occur in another, the death rattle of the natural environment grows louder. “Where have all the fireflies gone?” we wonder, and then the scientists confirm that they have noted their absence as well. Once the so-called experts step in and the media assures us that abnormal things are indeed happening, we suppress our alarm and resume sleepwalking through ironic consumption. Is this the only way we can experience climate change?

“Experience” is a word we use everyday so it should be easy to define what it means. Some would argue that to experience climate change is to acknowledge its existence. They see experience as living through an event, and they hope to weather what awaits by maintaining the lifestyle that brought us this historical, ecological moment. Those who treat an experience as something to be survived see climate change as something that can be dealt with using the tools of advanced technology, international diplomacy and public education campaigns. “We can get through this,” might be their admirable motto and most of our society could be counted as their supporters.

But “experience” has another meaning that we ought to consider. The words “experiment,” “expert” and “experience” are related: an expert is often someone who gains experience through experiments. The expert need not be a scientist; we also gain experience by submitting ourselves to life-experiments like outdoor adventures, risky activism or dangerous thinking. After one of these experiences, we've transformed ourselves and come closer to our full potential. Experience, it seems, has some connection to a test that puts our self into question.

It may not be a surprise to learn that the common root which “expert,” “experiment” and “experience” share is the Latin word experiri, which means “to put to the test.” In fact, we can go one step further and say that every experience is a dangerous test. I do not say this without cause but instead am referring back to the Latin root experiri, which comes from periculum meaning test, trial, risk, danger or, as it is commonly translated: peril. The other meaning of the word experience is thus to be in peril.

Those who understand experience in this second sense will grasp climate change as a perilous existential and civilizational trial. Nature, via climate change, is charging us with ecocide and we must respond if we want to avoid the death sentence. It is no defense to cling to life as it was before today in the hopes of surviving the weather of tomorrow – that is merely blind denial to the trial taking place.

Instead, we must put our selves, our minds, our souls and our way of life under review. We can respond to the charges brought against us only by renouncing the industrial, consumerist worldview that brought us to this catastrophic point. To experience climate change is to be called to take part in an experiment after which the world as we know it is forever changed.

Micah White is a contributing editor at Adbusters and an independent activist. He is writing a book on the future of activism. www.micahmwhite.com or micah (at) adbusters.org

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28 comments on the article “The Unacknowledged Test”

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PSUSLAYER

If we are going to use A latin term how about: Vicariously? One meaning is: experienced or realized through imaginative or sympathetic participation in the experience of another.

Here is a list of people who should Vicariously live through the eyes of some folks in the global south:
Richard A. Grasso, Chip McClure, CEO, ArvinMeritor: (Chip? Is that really his name or is he hooked on 80's flicks) John Engler, president of National Association of Manufacturers and Pascal Lamy, Better yet we can make a game show out of it, "Survivor Global Economy" so that way they can write off the trip if they loose. but first they have to live in a Darfur refugee camp, but here is the kicker;
Each one has to sell A pair of Nike Air Jordans, a six pack of coke and a Walmart gift card, for retail price of course. Do you think they would have an,"EPIPHANY"

PSUSLAYER

If we are going to use A latin term how about: Vicariously? One meaning is: experienced or realized through imaginative or sympathetic participation in the experience of another.

Here is a list of people who should Vicariously live through the eyes of some folks in the global south:
Richard A. Grasso, Chip McClure, CEO, ArvinMeritor: (Chip? Is that really his name or is he hooked on 80's flicks) John Engler, president of National Association of Manufacturers and Pascal Lamy, Better yet we can make a game show out of it, "Survivor Global Economy" so that way they can write off the trip if they loose. but first they have to live in a Darfur refugee camp, but here is the kicker;
Each one has to sell A pair of Nike Air Jordans, a six pack of coke and a Walmart gift card, for retail price of course. Do you think they would have an,"EPIPHANY"

Anonymous

Micah do you truly beleive this site and what it stands for has anyhting to do with the future of activism? Am I to be enthusiastic about this? This entire site fits perfectly with the same old same old dogma of the political left and the mainstream media. Bash Isreal, scare people about the enviornment, hate on corporations, encourage top down societal mettling, propogate conspiracy theories. This is not counterculture or culture jamming. This sort of stuff is the oil that greases the wheels of the machine, keeping the ignorant hordes appeased with written trash, fake activism, and days without cars and shopping........

Anonymous

Micah do you truly beleive this site and what it stands for has anyhting to do with the future of activism? Am I to be enthusiastic about this? This entire site fits perfectly with the same old same old dogma of the political left and the mainstream media. Bash Isreal, scare people about the enviornment, hate on corporations, encourage top down societal mettling, propogate conspiracy theories. This is not counterculture or culture jamming. This sort of stuff is the oil that greases the wheels of the machine, keeping the ignorant hordes appeased with written trash, fake activism, and days without cars and shopping........

Micah White

Yes, I do believe that what Adbusters stands for is the future of activism. I think that struggles over how to protect our 'mental environment' from the pollution of corporate communication represent the next paradigm shift in activist practice. By attacking the right of corporations to pollute our minds, and rejecting wholeheartedly the consumerist worldview, I think activists have a chance for accomplishing systemic and vast change.

You are right to attack the aspects of "leftism" that you do, but I do not believe that you have looked at Adbusters deeply enough. Perhaps you have spent too much on our website, and not enough time reading our magazine.

I hope you'll send me an email at micah (at) adbusters.org so we can continue this discussion.

All the best,

Micah

Micah White

Yes, I do believe that what Adbusters stands for is the future of activism. I think that struggles over how to protect our 'mental environment' from the pollution of corporate communication represent the next paradigm shift in activist practice. By attacking the right of corporations to pollute our minds, and rejecting wholeheartedly the consumerist worldview, I think activists have a chance for accomplishing systemic and vast change.

You are right to attack the aspects of "leftism" that you do, but I do not believe that you have looked at Adbusters deeply enough. Perhaps you have spent too much on our website, and not enough time reading our magazine.

I hope you'll send me an email at micah (at) adbusters.org so we can continue this discussion.

All the best,

Micah

Anonymous

What mainstream media are you watching that is alarmist about the environment, critical of Israel and hates on corporations?

This stuff is popular on the internet - in certain discussion boards - but to say this is the "same old dogma of the political left" is really strange, for lack of a better explanation.

I'll give it to you that some of Adbusters is trash talk and activist appeasement (giving people who are angry about world leadership a place to bitch and not do much else), but there is at the very least countercultural discussion that doesn't fit into any dogma.

Anonymous

What mainstream media are you watching that is alarmist about the environment, critical of Israel and hates on corporations?

This stuff is popular on the internet - in certain discussion boards - but to say this is the "same old dogma of the political left" is really strange, for lack of a better explanation.

I'll give it to you that some of Adbusters is trash talk and activist appeasement (giving people who are angry about world leadership a place to bitch and not do much else), but there is at the very least countercultural discussion that doesn't fit into any dogma.

Anonymous

What mainstream media are you watching that is alarmist about the environment, critical of Israel and hates on corporations?

This stuff is popular on the internet - in certain discussion boards - but to say this is the "same old dogma of the political left" is really strange, for lack of a better explanation.

I'll give it to you that some of Adbusters is trash talk and activist appeasement (giving people who are angry about world leadership a place to bitch and not do much else), but there is at the very least countercultural discussion that doesn't fit into any dogma.

Anonymous

What mainstream media are you watching that is alarmist about the environment, critical of Israel and hates on corporations?

This stuff is popular on the internet - in certain discussion boards - but to say this is the "same old dogma of the political left" is really strange, for lack of a better explanation.

I'll give it to you that some of Adbusters is trash talk and activist appeasement (giving people who are angry about world leadership a place to bitch and not do much else), but there is at the very least countercultural discussion that doesn't fit into any dogma.

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