Human Intelligence & the Environment
As a species we humans are unique because of our intelligence. At the same time we have the capacity to defer, deny and ignore unpleasant realities. To wit: the environmental crisis. The signs of climate change are clearly evident. Glaciers are melting at an astonishing rate. Floods, fires, drought, tornadoes and hurricanes are occurring with greater frequency and intensity. Rising sea levels are putting millions at risk. 2010 was the hottest year the earth has yet recorded. Conferences on mitigating global warming are held from Montreal to Copenhagen, to Cancun. But they have produced little more than hot air. The sense of urgency is just not there with the big industrial countries, responsible for most of the carbon emissions. They engage in compromises and non-binding deals leaving the basic systems and structures intact. Yet with all of the mounting evidence of the damage being done to the planet, we continue to dilly-dally. The clock is ticking.
Noam Chomsky, by any measure, has led a most extraordinary life. In one index he is ranked as the eighth most cited person in history, right up there with Aristotle, Shakespeare, Marx, Plato and Freud. The MIT professor’s contributions to modern linguistics are legendary. In addition to his pioneering work in that field, he has been a leading voice for peace and social justice for many decades. Chris Hedges says he is “America’s greatest intellectual” who “makes the powerful, as well as their liberal apologists, deeply uncomfortable.” He is Institute Professor Emeritus in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at MIT and Laureate Professor of Linguistics and Haury Chair in the Program in Environment and Social Justice at the University of Arizona. At 92, he is still active; writing and giving interviews to the media all over the world. He is the author of scores of books, including Propaganda & the Public Mind, How the World Works, Power Systems and Global Discontents with David Barsamian.