Posts Tagged climate
For the past ten years or more, I’ve pondered the state of humanity and the world we believe we’ve created, dependent as it is upon a natural environment that we continue to take for granted. I’ve looked at most issues – from antibiotic resistance to population growth via land use, deforestation and biodiversity reduction, economic inequity and excessive consumption, pollution and climate change. I’ve seen how all of these problems are interlinked and are interdependent. How all cause each other.
I’ve seen how our political and economic systems manage these issues as stovepipes, independent from one another. And I’ve seen how religious and political dogma work against the human ability to rationally assess contexts and solutions. How ignorant people are led by ego driven fools. And I’ve seen how our simple minded greed is driven by our selfishness.
In short, I’ve seen how our ignorance is driving our demise, as well as that of most other species, compounded by our stubborn stupidity and ego.
I believe that human civilisation, as we understand it to be, will be no more eighty five years from now. And that within four decades, we’ll be experiencing a sense of upheaval that will render most people’s lives unpleasant at best, untenable at worst.
That by the end of this century, humanity will comprise some ten percent of its current volume, some existing self sufficiently, growing their own food and living a simple life, whilst a minority contiue to try to utilise our knowledge to our advantage, but in doing so come to represent an elite that may have complete control over the rest. The ignorant will finally become subsumed, and the fate of humanity will rest with the ability of those with knowledge to resist becoming arrogant. Our final destiny lies with these people.
I don’t have much hope.
Whether the majority of us know it or not, humanity is undertaking massive genocide of hundreds (actually it’s thousands) of species of other creatures. We are proactively creating the Sixth Great Extinction, the last one being of the Dinosaurs. In doing so, we’re destroying the very biosphere that supports us. We are without doubt, unfathomably stupid.
The last Great extinction occurred 66 million years ago. And it took at least a thousand years, probably several thousand. If you map the lifetime of the Earth to a 24 hour clock, humanity has been around for about 4 seconds. In this blink of the planet’s eye, we’ve eliminated at least a third of the world’s forests and hundreds of thousands of species. If we’re so stupid as to commit collective suicide through religious and political dogmatism and ignorance, that’s our choice (and it is a choice). But we have no right to take every other species down with us.
And all this derives from our value systems. The way we perceive what wealth is, and how we manage it. Money. Particularly debt based money. And the externalisation (leave the consequences for someone else to clean up) of the bad impacts of wealth acquisition. The conventional political right and left both maintain these value systems, and many religious perspectives, especially in the US, support and advocate them under the guise of ephemeral supposed ethical standards like ‘freedom’ and ‘the work ethic’. How many corporate CEOs and bankers attend church every Sunday? Did you know that the pay of CEOs has risen 127 times faster over the last thirty years than 99% of the US population? What do you expect the consequences of such greed and inequity to be, particularly at a global scale, if not conflict? And as this money wealth is squirrelled away or squandered on yachts and stupidly big houses, it’s unavailable for such things as building cities that are worth living in for everyone, for education and the encouragement of more enlightened perspectives, the protection of the very biosphere that contains and supports us, and every other crying need that the fruits of all our labour is supposed to allow us to cater for. Yet the religious right encourage it.
Factor in other emerging crises like the impending failure of our medical systems through antibiotic resistance, shifting and more extreme climate events, ocean acidification and the consequent destruction of marine food resources, desertification and water shortage.. and a host of others, virtually all caused by humanity, and there’s good reason to believe the better minds than mine that predict global ecological, societal and economic collapse within just a few decades.
I’m disappointed by humanity.
If a power had evolved with the intelligence to see,
And saw something wrong and became confused,
I could understand.
But it saw and just carried on,
Leaving me and all those who see,
Bemused by its stupidity.
I’d ached for a long time.
Waiting for a break.
One day I saw as one sees in a dream,
A world about me that closed in upon me,
And crazed and shattered liked stressed glass.
I last remember screaming
As my world exploded into a glittering dance.
A dance of varied circumstance.
Soon all became quiet and I opened my eyes.
An ocean of people stood watching me, waiting.
The air was still and wet with despair.
The oceans stilled by flotsam and filth.
The land lay hard and died stripped bare.
Then some spirit of wisdom rose up and declared
That love and respect and considered desire
Was what was required.
I told them. I showed them.
And still they denied.
Driven by lust and short term want.
Now sighing winds blow through their bones
Sadly singing their epitaphe.
A quieter world now.
Where when the wind sighs,
It sighs gladly.
Sparkling ice cold was once followed
By sparkling and wind blown wishes of
Spring and new growth.
Seasons cold preceded warm
As copulation precedes birth.
Now cold air blows whilst hot fires rage
And waves pound hitherto solid sand
Not designed for such a world.
But still every V8 ego pounds its way
Across shimmering tarmac car park
Beside every conglomerate outlet
That lets us live with penultimate convenience.
Consider a number of the issues that humanity faces right now. Population growth. Increased resource use. Increased energy requirements. Increased food requirements. Increased water requirements.
Consider the context in which these requirements are being expressed. Increasing droughts and floods. Increasing corporate hegemony. Huge changes in global balances of power. Universal aspirations to the traditional American -way-of-life. A consumerist model, with an economic system that’s based on debt, both at an individual level and a national one. So growth is required just to pay the interest on the debt.
Where does all this reach some sort of equilibrium? Some real balance between supply and demand. Some state where people are happy with their lot.
Climate change is just one part of the dynamic that’s changing the world we live in. But why it’s significant s that it permeates all other aspects of our lives and our plans and our aspirations. It affects all of the processes that we rely upon to achieve our objectives. It causes disruptions to food supply. It causes floods and great storms. It fundamentally alters the physical context in which we operate. It changes our world. Therefore it has huge implications for the way our societies operate.
Climate Change is not the only issue that we face. There are a whole army of them. Most are caused or exacerbated by climate change but all are increasing in significance at exponential rates. Whilst climate change is a fundamental driver for many of these issues, we also have to deal with:
- Growing populations and their inherent increases in demand on resources.
- Simultaneous growing affluence and its resulting increase in demand on resources, such that this demand is accelerating.
- Microbial resistance to antibiotics and the consequent inherent threat of the undermining of many medical advances since the mid 20th century that are dependent upon antibiotics.
- Oil and energy resource shortage as demand increases and supplies become ever more hard to recover and ever more tenuous and unpredictable in their longevity.
- Increasing inequity between a small minority of people in the world, who increasingly control mote of its assets, and the vast majority who, on an average basis at least, have very little and who are powerless against a system where money is all powerful.
- The evolution of mega cities, where all of our problems become concentrated.
- The loss of biodiversity, the very aspect of the natural world that supports us that enables it to do so, and which allows for a flexible planet that’s able to accommodate typical crises.
- Competition between the need to use land to grow food, and the need to preserve natural environments and biodiversity that enables the ecological systems that support the production of plant and animal based food in the first place.
- Water shortage as more people use more, depleting underground aquifers, whilst climate change alters supply as rainfall patterns change, glaciers retreat and deplete dependent rivers, and precipitation that once fell as snow now falls as rain and runs away, causing floods.
- Accumulating waste as we continue to convert natural resources into short term material products that are discarded and thrown back into an environment that can’t break down their constituents quickly enough.
How the hell does all of this add up? The great challenge facing the people of the 21st century is how to reconcile their aspirations with what’s available to satisfy these aspirations. Never before has humanity been in such control. And never before has it been so hungry for more. How we deal with this conundrum over the next few decades will decided how we survive. Not whether or not we survive, because we will survive, but in what way we survive. We have reached a crux point, where we need to choose between different directions. For the first time we’re able to choose our own evolutionary path. And the worrying thing is that we don’t seem to realise that that’s the decision we’re in the process of making.
Consider all of this. Think about it. Look at the world about you. Research. Read. Think. And when you’ve realised for yourself what’s happening, take action. Join in. Rise and sing your own opera. For the sake of your children.