Are we living as the rich during the final years of the ancient Roman empire? Are we sowing the seeds of our own destruction by maintaining bloated, gluttonous capitalistic lifestyles and steadfastly refusing to change more than a little, along with the many who refuse to change at all? Is it disbelief of the true horror? An unwillingness to look the unthinkable straight in the face – utter desolation of the earth and all living things we know on it? Or perhaps defeatism – that one person, one decision, one change can't change it all, so why bother? Some just don't want to take the time, too busy with their own private lives - and I know that some just don't want to give up what they have to share with others, either those around them or the yet-unborn who will be sharing what's left of this place after we are dead and gone – our children and their contemporaries.
According to the latest by climate scientists, to save our world from near devastation, we must stop carbon emissions now. Not slow down, not gently curtail. Stop. Now. Or else, a new, scarier number of 4-degree change – scattered in various locales planet-wide – will come, and quickly.
So, can we do it? Can we downsize, scale back, power down, go back to doing things the way our ancestors did? Can we learn to live in partnership with the globe and nature, instead of raping and pillaging the earth and weaker nations like 17th century pirates, taking everything we can and destroying what's left?
Unfortunately, as much as I believe in the ability of our race to do so, to drastically change our lives to save those who come after us, I just don't see it really happening. Humans have an immense and unimaginable capacity for love, compassion, and selfless sacrifice. But the flip side of that is also present, the dark and miserable world of greed and fear, that can blind and even paralyze those who allow such malignancy to permeate their thinking and their lives. Our modern culture exalts covetousness, makes ever changing new standards for material possessions as tokens of power and success, and, sadly, promotes the ideal of outer beauty being the pinnacle, making all that fall beneath that level not valuable, disregarded, and destined to be thrown on the waste heap. These twisted ideals will not help us easily change from years of wanting the newest things or our sense of entitlement ranging in scope from a latte at Starbucks to air conditioned houses in 70-degree weather. It will be too much sacrifice, too much forgotten. Not many are strong enough to give up today so that there IS a tomorrow. Our urge to hold on to that which we have grown to like or accustomed to, that which defines us and our niche in the complexity of life, is the culprit. We feel comfortable in routine. Yet, our kind has the ability of incredible adaptability, which would give us the strength brave the unknown and give up our comfortable complacency, if we cared enough.
So what if the scientists are wrong? What if climate change is no threat, and we all drastically change our lives for no reason? It is possible – nothing is guaranteed right, in my experience, even coming from those who have studies things for decades. So let's look at the gamble. Okay – we don't change, and the scientists ARE right. We made a wager and lost – not lost our lives so much maybe, but lost the future of all who may come after us. Our children, their children, the future of mankind, one might say? Hmm...what a bet to lose. That's more irresponsible than the Wall Street bankers gambling on sub-prime mortgage securities using credit derivatives with the potential to blow the whole financial system wide open. For us to wager that the scientists are wrong is a worse crime – affecting not everyone here today, but the unknown children of unknown generations – the potential vision of our race, swept away by a tide of corpulent greed and fear of regressing, fear of the unknown. Too bad, humans. Better luck next time, eh? Let's not lose this bet. Who knows what might be lost?
Blog Action Day 2009
R is for Revolting Beasts
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