when it happens
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Comments on When It Happens
Your article adds up to a short book, and shows the results of much contemplation and reasoning... and, it can be broken into at least two parts, reflections on dying and later the serious condition of our society in decline that is perpetrating accelerating wreckage on our only habitat, Planet Earth. We are all perps...
I will comment on the latter section; I need more meditation on personal mortality before I attempt the first part.
Another short book about our species' journey on this planet, over which, alas, we achieved too much control, is Ronald Wright's "A Short History of Progress." I have seen enough references to it in other writings about the environment and ACD (a preferred term by some scientists, over "climate change," standing for Anthropogenic Climate Disruption) to consider the book a classic. From the concluding chapter:
"There's a saying in Argentina that each night God cleans up the mess the Argentines make by day. This seems to be what our leaders are counting on. But it won't work. Things are moving so fast that inaction itself is one of the biggest mistakes. The10,000 year experiment of the settled life will stand or fall by what we do, or don't do, now. The reform that is needed ...is simply the transition from short- to long-term thinking. From recklessness and excess to moderation and the precautionary principle.
" ..Homo Sapiens has the information to know itself for what it is: an Ice Age hunter only half-evolved towards intelligence; clever, but seldom wise.
"We have the tools and means to share resources, clean up pollution, dispense basic health care and birth control, set economic limits in line with natural ones. If we don't do these things now, while we prosper, we will never be able to do them when times get hard."
Wright's book came out in 2004. Each subsequent book on the climate crisis etc has tended to sound an even more urgent tone, listing newer environmental measurements. Just recently, Bill McKibben published his latest, "Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?" Another warning --the volume turned up to 11-- is "The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming" by David Wallace-Wells. Books that try a theme promising that we can have the same levels of consumption and affluence with greenwashed-away guilt are getting outnumbered on the shelves of the bookstores.
Thus, I too may often conclude with a "Pfft" after catching up with the latest disasters. I am old and that cliche is valid, "I will escape the worst."
But what about my younger family, what about the beautiful youngsters everywhere delighting in their energy, wonder, play?
I therefore try to support any well-considered policy or initiative aimed at reversing or at least mitigating the ongoing new wreckage brought about by ACD. Not many of the efforts come from high up in governments to be sure, not many strong enough to put aside the protests (and bribes) of those high up on the current destructive gravy train. Nothing revelatory there.
The young deserve, and will have to fight for, the sensible strategy that "Another World Is Possible." They have to, of course. Like us when we were young, they see through the older generations' delusions. While we could lose heart and sell out to a still wealthy nation, wealthy from exploitation that has passed its debts onto the young and their future families, they cannot. The fight for survival is finally, truly drawn. (Unlike the many T-shirts available stating "I survived the _______ -- some flimsy situation.)
Thank you for the well-detailed observations of serious matters which we ordinarily tend to sidestep in favor of daily distractions. I recommend the three books I've listed for further confrontation with our planetary predicament.
For our readers, here is a reprise of the three books Ted recommends here: Ronald Wright, "A Short History of Progress" (2004); Bill McKibben, "Falter: Hs the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?" (2020); David Wallace-Wells, "The Uninhabitable Earth: Life after Warming."