Apocalypse Refocused

Author: Gary Hart

Many if not most of my generation envisioned apocalypse as nuclear.  That threat is still there.  Now, however, it turns out that nature’s survival is threatened by chemicals and the creators of chemicals, mankind itself

In the interim decade or two, science has required us to concentrate on the warming of the climate and the resulting glacier melting, sea levels rising, coastal inundating, crop destroying, inward mass migrations resulting from rising temperatures.

The recent United Nation’s consolidated report, however, broadens this new apocalypse.  Upwards of one million natural species are threatened not only by warming climate but also by habitat destruction, including massive deforestation, expanding urban populations, extensive transportation systems, and general destruction of biodiversity systems more intricate than we could have previously comprehended.

Why did it take even supposedly sophisticated humans to begin to appreciate how intricately interwoven were biological systems, soil that sustained tiny insects that in turn sustained birds and bees, who then spread seeds that grew into plants and trees that are necessary as habitat for a myriad of creatures on land and in seas, and on and on.

We have only recently discovered that we are the beneficiaries of an incredibly complex natural environment that has sustained itself, at least until recently, by…yes…sustaining itself in an almost divinely inspired natural system.

That system, or those many subsystems, now faces its possible elimination from…humanity.  Whether in centralized or capitalistic economic systems, growth was and is the watchword.  The equation is simple: expanding economies accommodate growing populations; growing populations seek opportunity; opportunity is another word for jobs and income, which in turn provide food, shelter, and cell phones.

Oddly enough, the greater the economic opportunity, the smaller the family.  Strangely, provided with opportunity people have fewer children, and limited population expansion may help save the planet.  Except, newly enabled middle-class families become greater consumers, and consumption wipes out the environmental benefits of smaller families.

Politics, especially in an age of populistic nationalism, seems to offer few if any solutions.  Just prior to the nationalistic surge, there seemed some hope with the Paris Accords designed to organize international carbon limits.  But, alas, along came he who shall not be named.

So, now apocalypse grows.  Climate change and stunning biodiversity destruction.  And Western democracy dis-integrating.  Oh, and let’s not forget infectious outbreaks, currently measles, brought on by another round of distrust of science and politics.  You may encounter difficulty finding a seat at your neighborhood bar.  If so, expect churches, synagogues, and mosques to begin filling up.

One of the many human curiosities is the ability, perhaps necessity, to avoid what someone has already labeled the Great Extinction by reminding oneself that he or she will be gone before it actually happens.  I won’t be around so why should I care.  This works, but only if you have no sense of accountability to the next generation, presumably including your own children.

I repeat: how can people of means think only of the financial legacy they leave their children and not the public legacy?  This is a moral flaw of significant proportions.  And it is created by those who think only of personal wealth and not social responsibility.

And, if you have the quixotic goal of making America great again on the backs of everyone else in the world, forget international accords and cooperation…and, by the way, the hope that goes with them.

 

2 Responses to “Apocalypse Refocused”

  1. Michael Says:

    A bit off this depressing topic, but I sometimes wonder how this would have all played out if the Soviet Union had not collapsed. Would the challenge of competing with a different economic system have kept the excesses of capitalism that led to this era of populist movements in check? It certainly would have made the Atlantic alliance more relevant then it now seems to many people. Could the Soviets have been enlisted in fighting global warming and the destruction of the natural environment in return for development aid and trade deals? Could Perestroika have created a Mecca for cheap manufacturing in the USSR and East Bloc instead of China and Asia; and would that have been better for the environment than a couple of billion people basically playing catch up with the West from scratch? Kind of thing one thinks about with too much time on his hands.

  2. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    On a hopefull note, I am hoping against hope that Biden’s imminent announcement on how a Biden administration would address climate change (does he know about Juliana v US?; if not, ‘someone’ should tell him!) in a serious and effective way.

    I think his plan needs to attract all wings of the party and all demographics of American voters and, at the same time, be unassailable by anyone as not practically doable.

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