Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Loss and Resolve

Recent events in the Arctic have confirmed that global warming is self-sustaining, which along with accelerated extinction rates and other news has led me to believe that my worst-case projections of future global trends are likely correct. For several months I attempted to create a global survival plan that mapped out this and other threats to humanity and what we might do to confront them, but the results of this year's U.S. election, especially at the national level, appears to have nullified even a remote possibility of enacting such a plan and saving our species from extinction in the very near term.

It is small consolation that I did what I thought I could to fight against this outcome even as my research exposed that it is an inevitable consequence of our nature. Loss of hope had not squashed my lack of acceptance as I made a case for delaying the outcome for as long as possible; but at least in this country there was just too large a fraction of the population that either didn't care, or wasn't even paying attention to basic facts that belied their beliefs (including the obvious clues about the evil they were about to unleash).

I zeroed in on what I could personally control by enacting a plan to cut back on my own contribution to the drive toward oblivion: paying off credit, developing ways to scale back on my ecological footprint, and exposing through writing how people in a healthy world might live, as compared to our own dying world. It remains a fact that although it may soon be more possible for people to exceed limits of planetary habitability, we don't have to act on it. More specifically: if they drill for more oil, we can still avoid buying it. If more jobs become available in what I think of as the planet-killing sector of the economy, we can refuse to take those jobs. As protections are removed from our food, drugs, and financial industry, then we are justified in not trusting them, and seeking more reliable and responsible means to survive. I understand that "we" are likely a very small part of the world economy, but at least we can have clear consciences by contributing less to its death.

In a way I feel very sorry for the decent people who voted for the acceleration of our global nightmare. Many just want better jobs, or recovery of jobs they and their friends have lost. If we lived in the world of a century ago, which presumably is when America was "great," the costs of stripping away restrictions to growth would have been bearable, and the horrific outcome we now face would have been perhaps decades in the future (giving them enough time to live out their lives, even as the loss of future lives was ensured). I personally know a few of them, and it's not lost on me that for most of my life I had a lot in common with them.

My father remains my personal hero, and he was one of the most conservative people I've ever known. I don't know if we would be at odds with each other if he were still alive; but I do know he would have respected the results of scientific research, and perhaps would have tried, as I did, to derive his own understanding of what's happening. A child of the Great Depression, and a combatant in the world war that challenged the great fascists of the last century who are emulated by the new leaders of today, he would have at least recognized that threat, and challenged me – as he often did – to be "not just a man, but a hell of a man," and stand up for what's right as I see it. The great war of this century may already be lost; but those of us with honor and the vision to recognize it must try to delay that outcome for as long as possible.