Climate change is real. Climate change is not real. Climate change is normal. This level of climate change is not normal. We are on the edge of climate disaster. Heat waves, mud slides, collapsing multistory buildings full of people, flooded streets, intense fires, draught, extreme storms – these things are all perfectly within the boundaries of past events. These things are signals that we are at the edge of climate disaster if we don’t change our ways now.
It looks like are not going to save humans or animals either. The planet, on the other hand, can survive whether it is empty or full. But if a planet has no life, then it just becomes one unspectacular member of a universe full of empty planets. We are just going to turn life on earth into a series of survivalist exercises that undo centuries of history, enlightenment, curiosity, exploration, and learning? Are we going to revisit the primitive life of the hunter-gatherer, without all the species from which humankind used to find sustenance, without the plentiful clean water and foliage; a future in which any other human could be your enemy?
Most of us can pick up trash, or help clean a bit of the ocean, or buy an ocean bracelet to fund others to clean the ocean (a truly enormous task). We can cart our trash out of a park after a picnic or a camping trip. But we can’t afford to buy solar panels. We can’t afford to buy an electric car. We can’t stop using oil and gas until we can afford solar panels and an electric car. We can’t change the way we commute until systems that function efficiently to move people are built. We sit in the cheap seats. Others have hoarded most of the money that should be spread among us more equally. Many middle-class people defend billionaires and millionaires because they one day hope to join their ranks. You can still be rich without hoarding.
We are in a terrible bind as a planet because we must depend on the very people who like the way things are, who are riding the money train, who make huge profits from oil and gas – we must depend on them to save the planet. They alone have enough money to make the sweeping changes that are needed. They do not seem to realize that they live on the same planet we do, or that there may be no corner of that planet left for them to live their sequestered ritzy lives on. Everything is interconnected.
Spending a week watching two billionaires barely touch space and act like they built a colony on the moon should convince us that, 1) billionaires will not save us because they are only concerned about climbing the Forbes list, and 2) at this rate we will not be able to find a Planet B and inhabit it in time to save ourselves, or even a few over-the-hill billionaires. I enjoy watching people realize their dreams, I have always imagined that we would be space travelers, and I do cheer for success, but the way this trend is unfolding it will not profit most of us at all. These visits to space are just tricks, and not cheap ones either. They may lead to something. but it sounds like they will just be repeated for profit, that no exploration will be involved.
If billionaires and millionaires won’t help save the earth, things will get worse and worse for humans, and the plants and animals that feed us (physically and spiritually). I hear voices on social media saying that we will adapt. But why would we want to adapt to a manmade hell when we were given paradise (if we can keep it). Do billionaires and millionaires believe that their money will have any value if the culture we have created is destroyed by neglect and greed? When money is worthless then we will all be back on an equal footing. We will all be struggling to survive.
I am not against ordinary, non-monied citizens trying to create their way out of dystopia, and I hope that happens. Someone will find ‘the answer,’ we will have our eureka moment and life will flourish along with the planet for millennia. Give humans a problem and we try to solve it. It’s one of our best features. We try to solve it and still balance freedom against authoritarianism, wealth against poverty, human life against plant and animal life. We might get a new battery that lasts and lasts. We might find new ways to use solar energy. We might find an energy generated from atoms that does not have the dangers of nuclear energy (cold fusion?). We live in an age when people tinkering in garages or basements changed the world. It could happen again, but will it happen in time? Will it happen if every human is expected to walk some hamster wheel of constant work for low pay?
Clearly, we need the help of engineers who are busy right now removing oil and gas from the depths of the earth. We need more billionaires to pitch in right now and speak out for the ways we can change our lives to preserve our lives. Your yachts may be fun right now and you may think you can sail away to escape the visible signs that earth’s climate is changing, as you did to escape the pandemic, but eventually there will be no untouched places to go, the supply lines will fail, and you will have to rejoin the survivors or die. This is not up for debate. This is real and we need the best and brightest (if simply having lots of money proves you are the best and brightest) among us to pitch in and help. Perhaps you are hoping to shrink the world population through more pandemics and natural disasters, but it will be a crap shoot and how do you know you will be the ones to survive? If I sound angry, it’s because I am.