Anatomy of Human Destructiveness
Are we set on a course of self-destruction? Our species sits at a crossroads in our social evolution that will either take us to the brink of annihilation, peering into the jaws of Hades with world-wide chaos so climactic that it will make an eternity of torture at the hands of Satan and all his little minions seem like a day at the seaside—or, if we can stop bickering and realize the oneness of the human race (i.e. get over our pettiness, bigotry and pathetic prejudices), create the elusive technologically driven utopia we were sold as kids. Staring down the barrel of global warming, one has to ponder what the future holds. What are the implications for us thirty to forty years from now? How will that affect our kids, our livelihoods?
While politicians argue over cutting spending vs. raising taxes to raise the debt ceiling, in the process extending the recession and playing financial Russian roulette with the global economy for political gain, the issue of global warming once again gets pushed to the back burner. While the United States still ponders whether global warming is a reality (the only developed country in the world to do so [thanks in no small part to the misinformation of the Fox News propaganda machine]), other countries are either holding back for economic reasons or because they don’t want to be the first or only ones taking the leap of faith.
Governments reject taking action on the basis of cost. It’s bad for business and the economy we’re told. How so? When we look at the cost of inaction vs. quick and immediate action, the numbers are staggering. In a 2006 report, the UK government assessed that inaction will end up costing around 20% of GDP, compared to 1% for actually doing something now. Think about it. It’s not rocket science. If global food prices continue to soar, fish become extinct (from over fishing) and water wars become the norm, millions of lives will be lost over the most basic resources; all resulting in massive population shifts as refugees swarm from one region to the next seeking sustainable living.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Now factor in the ravages of extreme weather and rising sea levels, the impact on infrastructure, destabilization of governments and the impact that will have on energy resources. In Frank Ackerman and Elizabeth Stanton’s report on climate change inaction they state that “Recent climate change has already made extreme heat waves two to four times more likely, and over the next 40 years, extreme heat events will become 100 times more likely than in the late 20th century.” Add to that flood, storms, typhoons and hurricanes of biblical proportions, and rising sea levels, and we start to get a frightening vision of the future. Sounds alarmist? Maybe, but no one ever said the truth would be pretty. With the scientific community (almost) unanimously agreeing that global warming is man made—I say almost as there are a handful of pseudo-scientists working for oil companies that deny it—why are we still sitting on our hands and putting our heads in the sand? Is it just corporate greed and political corruption, or are we still stuck on the first stage of grief?
While greed and corruption are a huge factor, the problem is far deeper than that. Think about your average trip to the supermarket, or each time you order in food, how are they packaged? How much waste do you get from a single trip to the supermarket? Count the number of plastic items you collect/use in a single day. Take a look at the amount of resources you as an individual consume in a single day and ask yourself how would you live without these things. See the conundrum? In order to make significant change, we don’t just need to put a cap on carbon and cut down over fishing, we need a fundamental shift in the way we live and think. That said, there are clean tech options that can reduce the impact on our lifestyle—biodegradable plastic alternatives, fuel produced from algae, carbon sequestration. But again, the problem comes down to money and the will power to do something.
We live in a short-termist society focused solely on immediate financial gain; instead of looking at the financial growth opportunities green tech can present, politicians and oil industry lobbyists can only see the loss to their current revenue models. But what about the long term costs? Greed at a fundamental level can be a good survival tool, but it has become our undoing. As a species we have a predisposition towards destructiveness and avarice for self-promotion (e.g. survival), and an unfortunate tendency to bury our heads in the sand when we are challenged with something that we don’t want to acknowledge. While politicians fight over “fixing” the economy, supposedly looking out for the futures of our children and appeasing their corporate sponsors, they are lacking one of the biggest pieces of the survival puzzle—forethought.
What will the world look like in twenty years? Making financial predictions based on our current models is fatally flawed as they don’t account for the ravages and instability that will inevitably sweep the world if we continue to do nothing. UK Climate Change minister Chris Huhne has likened ignoring and neglecting to create a worldwide climate change deal to appeasing Hitler. ”Winston Churchill…once said that ”an appeaser is someone that feeds a crocodile, hoping that it will eat him last”.” Financial models that fail to take into account climate change and make adequate preparations for it and to prevent it are ultimately nothing but empty rhetoric, as they have no basis in reality. Reality is subjective and the future is subject to change. Isn’t it time that we all opened our eyes and start making the hard decisions that will just get harder over time if we continue to ignore them?
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