I wouldn’t say that I’ve had my head in the sand in recent months, but I will admit that I’ve been less actively seeking to educate myself about the triple whammy threat of climate change, overpopulation and peak everything.
My new ‘partial ostrich’ strategy has, however, not been reducing the impact of the Black Dog on my life. Upon returning to my more usual hunting grounds, I have found that evidence has continued to firm up that we as a species (one that I maintain should be redesignated homo fatuus brutus) are not just heading for a precipice: we are all complicit in actively getting there as fast as we can.
When I was growing up, the schools I attended, and my early places of work, used to hold regular fire alarm drills. I haven’t moved that far from where I was born, and yet such drills are no longer usual practise in my neck of the woods. Perhaps the reason is that infrastructure has improved to the point that such drills are no longer necessary; I wonder, though, whether it might not be a symptom of complacency.
Is it ‘alarmism’ to shout “FIRE!” when smoke and flames rage through a building? I don’t think so. I’ve never, thankfully, been in that situation, but, if I were, were I to escape alive, I believe I would thank anyone who had raised the alarm.
And yet, just as the word ‘sustainable’ has been hijacked into the oxymoronic term ‘sustainable growth’, the word ‘alarmism’ has been similarly perverted such that when attempting to highlight various home truths one constantly flirts with social taboos and risks having someone point the alarmist finger. For instance: pregnancy, childbirth, becoming a parent/ grandparent/ great-(!)grandparent: these are causes for celebration, while infertility and the declining birth rate are ‘problems’. One butts up against all sorts of knee-jerk reactions, instilled over countless generations, if one dares try to suggest that perhaps we should be encouraging adoption of those unwanted mouths already alive on this planet instead of celebrating the addition of still more. The English language itself is in opposition: antonyms of ‘celebrate’ include ‘deny’, ‘ignore’, ‘criticize’, ‘denounce’, ‘humiliate’… and: ‘be sad’.
Advice for dealing with the Black Dog includes embracing one’s problems. Quite frankly, I don’t see how that helps here. When constantly looking at your own culture and saying “OMG man that’s crazy,” your culture will look back at you and say you are crazy. A constant drip, drip, drip can be torture — and it is very, very, very hard to constantly resist.
Turn back, O Man: forswear thy foolish ways.
Earth might be fair and all men glad and wise.
age after age their tragic empires rise,
built while they dream, and in that dreaming weep:
would man but wake from out his haunted sleep,
earth might be fair and all men glad and wise.
If you read nothing else today, I strongly recommend that you read The Fateful Collision – Floods, Catastrophe And Climate Denial, which is what prompted me to write this. Media Lens suggests offering the 16-minute speech by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse entitled ‘Time to Wake Up: The Climate Denial Beast’ (which I think is a rather odd title… because it’s the sleeper that must awaken, not the beast). I note that this speech was published on YouTube on 4 February 2014, but has yet to breach a measly 6,000 views. That small number, to me, speaks volumes.
‘I have described Congress as surrounded by a barricade of lies. Today, I’ll be more specific. There isn’t just lying going on about climate change; there is a whole, carefully built apparatus of lies. This apparatus is big and artfully constructed: phoney-baloney organisations designed to look and sound like they’re real, messages honed by public relations experts to sound like they’re truthful, payrolled scientists whom polluters can trot out when they need them. And the whole thing big and complicated enough that when you see its parts you could be fooled into thinking that it’s not all the same beast. But it is. Just like the mythological Hydra – many heads, same beast.’