Overwhelmed by Bad News
I am generally a positive person; that is, I choose to be positive because it seems much healthier than the alternative of negativism. Nevertheless, I am not a Pollyanna and my positive outlook is tempered by a great respect for science and realism. So at the beginning of 2022, after enduring the past 2 years of the pandemic and those horrible 4 years of Trump and the continuing noxious aftermath of his reign, not to mention the absolutely underwhelming outcomes of the COP26 Conference in Glasgow last autumn, despite forests bursting into flames, koalas being incinerated, and the Earth’s oceans being filled with plastics, I’m feeling a bit less hopeful these days. Unplugging is not an option since ignoring these problems in no way aids in their solution.
Skin in the Game
My son and I have an ongoing debate about the ability of science to overcome the challenges that lie ahead of us. He has great faith in scientific and technological solutions and disregards the fact that it is largely the abuse of science and technology in the service of capitalism that has brought us to this point in the first place. He takes every opportunity to send me links to articles like the ones of the Turkish teen who created biodegradable plastic from banana skins or the Dutch teen who started The Ocean Cleanup project to remove plastics from the oceans. His big hero is Elon Musk, whom I regard with great skepticism, but whose batteries, cars, and solar panels are the key to maintaining our lifestyle, since they have a negative effect on carbon production, or so he reckons. I think that every young person today is clinging to this same raft – with the exception of the far more clear-eyed Greta Thunberg – since they hope to keep it all with the minimum sacrifice. Afterall, it’s their future we’re talking about.
Men Must Change Before Kingdoms Will
Watching Don’t Look Up on Netflix last week, it occurred to me that the solution to the world’s ills is not the next great technological innovation but getting rid of the greed and ignorance that lies in our souls. This is not a new idea, and barring some sudden worldwide transformation of humanity, it seems quite unlikely. We can’t even agree to wear a mask and get vaccinated to save the lives of our families and neighbours. How the hell are we expected to make the necessary changes in time to halt the apocalyptic “comet” of climate change that is hurtling towards us?