Much that is positive and much that is negative has been said and written about the human race. On the one hand we made it to the moon, we produced the likes of Einstein and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, we (for the most part) abhor and abolished slavery, yet on the other hand we used the technology gained from our trip to the moon and the wonderful science discovered by Einstein to enhance and create terrible weapons of unspeakable destructive power. What’s more, we elected Donald Trump president of the United States.
Before you say to the last part “I didn’t!” or “it’s the fault of the electoral college!” just remember this. We are all part of that collective known as the human race, and to one degree or another we share in the responsibility of our species’ screw ups. None of us are perfect and none of us are innocent. We may not have voted for Donald Trump but I’m pretty certain each of us has done something equally stupid. Or at least we’ve failed to use our time wisely.
So which is it? Are we smart or dumb? Are we “man the wise” or something less? Do we deserve a slap on the back or a kick in the ass? I’ll tell you what I think the answer is. I think the answer is this: no one knows for sure, but if you examine everything closely it doesn’t look all that great for the human race. It looks like we are, by and large, pretty damned stupid.
For one thing, we are destroying our home, the only home we have, and we’re doing damned little to stop it. The alternative to our home is death because, as the saying goes, we have no Plan(et) B.
Our response to this shocking reality is manifold. Some of us choose to ignore it or hope that someone else solves the problem. Some of us deny that there is a problem in the first place. Some of us acknowledge the problem and pretend to do something about it, but in the end are actually good for doodly squat.
Some of us insist (without any proof) that there’s nothing we CAN do about it, because we’re too lazy or discouraged to try. Some of us — most despicably of all — lie about it while profiting from the very technology that’s destroying us. And some of us (a shockingly small percentage of us) recognise that it’s a real problem and are diligently working to fix it.
Some of us actually say “So what? We don’t deserve to live here anyway, we’ve destroyed everything we’ve touched, maybe it’s time we kill ourselves and be done with it.” In my darker moods I might agree with that rather bleak sentiment except for one thing. Only human arrogance thinks we are all that matters. There are other sentient creatures on this planet too, and we are very much Johnny-come-latelies compared to them. Besides, you don’t haul somebody out of a lifeboat on the Titanic and tell them, “Not so fast! If I have to die then you’re coming with me!”
Our record with animals is disgraceful. We murder and torture animals every single day and we think nothing of it. In fact we don’t even notice that stopping this murder and torture will go a long way toward ending our self-destruction. We look for solutions other than that to solve our problem. Maybe if we thought about the animals and what we are doing to their planet it might help to motivate us to stop destroying it. After all, it’s their planet too. And they were here first.
I’m not saying everyone should immediately go out and turn vegan. But I want to make one thing utterly clear. The only reason I’m not saying it is because I know it won’t do any good. And that’s the ONLY reason. But you can start by eating less meat — and it WILL help. It’s going to help a lot if everyone does a little. And since the future of our planet (and theirs) lies in the balance, why in the name of hell is that too much to ask?
The media doesn’t help. They focus mostly on the “disruptive” tactics of the activists and less on the extinction level event that’s threatening all of mankind and our innocent animal friends. But that’s the media we continue to consume like so much red meat, if you’ll pardon the simile.
There are other things you can do to help as well. You can also diligently recycle. You can find out what to do to lower your own carbon footprint and make it a goal to improve every day. You can make a lack of credentials as a global warming activist a deal killer when voting for politicians. You can learn more about global warming so you can educate fence-sitters and denialists. You can, in short, treat the topic of global warming as vital to our continued survival. Because it actually is.
This is the most important topic today. Nothing else comes close. Not human rights, not the deplorables of the Republican Party, not Trump’s next putative indictment, not the 2024 election. You see, nothing else is worth a tinker’s dam if we lose our planet and ourselves. So if we think we’re smart then let’s keep that clearly in mind moving forward. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.