Rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic

When, in 1950, Italian physicist Enrico Fermi did a back-of-the-envelope calculation predicting the statistically probable number of technological civilizations in our galaxy, the number ran into the millions. His question, “Where is everybody?” has echoed down the decades. The answer that they might be nowhere is an answer no one wants to face. But when you consider that some hundred and fifty or so short years after we became technologically advanced enough to be noticed by other inhabited planets (if there are any) we find ourselves on the brink of self-destruction, one has to wonder if this suicidal tendency is unique to us (or at least unusual) or is just part and parcel of the fate of any species in our universe when it becomes technological? It may very well be that becoming technologically advanced is a fatal disease for which there is no known cure.

On that cheerful thought, I have to ask those of you who are still reading why is it that my articles on global warming are some of my least popular? On average they get the fewest number of comments and the fewest shares. Is it a boring topic, or uncomfortable or both? Whatever the reason, our unwillingness to own up to the horror we have created for ourselves may ultimately spell our end. If that’s the case and it’s nature’s plan for us then there may be nothing we can do about it.

But nature also constructed me in such a way as to resist going gentle into that good night. I plan to spend what days remain for me raging against the dying of the light — for whatever good it will do. So I don’t plan to give up, even if most everyone else does. I believe in the ultimate triumph of our species. I think on balance we are becoming better. Whether or not we have enough time left to become globally better isn’t up to me and I certainly don’t plan to let that possibility interrupt my effort.

Meanwhile, if we’re going to stop the Republican juggernaut from helping us commit suicide faster than destiny has engineered it we need to start now. We’ve got to do everything at once. We must vote, actively engage our neighbors in persuading them to join us, become radically more climate conscious and work diligently to reduce our carbon footprint. If governments and corporations won’t do it then that leaves us. These aren’t my marching orders to you, I’m just stating the obvious. Our survival demands it and the time to start is now.

Collectively, as a world United in a single cause, we could save our planet in a week or two. We could do it if everybody on earth suddenly decided to radically downsize our destructive behaviors. We would still have to ride out the consequences of the CO2 we have already poisoned our atmosphere with — that hay is already in the barn and there’s nothing we can do about it. But we just might survive it. It’s going to be tough and many will die, but we have not necessarily reached a planet-killing volume of carbon dioxide. I hope not, anyway.

But I live in the real world and I know that won’t happen. It’s an immutable fact that there are plenty of people who think climate science is bunk because they want to. I can assure you they know not what they think. They don’t even begin to understand what’s really happening. Like anti-vaxxers they live in a dreamworld and we are paying the price for their good night’s sleep. We’re going to have to do better than them. We’re going to have to marginalise them.

If climate science isn’t your number one priority right here and right now then it needs to be. We can elect 50 Democratic governors, a hundred Democratic Senators and a Democratic Congress and keep a Democratic executive, but if climate science isn’t our first priority and at the heart of everything we do then we are just rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic. We can solve racism, end misogyny, learn to live in peace with other nations and defeat hunger and we will have nothing to show for it but a beautiful corpse.


It’s a tall order but I think we are equal to it. So what are we waiting for? Let’s get busy. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.

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