“You must go on. I can’t go on. I’ll go on.” ― Samuel Beckett, The Unnamable
In times of crises, we act.
When everything’s fine, we don’t.
And that’s how I feel about the Age of the Anthropocene or more widely known as the 6th mass extinction.
Let’s linger over that last word for a moment:
early 15c., “annihilation,” from Latin extinctionem/exstinctionem (nominative extinctio/exstinctio) “extinction, annihilation,” noun of action from past participle stem of extinguere/exstinguere “quench, wipe out” (see extinguish). Originally of fires, lights; figurative use, the wiping out of a material thing (a debt, a person, a family, etc.) from early 17c.; of species by 1784.
Yes, that’s right. It means to wipe out — humans included.
But we don’t see it. Imagine if we did. If the CV-19 pandemic is anything to go by we’d act — fast. Trouble is, and this isn’t the only issue or even the main issue to contend with, the neo-capitalists see it (unhelpfully) as an opportunity to offer us a ‘green’ solution, as if having fouled the nest, all we have to do is get out the magic broom and, hey presto, job done. It’s comical. The only way to try to arrest our eventual demise is to stop doing what we’re doing, and also consider, as unpalatable as it is, if we can sustain a population of this magnitude; I don’t think so. I don’t know how you slow the growth or even discuss the issue but food production is a major factor, even allowing for the millions of people who go to bed hungry or die of starvation.
If I have a prediction, it’s this. The world will continue to warm. It will affect food systems, water, air quality and the soils. We won’t be able to live in certain parts of the world and those that we can won’t be able to support all the people who live and/or migrate there. Eventually, we’ll be killed off by a combination of climatic conditions and the lack of food/water. What the numbers will look like is for the soothsayers but I’m figuring billions not millions less. When will this happen? I don’t know but in the next 100 years or less. As to whether in the aeons to come we’ll be completely wiped out as the dinosaurs did about 65 million years ago (at the end of the Cretaceous Period), after living on Earth for about 165 million years, who knows but the portent of the runes aren’t good.
And my wife thinks I’m depressed in raising this issue.
I might be but then again, I feel a great sadness in knowing that my generation did nothing or not nearly enough to speak out and act on the self-created, Anthropocentric problems. Likewise, my forebears who, even allowing for the lack of reliable science, couldn’t have thought, surely, that what goes up and up and up, wouldn’t at some stage come crashing back to earth with a nasty bump.
As they say, onwards.
Another day brings more legal mayhem but, hey, at least I’m here to watch the clock and wish, not hope, for a better day.