Realism and Inevitability

By David L. Brown

Those who have followed this website over the past five-plus years know that a major theme of my ranting and posturing has been in relation to the very real dangers of economic, environmental, social and technological breakdowns that are looming over our civilization. A major theme has been climate change, which along with resource depletion lies at the heart of the threat.

As reported in earlier posts, I have made the transition from pessimist to realist and now accept that there is almost certainly nothing that can be done to effectively turn the tide of change that is dooming the planet to an uncertain future. As a realist I must view things as they really are, not as we might hope they could be. It is one thing to say that global warming can be reversed and the damage prevented. Yes, it is absolutely possible, as are many other things. But will it happen? Sadly, there isn’t a snowflake’s chance in Hades that it will.

Why, you may be thinking, there he goes back into pessimist mode. Not so. Any rational examination of the facts —human nature, history, the desire of people to avoid change, and the stark economic truth that human civilization is verging on insolvency — will reveal a multitude of reasons why those difficult steps that would be required to reverse global warming will not be taken.

Simply put, we don’t want to do it, we can’t afford to do it, and the harsh truth is that it is far too late to take effective steps without creating economic and social chaos. The coming change is inevitable and unstoppable.

So, what is the alternative? Obviously, to put our collective heads in the sand like the proverbial ostriches and pretend there is nothing wrong.

It is to me a rather extraordinary fact that during the past year a few minor blunders by climate change scientists have been blown into an enormous mountain of denial. Climate change has been declared as a scam and the deniers have won the day. It’s not real, never was, all a bunch of hokum cooked up by scientists in search of research grants, fame and fortune. Let’s all put our fingers in our ears and chant “La, La, La, I Can’t Hear You!” whenever anyone mentions the true facts of global change that face us.

Now in my realist view, this is a necessary condition. If we cannot reverse climate change, why should we make the sacrifices and accept the consequences of a failed attempt? Better to let things run their course. There is another “solution,” one that is far easier for humankind to accept because it requires no effort whatsoever. Left to her own initiative, Gaia (a.k.a. Mother Nature) will take care of this problem as she always has. She has kept the planet on course for several billion years, and there is no doubt she will continue to do so for many more. When she is done, the “problem” will not exist. Like the dinosaurs, the human race will likely be extinct and our civilizations mere ruins beneath the drifting sands.

Oh how  cynical we realists can be, when the facts create the near certainty of our coming troubles. And those facts are written large in the everyday news (although ignored or twisted by the deniers as they perform their necessary function of guiding our heads into the sand). Just the other day I read that England is experiencing the warmest November in 300 years. Nowhere did I see anyone suggest that is in any way related to the possibility of global warming. I live in the Southwest, where the past decade has seen almost unrelenting drought. Climate change? Nah, just, you know, natural variations and probably caused by the Sun.

It is interesting that in addition to denying the fact of climate change, deniers go out of their way to explain there is no connection between climate change and human activity. Hmm, want it both ways, not only doesn’t it exist, but we had nothing to do with it. It reminds me of a favorite quote from Bart Simpson, who famously said “I wasn’t there, I didn’t do it, and you can’t prove anything.” Indeed, that could be the motto of the climate change deniers.

For my own part, I plan to live out my life the best way I can. Like all creatures of nature, I face my own personal extinction. What the human race does for itself as a species is up to the future to tell, and is wholly in the hands of Gaia. She will not shirk her duties and as recounted in reports of her Old Testament persona, Her will shall be done.


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