Unfortunately, many of the people with the loudest voices (i.e., the ones with the most direct access to our self-serving media industries) seem to be extraordinarily rich as well as tied to the coal, oil and gas industries. It’s almost as if rich people have the loudest voices/best access to our media….but surely not? The fact that these idiots with no foresight continue to express their verbal diarrhoea in public means that the less educated and the – there’s no other way to say this – less intelligent in our communities continue to actually believe that the jury really is out on the subject of climate change. The truth is, it really isn’t. The nature of scientific study means that there has to be dissenters, there have to be critics, and there must be pedants who scrutinize every word of research for inaccuracies. This does not mean that the jury is out – in fact it’s an indication that scientific conclusions on the subject have been rigorously, almost neurotically tested before they are unleashed into the public realm.
Media outlets will hysterically yell about the scientist who dissents from the conclusions of the overwhelming majority. This, however, isn’t news – it’s science in action. Remember folks, just how many media outlets carried and promoted the first apocalyptic stories about the end of the world in 2012? It wasn’t a joke when those stories first emerged; it was just business, as all news really is. It doesn’t matter how much credibility a story carries, so long as it sells.
Climate change, however, isn’t a story – it’s real. It’s happening now, but if people expect five tornadoes all at once in downtown Toronto, or blistering heatwaves in January in Churchill, we know it’s not going to happen. Hollywood entertains; it rarely informs on a scientific basis. Stuff IS happening however: very hot weather in Europe, very cold winters in the UK, the warmest year on record (looks like it will be 2014 – whoopee!), and more extreme weather events in many parts of the world. The arctic ice is changing, the glaciers continue to melt in most countries – something is definitely happening. Yet still, in the industrialized nations of the world very little seems to happen, mainly because the politicians can look no further than four years ahead, and can never see around the (fee-paying/lobbying) elephant in the room – namely: old-style economic models which rely upon established industries. The simple truth is that with a ruined climate, economies will collapse even more quickly, and money won’t matter if the oceans rise to swallow our cities around the coasts.
Why this particular subject today? Well, for a very simple reason. This morning I took our dog for his walk on one of our regular trails through the forest. Unusually, I took him on the same trail two days in a row, so I was somewhat surprised, disgusted and disappointed to find that since yesterday, some complete brain donor had seen fit to dump a truckload of laminate flooring at the end of the trail. This location is five minutes (at most) from the municipal dump – but I guess a $5 fee was asking just a little too much to pay; much better to dump it anywhere and drive away from it.
In the grand scheme of things it’s a small incident, I know. However, it’s a regular occurrence in our municipality and it is, I think, a demonstration of how stupid, lazy, unthinking idiots can mess up all the best laid plans – and regularly do so. Whoever did this doesn’t care about the environment. What matters more to him or her is saving $5 or maybe getting to the bar for that extra drink, not using too much gasoline, or perhaps just saving themselves a little tiny bit of extra effort. This lazy approach to our surroundings leads to things like Exxon Valdez the regular oil spills from almost every oil pipeline in existence, and the ongoing spewing of millions of tons of contaminants into our atmosphere and oceans. As a group of humans, we in the ‘developed’ countries of the world don’t care enough, because we can hide from it. We can fool ourselves into believing that it’s all OK, that nature always cleans up and that a balance is always struck (somehow to our benefit).
Of course, that doesn’t really happen. There’s no such thing as magic. Oil doesn’t disappear into the oceans, and neither do all the other contaminants that we produce. Gases fill the atmosphere up, but along with liquids and solids, they also fill the oceans. Our oceans are absorbing much of the carbon dioxide we produce – but it doesn’t just vanish, it stays there, accumulating just like anything else. Plastics are now starting to turn up in our ever-dwindling fish supplies. Mercury in our Tuna, and with our eyes wide open, our livestock is pumped full of growth hormones and antibiotics – all of which ultimately ends up in the oceans. Our rampant consumption, our uncontrolled throw-away habits and our reckless disregard for our environment happens chiefly because we’re too lazy to slow down the headlong rush towards some mythical ‘prosperous’ living standard; an elusive ‘better’ situation that is always just over the horizon yet so close we convince ourselves that we can almost smell it. Personally, all I smell is bullshit.
Once we get there, we can – we will fix things, we tell ourselves. Once we’re just rich enough, we’ll make a difference; once we have enough stuff we will definitely, maybe start to put things right (but of course, not before then) and clean our act up. Getting ‘there’ is what it seems to be all about in our modern stuff-oriented society. There’s two things that make this an unreasonable expectation: first of all, ‘there’ is an entirely fictitious place created by the advertising industry, and is the equivalent of that set of car keys that have disappeared just before you’re due to leave for an important engagement; impossible to find. Secondly and most unfortunately, however, if we ever get ‘there’, we might well find that someone has dumped their garbage there. There’s a good chance that this ‘someone’ will be good ol’ Mother Nature – th elady we’ve been spitting on for so very long. She won’t run away; she’ll stand there tapping her foot as we cry for our shattered dreams and she’ll say:“Now what are you going to do, hotshot?”
Payback, after all, can be a bitch.