Words have been eluding me lately, at least when it comes to environmental writing. So many hopes, since this blog was established in December 2006--so little comfort about the future of our planet today. Better activists than I am are toiling without letup, for tiny bits of progress. At the same time, exploitation of resources, of the natural world, and of human beings seems to be gathering momentum.
I can remember, back around 2006, thinking that the nations of the world had only a short while remaining of the degree of prosperity prevalent then, and that they needed to invest in reducing carbon emissions while they could. Waiting until the Third World rose out of poverty wasn't going to work. It had to rise out of poverty via a different path than fossil fuels, or at least by a variety of paths, or doom us all. Furthermore, once the world economy falls apart, it's a different game entirely... People will focus on survival, and so will I.
Back then I had visions of a rich elite living in artificially cooled clean air bubbles, while the masses of humanity tried to survive extreme climate conditions as their slaves. In a sense, that elite, that kind of social/economic stratification, exists today. It's ready to solidify as climate change progresses. It will be the eventual, inevitable future unless something changes that hasn't changed yet.
The Orwellian horrors of "1984" seem more applicable today than during the cold war, in a twisted and almost humorous sort of way. I grew up fearing bombs, then terrorists, but now that we are well into the Great Recession (or Lesser Depression, if you prefer), a new suite of fears has appeared to fester in my more mature and experienced brain. Are we going to repeat some variation of the disasters of 1930s and 40s? Perhaps the better question is not if but how many. Over just the span of a few years, it's not so hard to understand those times, thanks to the economics and politics of today, and the poison they bring forth in people.
Having been born during the Second World War, I grew up watching war and Holocaust films and hearing my elders speak in vague terms of life "during depression." I marveled that most of my parents' many siblings had only one child. What had caused that? I did not feel free to ask such a thing. I was a rare second child. Obviously, there was a lot my elders were not telling me. Whatever their deprivations or fears during the Depression or the war, they never shared that with us kids.
It was never supposed to happen again, after all.
The new year is about to dawn, and no doubt it will teach us many things.