Where is a Messiah when you really need one?
Why do they never turn up when you need them?
The USA may not be the World’s sole super power – or at least not to the extent it once was – but we nevertheless need it to be on board and pulling in the right direction. Unfortunately, even with Barrack Obama in the White House these last four years, this is quite clearly not what the USA has been doing. With regard to climate change, a ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ outcome is almost guaranteed because, as Garrett Hardin once incisively observed, “Ruin is the destination to which all men rush, each pursuing his own interest in a society that believes in the freedom of the commons”
. However, I do not think that this is reason alone to give up on trying to avoid it. All around us today, we can see emerging signs of the reality of Limits to Growth phenomena: We were warned about this over 40 years ago but, almost since such warnings were first uttered, they have been variously dismissed as anti-progress, anti-Western or anti-human. Unfortunately, history has proven them to be only one thing; and that is anti-sceptic
. Whether it be the abstraction of groundwater or the fishing of our oceans; and/or the pollution of our groundwater, rivers, oceans or atmosphere; things that once seemed to be OK are now a problem simply because of the scale and/or rate at which they are being undertaken: Anthropogenic Climate Disruption (ACD) is not just a physically-inevitable consequence of the Laws of Physics (belief in which is not
optional), nor just the consequence of physics we have understood well for over 150 years and observed for at least 50 years. ACD is the most obvious evidence of the reality of Limits to Growth that we will ever have.
ACD has become our greatest problem simply because of our refusal to acknowledge its reality; and because we seem incapable of preventing perpetual growth in the rate at which we allow it to impact the Planet: It did not matter a great deal when there were only 1 billion humans chopping down trees to make charcoal. However, when there are at over 7 billion humans chopping down trees and burning them to clear forests to feed people whose existence seems predicated on the burning of fossil fuels, this is a very big deal indeed. Scale of operation and rate of pollution is everything; and we are currently doing these things at faster rates than those with which the biosphere can clearly cope: In other words, Homo sapiens has now exceeding the Earth’s ecological carrying capacity for it as a species. Either we must modify our behaviour or nature will modify it for us
(or us for it?). There is no Messiah waiting to save us. We must save ourselves (or Nature is likely to deploy some very unpleasant pest control measures against us). If we are to do this, we need everyone to be on board and playing by the same rules. In this respect, the USA is not the only “problem-child in the nursery”
; problematic States are almost ubiquitous: Afghanistan, Brazil, Canada… [some time later]… Venezuela, USA, Western Sahara, Xanadu(?), (the former) Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia, and Zimbabwe… Whoever we are and wherever we are, there are a number of things we cannot afford to do any longer: These include (1) blame the problem on someone else; (2) wait for someone else to take action first; (3) and/or complain that unilateral action is futile… If we wish to avoid overshoot, collapse and/or ecocide, it is now time for aggressive, brave, collective, and decisive action by any and all who understand the nature, scale and urgency of the need to act. Given the additional evidence of the reality of the existential threat we face literally pouring in every day, we can and must hope that the more recalcitrant elements of our species will soon either admit their error and/or be shamed into joining the Anthropocene fight for survival in which we are now engaged. Welcome to Belshazzar’s Feast: I am afraid your place was reserved for you many years ago. Although attendance is mandatory, over-indulgence should definitely be considered optional.