Posted: January 25, 2016 in Culture, Environment, Health, Industrial Collapse
Tags: , ,

I remember that sinking feeling when the Deepwater Horizon oil well blew out in April 2010 and gushed oil into the Gulf of Mexico for 87 days at an estimated rate of 62,000 barrels per day (9,900 m3/d) until it was reportedly capped (but may not have been fully contained). That feeling was more intense than the disgust I felt at discovering the existence of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (and subsequently others in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans). For reasons that make no particular sense, slo-mo ecological disasters in the oceans didn’t sicken me as much as high-speed despoliation of the Gulf. More recently, I’ve been at a loss, unable to process things, actually, at two new high-speed calamities: the contaminated tap water flowing from public waterworks in Flint, MI, and the methane leak from an underground well in the Porter Ranch neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA (no links provided, search for yourself). Whereas the first two examples turned my stomach at the mere knowledge, the second two are quite literally sickening people.

These examples could be part of a daily diet of stomach-churning news if I had the nerve to gather further examples. Indeed, the doomer sites I habituate at intervals (no longer daily) gather them together for me. As with the examples above, many are industrial chemical spills and contamination; others are animal and plant populations dying en masse (e.g., bee colony collapse disorder); yet others are severe weather events (e.g., the California drought) on the rise due to the onset of climate change (which has yet to go nonlinear). Miserable examples keep piling up, yet business as usual continues while it can. Death tolls are difficult to assess, but at present, they appear to be impacting nonhuman species with greater ferocity thus far. Some characterize this as Mother Nature doing her necessary work by gradually removing the plant and animal species on which humans depend as the very top apex predator. That means eventually removing us, too. I don’t care for such a romantic anthropomorphism. Rather, I observe that we humans are doing damage to the natural world and to ourselves in perhaps the slowest slo-mo disaster, the most likely endpoint being near-term extinction.

As much, then, as the alarm has been sounding adequately with respect to high-speed disasters stemming from human greed, incompetence, and frailty, I find that even worse calamity awaiting us has yet to penetrate the popular mind. Admittedly, it’s awfully hard to get one’s head around: the extinction of the human species. Those who resign themselves to speaking the truth of inevitability are still characterized as kooks, wackos, conspiracy mongers, and worse, leaders of death cults. From my resigned side of the fence, proper characterization appears to be the very opposite: those who actively ruin nature for profit and power are the death cult leaders, while those who prophesy doom are merely run-of-the-mill Cassandras. The ranks of the latter, BTW, seem to be gaining while critical thought still exists in small, isolated oases.

  1. The consequences of our myopia do indeed to seem to be hitting fast and furious. And the Age of the Sickening might be a more apt description than the Anthropocene.

    For some reason I’m reminded of my neighbor. She is a tender heart and runs a “no kill farm”. She takes in cast-off livestock and raises them out to a natural death. She drives a Cadillac Escalade and works in commercial real estate. And she sees no irony in having neighbors kill rat snakes that are in her chicken coop or skunks threatening her “saved” animals.

    It is a myopia of the worst sort that our species stands accused and found guilty. Our inability to see clearly the totality of the consequences of our daily actions. We only manage small glimpses and misinterpret even that information. We are the hourly clerk entering data at the firm the Lehman Brothers on September 14th, 2007.

    • Brutus says:

      Thanks for your comment. The weight of the world wears on me sometimes, despite knowing that there’s little or nothing I or anyone can do to avoid things playing out to their logical conclusions. Carrying on in the face of it seems both valiant and vainglorious. Perhaps myopia is what gets us through the days.

    • Clem says:

      The hourly clerk entering data at Lehman on 9/14/07… one wonders if she might be related to the piano player in the ballroom of the Titanic the evening of the iceberg? Regardless, it is a powerful metaphor, I will give you that.

      I’ve harped on my distaste for the NTE narrative before, so that’s a horse likely relieved to see I will quit beating. Regardless of our particular convictions of how close the sinking (or bankruptcy), I still consider it worth the trouble of fighting to fix, or repair, enhance, or clean up; just get busy doing things to make matters less bad (or even better – if that can be imagined). Unlike Cassandra, I haven’t been cursed by Apollo.

      Have a great day.

      • Brutus says:

        Nowhere do I say the equivalent of “give up, go crawl in a hole and die.” Like you, I believe it worthwhile to work toward making things less bad even if the end result remains the same. And believe it or not, I’m not really that focused on NTE. However, I must acknowledge its peril and frank likelihood. So yeah, the antidote to despair is action, even if action is ultimately moot. Action has value in the now.

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