I haven’t read the official report, but I’ve read a lot of summaries and I wasn’t at all surprised by any of it. Twelve years left and then we can’t “save the earth.”
I consider it highly unlikely we’ll make that deadline.
I was one of the enthusiastic founders of the original Earth Day. Over the years, as we have cleaned up a lot of the inland waterways — the Blackstone and Hudson Rivers are two notable successes — and cleaned up the air around New York and on the west coast — I knew we weren’t making progress fast enough, but at least I could believe we were trying to head in the right direction.
Now with the big orange dictator setting up the world for extensive additional pollution, I wonder how quickly we will bring about our own doom?
People are the problem.
Our misuse of the earth, our pollution of the waters, our coughing up of coal dust into the air? People. Human beings. We did it, are doing it, and are unlikely to stop.
No other animal has polluted anything. Just people.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
— English Standard Version, Old Testament (Torah)
I’m not religious, or at least not in any traditional sense. Moreover, I don’t think the seven books of the Old Testament — the Torah — are close to the whole story. I have a lot of backup for this belief. It is widely believed there were hundreds of biblical books, most of which were destroyed during the first burning of the Great Temple. And then again, whatever was left were burnt in Alexandria. Even the memories of what was remembered died with the old Rabbis between the Crusades and the Holocaust.
Hundreds of other books that were equally as holy as the seven we currently revere were burned, buried, destroyed. Do you think maybe they had something to say to us? Maybe this bit of text was not intended to tell us to exploit and despoil every inch of earth and every animal on the planet?
We have dominion over the earth, but we have not ruled the earth so much as destroyed it and now, it’s on the edge of fighting back.
I read a report recently about how well the area around Chernobyl has revived. Without human habitation, it has blossomed and wildlife has returned in plenitude. It’s not that the radioactivity has vanished, but that somehow, the world finds a way to move forward, radioactivity and all.
It turns out the earth can handle nuclear devastation. The only thing that it can’t manage is us.
This report does not offer us a lot of turnaround time — a mere dozen years. Perhaps you can take comfort in that although the earth may well become untenable as a place for human habitation, once it extracts us, it will be beautiful again as it was when we lived in the Garden of Eden, right below the mountains bordering Syria.
There are two signs on the path to the place.
In Hebrew, the words are “גן עדן” meaning “garden of Eden.”
The other sign says, in English, “Paradise.”
I felt, being there, that indeed if there was an Eden, this could be it.
You might also take a look at Gordon Stewart’s “Climate Change in the Golden House.”