Activists have to be, at least on some level, optimists. You just can’t throw yourself into something thinking, “Well, this is a waste of energy.” I believe, because I have to believe, that we are capable of doing something about this giant iceberg we’re about to hit. Even if we can’t turn this boat around, we can still wake up, governments can start reining corporations in, and we can all start making more sensible decisions that mitigate catastrophic climate change, biodiversity loss, fresh water shortages, and ocean acidification.
From a rational perspective, I have to admit that it’s all starting to sound a little improbable. The scientific evidence has piled up, yet governments are still taking, at best, baby steps — not all of them in the right direction. A significant minority of people is still unconvinced that climate change is anything more than a political hoax. My neighbors still don’t recycle their empty water bottles.
If I take off the rose-colored activist lens, I think we’re probably screwed to some extent. Most likely, we’ll continue to hem and haw and bury our heads in the sand for another few decades, maybe 20-50 years. Our world governments will continue to dither about environmentalism vs economy. In the meantime, we’ve seen plenty to suggest that our food supply, especially from the oceans, will destabilize, fresh water availability will decrease, and natural disasters will increase in frequency and scale. I think it’s almost inevitable that we will lose most of our endangered species, including our beloved pandas, African elephants, amur leopards, and orangutans, along with many less glamorous but equally important components of ecosystems.
There will probably be more riots and less stability. Some industries will adapt, new ones will spring up, but many will suffer. The population will likely continue to increase until famine, disease, and other resource shortages start taking us out. The younger generation will probably be pretty pissed off with how we handled things.
At some point, the majority of us will probably realize what’s going on and go, “Oh, crap.” At this point, I think we’ll finally learn whether or not humans can, in fact, act collectively and wisely as a species to adapt to the new situation and make better decisions. Our track history is against it, but who knows?
One thing is certain: we’re heading for some interesting times.
On that note, I’ve decided to take a blogging break. (It’s probably pretty clear why from this post.) I’ve had some other projects — a novel, my pottery — on the backburner for a while, and blogging really does take a significant chunk of time and energy away from them. I’ll be back in a few weeks. In the meantime, here’s my newest piece out of the kiln: