The most likely scenario

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:

Until later.


14 responses to this post.

  1. It is the dilemma of being a “green” activist … we work hard, taking small & big steps, while understanding that probably, in the whole scheme of things, it’s a lost cause. When I was in college, I had an Oceanography professor who said that the earth will survive anything that we do but … we won’t. That, strangely, gives me hope.

    Enjoy your break … and we’ll “see” you when you get back! Oh … and your newest bowl is beautiful! Well done you!


    • Hi Smallftprints,
      Environmentalism is becoming a form of syncretism — the art of holding two contradictory beliefs at the same time! Man. I’m with your professor. The thought of human extinction doesn’t especially bother me, but I feel really bad for all the stuff we’re taking down with us. Our imprudence has major consequences for other species. Sigh.

      I’ve decided that everyone is getting pottery (mugs, mostly) for the holidays this year, so I’m going to be busy throwing and carving and all that good stuff. Looking forward to it!


  2. First of all, that bowl is gorgeous! It would be a crime for anyone with as much talent as you obviously posses not to spend more time on pottery!

    Secondly… I’m sorry. I fear I have dragged you down to my level of utter despair and depression when it comes to the environment.

    I tend to agree with you that civilization as we know it is probably phucked. But maybe it’s not such a bad thing. I mean, it would be really nice if our species could muster enough will to conquer this problem without vast human suffering… not to mention the suffering of countless innocent animal species, but maybe suffering is what’s needed in order for change to occur.

    And I don’t mean that in the angry sense… like people deserve what they get or something like that. I just mean that perhaps this is simply the way it works. Nothing new can be born until something old dies.

    Enjoy your life… remember, you’re not responsible for everything that happens around you.


    • Hi EcoCatLady,
      Thanks! I’m unlikely to ever make a living as a potter, but I certainly do enjoy messing around with clay. Alas, the studio is closed this week, which may be why I’m in a bit of a funk.

      I really hope we can learn before we manage to completely mess things up. And I haven’t given up hope that we will do so; it’s just that the likelihood seems to be shrinking. Maybe suffering is what it will take for humans to act more wisely as a species — it’s certainly become clear that reason isn’t cutting it.


  3. I feel the same way. I doubt, at times. I get the greenie blues about it. It is annoying and frustrating. People are so short sighted, and greedy, it makes me doubt the inherent goodness of human beings. How can big corporations, who ultimately are run by people – sleep at night, knowing, that they are stealing from the future? Knowing that they are setting us on an irreversible path? It is selfish greed, nothing else.

    Worse, politicians have been fed this story, this lie, and are running with it. What about serving the best interests of the people? It always comes down to the economy and jobs. The environment will never have a chance when it is a jobs vs. no jobs comparison. Annoy.

    On a brighter note, I am so excited for you that you are writing a novel. How interesting! Best of luck and I will be here when you get back!


    • Hi Sherry,
      Greenie blues is exactly the right term for it. I think it’s only going to become more of a problem as the issues we face grow in size — how long can we stay optimistic?

      Thanks for good wishes! I’ll still be reading blogs, so you’ll definitely see me around.


  4. Oh no, Jennifer, not you too! It’s been a slow and arduous process to lift myself out of a similar state over the past month. It’s like a special kind of depression and hopelessness that afflicts environmentalists, right?

    Anyway, take the well-deserved break, spend time doing things that are good for your heart, and avoid the internet! There’s way too much bad news to be found on it. 🙂


    • Thanks, Andrea! It’s not quite so much depression as realism…and an attempt to be more detached from the ultimate outcome. Kevin agrees with you about the internet, by the way. Maybe I should institute a strict one hour per day limit on personal internet time…


  5. Jennifer-enjoy your well deserved break. Your bowl is beautiful-I can completely understand why you want to shift your focus to your pottery and your novel. I am a big believer in blogging vacations. They work wonders for me! Enjoy.


    • Thanks! I hope I’ll have something to show for it when I start up again — cool pottery, progress on the novel, or at least a better attitude. 🙂


  6. Posted by Storybook on 09/28/2011 at 15:15

    I’ve been lurking for some time but now that you say you are going on hiatus, I’ll speak up… you’re posts are always informative and thought provoking. You will be missed and I’ll be glad to see you back!


  7. I’m glad I found you and hope you continue writing for a long time. I hear you on the activist thing. I have been at it for fifteen years. There is a quote from the 60’s that keeps me going: “Once in a while we win but we are in it to be true to our values”. And another by Rabbi Tapplin, “It is not granted that you complete the task and yet you must never give up.” That sums it up. We are each one person living out our values whether or not it ultimately changes anything on a large scale. Your kiln peace looks beautiful. I’m definitely adding you to my blogroll!


  8. Jennifer,

    I think you see the writing on the wall quite clearly. In 50 years most of the landmass of Bangladesh will be underwater (I wrote about that today) and there will have been a mass exodus of climate refugees to other places, which will create more challenges.

    Nevertheless, I still believe it’s worthwhile as individuals to act with integrity and sensibility as best we can however dark the outcome seems.

    Beautiful bowl. Enjoy your blogging break! I plan to take a short one in November. I love the intelligence of your writing and hope you don’t go away forever!


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