We live today under threat of Climate Apocalypse. But two world wars, genocides, the Bomb and untold suffering around the globe reported daily have all perhaps dulled our senses and our resolve; resulted in elders – especially our leaders – failing to face humanity’s ultimate existential crisis.
More than 30 years after the Climate Emergency was publicly declared by climatologist James Hansen, disasters multiply – record heat, drought, deluge, rising seas. But climate change deniers hold sway in the U.S. and abroad, with almost no nations on Earth on target to achieve their deeply inadequate Paris Agreement goals.
Now an even higher imperative has emerged, as new studies point not just to escalating risk, but toward potential doom. Understandingly, young people are angry and openly rebelling against their elders. The young point to a failure to act, and declare: there is no time for politics and business as usual. They’re right.
Humanity’s only way out – the path to saving civilization, and much of life on Earth – is to act as though our lives, and our children’s lives, depend on it. Because they do. And one more thing: we mustn’t give up hope. This post is a commentary. Views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.
We live in Apocalyptic times. That’s not news; we’ve done so – successfully thwarting doom – for more than a hundred years; dancing above the abyss. Now mostly forgotten, 1919 a mere century ago, saw 50 million souls carried off by the global flu pandemic. That nightmare punctuated a self-inflicted human tragedy: The war years 1914-1918 saw 40 million civilian and military casualties, with soldiers machine-gunned, blown up, gassed, many as they “walked eye-deep in Hell believing in old men’s lies,” as poet Ezra Pound put it. They called it the Great War then because we hadn’t yet started numbering them. And while I don’t remember the First, my parents viscerally lived the Second. That one saw 75-85 million casualties; its end, too, punctuated by an Apocalypse. My mom, stationed at a Tampa, Florida airbase, and my dad, in Charleston, South Carolina after six harrowing months of Atlantic convoy duty, both remembered hearing the chilling news over the radio. Hiroshima, then Nagasaki – maybe a quarter-million casualties rising like a mushroom cloud. Then Russia got the bomb, then China, India, Pakistan, Israel, North Korea. Everything changed after 1945, with every loving parent forced to wrestle not just with age-old worries of how to provide for their children, but with late-night thoughts of global Apocalypse.