Don’t look out the window, whatever you do. That guy parading up and down our wide blogger sidewalk every Monday morning – well, he’s back. You know, the would-be prophet wearing boards saying in front, “The End Is Near” and in back, “It’s Global Warming, Stupid.” I think his name is Hedges. Never lets up, does he. Cormac McCarthy can’t hold a candle to him.
As youngsters we joked about the kid who didn’t quite catch the number mentioned by the science teacher on how much longer the sun would last.
“Excuse me, teacher. Did you say one billion years or one million years?"
“One billion years.”
“Whew. You had me worried there for a minute.”
The proximity of global catastrophes was moved up when scientists got to examining the mega-volcanic eruption known as the Toba Event, about 70 thousand years ago. Toba was followed by a volcanic winter, a decade long, which, it is theorized, coincided with a dramatic “genetic bottleneck” of flora and fauna. World-wide, only around 10,000 mating pairs of humans survived, which may explain the dramatic pinch off of human genes that occurred following Toba’s fallout.
|Supervolcano.... Lake Toba|
“If you were the only girllllllll in the world,
and I were the only boooooyyyyyyyyyyyyy ….”
Back then people paid attention when that tune came over the radio.
Now we’re going in the opposite direction and pretty fast as geologists mark time. If you think we live in interesting times now, wait until 2100. Various studies tell us the temperature, if it keeps warming at current rates, will rise by 4 degrees C. Not too bad, the difference between Ottawa and Washington on a summer day, but enough, as it slides up over a few decades to 4 degrees C every day, enough to turn the globe into a hell of sick and frantic beggars. Adapt or die. Nasty fights over food and water in all the ways Hollywood can imagine. Enough to throw the world’s social systems into convulsions well before 2100. Diplomacy, treaties, international borders, doctors, police and firefighters bye-bye.
What can little people do besides reaching for the aspirin bottle, sackcloth and ashes? The elites and their politicians, who might force effective change, ignore the scientists as much as they ignore us. Establishing self-sufficient agricultural havens tucked away in the hills will be as laughable as squeezing your eyes shut, which happens to be the official policy that’s most appealing.
Well, while we can, let’s all try to get along. Read Genesis about the Noah thing; it all worked out. Consider Tao, Buddhism. Read the Sufis, the Desert Fathers. Don’t panic; meditate. Breathe in … breathe out. Our tepid measures against global warming just may do the trick. Maybe another Toba will blow its top and cool things down for us just in time.
However, if the catastrophe comes about as predicted, no matter what we do or don’t do between now and 2100, there’s always the ideal worst-case scenario to be thankful for. I mean the realization of the secret wish we all wish sometimes. That the clutter of our warped and rotten and broken systems be swept aside forever to make way for the noble savages who will emerge from the next genetic bottleneck. All things new all over again.
Always best to end on an upbeat note.
Have a nice day. Don’t wait too long to start on your Christmas shopping. And did you see this week’s “New Yorker,” a special issue devoted to food?