I saw an incredible sunset yesterday, occurring as the weather was changing and the low clouds were clearing far to the west, allowing the sun to accent the dark gray with bright orange.
I've heard songs that moved me and continue to stir emotions even on hearing recordings many times over. I have wonderful friends whom I care about and who care about me. I have food and shelter better than what kings had 300 years ago. I live in a world where clean water runs from taps on demand. Reliably. Every single day.
But I also live in a world where one man can kill another and be exempt from facing a jury of his peers. A world where many many people live without the shelter and food, security and friendship that I often take for granted. Where the richest people extort the poorest. Where we are changing the world's climate for the worse and, collectively, ignoring it. And we are poisoning our water supplies so we can have more fuel to burn.
I watched it grow this way. Coming of age in the late 1980's, I embraced the flashy world of limitless riches. I foolishly thought Jimmy Carter and his ilk were fools for being such a failure in the face of the anti-environment, pro-business world of Ronald Reagan. As I grew I knew something was amiss, but I did like everyone else did: I had a good job. I drove to work each day. I bought lots of stuff.
But now it's really starting to look bleak—the end of the party is at hand. We have tremendous social inertia to continue to get high-paying jobs, drive to work each day, and buy lots of stuff. But all that excess is from checks cashed from the Earth. As climate change wreaks havoc on our crops, the last survivors will surely be the genetically modified purebreds of the giant corporations. And when they fail, there won't be enough seeds of adaptable varieties remaining to save us. And as we continue to drill wells that pollute the huge aquifers and lakes we get our drinking water from, again it will be the giant corporations surviving last—selling water at prices that would make an oil-baron blush. But when they fail, there won't be any way to get clean water.
"But technology will save us!" Yeah … up to a point.
We'll make electric cars that let us keep the exact same standard of living—but at all new expenses of obtaining elements like lithium through mountaintop mining … perhaps we can grind down Everest. And we'll keep making more and more that will keep the economy chugging along full-throttle ensuring more money and more jobs (well, more money at least, as technology makes more workers obsolete and the money flows into fewer and fewer hands.)
But making food out of nothing?: can't be done. Clean water from dirty water?: very expensive and very energy-intensive (only exacerbating the problem.)
The wisest, smartest people have spoken, and the message is: stop. Stop using more energy. Stop making more stuff. Stop driving everywhere. Stop flying everywhere. Stop polluting water. Stop polluting the air.
But that message isn't as alluring as a flashy world of limitless riches. So this is the start of a very long, very dark time—for humankind, especially.
Fortunately for me, I never wanted children of my own. In 2008 I had a vasectomy and made that decision permanent. I consider myself lucky that I will never have to watch as my children suffer an awful world.
I am so thankful.