Doom and Rebirth

Our world never stops moving: it keeps moving through space around a sun, and that sun is dragging along our whole solar system through a galaxy, and the galaxy is… well, you get the point. Similarly, our lives on this world do not stop moving until the day we die (arguably, sometimes our lives keep morphing even after that). I find that days when everything feels comfortable and familiar and laid-back are somewhat rare due to the constant introduction of change.

One of those changes is climate change. This should be news to no one: for the entire history of temperature-taking the annual average has done nothing but stagger upwards. It’s more than just temperature though, it involves rainfall patterns, storm formation, deep sea currents and insect hibernation cycles. This change may not destroy us, but it will leave a gruesome enough mark (and has already left some). Island nations, Bangladesh and Florida will eventually disappear, and there’s no telling what will happen to the sea currents when the Arctic Ocean melts. I’m not saying it will happen in 10 years… but in 30 or 50, maybe. We’re already seeing unusual weather patterns emerging; I wouldn’t be surprised if the American West runs out of water in 10 years or so due to dwindling melt water from the mountains. California has a serious discussion going about desalination plants, and states like Colorado might just dry up and blow away.

Another significant change is the long-term effect of humans on the food chain. Quite simply, we are tapping out Earth’s resources in regard to food supply. At a time when we should be considering options like hydroponics and aggressive low-emission farming, we’re busy with, oh, growing crops that are resistant to Agent Orange so we can nuke more poison into the environment (and keep building up the insect and fungus immune systems). Flooding the market with seed stock that can’t reproduce for future harvests, so everyone becomes dependent on Monsanto seeds. This is the opposite of what I would call “a sustainable agriculture company” unless they mean sustaining themselves.

Then there is the global economic situation. Blame it on fuel, blame it on food, blame it on post-industrial society, blame it on an untenable economic model (any model that requires constant growth will ultimately fail when it reaches a size limit; ask any major empire of Earth). Whatever you blame it on, it is happening. Politics may constantly shuffle and reform with the occasional revolution, but a global economic crisis would be nothing short of disastrous. In the past, a single country would go through upheaval and turmoil and war (though sometimes this war would spread with Panzer tanks) until it figured things out. Now though, our economies are tightly connected and poised like dominoes. I’ve seen a lot of symptom-treating from various sources. They throw money at the problem, sometimes quite literally (this is called “quantitative easing” or “print dolla bills, y’all”). They raise the debt ceiling (the financial equivalent of getting a new credit card to pay part of an existing credit card so you can extend your bar tab). They sell bonds (the financial equivalent of selling an IOU with a friendly smile as collateral). Other tricks get employed to game the financial markets, putting in market freezes to prevent catastrophic stock failures, exchanging large quantities of foreign currency for U.S. dollars (because so much of the market runs on U.S. dollars, devaluing yen to raise the price of dollars ends up keeping the market afloat). Lots of tricks, lots of stopgaps, lots of kicking the can down the road. The debt ceiling keeps rising, dollars keep getting printed, and federal interest rates are still around 0%. Despite all our efforts, the market is slowing down and the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is putting the brakes on. At some point, we will not be able to effectively pay the interest on all the debt we owe. America has gotten about three too many credit cards and is doing worse than living paycheck to paycheck; the financial equivalent of our situation is someone who regularly runs by a Check ‘n Go to spend some of the money they haven’t earned yet to cover some of the basic expenses, some of the interest rates, and spends the rest on non-essential hobbies. Every visit yields a little less.

Perhaps the plutocratic oligarchy that runs our country (and most of the world) are to blame, but if that’s so it has been that way for most of human history. Anyhow, the takeaway from this is that we are doomed (yes, there’s a touch of sarcasm). Despite this doom, there is the chance for rebirth. The climate will change (too late to stop it), the food chain will alter the course of life on earth in tandem with climate change, and the global economy will ultimately crash. I don’t think it means humans won’t survive, or that all life on Earth will perish. Bad times ahead, but like a phoenix something good will rise from the ashes. Hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, Russian invasions, hyperinflation, I can’t say what the precise causes will be, but rest assured something human-shaped will emerge from the other side of those times. That may be small comfort to those of us who have to live through it though.

I’m not really kidding about this.


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