Well, it’s the end of 2020. I don’t think I have looked this forward to a year ending even though the next several months will be more of the same. I have to admit that this year has added to my pessimism regarding the future of our species- the quality of environment that we will leave to our children. This year has shown me that humans as a group are not right bright. The same groups that deny climate change also tried to deny the pandemic. How did the United States, the country that put men on the moon, become so scientifically illiterate? And so utterly selfish and small minded.
Our political tribes seem to live in different factual worlds as right leaning media has convinced their consumers that science is not trustworthy. If the world’s scientists can perpetuate the climate hoax, they must also be hoaxing the virus and the vaccine. Mistrust of the CDC and epidemiologists has hurt our country as we approach the deaths of 350,000 American citizens.
Computer analogs that mine for our attention keep us entrenched in our media silos. Rather than getting information from the news, we get affirmation of what we want to believe. They entrap us with our most base emotions of fear, anger, hate, and loathing. We no longer simply disagree about policies, but totally demonize the other side as evil. And you can’t compromise with evil. Media keeps us in a state of outrage. “Most of news is vicarious trauma,” (Daniel Schmachtenberger, The War on Sensemaking).
We can’t even agree on election outcomes, which is a simple matter of counting. But if one can deny CO2 levels in the atmosphere, a measurement, I suppose one could deny vote counts as well. And then claim foul play, even though over 50 court cases have failed to produce facts and evidence to support these wild claims. Facts and evidence are the foundation of the courts and also of science, but people have become habituated to spin and mistrust. If we cannot agree on the facts, we cannot solve problems. And our world is full of problems.
I blogged earlier on Jem Bendell’s paper on post sustainability and deep adaptation. The concept of "Deep Adaptation" claims that humanity needs to prepare for the possibility of fundamental societal collapse, as global warming and extreme weather events increasingly disrupt social, economic, and political systems. The pandemic, along with the crisis of race relations, heightened my own concern of major societal setbacks. The political spin and undermining of the science behind the pandemic increased my concerns that facts and evidence no longer support our politics, policies or possible actions to mitigate the very real problems of this pandemic, anthropogenic climate change or the pervasive use of petrochemicals in our environments. Mass extinctions and extreme weather events have not motivated our politicians to take actions to save our own species from extinction. The fox is in the hen house and our citizens are too ignorant to vote out the foxes.
Bendell’s paper was not published, but posted online. Perhaps it was thought that we cannot remove hope that our species can still navigate the changes needed to prevent such a collapse. But we humans are short sighted and slow to make inconvenient changes. We can’t even get some assholes to put on a mask to protect their loved ones, how will we get them to change their lifestyles to save our species? As long as we value money and convenience over life, maybe we don’t deserve to continue. And unless we feel some urgency, nothing will change for the better.
As long as we continue to fight among ourselves, the small group of people in power can continue to hoodwink us. Based on who owns the media, I believe the goal is to keep us in our silos so we don’t look to the real culprits driving us toward societal collapse. Money powered interests will continue to profit from the commons while laying the responsibility of environmental degradation on the rest of us. Agribusinesses will continue to use chemicals that are not compatible with life while cancer rates rise. We will continue to fight wars over natural resources under the guise of patriotism, while the foxes get rich on us chickens. I have come to believe that capitalism, profit at all costs, is killing our planet’s ability to sustain life. And we have given up our power to make it better. I hope this new year brings changes for the better, but I no longer have hope in my fellow humans. Maybe the next generation that will one day run things will be smarter and learn to distinguish fact from fake news. Maybe because of the fire of their youth and convictions, they will not be trapped in their own demise by the stagnation of comfort and convenience. The future always holds possibilities and hope for a better tomorrow. Sorry for such a pessimistic perspective. I wish for us not a happy new year, but a real year of change. Change does not bring comfort, but it may bring us a sustainable future.