Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The End Is Near, Certainly, But It's Not Here Yet

The end I'm talking about is not the judgement of a wrathful God visited upon a sinful humanity, but the end of the human species brought about by climate change and other effects of human pollution. It's interesting to me how much some green-minded people proclaiming this coming apocalypse sound like the more traditional Christians warning of the more traditional imminent doom. In both cases there's often a misanthropic satisfaction at the thought of a misbehaving humanity finally getting what it deserves.

Well, I'm an animal lover, and I think of us humans as animals, and I'm not rubbing my hands gleefully at the prospect of our doom. I'd rather try to avert that doom. Besides the occasional misanthropy, green apocalypticism also often shares with the older Christian variety a sense of the inevitable. ("It's much too late to save ourselves now, the trends toward catastrophe are irreversible.") This seems to me to irrationally ignore two huge factors in future climate conditions, both unknowns: how much human behavior will change, and how much green technology will improve. Green predictions that The End Is Near tend to assume a certain amount of continuation of current behaviors. I, on the other hand, see possibilities for huge rapid changes in human behavior as 1) people become more educated about climate science; 2) people notice that the Right's talking points about green energy have been lies: this stuff does work. They've been doing their best to get you to focus on this one wind-energy company, over here, which failed as a start-up, but eventually you're going to notice all the other green start-ups that are working. You may even notice the right-wingers who have noticed this and invested in green energy, presumably for the money and not for nobler reasons. A possible 3) could be a great dying-off of the Right. It's true that many of them have many children, but don't forget that children by no means always follow in their parents' political footsteps. Tipping points occur not only in the climate, but in human behavior as well, and in the history of human civilization such changes have not usually been forseen. They have tended to be surprising.

The sudden proliferation of wind farms and solar energy plants in the TV commercials of oil companies should make you stop and think. It certainly shouldn't make you suddenly have a warm and trusting feeling toward the oil companies, which is no doubt what they're going for, nor should it fool you into thinking that they're suddenly going green. It should demonstrate to you that even oil companies are starting to give up on trying to make green energy look ridiculous and impractical, and that should give you some idea of how drastically and suddenly the hardcore anti-green-energy demographic has shrunk.

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