The Power of Unbelief

Posted on September 24, 2009



The salmon fishery in British Columbia has had bad seasons for three years running.  This year only seven percent of the expected run of sockeye returned to the Fraser River, and there was less than fifty percent of the expected sockeye run on the Skeena.  The cod fishery on the east coast collapsed long ago, and despite being closed down entirely, the cod stocks refuse to return.  In the Bering Sea, the pollock fishery continues to decline along with pollock populations, which have dropped another 24% this year — despite government predictions of a rise.

That’s just the fishery.

Wildfires of record intensity ravage the entire west coast of North America and Australia.  A relentless drought in Kenya is killing animals so fast that the scavengers can’t keep up and elephants lie uneaten and rotting in the sun.  Warming oceans bleach and destroy coral reefs and the ecosystems they support.

There are 14 weeks left in 2009.  It is estimated that already more than 100 thousand species have gone extinct this year.  These extinctions primarily derive from human causes.  We are living in an era of extinction that rivals any of the great extinctions of earth’s past eras, including the great extinction event which wiped out the dinosaurs.  And as the oceans turn to carbonic acid from absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and as climate change really heats up in the coming decades, we can expect the rate of extinctions to rise.

And as the earth dies, so will human beings.  Countries and communities will collapse.  Climate and environmental refugees will become common, and as resources diminish, wars over those resources will increase.  Rising sea levels and sinking river deltas will make much of the present farmable land unfarmable.  Shrinking and disappearing glaciers will stop sending water to drink and to irrigate the land in the Indian subcontinent.  Worldwide, droughts and extreme weather will become common.  Millions of people will die, especially in the poorer countries least responsible for the creating these disasters, but they will die elsewhere too.  Almost irrelevantly, but among the predicted disasters, rising sea levels will change the weight of seawater over oceanic tectonic plates triggering increased earthquake activity.

It is probable that under such conditions our present civilization will collapse.

But, you know, it’s all so depressing, I don’t want to think about it.

What my world needs is a disposable cell phone.  What my world needs is a plasma screen TV.  What I really need is a $60 thousand a year job, and a home in the suburbs.  What my world needs is a strong economy and economic growth.  What my world needs is an airplane trip to Europe.  What my world needs is a Hummer which I can show off to my neighbours.

What my world needs is less depressing talk about the costs to the environment if I get everything that I feel I’m entitled to.

If the world starts to collapse twenty or thirty years from now, at least it won’t be on my watch.

You say it’s happening now.  You say it’s happening because of me.

I refuse to believe that.  I just refuse.