Even Rearranging Deck Chairs Would Take More Effort (And Would Be More Effective)

The ice caps are melting.

Or, more specifically: “Glaciers in western Antarctica are melting at an ‘unstoppable’ rate that could cause worldwide sea levels to rise far quicker than previously thought, two groups of scientists said Monday.”

But we already knew that, didn’t we?

At each of these milestones (and there will be more of them, and more often—trust in that), you’ll see the same range of responses:

1. “We told you so”, pro-Democratic-Party diatribes about the need to double down on investments in “renewables”

2. Calls to vague action, such as liking some post or page on Facebook, or forwarding some letter to someone in Congress

3. Flat-out incredulity, typically under the guise of an accusation of those sounding the alarm being “alarmist”

4. Some combination of 1 and 2, coupled with a vouching of personal non-solutions to this global problem, i.e. “and that’s why I only shop locally!” or “only eco-friendly clothing for my four kids from here on out!”

And what’s up with these confirmations of the obvious, just because they’re wrapped up in the trappings of some study, being taken more seriously than the common sense of the large (and growing) community of average doomers (including most people, but especially minorities, in America’s inner cities, who have known—and been vocal about—the cracks in the sidewalk for some time now)?

NASA puts out a study confirming that we live in a society of rigid socio-economic classes, and people post that shit on Facebook like extraterrestrial intelligence has been contacted and has confirmed that it enjoys the Beatles recordings we sent into space half a century ago. Princeton publishes a study that shows the US is no longer a democracy, and people say “see!” as if Native Americans haven’t been saying this since 1776 (er, 1492)—not to mention that the country was forged in the crucible of global capitalism, which means slavery, resource exploitation, and the perpetuation of a solidified elite were, and have always been, the pillars of American virtue.

Of course we don’t live in a democracy, and of course we are bringing most species to the brink of extinction. All that these studies seem to provide is an easy out: an article to send your friends to prove your worldliness and liberal sensibilities. And then you can get back to your regularly scheduled program, having earned your medal in the identity-politics Olympics.

Or they’re an alarm bell, but the problem is that nobody’s interested in alarms (as previously mentioned, the very word “alarmist” is derogatory). Or maybe that’s unfair; the only alarm people will be interested in is the one that will be heard loud and clear when one day no water comes out of the tap. Will people post pictures of their dry sinks?



3 thoughts on “Even Rearranging Deck Chairs Would Take More Effort (And Would Be More Effective)

  1. Pressed ‘like’ but I meant ‘agree.’ I do not understand how we can be in a position where most people realize the situation is dire yet we still remain stuck. I am kind of frightened to see that government policy is moving toward ‘mitigation’ instead of something that might actually halt the problem from getting worse.

  2. Unfortunately, nothing is going to change so long as the prevailing paradigm ‘consumerism’ is locked on place. And everything in our culture, from schooling to employment to advertising and even to politics, works to keep it so, because noone in charge can even think of another arrangement of our daily lives, lest the economic system be upset or they themselves put at an economic disadvantage.

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