Hey Joe Brewer…
Before you despair, you might want to take a look at this
We’re at least partway through a transition from being the species that bumbles through its world‐changing ways with no awareness whatsoever. We’ve figured out how to deal with the worst of acid rain and ozone destruction. (That was a close one.) Our population is widely projected to level out and begin to decline later this century. We’re starting, slowly, painfully, to come to grips with the biodiversity and climate crises. Whatever happens to climate now, it would have been a lot worse without these recent waves of awareness and concern reverberating around the globe. If we get our act together, we still have the potential to consciously save many more species than we have inadvertently destroyed.
I get you’re feeling scared, especially with a kid around the corner. Remember though, that your use of apocalyptic imagery is more likely to become a self‐fulfilling prophecy than to rouse people to action. Spewing misanthropy is just as dangerous as emitting carbon dioxide. It is the opposite of activism. There is a real danger of unintended consequences, of encouraging people to give up. Pessimism, if it becomes a habit, can reinforce a narrative of unstoppable decline. If there is nothing we can do, that releases us from our obligations.
There’s no future in despising humanity. Self‐flagellation may feel good to some, but how does it help move us toward solutions? We are a species with a unique ability to envision futures and sometimes work together to manifest them. As long as we can imagine a better path, of course we are obligated to seek it. This is why unwarranted pessimism about our future is actually irresponsible. The naysayers, prophesiers of certain doom, are giving us a way to avoid responsibility. Don’t listen to them. If we don’t know enough to know that we’re doomed, then the drumbeat of gloom is not helping, it’s hurting. Let’s replace it.
We’re not a cancer or a disease. We are organisms doing what all organisms do, surviving and reproducing as best we can. We are, however, a kind of organism that has never existed before, and we’ve gotten ourselves in a situation. Fortunately, we may be equipped to get ourselves out of it. A plague does not think. A cancer does not decide to change course. A weed does not weed itself. We could. So these images may describe our past, but they needn’t proscribe our future.