By the end of the century, the planet we live on will likely be uninhabitable by humans, mammals, and nearly all living things. And yet nothing has been done to avert this disaster. How is it that I never knew about this before? Why is no-one talking about this? This claim comes from the UK government chief scientist. It was published in a prominent newspaper. Is it just too much for people to comprehend, so we collectively ignore it? Are our delusions so large that we cannot accept that we require a living planet? Does this information just not fit in the conversations we have about the way we live?
I feel like I’m in a speeding car. It’s only metres away from hitting a brick wall. The driver has his foot full on the accelerator. Maybe he doesn’t see the wall, or maybe he doesn’t want to see it. Acceleration is the whole of his identity. His identity is more important to him than his life. In his world, speeding is all there is. In his world, speeding is what everyone wants, what everyone needs. Solid walls that will destroy him, his car, and his passengers, cannot be seen. The millions of living beings he’s running down with the car, they too cannot be seen. Economic growth at all costs.
Next to him, the shotgun passenger is suggesting easing off the acceleration. He sees the wall, but doesn’t understand the effect of hitting it at speed. He can’t grasp that it’s a solid object. He’s not suggesting slowing, or stopping, but continuing at a steady speed. In his world, the wall might disappear into the distance, maybe it can be driven away with some new technology, or if we think about it differently. Sustainability. Steady state economy.
Behind him, another passenger sees the wall. He knows we can’t continue at this speed. He suggests slowing. Degrowth. Transition. Energy descent.
I’m sitting behind the driver. I can see that the only way to survive the crash is to stop as soon as possible. A gentle deceleration will be too little, too late. And even if it were a good idea, it would require convincing the driver, who refuses to hear. Voices from the back seat are a threat to his identity. I suggest we passengers kill him, and slam on the brakes. He’s clearly not going to stop the car himself, as he values his identity more than his life. Resistance.
The other two are shocked. You can’t stop the car, they say. That would stop our progress. How can you not want progress? And you can’t kill him, they say. He’ll lose control of the car. And how dare you not be grateful to him for driving us all this way?
He’s driving us into a wall, I say. He’s already out of control. How can I be grateful?
You can’t kill him, they say. That would be violent. You don’t want to be violent.
He’s killing all of us, and everyone in his path, I say. If I kill him, I’m stopping the violence. They don’t want to hear. They don’t want to stop.
I lean forward. I put my hands around the driver’s throat. I kill him. I slam on the brakes. The car jolts. The brakes scream. The windscreen shatters.
The crash is inevitable. Some may survive.
Image credit Top choice from an image search for “economic crash”. There are a disturbing number of books with titles like “how you can profit from an economic crash”.