Pessimism as a writing tool fails. I can’t write politics or environmental material if I am completely pessimistic. If there is no hope for changing the negativities of those two areas, then there is no point in writing about them. Unless to say there is no hope of changing their direction, but how many times can I say that. Once. Or risk repeating myself.

    I rarely write for Grumpy Lion anymore because I see no point in it. I can criticize and point out failures and errors in the subject of a piece, even suggest correctives, but I know as I write that no change will occur, that no one will hear. The politicians will continue to serve the corporations, and the environment will continue to degrade because of the actions of humans. And the two things feed into each other in a spiraling gyre (sorry Bill) that has already passed the point of no return. That the people of the Gulf of Mexico plead that deep water drilling for the oil that now and for future decades destroys their environment, that those people plead for such drilling to continue, demonstrates conclusively the short-sighted stupidity of the human race in the most graphic manner imaginable.

    They cry out, "But we have to put food on the table for our families" as the food stocks are being destroyed, some possibly forever, as the very nursery of those food stocks and the ecosystem that creates the food is destroyed before their very eyes. They cry "But we’ve always worked on oil rigs. We don’t know how to do anything else. We don’t want to do anything else. It’s good money." Any people that stupid deserve the fate of the Gulf. They sold their soul to the oil masters, have done for decades, and now the bill comes due, and they haven’t the will or the imagination or the guts to take another road.

    On a larger scale, not so dramatic, more slowly, lumbering, as it were, the human race pours greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, the atmosphere heats, the oceans heat, and the death of almost everything alive looms, but the people who could change that wring their hands and say, "But if we fix it, if we take the measures required to save the biosphere, including ourselves, from certain destruction, people will lose their jobs." The subtext, of course, is that the politicians will lose their cushy jobs sucking in public dollars and corporate dollars (which are, of course, dollars the public pays for the products the corporations produce).

    There is no genuine will on the part of the human race to face, to address, to solve the problem, even though the means are available. Off Cape Cod, in the ocean, a plan for building a wind farm has been stalled for nine years by people whose entire argument against it boils down to "It will spoil the view." They are willing to die for the view of an empty ocean. They are willing to participate in killing millions just so they can have a view. The most pampered, privileged, immature nation in the world, the nation that uses the most resources, that wreaks the most destruction on the biosphere and on the people of earth, just can’t bring itself to face reality. Its people would rather whine about the view than lift a finger to save themselves and the earth, while its gutless politicians and its enfeebled political system go along with the madness.

    Politicians talk about weaning the nation off of ‘foreign’ oil, but they speak not one word about cutting the use of oil. They have spoken not one word about reducing speed limits on the highways. Not one word about banning the construction and sale of gas-guzzling vehicles. Not one word about heating homes at lower temperatures in the winter. No, the political mantra is ‘Drill at home, drill at home for oil, drill at home for gas, drill in the Arctic for oil, and burn coal’, all the while watching the Gulf of Mexico die in order to feed the stupidity and ego and emotional immaturity of Americans.

    Nor is one word spoken about limiting population growth, about cutting down on the sheer number of humans inhabiting the earth. The happy technologists say, "We can feed billions more. We’ll just tweak a few corn and rice genes. No problem." For a profit, of course, and completely ignoring that we cannot feed the people living on earth today. They speak of a warming earth opening up more land to cultivation, ignoring the land that turns to desert at the same time, while other land is flooded and washed into a dying ocean.

    The current president talks about green jobs and a green economy, but he allocates hundreds of billions of dollars for a useless war on the other side of the world for reasons that, as soon as they drip from his mouth, or from the mouths of all the other politicians who support the Afghanistan idiocy, mark him as a complete fool. Hundreds of billions for a stupid war, and a pittance for the economy at home, a pittance for environmental changes that could well save humanity from its ongoing suicide.  One had only to listen to him yesterday sternly extolling the war, listen to him and know that he has no clue about reality, about what is important and what is not important.

    And so, pessimism. A writer cannot write about these things from such a sense of absolute pessimism. And there is little hope to be found in the citizenry. On the right, the wolves of ignorance and reaction and stupidity scream for a return to something that never existed and that exists today only in their narrow imaginations. On the left, the educated drown any possible movement in a sea of nuance instead of storming the doors of Congress, the halls of corporations, the offices of small-minded politicians. And in the middle, in the middle there is only a vast gaping-mouthed sea of uninformed apprehension and anxiety and an unwillingness to face the deeper reality of existence, because that deeper reality is nothing more than the destruction of civilization and of life itself.

    Humans are arrogant in their stupidity, or stupid in their arrogance. They think they can make a tweak here, a tweak there, and that their boundless optimism and wishful thinking will turn the environment around and all can be as it was. They never stop to consider that the environment does not care, nor that if it did care then humans would be the most hated species on the face of the planet and would be hunted to extinction. But the environment, the biosphere, the laws of physics, there is no caring there, there is no feeling there, no emotion. There is only law and justice. Put in a ton of excess carbon dioxide and the atmosphere will heat in proportion. Put a ton of excess carbon dioxide into the ocean and it will acidify accordingly, destroying the food chain that supports life on earth.

    The best science estimates that if we stopped pouring gasses into the atmosphere now, today, it would be a thousand years before the earth would recover. If you start a boulder rolling downhill, it will keep on going, destroying everything in its mindless path until the acting forces equalize and it stops.

    Consider that the human species has not reduced its activities one bit in all the time that the global warming problem has been realized, that it shows no willingness to do anything other than keep pushing the boulder off the top of the hill, and then, ladies and gentlemen, then try to speak of optimism, realistic optimism, not the wishful thinking that passes for reality among humans.

    There is none of the real thing to be had. It has been bled out of reality just as the oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico bleeds death into reality.


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7 Responses

  1. Damn! For a pessimistic bastard you still write good shit.

    Sometimes I wonder what life will be like for my unborn grandchildren, (assuming I ever have any). I lived a good life on this planet, better than my parents generation did, and better than their parents generation, with each passing generation living longer and better than the previous. Why can’t that continue, I ask myself? Do we have the stuff in us to get past this? Can the earth survive humanity? I really don’t know the answer to that question. I can’t predict, I can’t know the future.

    I will say this. Life has a way of continuing. It always has, and I (optimistically) believe it will continue. Population control is the problem, not greenhouse gases. With a stable population, a finite amount of pollution can probably be assimilated by the earth. It may be that a lot of people will have to suffer and die before humanity stabilizes. Starvation in Africa, death of the Gulf, wars all over the world, may be just that – stabilization of the population. And maybe when the smoke clears, the survivors will all be Muslims and Chinese, because western population growth is slowing down, while third world growth is still increasing. But no matter how you cut it, there will still be life – human life – here.

    What it looks like, and the quality of that life, remains to be seen.

    Nice essay, Ric.


    • Thank you.

      I agree that life in some form will continue, absent a total sterilizing event, but human life? Not so much. I think the human die-off will be massive if we continue on the path we’re on, and life on an overheated planet, if even possible for humans, will be a misery for the survivors. Humans, as a species, are too stupid for natural law to allow.


  2. On the plus side, BP will have the potential windfall profits of its soon-to-be-created “undisastering” subsidiary to fall back on.


  3. Hey Lion… I haven’t been here in ages and thought I would drop by.

    Man, I can certainly empathize with your sentiments. My blogging has been pretty spotty over the last 8 months – and part of the reason is exactly the type of pessimism you describe. It is a lot easier to write when things are going well.

    Try to keep up the good fight – because if we quit – damn – that would really be depressing.

    — hippieprof


    • I suspect it might be almost as hard when things are going well. 🙂

      I think the real problem is the depth and intensity of the problems, and the almost complete helplessness of humans, a helplessness that is itself self-created. We can, for example, mitigate and ultimately resolve the climate problem, but people would rather watch NASCAR, and wreck any poltician or political system that says the people have to stop, have to give up a lot of things, have to cut back, have to adapt to a different way of living.

      We’re a stupid species. It’s just too bad that when we go down we drag every other form of life on the planet down with us.


      • We’re a stupid species. It’s just too bad that when we go down we drag every other form of life on the planet down with us.

        I am sure that the bacteria will do very well when we are gone……


        • I’m cheering for them, though I’m sure the meaning of DVDs of Glenn Beck will be lost on them.


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