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Weapons of mass extinction

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Once upon a time in New York City at the Bronx Zoo there was an exhibit called “The Most Dangerous Animal in the World.” Zoo goers were confronted with a barred cage with nothing on the other side but a mirror. It was first exhibited the same year that one of the more apparently harmless and ineffectual members of our species murdered John F. Kennedy. And it’s been downhill ever since.

Sometimes it’s instructive to review the history of human stupidity with the assistance of the famous 24 hour clock. Imagine such a clock representing the whole 4.3 billion year history of our planet, and it’s only now come around to the end of hour 24. The human race is represented by the last two minutes. Cave paintings appear in the final 20 seconds. Technological man has literally been here for a mere blip in time.

Only Homo sapiens can summon the hubris to believe we actually own the place. Whether or not that’s true is moot, anyway. There is no doubt that we are destroying the place, and we are doing so with a kind of merry indifference that is truly terrifying. Human beings have devastated millions of once-thriving ecosystems with deforestation, pollution and slaughter on an industrial scale.

Setting aside the megalomaniac delusions of our most famous billionaires (who are, let us not forget, mere apes in business suits) there is no off-planet solution. We either fix the problem here and now or we die not trying. That wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the fact that we’ll be taking a lot of harmless and beautiful creatures with us. The fact remains, therefore, if we want to save ourselves we need to begin and we need to begin right now. We need to evolve, not as the consequence of natural selection over time, but as an act of pure self will.

We can start by ignoring what politicians say and watch what they do. We can learn from that. One of the things we can learn is that the vast majority of them are useless at solving the problem. They either deny that a problem exists or they recognise that there is a problem but do nothing about it. So the net effect is the same. Notice for once I’m not talking about Republicans alone. If the shoe fits, as they say.

If we can’t get politicians to act with urgency then we are going to have to do it ourselves. That’s right, all you people who sit around bitching about “why don’t they do something” have just been drafted, you’ve just been tapped on the shoulder, so to speak. Make no mistake about it, “they” is now “you,” and we damned well better get busy.

Notice not once in this article so far have I used the words “global warming” or “climate change.” That’s because those words are too often death to human attention. They’re audience killers and their deadliness is instantly measurable by the diminished number of comments and article shares. So I’ve tricked you into attending a kind of Amway meeting without once mentioning the word “Amway.” That was so I could get and keep your full attention before I explicitly told you what you probably suspected anyway.

We are in one hell of a mess, and only you and I can fix it. Politicians talk about it but they don’t do enough. So it’s up to you and me because there’s nobody else to do it. To employ a time-warn cinematic cliché, you are the Chosen One. As the Chosen we must go against the natural inclination of our own species. Until that happens we are part of the problem, we are weapons of mass extinction, including extinction of our own species.

For those of you who have been paying attention know that I write on this topic with frequency. That’s one of the things I do in my puny effort to be part of the solution — and it ain’t much, I’ll admit. I measure the extent of my success by the number of people I piss off. I don’t piss off nearly enough people. My personal hero is Greta Thunberg. She pisses off more people than just about anyone on the planet. I love her for that.

I became a vegan because of her. That pisses off a fair number of people who are suddenly full of “concern” about my health. I stopped travelling by air because of her. That pisses off some people. I still have a car but I filled the tank on August 26th and I have almost half a tank left. I’m going to buy an electric car next year. (Anything but Tesla.) I promote recycling and a low carbon footprint everywhere I go. As soon as we are able to, we’re going to put solar panels on our house. And so on.

Like I said, it ain’t much. But if everybody did something it could be huge. Think of it yourself: we can change the world if enough of us do something. The power to fix our planet lies within ourselves. It has always been there.


As a mass of people we can force industry to change dramatically by boycotting the biggest offenders. We can make climate change the number one issue for any politician who wants to get a job or keep a job. We can make the lives of anyone who gets in our way pure hell.

Let’s do it. Let’s change the world, you and I. And let’s start right now. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.

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