Writing connects my thoughts to our world, a process to consider the subtle grains of society, to weigh the truths and sum the implications. But the process isn’t compulsory; I finished my first book before I realized its theme, realized how I viewed the surrounding landscape. And that moment came in 2012, capturing me, controlling me as arduous traffic on I-5 in the state of Washington, driving me in one direction. And in that linear train of thought, I realized, “there are a lot of us! How many more can this road carry?” Our population increase is a basic fact, not earth-shattering for most. But as I measured the long-term ramifications – rate of increase, environmental impact, and limited resources – I delved further. “We almost need a large, natural disaster to cull our numbers.” A cruel thought, I agree. My loved ones would not be immune to such an event, nor would I want such suffering for others. But I had already subconsciously acknowledged that dichotomy; it is laden in the parallel stories between my two protagonists: One who strives to protect the natural world so that some may thrive, and the other who would do anything to save her loved ones from the coming storm.
The world is in change. 2020 made that blatant. Social unrest, a pandemic, global climate change. Our comfortable lives have been stirred but not shaken. If you do not see the change, I ask you to look again, to gaze beyond the mountain of next week, peak through the manipulating chaos of our media, to ponder how the coming years and decades will unfold.
The Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration, a think-tank in Melbourne, Australia believes climate change will be the end all of human society. In their analysis dated May 2020, they depict planetary and human systems failing by 2050 when large areas of the earth have become uninhabitable because of increasing and compounding atmospheric temperatures. Ecosystems will collapse, including the Artic, coral reefs, and Amazon rainforest. Scarce water resources, desertification, rising sea levels will force a billion people from uninhabitable areas. Another two billion will face scarcity. Agriculture will suffer and fail worldwide. And so global strife comes, tearing down nations and international order. Chaos follows, and society inevitably fails. It’s not the end; humanity will survive. Post-apocalyptic stories will become reality, but capitalism, institutions, and moral norms will go by the wayside.
At this point, dear reader, you huff, “post-apocalyptic stories! This is all just fantasy.” In my books, it is – half of the world has already suffered the end while other half lives blissfully but racing toward the same fate. But the think-tank’s analysis did something great in their tale; they made it relatable. They compared the world’s existential risk management response in the Covid-19 pandemic to that in global warming.
China first denied the Coronavirus outbreak, suppressing information that allowed the virus to go global. Then most of the world leadership procrastinated, taking a wait-and-see approach in both risk assessment and mobilization, until it was too late to suppress the virus. Now mitigation is the only option. The hope is herd immunity ultimately defeats the virus whether by natural transmission or a vaccine. And we have placed a lot of faith in that vaccine. Modeling of herd immunity prior to any vaccine illuminated a grim picture early on, but leaderships redacted those largest dangers, choosing middle of the road information to make public, and kicking the imperative can down the road.
And here is what Covid-19 has taught us: Society is a construct. The economy is what must survive. In his hesitation for states to lock down their denizens and cripple the economy, President Trump declared that “We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself.” The UK Prime Minister’s chief advisor, Dominic Cummings, outlined the government’s strategy, saying “Herd immunity, protect the economy and if that means some pensioners die, too bad.” Australia’s former Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, also drew equivalence between economic recession and society’s destruction: “We either save avoidable deaths and destroy society or accept avoidable deaths and save society. The moral dilemma of our time.”
But how can the economy survive once civilizations fall?
Our leaders will continue to ignore global warming cues in order to maintain the economy until it becomes a knee-jerk reaction and we are past the tipping point of suppression and only mitigation remains. And we have seen how well mitigating Covid-19 as the second (or third) Coronavirus wave washes over the world. The surge is undeniable.
And as a caveat, the Yale’s School of the Environment believes the point of no return on global warming may come as early as 2027.
Once we understood that the Covid-19’s existential threat appears primarily for the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions, I felt we should have kept the economy open. Now this analysis correlates Covid-19 response to that of global warming, and I have to take a step back and ponder the argument. Is it really the same? Yes, I believe leadership response (procrastination to keep the economy going) has been equivalent. But let’s take the analysis from a perpendicular perspective. Could Covid-19 be a savior in the global warming war?
When we look back upon history, starting with the industrial revolution, we can correlate population increase to many of the world’s woes. The more of us there are, the more resources we consume, the more environmental damage we cause. We are a critical thinking species who have realized or invented means to advance society by strengthening our economy. We dig deeper, build taller, travel faster, and produce more to feed, cloth, house, and ultimately reproduce more. Our economy feeds our population.
So often I hear others deny global warming, deny science, arguing the increasing atmospheric temperatures are just part of Earth’s never-ending cycle, I respond with “There are so many of us. How could we not cause global warming?”
Many times, before and during the pandemic, I have asked our leaders why population control is not a topic worthy of addressing, even from a theoretical perspective. My questions always fall on the back of chirping crickets. None will address it. None wants to detract from a stance of forward motion. None wants to wage policy that will outwardly cause the loss of rights. Who will get reelected under that pretense? Yet, we are covertly being ushered toward the loss of our rights as the population mounts.
The other morning, I awoke to read that Pfizer’s vaccine for the Coronavirus is showing to be over 90% effective. That’s significant news for the old and infirm, so they may linger a few more years, fearing an end none of us can avoid. Science combats the pandemic and will be victorious because it now has the full backing of our leaders. Do our scientist have the resources to wage a war against global warming, to develop new technologies to decrease emissions and reverse the ozone damage. Will our leaders stop feeding the economical beast its grain? Maybe. Maybe if we help them. Maybe if we give up our rights as individuals, give up our land, our freedoms, and become part of a Utopian collective, crammed together in a hive of lofty micro apartments, siring more and more young, so the beast will not go starve. Are you ready for that?
Chirp, chirp. Chirp, chirp. Chirp, chirp.
Neither am I.
Amidst our societies, technology, and advancements, I often feel we have forgotten that we belong to the higher kingdom. Survival of the fittest still applies and is a necessity to maintain a healthy and lean population. Humanity’s syntax would have us protect, house, feed all, for if not, we should be ashamed to have lost our humanity. But this paradigm that humanity is above the natural order, that Utopia can exist, and in it, we will thrive is only hubris. Despite our critical thinking skills, our compassion, our love for one another, we are part of the wild kingdom. And if we are to thrive, to keep this world alive and healthy, we need to return to that majesty.
Since our leaders will not tackle policy on population control as it hinders the economy, I will ask again: could Covid-19 not be our savior and predator? Could it not help bring balance, cull our weak and infirm, strengthen our population as a whole? Without baby-boomer politicians fearful of losing their constituent base, our economies could have remained open, our children in school and athletics. With fewer people, our increasing impact on the environment could dampen, allowing more time to maneuver in the war on climate change. We should spend our scientific resources on that front, that vaccine, not on this pandemic.
Am I a monster for believing this is the right course of action? Have I lost my humanity to protect my freedoms? No. Even if we win the war against global warming and life goes on as normal, land, water, freedoms are becoming scarce. And new wars will follows. We must reset humanity in the natural order, otherwise living is a façade, and we become prisoners to society and grain to the glutinous beast.
Global warming will scorch the very fabric of society unless we can shift our economy and paradigm to match the tide of the coming war. Humans will reproduce, consume, and excrete, and just like Covid-19 infections have been exponentially increasing, so will our impact on the environment. But we have to make the change now; we cannot allow our leaders to procrastinate.
In thirty years, when the calendar rolls to 2050, I will be in my seventies, possibly facing the fall of civilization and the end of my time. So I do not talk to crickets for my own wellbeing, but for my sons and their children to come. For I have discovered the duality of my two protagonists within myself. In fantasy my soul thrives, but in reality, I wage a war so Earth and our children may thrive.