The Green Armageddon.The great thing about pessimism is that you're either proven right or pleasantly surprised.
I'm not a pessimist though- but nor do I follow Kafka's "There is infinite hope, but not for man."
He had it back to front I reckon, current cosmological models suggest an ever expanding universe- in which, within a few more billions of years, constituent parts will be moving apart relative to each other at more than lightspeed- that is, at best, it'll become a lonely hopeless place.
On the other hand, there is hope for humankind- for the next few billion years the universe can be our playground if we stick around - and who knows (cosmolological models being falsifiable) what windows may open for a longer term future if we do?
But if we are going to stick around to explore these possible futures, there are a few shorter term threats we have to surmount.
Like that in 500million years or so our sun will inflate and consume planet earth- and that we need to leave before this happens. We're already in the last 15% of our genetic history unless we do.
In the even shorter term we might blow ourselves up, which would be rather letting the side down seeing as, until there is evidence to the contrary, we should assume that humankind are the only self organising entities in the entire universe.
It'd take more than just a few nukes to do to us in- Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Chernobyl together made a dent about the same size as Napoleon's march on Moscow. A few mushroom clouds (will Tel Aviv, Seoul or New York be next or will the Shia/Sunni schism erupt first?) now and then may even provide timely reminders of our need to, somehow, limit the total mega-tonnage that we can afford to have go off in any 100 year period.
It is true that Islamic extremism is seen as an existential threat by many commentators, but it's not. The vast bulk of the Arab and Islamic worlds are fine people and for now at least, their extremist minority just don't have the firepower to destroy the world - and probably it is this recognition of their irrelevancy that's driving their current tantrum.
And anyway, if they do ever become a serious threat, China will squash them like a bug, so don't worry- except I do worry about the Chinese a bit- they're excellent people also, but rather too accepting of authority for my comfort.
But there is a serious threat to humankind, and by implication, whatever we and our descendant species (probably electronic) can accomplish.
It's the enemy within.
Greenists. Professedly they're for the planet, for endangered species, champions of sustainability and stand against every destructive impulse that humankind display. But in effect they are driving us towards unsustainability and destruction.
Religions are notable for their hypocrisies- the "he's a good Christian" Americanism is an apposite folk warning about trusting the integrity of those who are known for their church going- but in hypocrisy, greens surpass them all. While self righteously bashing humankind for our planet destroying energy profligacy, they simultaneously manage to oppose every possible sustainable alternative.
I'll use the New Zealand greens as an example- but they're as bad everywhere.
New Zealand could easily increase the 65% of electricity that derives from hydro to 100% if the greens didn't rouse various special interest groups to block one proposed scheme after another. If it's not some 'unique' habitat or other that would be inundated, then it's introduced trout and salmon and the people who hook them that the river needs to be 'saved' for. Or it's occasional kayakers from the cities (who don't know where their livings come from) or it's local nimby's who get stirred into opposition because it will change what they see out of their (usually car) windows. In the last resort it will even be NZ's "clean green" image that needs protecting- even though tourists seem to find dams and the lakes they create quite interesting- and the alternative is to burn coal or slide into poverty, a condition that certainly doesn't enhance our ability or interest in caring for the environment- and reduces our chances for long term survival.
Proposed wind farms don't fare any better, and as for nuclear- you're ostracised from most social situations here even for mumbling this dreaded word.
Bio fuels?- nah, they're 'monocultures' which are bad bad bad- and anyway, to work effectively, require genetic modification which ranks with "nuclear" and "chemical" as the dirtiest words in the green lexicon- notwithstanding that human civilisation (and by inference, greenism) would not have come to exist without plant breeding, which is just genetic modification of the slow and inefficient kind.
And as for forests, the sustaining of which could go some way to offsetting our C02 emissions (if you accept that the C02 greenhouse effect is a main driver of anthropogenic warming), in NZ, the only effect that the greenist Kyoto accords had was to perversely cause a hundred thousand or so hectares of forests to be cut down. This was to beat the deadline after which forest owners are to be subject to an unsustainable, uncompensated per hectare tax on land use change.
But the greenist hypocrisy that takes first prize is undoubtedly wilding pines. Here in New Zealand we have this self seeding tree, which colonises dry tussock lands, even in inhospitable alpine environments, attracts rainfall, stops erosion, deals to the rabbit plague, supplants hawkweed, (a tenacious inedible weed) and locks up carbon . Wow, an automatic counter to mankind's destruction of the Amazon, nature fighting back and winning! Gaia rules after all!
But no, the greens mobilise volunteers every weekend to go and grub them out- and by their voting power, require NZ tax and ratepayers to undertake a major and expensive eradication program.
It passeth understanding- not just the Green's hell bent drive towards self destruction, but that the majority allows them to carry us all along this path.
Greens are enemies of civilisation and have to be stopped.
Unless we do stop them, they'll have us back to living a primitive life, that far from being in harmony with nature is inherently exploitive of the environment and destructive of other species- and far from noble savagery, our lives will once again become nasty brutish and short.
And if we don't stop them, it's not only humankind (in whatever form we have evolved to) that will frizzle in 500million or so years- or by some earlier cosmic catastrophe- but every other species as well. With so little of organic life's tenure of this planet now remaining, we can't depend on some other self organising species evolving sufficient technical competence to get all the beasts of the earth and the fowls of the air away from here (not to mention all the fishes of the sea). We are their Noah's Arc, and until some better alternative comes along, this is a responsibility we should not abrogate.
Peter Lynn, Ashburton, New Zealand, Feb '10.