Planet Earth, the murder mystery

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author: marty grande-sherbert | op-ed editor


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So I guess the world is ending now? 

I mean, if you lay all the facts out on the table, I’m honestly wondering if we are the last generation that isn’t going to live our lives in total disaster mode. Yes, I’m talking about the report on climate change that tells us we have about 30 years to avoid catastrophic damage to the planet, and yes I’m also talking about the political climate where it seems like a person can have whatever position of power they want no matter the content of their moral character, and yes I’m also talking about the fact that it seems like a lot of us are going to lose our jobs in the next few years because at least robots and drones don’t need decent working conditions or a living wage, right? I’m focusing in this article on climate change – but by the end of it you might see how everything still ends up tying together.  

But, okay, you might argue, that’s still 30 years we have left. That’s enough time to make some major changes and turn around the way we’re producing energy, more than enough time to stop the destructive industries that harm the planet – and in the meantime it’s also more than enough time to put some people in power whose priorities are aligned with this crisis. Actually, restructuring the way we use energy and trying to be more sustainable – buying local food and mending rather than replacing things more often – would create quite a few new jobs as well as eliminating the need to keep up highly demanding and underpaid jobs in fast food or fast fashion. It’s not necessarily the apocalypse yet. 

Unfortunately, though, when you think about putting that plan into action – in fact, when you say almost anything about counteracting climate change – the first thing you might hear from a person who has the power to make it happen is, “Who will pay for this? Who will fund this? How can we justify this economically?” That is why I guess the world is probably ending, because those aren’t questions I understand when faced with the possibility of a massive worldwide loss of life, but they are questions that keep being asked no matter what new information we have. 

It makes sense – they are reasonable questions for certain people to ask, people who do, in fact, care more about what kind of money is involved with global change than about how many people might die. Since 1998, seventy-one per cent of the carbon emissions that caused this climate crisis came from a set of 100 corporations. Meaning that without those companies, we would only be dealing with twenty-nine per cent of the damage that we are dealing with now.  

Doesn’t that make you want to, you know…know which companies those are? Or maybe the names of a few of those CEOs? I doubt very much that any of the owners of these companies are unaware of their carbon footprints, and I doubt very much that any of them care, considering the control they have over things we need, like energy, transportation, and even something as basic as food. The reason I feel like the world is ending is because I doubt very much that these people, contributing as much as they already have to this problem and profiting so immensely from it, would care enough to stop now, especially when they likely won’t be alive for our extinction. 

So, who is going to pay for this? Hopefully the absurdly rich people in the world who likely had a large hand in making it a problem. Who will fund this? Them, and I should hope every government of every country that cares about the life and wellbeing of its people. And how do you justify it economically? Simply put, we are not talking about business models anymore. The world authority on climate change has given us a 30-year deadline and an ultimatum stating that if we do not make “massive, institutional change” to our society, we are going to suffer for it. At this point, if you are trying to defend industries that you know caused and are continuing to worsen this problem, you are threatening all of us. And the thing that makes me insane is that I know these industries are defended by the people in government, and I know that the people who want to change things are often so bogged down by the cost of living, that there aren’t many ways to fight. This system is making it very hard for us to save ourselves.  

If you have not gathered as much by this point, I’m not a huge fan of capitalism. But in this case, I’m really not trying to argue my political views – for those of you who are huge fans, I just want you to know that I am completely bewildered by the fact that you would still defend a system that facilitated what is happening right now. We know that corporate expansion and reckless disregard for people and the environment, driven by a desire for pure profit, has created a time bomb. Yet, there has not been a peep that I have heard from any oil tycoon or factory owner indicating remorse. There is no “new leaf” for someone who makes their living on the exploitation of others.  

I’m sounding a little heated right now, and it might have something to do with the fact that I feel like the world is ending, so bear with me. Frankly, I don’t know what more it’s going to take for the world to realize what we’re doing right now isn’t working, and that this whole thing is going to kill us if we don’t get rid of it first. There are people right now really fighting by protesting, having hard conversations, and campaigning, and their work keeps hope alive. I guess it’s comparatively easy for me to just sit around and talk about a revolution – I don’t walk the walk as often as I should – but words can at least reach others, and if you felt as angry reading this as I did writing it, I hope that anger scares this apocalypse of ours just a little bit more. 

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