Tuesday, 27 October 2009

100 years from now

I've just returned from a screening of Blind Spot , a film about the state of the planet with particular attention spent on the energy crisis or peak oil. It was filled with familiar names and faces -- James Hansen, Richard Heinberg, Bill McKibben, Kenneth Deffeyes, Lester Brown. Like many other movies on the subject, it paints a grim picture of the situation and doubt about our (humanity's) ability to respond appropriately to it. Walking home, in the dark, across the meadow, I got to thinking about the future of the world. I read somewhere "in 100 years, all new people", which, in some ways, is a magical thought. For me it also puts responsibility in the present. 100 years from now, what will those new people experience? In this film I was hearing that we should expect to have a whole new world in the near future. I got to thinking about how my generation might be the last to know the world as it is, as it has been for a lot of human history.

“The next few decades aren’t going to look like the last few - not at all." Bill McKibben, environmentalist and author

I thought Blind Spots would be a metaphor for the way climate change falls into the blind spot of a surprising amount of people. It's this huge issue that's really right in front of us (and all around us really), but many are unaware of it or not bothered by it. (Enjoyable blind spot test: http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/bb/blindspot1.html) But Elke Weber, a psychologist, defines a blind spot as "something to which we don't pay attention because its often times removed from us either in time or in space and therefore doesn't threaten us in any immediate way". This seems to downplay and possibly ignore the role of choice in the matter. Surely we have a say in where we focus our attentions.

The crisis we're facing is about choices -- ones made in the past, ones we can make in the present and doubtless ones we'll make in the future. Yes, this issue is removed from me in time and space and it's abstract and as such it makes it challenging to understand, to conceptualize, in its entirety. I'm struggling to imagine what a different world means, looks like, grows, sounds like--not just locally, but the whole round thing. I am saddened by the thought of a different world and apprehensive, yet hopeful, of the decisions that will be made. What if it's decided it's not worth saving? What if all of our best efforts aren't enough? I have such affection for this world, for its forms and its life. There's so much of it I want to see and go back to and be able to enjoy and pass on. And then I thought about a whole new population in 100 years. I'll be dead then. So maybe the most important thing I can do now is to everything that I can to fix the problem we've created, to raise awareness, to eliminate that blind spot, and preserve the earth for the future.

“The world is saying look you have a choice, you can either fix it or I can fix it, and if I fix it you are not going to like it because I’m going to throw everything away. And everything means most of us." Derrick Jensen, author

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