Been off line for four weeks since complete knee replacement, but back at work a couple of hours a day. Happy to report my second new replacement surgery went well and rehab also. Laying around for hours at a time icing it, doing exercises, and walking…each three times daily, gives a person a lot of time to think. Couple that with very little time on social media and some things became very clear to me.
To be clear, nothing about Trump, Hillary, the DNC, the DPRK (N. Korea) and Kim Jung Un, the special investigation and congressional investigations, the budget haggling, the Russians did it, the Wall and immigration, terrorism and terrorists attacks at home and abroad, local and general elections, Syria, Yemen, AFRICOM and Niger, Kevin Spacey, Kaepernick, the Queen of England, the Pope, etc, etc, etc, MATTERS in the least. Why?
Here’s the short and simple answer! ONLY THREE THINGS THREATEN LIFE ON THE PLANET: A NUCLEAR HOLOCAUST, NUCLEAR POWER, AND CLIMATE CHANGE. If you are still arguing about “climate change,” how about what no credible scientists deny: earth’s life support systems are rapidly degrading. Most people on this planet realize that global temperatures are rising and setting records every year. It is obvious that the polar ice is melting and sea levels are rising. Every city on America’s coasts knows it and are hiring consultants to help plan what to do. Everyone knows about Harvey and Houston, Irma, Jose, Katrina and Sandy. And who doesn’t know about the wildfires in the West and Northwest, along with 100 degree F temperatures in San Francisco and Seattle? Droughts across the land, and here in Maine are having a negative effect on the growing of food.
Most Americans probably don’t know about the same unprecedented and chaotic weather events occurring in Portugal and throughout Europe, in India, Bangladesh, China and even Russia. More folks seem to be aware that the Great Barrier Reef is nearly extinct, and with it the bottom of the food chain. Many more know that Fukushima has poisoned the Pacific and in spite of that, still are eating tuna, crab, and salmon. Many know that the temperature of our oceans are rising. At least the weather reporters in the U.S. explain that it is the cause of so many monster storms that have devastated Puerto Rico and the Caribbean Islands, the Florida Keys and cities up the eastern seaboard. Here in Maine, the lobster fishermen are in crisis mode as our lobsters move further North because the Gulf of Maine is warming at an alarming rate. Lobsters need cold, deep waters to survive. Fewer still are aware that the planet is loosing 150 to 200 species a day to extinction. Many are horrified that hundreds, maybe thousands of whales, dolphins and fish are washing up on our shores….dead.
There are many more visible, scientifically verifiable and disturbing signs pointing to the decay and decline of the ecosystem, not the least of which is the escape of Methane gas from melting polar ice and permafrost as well as from the warming oceans. Methane is a greenhouse gas significantly more harmful that CO2 in the atmosphere which are major causes of global warming.
So, here’s the bottom line: our planet, the only home we have will no longer be able to support life as we know it much longer. How much longer? Some scientists now predict 15-25 years. What does this really mean in concrete terms everyone should be able to understand? It means the entire food chain will collapse resulting in starvation. Grocery stores, farms and fish markets will run out of food. Global temperatures will continue to rise rapidly exceeding 2-4 degrees centigrade average global temperature. Humans have never existed above 2 degrees centigrade average global temperature. This is why so many species have gone extinct: their habitat changed too fast and they were not able to adapt. The same thing is happening to millions of people in Africa and the Southern Hemisphere already, and it is foolhardy to think we will not be next. We have passed the point of no return. We are on a trajectory that is literally a dead end.
This raises a few basic questions about how humanity – homo sapiens – got to this place in history, and why most Americans and westerners cannot see it or accept it? My answer to both of these questions goes back at least as far as the Genesis story of “creation,” which by the way, the current Pontiff in Rome has said not to take literally. But ok, the idea that god created everything in six days and then rested to appreciate it all on the seventh day, this idea has influenced all of western philosophy, theology and science. The idea that god created humans to be like himself, and put them over and in charge of everything else in creation is the fundamental and seminal belief that humans are above nature, an animal more important and exceptional. Homo sapiens!
26 Then God said, “And now we will make human beings; they will be like us and resemble us. They will have power over the fish, the birds, and all animals, domestic and wild,[d] large and small.” 27 So God created human beings, making them to be like himself. He created them male and female, 28 blessed them, and said, “Have many children, so that your descendants will live all over the earth and bring it under their control. I am putting you in charge of the fish, the birds, and all the wild animals. 29 I have provided all kinds of grain and all kinds of fruit for you to eat; 30 but for all the wild animals and for all the birds I have provided grass and leafy plants for food”—and it was done. 31 God looked at everything he had made, and he was very pleased. Evening passed and morning came—that was the sixth day.
This myth is powerful, as are all myths. Even the portrayal of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden strongly suggests that the first couple were white. It is somewhat debatable just where the Garden of Eden was, it seems to be that it was either in Ethiopia or the Middle East, but for sure, the first couple wasn’t white! The belief that has led “westerners” to believe they are exceptional, more intelligent, and more important than anything else in creation and therefore gives them “dominion” over it is the fundamental belief that explains where humanity and “creation” are today…on the very brink of extinction. To be clear, the planet will survive a sixth mass extinction as it has the previous five!
As far as Americans are concerned, it clearly explains the belief in an exceptional people, blessed by god, and to be an example to the world of rightful living. They believed it to be their destiny, given to them by god.
The passengers of the Arbella who left England in 1630 with their new charter had a great vision. They were to be an example for the rest of the world in rightful living. Future governor JOHN WINTHROP stated their purpose quite clearly: “We shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us.”
The “doctrine” of Manifest Destiny was first applied to westward expansion and eventually to the entire world! America and it’s western allies continue to behave as if the entire world and its resources were given to them by god to enjoy and to subdue. America has been at war for land, resources, and domination from the very beginning. I’ve documented this in my films, The Ghosts of Jeju, The United States of War, Thirty Seconds to Midnight, and Okinawa: They Came With Bayonets and Bulldozers. The American and western economy, Capitalism, was a natural outgrowth of the belief that the earth was theirs with all of its resources and that “hard work” would lead to wealth and god’s approval.
Americans cannot see through this myth and that is why, I believe, most continue to live their lives unable to see the trail of death and destruction it has left on the entire planet and all of its peoples. We are exceptional, superior in every way, and because we are blessed by god, nothing bad can befall us. So, we pay false patriotism to the flag and the troops and glorify our scientific and military achievements that have left us in moral and spiritual decay, fighting among ourselves over every conceivable issue, and unable to see that our exceptionalism has brought humans and all life to the brink of extinction, and in the very near future. It is also why our belief that science and technology will save us from certain destruction that keeps most of us from having a sense of urgency about our very finality as individuals.
Because I do not believe anyone will initiate a nuclear war (because no one survives), and because the radiation from spent nuclear fuel and accidents like Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and Fukushima will have long-term, not immediate effects on humans, that leaves Climate Change as the ONLY, IMMINENT, EXISTENTIAL and REAL THREAT to our survival as a species in the very near future…and hardly anyone is talking about it….or preparing for it. Because I believe this to be true, my entire focus as a filmmaker will focus on this issue: how did we get here, and what must we do with the knowledge that the end of the human experiment is upon us?
Why bother, one could ask, with no solution and nothing to do about it? Because I have to. Because to give up, become depressed, and paralyzed is not an option. Soon to be 73 years of age, I am fully aware that death is just around the corner. This awareness makes me look back over a life lived as well as I could, with many screw ups, downers but many more highs. It also makes me realize that with whatever time I have left, I will be the best person, father and friend that I can be. I will try to enjoy all of the beauty and wonder that has been part of the 200,000 year human experiment, and all of the mystery, wonder and beauty this planet still offers. I will continue to care deeply about these things and will not be distracted, crestfallen, overwhelmed, or depressed over all of the chaos and evil that is happening the world over. Because, the only thing that has ever mattered for every person born into this world, is to be the best person one could be.
“Remember man that thou art dust and unto to dust thou shalt return.” Does living with death in mind make a difference?