I’m kind of a late-comer to the realization that we, as humans, are not going to be able to stave off a coming environmental catastrophe. And even if we do make some very drastic changes, which we may, it will be too late; the tipping point has already been reached. Losing hope in this regard has a soothing effect, however; for it allows a much more sober view of the situation—unclouded by denial and wishful thinking. It also opens up the truism that catastrophe for humankind is not the problem—rather, it’s the solution. When catastrophe befalls humankind it will be horrible, no doubt. Yet, by the same token, it will have one hefty side-benefit: it will remove humankind’s thumb over the natural world, which will then flourish in its new-found freedom.
When scientists declare that we have ten years to reduce our CO2 emissions to avoid crisis, or when they say that under the current rate of fishing the oceans will be dead in twenty years, what they are saying is that we have time. No, global warming and the death of the oceans are an inevitability. Our job is to preserve what we can, of ourselves and the natural world. Our job is to be fit to face the challenges that this coming catastrophe will bring, and of which not everyone will survive.
Self-limitation is not a natural act. Life seeks to express itself in any way possible. Constraint is not learned until death becomes a consequence. Death has yet to become a consequence of man’s excesses. We are still in a state of innocence, akin to a child who has never touched a burning stove. The power of nature is that burning stove, and we will only respect it when it has shown us what it can do; when it has shown us what a fragile, peripheral part of it we are; when it has humbled us completely.