I wish I hadn’t read about geology as a distraction from the presidential campaign. Geology, I thought, would give me a different perspective. My view of time would zoom far, far out and I would see the election as less important.
Indeed, that happened, but I got more than I bargained for. By reading the geological history of Earth I came to realize that human beings are destined for extinction, no matter what we do, just as so many species have been before us. I also realized anew that what we humans are doing is accelerating our inevitable demise. Our numbers are too great. Earth simply cannot support her ever-growing human population in the style to which we have come accustomed and now consider our entitlement.
The staggering changes we have wrought on our environment since the Industrial Revolution have come rapidly and continue with great momentum. Climate change is upon us and we are unprepared for it. Many of us deny it. Among the realists, some of us try to do what we can to delay the disaster. We recycle and ride bikes. We carry reusable bags to the grocery store and learn to drive our cars for fuel efficiency instead of speed. But not enough of us are trying and what little we do is a drop in the ocean.
I’ve long taken the existential view that my actions make a difference in the world and that it is my moral duty to choose my actions carefully. I have believed that if I and others take collective action we could turn the tide of climate change or at least slow it down. But from the viewpoint of geological time, I see that it can’t be done. There isn’t time. We are destroying in a few human generations an environment that took billions of years to develop. Sea levels will rise, coastal communities will be devastated and Kansas will be part of the Great American Desert. The oceans will become acidic and destroy the marine food chain. The ozone layer will become Swiss cheese. And so on…
When the existentialist realizes that nothing she can do will change the inevitable, she gets the existential blues.
Copyright 2012 by Shirley Domer