I’ve been struggling lately to figure out how to say goodbye to 2015. I cannot say the year has been without interest. I mean, think Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson—a guy who started life as a millionaire on daddy’s money and continues to fool folks into thinking he is anything more than a reality show clown; an earnest woman who pretended to be a high-tech executive, failed so badly that she was fired by the board (no mean feat that) and then pretends to a higher calling; and a brain surgeon who has us all thoroughly confused—I mean, how could a brain surgeon be so dumb . . . but my preferred answer is that Doc Ben pulled a one-off by operating on himself, during which he accidentally removed the left side of his own brain. Not that the rest of the curious crowd is to be preferred. Cruz, a man whose picture makes you want to punch him . . . a man nobody seems to like, except for the pissed-off who hate everyone and everything and imagine maybe he will carpet-bomb some other folks they really don’t like. What a crew.
And then there’s the shootings and blowing people up stuff. Yeah, there’s always a terrorist group of folks who are so pissed at us, or the French, or the Brits that they are willing to shoot up a cartoon shop, or blow up a building, or shoot up a black church, or kill people waiting in a clinic, or just shoot up people, just cuz. Just cuz the NRA says that everyone should be armed, and, if you’re armed, well, eventually someone is going to start shooting. Yeah, I now have cast the NRA as our very own American-ISIS. So don’t go thinking that terrorists are all Muslim, cuz it just ain’t so.
On the bright side, political leaders from some 150 nations finished meeting in Europe and reached a decision that they would cooperate in at least trying to minimize the future effects of human global warming. That’s significant, because at least they all seem to agree that human global warming seems to be a reality. Now to be fair, the republicans who now rule our Congress plan to repudiate the agreement, and have high hopes that in 2016 one of their own—the Donald perhaps—will act as one of his first duties to kill our agreement, thereby allowing their owners (the Kochs, et al) to continue polluting the globe. Republicans wish to continue pretending that climate change is what happens between June and January each year. But when I got really enthused about the climate change conference and the resulting agreements, I came across and read an article in the Guardian by James Lovelock, no merry prankster he. Lovelock has been forecasting ecological disaster for a long time now. In the article, he is quoted as saying,
“Lovelock believes global warming is now irreversible, and that nothing can prevent large parts of the planet becoming too hot to inhabit, or sinking underwater, resulting in mass migration, famine and epidemics. Britain is going to become a lifeboat for refugees from mainland Europe, so instead of wasting our time on wind turbines we need to start planning how to survive. To Lovelock, the logic is clear. The sustainability brigade are insane to think we can save ourselves by going back to nature; our only chance of survival will come not from less technology, but more.
Interviewers often remark upon the discrepancy between Lovelock's predictions of doom, and his good humour. "Well I'm cheerful!" he says, smiling. "I'm an optimist. It's going to happen."
Humanity is in a period exactly like 1938-9, he explains, when "we all knew something terrible was going to happen, but didn't know what to do about it". But once the second world war was under way, "everyone got excited, they loved the things they could do, it was one long holiday ... so when I think of the impending crisis now, I think in those terms. A sense of purpose - that's what people want."
"There have been seven disasters since humans came on the earth, very similar to the one that's just about to happen. I think these events keep separating the wheat from the chaff. And eventually we'll have a human on the planet that really does understand it and can live with it properly. That's the source of my optimism."
What would Lovelock do now, I ask, if he were me? He smiles and says: "Enjoy life while you can. Because if you're lucky it's going to be 20 years before it hits the fan."
Wow, what a fun time to contemplate. We can, of course, join the republicans and play “Let’s make believe”, or we could at least try to act beginning now to plan for the coming climate changes. First things first of course . . . 2016 is the Year of The Vote. So, everyone might consider how best to support your very own candidate, preferably someone with more than half a brain (Carson fans kindly take note). If you want politicos to pay attention and do serious stuff to ward off the worst that our planet now has in store for us, then kindly vote for those not on the payroll of the Kochs and others of their ilk.
And remember, it’s nice to always think positive, but it’s more effective to also act in effective ways.
And then, as the New Year approaches, pop open a nice bottle of bubbly, pour it into some pretty glasses with perhaps your loved one, and bid the New Year a welcome entry. Look your loved one in the eyes, and say, “To us my love, to us”.
And finally as the day’s curtain is about to fall, imagine yourself as Bogie, walking off into the night . . . and announcing to the world at large,
World, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship . . .