In a few decades, people will look back at those heat waves “and we will laugh,” said Andreas Sterl, author of a new study. “We will find (those temperatures) lovely and cool.”
Sterl is referring to the fact that, due to global warming, heat waves of the future could see temperatures of 115 degrees on some days. I assume this is supposed to be alarming news, though people in, say, Tempe, Arizona — where it is 113 degrees today — might laugh at the alarmist tone of Mr. Sterl. You can’t blame the guy, though. Alarming people with dire predictions of our future seems to be a trend, right along with causing people to panic about everything from rising rivers to rising prices.
Everybody panic. It’s our new mantra. Whether it’s killer floods brought on by the wrath of God to trampling the earth with our carbon footprints, it seems like everyone is up in arms about something. There’s no longer some lone guy standing on a street corner with a sign saying “the end is near.” There’s millions of that guy now, all holding different signs, vying for your panic, fear or guilt, because the end times they are preaching have nothing to do with some unheard-of god or freaky calendar. It’s our fault. Yours and mine. The sky is falling and we’re to blame.
Personally, I’m tired of all the media-induced panic about the environment, and I’m more tired of the people that react to it with a Chicken Little mentality. Is the world going to end? Yes, some day it will. But who’s to say how it will end? Will we be the cause of it? Will all those movies that chastise humans for trampling on the soul of the earth become reality and we’ll all die from global warming? Hell if I know. But I’m not going to worry about it. We could all die in a nuclear disaster. A plague could wipe us out. Bird flu. Aliens. Zombie infestation.
If I gave as much credence to every end times theory out there as you want me to give to the death by global warming theory, I’d be holed up in my house with a shotgun and a bottle of Xanax, afraid to even breathe.
When I try to tell people that the world is not going to self-combust due to our neglect any time soon, they point to hurricanes, floods and earthquakes as evidence that it is happening right now. The floods are getting worse, they cry. They hurricanes are getting larger. The earthquakes are more frequent. Apparently, Mother Nature is pissed off and she’s going to keep wreaking havoc on our land if we don’t all buy a Prius and install solar panels on our houses. And if it’s not Mother Nature, then it’s God, punishing us for not taking care of his world.
I just can’t work up a respectable panic about this. Unlike my neighbor who dipped into his daughter’s college education fund to turn his house into a wet dream for the green movement, I refuse to mortgage my time here on earth for someone else’s future. I’m too concerned about the here and now to worry about what the generations born hundreds of years from now will breathe.
I realize that makes me sound selfish. But my time is more valuable to me than my money, and worth more than the stress you want me to have over my oil dependency. I’d rather spend five bucks a gallon and get to work in 20 minutes than save that money and feel some altruistic sense of footprint pride while I sit on a bus at 6am, waiting to get to the train, which will take me to another train, which will take me to work, which will take 2 1/2 hours for a trip that is less than six miles from my home. If I do this, I will lose time with my family, the time we have to eat dinner together, to walk the dog together, to watch the sunset.
That’s not worth whatever unheard message I’d be sending to the oil companies. It’s not worth the amount of emissions I will save the earth from. And I am not going to engage in an eco-confession because I use paper plates some nights in order to make clean-up quicker, in order to spend more time doing things like walking on the beach in the evening or going to my nephew’s baseball game. I am selfish. I take joyrides every weekend so I can explore this island I live on. I use a gas-powered mower and put weed killer in my backyard. I take long showers and consume goods that come in plastic packaging.
I accept the high price of gas and milk and flour because I need to live. I need to have gas in my car. I need to have milk in my coffee. Those who tell me want to tell me what I should and shouldn’t be eating and how much energy I should consume in one day don’t know me, what I need or what my family needs.
We’re not total goons. We recycle. Every Sunday night, we put out our little green bucket filled with empty water bottles and soda cans and newspapers. We care about the rain forest and endangered animals and I drive as fuel-efficient a car as I can. But we care about us, too. We walk into the grocery store and take the gallon of milk off the shelf and I never look at the price and think “this has got to stop.”
What’s worse, I like living guilt and panic free. I’m a here and now person. I know I’m supposed to be stressed out over whether the planet may not be here for my great, great, great, great, great grandchildren. I know I’m expected to freak out every time the stock market dips, each time there’s a weather aberration, or when gas goes up another half cent. I’m supposed to feel outraged every time someone drops a piece of litter on the ground or raises the price of eggs.
I’m trying, really. I’m trying to work up a good panic or at least a mediocre guilt. But you are competing for my panic with some people who believe the world is going to end in 2012 and, frankly, if I have to choose an end times group to party with, I’m going with the guys who are having a Mayan blowout in four years. The price of milk and the search for renewable energy are nothing to a group of people who are planning on dying before Hannah Montana reaches adulthood. Plus, it’s guilt free. My carbon footprint might be all over the world’s end a few thousand years from now, but at least I had nothing to do with writing a doomsday calendar.
I think I just found my panic niche. You can stop scaring me with your talk of natural disasters brought on by man’s inhumanity to earth. I’m going out to buy a Mayan calendar.
Don’t worry, I’ll make sure it’s printed on recyclable paper.