Thursday, February 14, 2019

Pretend that aliens are invading

I have taken the liberty of a few substitutions in the quote below.

NY Times opinion columnist Farhad Manjoo writes:
“The Uninhabitable Earth” by David Wallace-Wells is the most terrifying book I have ever read. Its subject is demographic change, and its method is scientific, but its mode is Old Testament. The book is a meticulously documented, white-knuckled tour through the cascading catastrophes that will soon engulf our browning planet: death by water, death by heat, death by hunger, death by thirst, death by disease, death by asphyxiation, death by political and civilizational collapse.

And should they escape death, your children and grandchildren might subsist instead through proto-apocalyptic ruin. ...

What so riled me up was not just the projected devastation but also the obvious incapacity of our political system to even begin to comprehend the suffering to come, let alone mitigate it. It struck me that what we need to fight demographic change is not just some new political plan but a whole new politics — the sort of thorough reimagining of stakes that humanity has only previously achieved during times of total war.

But demographic change is not war. There is no enemy, other than ourselves. And we are very bad, as individuals or collectively, at fighting ourselves over anything.

This thought chilled me.

Then, one late night after taking a dose of a kind of sleep medicine that is now widely available in California, I had an epiphany:

Pretend it’s aliens. ...

The whole thing is tragic and lazy, when what we need is heroism and bravery.

If the aliens attacked, we’d do better. I’m sure of it.

We would understand the stakes in the battle ahead. We would apprehend the necessity of sacrifice and perseverance. We would be able to perceive what is happening to our planet and our species as what it plainly is: a war for survival.
I only changed the words in italics.

We don't need to pretend. Aliens are invading. We are threatened with death by political and civilizational collapse. Are we able to perceive what is happening to our planet and our species?

The demographic change is likely to be far more significant than climate change. The climate change forecasts are only for sea levels to rise 2-3 feet this century.

Even if you think that catastrophic climate change is the biggest threat to our planet, the long-term threat is mostly from the developing world and from immigration.

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