The end-game

A number of authors, scientists, historians and archeologists firmly believe that our civilisation (such as it is) is not the first, nor the only, such inhabitation of our little speck of the universe. For while we still have monumental physical evidence of earlier civilisations in the form of the Pyramids of Egypt, Aztec and Inca temples in central and South America, and fossilised remains of hominids in caves and burial sites even in our own province, there are things within many of these phenomena and discoveries that we, for all our advanced scientific and didactic knowledge, can’t explain.
And these are remnants of civilisations that we can still see and visit. Who’s to say that the civilisations from which they came are the only ones? Why not also civilisations that have completely disappeared, and for which no evidence is yet apparent?
In this view, we are but a blip on the calendar of the planet.
Once the temperature reaches intolerable levels, the polar icecaps melt, the seas rise, vast expanses of land are flooded, the deserts expand, the groundwater is polluted, the air becomes unbreathable because of smog, crops die and we all starve to death, or die in battle, the planet will, over the next few millennia, slowly recover. As our remains, and the ruins of our civilisation slowly decay and are swallowed up by the earth and remaining insects, the overall temperature will start to drop, the seas will recover, new marine species will evolve and emerge to repopulate the land, on which new species of plants will start to thrive. And so the whole process will start again.
This idea should be a comfort to anybody contemplating the inevitable demise of our race in the face of the climate change and the attendant hell and damnation that awaits us.
For, frankly, the future does not look rosy. Some scientists are calculating that unless urgent action is taken to drastically reduce carbon emissions we will reach a point of no return within twelve short years. Others are saying we’re already beyond the point of no return, looking as they do to the polar icecaps where at the one end the Arctic Ocean is no longer frozen over in winter, and where at the other great chunks of the Antarctic icecap are melting away (while in between the oceans are filled with floating gyres of plastic and rubbish hundreds of square kilometers in size).
And within those twelve years, if we still have them available to us, we have the world’s attention diverted by a lot of political red herrings. Europe is obsessed with its migrant crisis and resultant rising nationalism, the Brits have Boris Johnson and Brexit, the Americans have Donald Trump and China, Zimbabwe has inflation approaching 200% (again), and we have rampant unemployment, a hopeless education system, broken public healthcare, Jacob Zuma ~ and the Public Protector on a frolic of her own against President Ramaphosa.
Within this unedifying spectacle activists ~ far too few in number ~ try to drum up interest in a topic that should be top-of-mind for everybody. Namely, that “reduce, reuse and recycle” should be the mantra by which we all live; that your local authority and your government (wherever you are) is probably not doing enough, legislatively or administratively, to clean up the mess of previous generations and plan for the prevention of mess for the future; and that the best you can hope to do is to live as conservationally consciously as possible.
For, to be honest, nobody thinking clearly can see how a world with an expanding population, greater personal wealth and greatly increased mobility is actually going to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels to the extent it positively affects rising temperatures.
For to do that would require the almost total cessation of air travel, with the resultant loss of tourism revenue, the almost total cessation of ocean transportation ~ at least in the sorts of ships sailing today ~ and a huge reduction in landside transportation, with whatever effect that would have on personal mobility, the work environment, distribution of food and goods etc.
Further, it would require a major reduction in the consumption of, and therefore the production of, consumer and industrial goods, with whatever effect that would have on the work environment, and the economies of towns, regions and countries.
Realistically, this is not going to happen. Realistically, too, we can now see the end-game in our not too distant future.
But before we get to Armageddon there will probably be another major war (and some would argue that it has already started), which could be over something as innocuous (but vital) as water supplies, or oil. Whatever, it won’t be pretty and it will herald the demise of civilisation as we know it, and possibly the demise of mankind.