Very shortly I’ll get back to the issues surrounding climate change, and worst-case scenarios, but I wanted to take some time to talk about what “doomsday” means to me. If you want analysis, try Joe Romm’s post on the issue. If you want a song about the end of days, try this one:
Musings below the fold.
I write fiction, with the eventual intent of making a living at it (haven’t been published yet, but I’m working on it), and I mostly write science fiction, fantasy,or a mixture of the two. My science fiction is largely about climate change.
I’ve written about futures with poisonous atmosphere, and America the Desertified, and scattered villages rebuilding civilization in harsh new realities, and scuba diving on the streets of New York City, and honestly, I consider all of those to be stories of hope.
Really, any story in which a recognizable civilization exists a thousand years in the future is a positive one, from where I’m standing.
The word “Doomsday” implies an event – one terrible day on which everything comes crashing down in fire and ruin. Many stories of the future deal with such an event as the downfall of civilization, and the possibility of that being caused by humans came into being with the creation of the nuclear bomb.
And we’ve been scared of that for so long.
My parents’ generation grew up under the horror of everything we inflicted on Japan – a clear, detailed knowledge of the devastation humanity could cause, and regular warnings that it could happen to us. The destructive power of the atom bomb is terrifying, and as such, it has a way of riveting our attention. So we ignored the greater danger.
As we kept our eyes fixed on the Bomb and the Button, we were creating something new. Like Dr Frankenstein, we had been gathering the pieces of the dead and building not a monster, but an entire planet, stitched together, combining the hot sun and human population of today with the atmosphere of millions of years ago.
Most of us didn’t even know we were doing it. There were predictions in the 1890’s, and warnings from the 1950’s onward, but nobody really paid attention, because the threat of nuclear holocaust was so terrifying, so we kept building it, and now it’s just starting to twitch its fingers.
That’s what’s really scary. In the past two years, we’ve seen floods and droughts, and storms on a scale never before recorded, causing hundreds of billions of dollars worth of damage to infrastructure, and incalculable damage to humans, and it’s just waking up.
This is the beginning of Doomsday, but it’s not the one we expected. There’s no day of devastation to recover from. There’s no nuclear holocaust, though that may yet come.
There’s just this. Tomorrow, and the next day. Month after month, year after year, decade after decade defined by floods, and droughts, and storms, and starvation, and disease, and it will not stop.
Not in my lifetime. Not in the lifetime of anybody alive as I am writing this. I am fighting for the future of humanity, in my way, but not for mine. I really, truly believe that I will not see this turn around before I die, but I do have hope that by that time, I will be able to look into the future and see the day coming when it WILL turn around. When we as a species will stop this greed-driven insanity, and pull ourselves back from the ledge we’re on.
I’ve heard people saying that the planet will be better off without us, and maybe that’s true, but the ones who say it don’t seem to understand. After doomsday, there won’t be recovering forests, and crumbling cities where vines pull apart the skeleton of humanity.
After doomsday, heavy skies will boil over rivers of molten lead that flow through landscapes of bare rock where the soil was burned away long ago, and nothing – not even bacteria – will be left to mark Earth as a living planet.