My Predictions For The Effects Of Environmental Turmoil On Society: 2019 and Beyond
Happy New Year!
A lot of people do prediction op-eds around New Year’s, and I thought I’d join in the fun. These predictions of mine aren’t just for 2019, though. And they’re not all fun. (I want you to read the whole thing, of course, but it’s happier towards the end.)
If you care about the economy (more than any other losses we’re facing, that is), congratulations, I’ve got great news for you. Those keeping up with the leaders of climate change news know global warming and subsequent issues will catch up to us “where it hurts” by the end of this century.
Changes in Europe’s water supply alone will bushwhack them completely. “Climate change is expected to affect water availability and increase water scarcity throughout Europe…diminishing water supplies will also have a negative impact on hydroelectric power, which is the principal energy source for large areas of Europe…water quality will affect critical EU sectors such as tourism, agriculture, industry, energy, and transport.“
In Africa, the Sahel (the arid strip of land between you and the desert) has already encountered years of drought, leading to an on-again, off-again humanitarian crisis (like an on-again, off-again friend, but worse), and continued global warming will lead the desert to encroach upon the Sahel, lessening the time before the people in that region (approximately Senegal to Djibouti) have no farmable land. The continent itself is expected to warm 1.5 times faster than the global average.
And if you care more about the United States’ economy more than the individuals inside of the U.S., or any other country’s population, for that matter, I’ve got something for you, too. “Annual losses in some economic sectors are projected to reach hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century - more than the current gross domestic product (GDP) of many U.S. states," according to the U.S.’s Fourth National Climate Assessment Volume II.
But we didn’t come here to talk about the economy.
So far, I’ve just been reviewing facts, brought to you by other, smarter people.
Here are my predictions:
I am white, “pretty,” female, and disabled. Gender and sexual preference aside, I am in a very interesting place, in society’s hierarchy of the oppressed. I have excess power, I am a thing desired in my “ultimate” form, but within my own body, I am pitied, I make people uncomfortable, and I am sensitive to hot, cold, and bad air quality. I can tell you exactly what’s going to happen, and I’m not proud of it. Because I will be one of the first who cannot go outside when the air and heat are intolerable, but because people will want to “keep me around,” because I am palatable, I will be sequestered away, into a mostly-white, Western led, condensed “utopia,” shut off from all other life or nature. Air conditioning, sadness, and insanity for me, while down south, a community of people who happen to look different than me who I would consider my friends, including other disabled people, is forgotten except for by those who live within it, and given no resources or equal footing. Death, rampant. All the polarizations going on between opposing factions that shouldn’t exist now will increase tenfold. This isn’t science fiction, this is nonfiction.
Those that live in the Forgotten Places, as I call them, will rise up and take over, but it will too late. They will leave their communities only to find it is just as bad elsewhere, except for the Far North and Far South, places some can never get to, picking up white people who are traitors against supremacy as they travel. No matter what changes the constantly migrating, nocturnal groups make to their behavior, trying to separate themselves from the idiots of the past, it won’t do any good. No sustainable permaculture or societal change will protect from the ash, dust, heat, and floods. They won’t have access to working technology, or enough information to know how to outlast day to day. We’ll either all live out our last days as the Forgotten Places group, or stay hidden away inside the AC and malls and block-like megacities, kidding ourselves that we mostly-whites are fine, recycling every material until it dissipates.
But either way, very few of us will be left, in the end.
Want to change that?
Capitalism, colonialism, and industrialism are the root causes of global warming, and most other environmental problems as well. Think about it, if those three concepts and their products didn’t exist, what kind of society would we live in?
A better one.
To help you rid the big three from your daily life, I’ve written you a list - your new New Year’s Resolutions:
1. If you ever feel insecure when faced with the concept of white, or male, or not-in-poverty privilege…don’t. Say to yourself, “We have all been through good and bad, but no one has been through what I have.” Pain is relative. Your life is your life, no one’s had your exact same experience. You may not be able to “get” what less privileged people have been through, but they don’t get your life, either. That shouldn’t stop you, though. Try, honestly, actually try, and understand their life (even if they tell you you can’t), and maybe they’ll do the same for you, and cut you some slack the next time you say something white boy dumb. (We can all be white boy dumb, no matter our race, skin color, culture, or gender.) Even if they don’t reciprocate, you’ve learned something. You can use that knowledge to further your appreciation of the good things in life.
2. Trade - and even barter - more. The exchange of goods and services has gotten so-money centric in the past thousand years that if we suddenly had to return to a more, er, direct economy, we’d be completely lost. Left in the dust. So I say, let’s get used to it now. (Hopefully before we get to the nomadic “Forgotten Places” people point.) (Alliteration!) Next time you need a ladder, give your neighbor a drill. Need someone to fix your fence? Ask if they’ll take a platter of cupcakes (they have to give the platter back) and an appointment with you next week (you’re a therapist in this hypothetical). I know, I know, these situations aren’t practical in any way, but eventually they’ll need to be. *wink wink* If you must shop, shop local and vintage.
3. Write, call, text, or carrier pigeon your civil servants and representatives, and insist that your city or town switches entirely to renewable energy, if it hasn’t already. Contact these people tirelessly, endlessly - with bathroom, food, and social interaction breaks. Whatever. Just don’t stop your nagging until it’s done. Within the year.
Have a happy 2019, everybody.