The World is Darkening

Last spring, the world came to a halt. The sky above me was empty for weeks, and so were the streets and trains. Restaurants and movie theaters were closed. I thought this could only happen in the context of a nuclear disaster. I had also dealt with the consequences of a computer virus, but I did not expect a biological virus to stop the world. If it takes so little to destroy the world’s balance, how will we handle much more significant problems like rising temperatures?

Weeks before the outbreak of the global pandemic, U.S. novelist Jonathan Franzen wrote an article for The New Yorker entitled “What If We Stopped Pretending” that stated: “If you’re younger than sixty, you have a good chance of witnessing the radical destabilization of life on earth — massive crop failures, apocalyptic fires, imploding economies, epic flooding, hundreds of millions of refugees fleeing regions made uninhabitable by extreme heat or permanent drought.”

In his book On Time and Water, Icelandic author Andri Snær Magnason asked: “If we are sensitive creatures and we know where we are heading, why don’t we stop?”

Instead of finding an answer to his question, we had to focus our attention on a virus. Thomas L. Friedmann, an op columnist for the New York Times, wrote recently that “COVID-19 was supposed to be China’s Chernobyl. It’s ended up looking more like the West’s Waterloo.”

For months, virologists and medical doctors warned of a second wave of COVID-19, yet the world came to a second halt toward the end of the year. Did we take the warnings seriously enough? I don’t think so.

This failure is the reason why I fear the consequences of the climate crisis. We may be are able to identify a problem, but we are not strong enough to react appropriately. It is as if we are sitting in a sinking boat and dumping water-filled boilers on board.

Whenever I buy a device, the manufacturer provides me with a warranty for one year. Yet, there is no such guarantee for a good life.

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