In the Face of Record Heat, We Evidently Elect to Die
I am not a parent, and these days, I am as glad of that fact as I am bewildered by the behavior of every parent I meet.
It’s no longer accurate to say, “The writing is on the wall.” The effects of global warming are palpable on an almost daily basis. One heat wave after another rolls across the continent (pick any of them), shattering records. It’s already getting unbearable, so even if you care nothing for yourself, you parents know what’s in store for your children: a grim, grim death. We’re running out of water. Crop failures and species collapse cannot be far behind. No one wants to live through what’s coming.
And yet what do we do? We keep doing “normal” things. We hop in the car and drive for miles. We hop planes to Barcelona. We keep cranking the A/C and taking 10-minute showers as if the world weren’t burning.
Parents supposedly feel this deep bond the second they hold their child in their arms. They are protective. If both things weren’t true, we never would have made it this far, so I believe them; but that should make every parent a fierce eco-warrior, battling to preserve a planet their precious child can live on. Instead, they’re buying bigger SUVs for all their kids’ playthings.
I assume you just want them to be distracted and comfortable with the time they have left, and that’s laudable in a way. Don’t cry, little one. Don’t fuss. Just close your eyes. Just lay down your head and sleep. You won’t feel a thing.
Only you will. Maybe you’ll feel heat stroke when the end comes. Maybe it will be a painful starvation. Maybe it will be the painful headaches of dehydration. It won’t be quick. It won’t be painless.
Is this what we want? Evidently, it is. As the fires in Europe spread, as heat lays siege even to the British Isles, we do nothing. It’s like we’ve decided we’d rather all die in the next 5, 10 years than inconvenience ourselves at all.
For me, it at least makes a certain selfish sense. What do I have to live for but right here and right now? (Plenty, actually. I want to live. I want everyone to live.) But for you…for anyone with a kid they supposedly love so very, very much…why don’t you care? Why isn’t environmental activism the first and last thing on your mind?
It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we do nothing, then we deserved to die.