An article that examines the dark side of eating healthy… and then the dark side of human existence… and then ends on a happy note, albeit a very selfish one. But selfishness is at the core of human existence. Want to know why?
I was having a dark moment as I prepared dinner tonight. I have been a vegetarian for almost a year now. I respect veganism, but I really like cheese. And I am baffled by the way vegans can search the ingredients of so many products and recognize every single animal by-product. It seems one must take a class in order to be a successful vegan. I just try not to kill or eat the animals themselves, either directly or indirectly, and I tell myself that’s OK.
I like eating healthier, but it has turned me into a one-man ecological disaster with how they package everything in plastic. Plastic bags, plastic wrap, polystyrene, onion bags… surprisingly very little of it actually recyclable — if the recyclables even get recycled at all — all going into the ocean and choking out the wildlife. I cut up the bags to lower the odds of them catching and slowly killing something, but those stupid fish, turtles, birds, etc. still eat it. Is there a way to get grocery stores to just put my produce in paper? I guess I will just have to start reusing the same thin plastic baggies rather than pulling new ones off the rolls or something.
Or maybe I should just say fuck it, this evolutionary cycle is heading for extinction and there’s nothing to be done about it. It seems this last choice is the one we have collectively made.
Let’s face it, unless we are living on a permaculture commune, growing our own food, making our own clothes, and forgoing all modern technology — basically doing as the Amish do — each and every one of us is a one-person ecological disaster.
All of the corporations that make all of our toys and the electricity to run them are dumping tons of toxins into the water supply each day. The Daiichi nuclear reactors at Fukishima, Japan, are still in full-on meltdown, for example, and TEPCO is still pouring tons of radioactive waste water into the Pacific every day. The Gulf of Mexico is already essentially dead thanks to the assholes at Halliburton. Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, the preferred method of extracting natural gas, is filling up our springs and wells with all sorts of unspeakable toxins, and if Flint, Michigan, is any sign, it seems we’ve just stopped trying to fix it.
I say, “Come on, giant asteroid!” A quick death is preferable to choking ourselves and everything else out with slow suffocation, poisoning, dehydration, and starvation. Already, Australia and India are running out of water, and already entire species are starving. Look at what is happening to the polar and grizzly bears. MAN, the next fifty years are really gonna suck! Glad I won’t be here for them. Now I feel better about it. It’s their world, I just live in it — for a bit longer, anyway. If I do get the luxury of a tombstone, I want the epitaph to read “So long, suckers!” I had a good run. (If all goes as I expect, however, I will not get a tombstone.)
I like the word “suckers” because aside from meaning fools who are easily bamboozled (as we all have been), it also has the literal meaning, in that survivors of our technological heyday will be sucking water out of the few surviving plants and bugs, sucking in toxic fumes, sucking the last remaining life out of everything and each other like the vampires we are. Life itself will just suck.
I honestly do not know how those of you with children can handle it. I suppose that cognitive dissonance is a powerful thing. It’s a scary thing. You envision your children growing up to live lives similar to the ones you’ve enjoyed yourselves. But they won’t. Far, far from it. Their world will be more like Mad Max: Fury Road, only without the hope.
I would like to help. I try to help. But what am I supposed to do? Even if I drop everything and do the permaculture Amish thing, no one else will. Out of the 7.4+ BILLION people on this planet, the majority of us are still living simply enough (by choice or no) to not be responsible for this horror. Only about 2.2 billion of us are killing everyone and everything else. And of that 2.2 billion, only about .02% (at best) will adopt such a drastically different lifestyle. And if this life has taught me anything, it is that I am no trend setter. I could shout it from the rooftops, hand out literature, do the lecture circuit, decrying modern human existence and what it’s doing to a once-vibrant planet… but too few would listen. Too many would tell me to shut the f–k up and go away. Look how they’re treating that poor girl from Sweden, and she’s just a child.
I could take up arms, try to start a revolution, but what would that solve? I’d get shot dead within a day.
And as for “think globally, act locally,” it’s just too little, too late. Sure, I can pretend that cutting up the non-recyclables and pitching the recyclables into bins is actually going to make a significant difference, and it might make me feel good for a while, at least long enough to prepare dinner and then forget about all the shit I threw away while I watch Netflix. But so many communities with recycling programs and bins for recycling actually recycle very little. A lot of that shit, as I’ve mentioned, is not recyclable at all. And we still have corporations, factories, mining, drilling, and nuclear reactors churning out tons of waste, and billions are still buying petroleum plastics and lithium batteries, all individually wrapped in their own petroleum byproducts.
Sure, there is the promise of hemp plastics that actually biodegrade, and new technologies being developed, but they are not being accepted or used nearly enough. The change just isn’t going to come fast enough. We are past the tipping point.
So although cognitive dissonance might not work for me, I can take comfort in the actual reality of the situation: I am going to die. And it will be very soon. I do not plan to be on this earth in 5 years. I honestly do not. 5 years is optimistic from my point of view, to be honest. But that’s just me. And yes, I find comfort in the fact that I have come to accept through my narcissistic nihilism-slash-realism that this reality is inescapable, and that comfort can be summed up in a terrific line from one of my favorite films, The Freshman: “There’s a kind of freedom in being completely screwed… because you know things can’t get any worse.”
The rest of you (most of you reading this, anyway) have a good 20 years ahead of you before shit really does start to get worse in your spot of the world. And I am not just talking about climate change, which is happening, whether you believe it’s from humanity’s carbon production or not, the climate is changing. The worst of it will be the tons and tons of trash, toxins, poisons, and pollutants we have been pouring into the environment. That’s damage done. Then, when the Middle East becomes uninhabitable, and it will, you will have mass migrations resulting in bloody struggle for basic resources.
When it really starts to get bad, it will get VERY bad. Are you saving money for your children’s future? Seriously, don’t bother. They will have no use for your money. Even the rich won’t survive, unless they develop warp technology and can fuck off to one of those new “Super-Earths” I’ve been reading about. HD 219134 is a scant 21 light years away. Barring this warp technology, billionaires and paupers alike will die. How many of them will die? All of them. Every last one. Even the ones who can afford luxury underground bunkers, they will also die, and ironically they will likely die more slowly and horribly. “The living will envy the dead” should really be “The dying will envy those that have already died more quickly.”
Preppers are fun people — the ones that prepare for “The Collapse” by stockpiling weapons, food, water, medicine, etc. Except in the real event, they’re really just stockpiling supplies for the biggest warlord that takes over their territory. And warlords may come and go, but sooner than later, they will all die. Survivalists who have taught themselves how to live off of what the wilderness provides would have the best chance if they didn’t need potable water and a thriving wilderness. If the heat and drought of summer doesn’t kill them, the extended brutal winters will.
They are right, however, when they say “The Collapse” is coming, and it isn’t a question of if but when. Thing is, we know when. 20 more good-ish years and then it’s tits up for the lot. This truly is going to be an extinction level event. We know it is unavoidable, we know it is already happening, and we know it will get really, really bad in just twenty years. If you don’t know this, you are not utilizing cognitive dissonance. You are in straight-up denial. The media does its best to maintain a civil society by just not talking about it, trying to put off the inevitable by feeding that deniability. But the science won’t shut up! The science has been talking about it for decades. That’s why people don’t listen to science anymore. Science is scary. Science is honest.
But back to me, because as I said, this is all about selfishness, and I am human, and that is my nature. I will enjoy my final five years, and then I will hide this body I’ve been using to tool around the earth in some remote spot, and then kill it. Probably while tripping my balls off on organic hallucinogens in the jungles of Peru. I have had a full life, although I did not see fit to bring any offspring into it. I am the Terminus generation. And so are you and anyone you produce. I am OK with that. I got that ego death and have come to terms with it. I don’t really know what awaits after I shuffle off this mortal coil, whether the cold science is right and I will just cease to exist, or if consciousness does exist outside the brain, or if reincarnation is a thing, but I believe that these second and third options are the real deal, based on my own research and experiences. And I believe the universe is teeming with life, if the rate at which new life seems to sprout up in my ‘fridge is any indicator. I believe there is life not only on other planets, but in other dimensions, so there’s no reason I need to reincarnate back here to this dead world. And if I’m wrong, no problem. I won’t be able to comprehend the disappointment because I will not exist.
I will leave this morbid subject with a joke from one of my favorite comedians — the late, great George Carlin. Most of you have probably already heard this one, but it bears repeating: “The earth is not going anywhere. WE are! Pack your shit, folks, we’re going away.” Sadly, we will take all life currently inhabiting this planet with us. Our toxins will linger, our trash will choke, our nuclear reactors will all melt down due to lack of proper maintenance, and don’t even get me started on the 100,000-year surprise we’ve left buried under Yucca Mountain, or other nuclear waste “disposal” facilities. We will have successfully killed this whole poor planet. Completely. It’s bad enough that we’ve killed ourselves, but it’s such a terrible shame that we will take every other living thing on Earth down with us. We truly are a cancer.
But in a few billion years… it may be back. Hey, look at Mars. They say it may be showing signs of developing an atmosphere again. How long did that take? And really, how many other planets out there might be crawling with life, with its own little critters just as cute as our dolphins and dogs and cows and horses and squirrels and whatnot?
We, and this planet, will be dead. The real death throes will begin by 2039 if not sooner. But you know me — I like to think we never really die. Neither us, nor the planet.
OK, that’s all I have. Resume cognitive dissonance.