Three Goth chicks I met near the beach today
The question that’s on smart people’s minds these days, that is, people who live in big cities, wear glasses and put weird milk in their coffee, is how we lost Earth. The answer they generally arrive at is “capitalism”. I’m sympathetic to the view that most people were just fooled by a handful of American oil corporations that knew what was going to happen and set up a campaign to keep us in doubt for as long as possible.
And yet, the real story is uglier and goes deeper than this. When we blame some mysterious corporate actors, we’re still deflecting blame. Marxists tend to be really good at this. I’ve seen this so many times, where they bring up the argument that 100 corporations are responsible for 71% of CO2 emissions. And thus, there’s nothing we can do, except overthrow capitalism.
But the problem is that what they call “capitalism” is not some external evil force. Capitalism, lives inside all of us. These corporations that produce 71% of emissions together don’t produce products that they then dump into the sea. They sell them to you and me, the average dumb schmucks who want to be sedated.
The real problem is not that the government “isn’t doing enough”, or that “corporations just seek profit”. The real problem is that at a very basic fundamental level, Homo Sapiens Sapiens just does not care enough. It’s not that people don’t understand the problem. It’s not that there are no solutions possible. It’s that people just genuinely don’t care.
At the end of the day, there is exactly nothing that prohibits people from not eating animals. A child can figure out what happens to the animals you eat. I figured it out when I was ten, most people go their whole lives just suppressing the realization of what they are responsible for.
If you live in a city, which most of us Westoids do, you don’t really have a practical need for a car. A car is a luxury object, a status object. Everyone knows we would be better off without them. Every boomer grew up learning how the cars make us dependent on a bunch of Arab oil sheikhs. They all saw the birds covered in oil. They spent their days sitting in traffic, on their way to the office. They just didn’t really care.
And every millennial knows what happens when you fly to the other side of the globe. It’s not difficult to figure this stuff out. But fundamentally, they just don’t care.
They hear on TV that they’re supposed to feel ashamed of flying, because it harms the Earth, so they may adjust to that at some level. But there’s the thing: This desire to keep a habitable beautiful planet is not SUPPOSED to be something the TV has to teach you. It’s not supposed to be peer pressure that makes you care.
It’s supposed to be something innate, something that comes naturally to you. And yet for the majority of people, it’s something they’re taught by their TV, like new genders and cheering for guys in thongs on boats in Amsterdam. It’s not SUPPOSED to be the TV’s job to teach you that your hamburger came from a brutally murdered cow fed soy from Brazil grown in what used to be a rain forest.
You’re supposed to be able to figure this stuff out yourself and you’re supposed to be the one who is demanding that your TV and your politicians do something about this mess. But it’s the other way around. Your TV and your politicians think to themselves “wheh this mess is really starting to escalate” and then you get ANGRY because they dare to point it out to you that we’re walking mindlessly into a dead end.
Because again, you’re not supposed to learn from the TV that none of this is working. If you’re not a FUCKING MORON, you’re supposed to be noticing these constantly escalating droughts. You’re supposed to notice that the insects are FUCKING GONE. And if you have some sort of soul hidden deep within your Godforsaken piehole somewhere, THAT’S SUPPOSED TO PISS YOU OFF. But what happens instead, is that most of you are in fact mostly pissed off when you have this stuff pointed out to you.
You don’t really need to understand climate change. It wasn’t really supposed to ever get to this point. Forget climate change for a moment. If you live in Appalachia and they’re literally removing the mountaintops you see from your bedroom window where you used to walk as a child, just to burn the coal beneath, you’re supposed to be pissed off. If you live in Germany and they’re removing entire villages, to dig up the coal beneath the ground and turn the whole thing into a lake, you’re supposed to be pissed off.
Let’s go further back. As a child I wanted to be a forest ranger. My best friend at the time wanted to be a sheep herder. He became an engineer, I became the mess I am right now. We spent our days hiding in the bushes, building tree houses. If you spend your days as an adult in an office, when you wanted to herd sheep as a child, you’re supposed to be pissed off.
This whole term “climate change” is a bit like “shit drowning syndrome”, which happens when you’re so drunk at a festival that you fall face-first into a toilet bowl and drown in some other guy’s diarrhea. My point is: It was never supposed to get to that point.
A healthy functional society would not have to worry about climate change. When you get to the point where you have to worry about your concentration camps for animals warming up the planet or the risk of drowning in someone’s diarrhea, something went wrong much much earlier.
If I wanted to generate the impression of intellectualism, I would point out the enclosures and theft of the commons in Britain which forced a now landless proletariat to move to the city and work in factories. But I’m not a materialist, nor a historical determinist. And I’m not an intellectual.
This didn’t go wrong with some rich guy who did something evil. This went wrong with all of you. This went wrong in your minds. This went wrong in what matters to you. No, further back. This went wrong in what interests you. What interests you is how you relate to other people.
Most of the non-human world just doesn’t even interest you. You walk past a river and you don’t ask yourself “I wonder what goes on in that river”. You don’t really wonder how snails reproduce. You don’t know the names of the birds, or the mushrooms.
You don’t wonder what the birds are thinking. You can see a bird sitting on a wooden pole all by himself, not looking for food or mates, just doing nothing. But you don’t ask yourself what that bird is thinking, in that very moment. Of course you don’t ask yourself that. You ask yourself what you client is thinking. You have a train to catch in two minutes and you have an important meeting with him today!
But that’s the most important question. And you skip over it. And that’s how we lost Earth.