We have less than a millisecond left.
You see, the planet we call home has existed for roughly 4.55 billion years. But numbers that large mean almost nothing to me, nor to most people, so I choose to break it down. If we lay the age of the Earth out over a calendar year, that would amount to 518,264 years per hour or 144 years per second. So if we have 10 or 11 years until the point of no return, as climate scientists have repeatedly told us, that means we have a millisecond left before midnight in which to change our society completely to avoid turning the Earth into a piping hot fajita. (If you want to be more generous and instead look at how long modern homosapiens have been walking around, it’s 315,000 years. So if you lay that over a calendar year, we have roughly 15 minutes before the stroke of midnight to combat climate change. Not sure that makes me feel much better.)
None of us should be thinking about anything other than climate change. We all kind of know it even if we think we don’t know it. Even people who deny climate change exists probably secretly know it. They’re just confusing what they want to be true with what they subconsciously know to be true. I did the same thing when I was a child and tennis legend Jimmy Connors lost in the semifinals of the 1991 U.S. Open after his monumental run at the ancient age of 39. (For an 11-year-old, 39 sounds pretty close to mummified.) I was certain Jimmy would be playing in the finals. I knew deep within my bones that Jimbo would dazzle us with diving volleys and mid-court passing shots in the championship match because how could the powers that be allow the only character America genuinely cared about to bow out before the finals? In my mind it was akin to killing off Iron Man halfway through the movie “Iron Man.”
Jimmy Connors did not show up to the finals. Climate change is the only thing we should be thinking about.
Plastic action figures for kids should have one arm melted off to symbolize the effects of climate change. Your server at a nice restaurant should sprinkle sand in your soup du jour to remind you of the disappearance of fresh water. Ice cream should be exclusively served melted to symbolize rising temperatures. Hamburgers should cost $200 to compensate for the global emissions of factory farming. And every time you go ice skating someone should punch you in the face and yell, “Enjoy it while it lasts!”
We have less than a millisecond left.
Simply put, humans have no business going about our day-to-day actions as if we aren’t on the event horizon. It’s equivalent to working on your model train set while your kitchen is burning down, your spouse is in the bathroom battling an alligator that took up residence in the bathtub, and your 12-year-old daughter is in the living room having just been offered heroin for the first time. … Right now, humanity is still focused on the model train.
The International Governmental Panel on Climate Change says the point of no return is the year 2030. This obviously doesn’t mean everything spontaneously combusts at the stroke of midnight 2030 (although that would be fascinating to watch). It means that after that point—if we aren’t living vastly different lives—no effort will change the fact that the planet inevitably will become uninhabitable and we humans inevitably will go extinct and there inevitably will be no more skiing (both due to a lack of snow and due to a lack of fleshy beings to ride on skis). The year 2030 is the point of no return. It is the date of our impending, prolonged suicide.
Let’s assume the world’s greatest climate scientists are way off. Let’s assume these people who do nothing other than study climatic models using computer programs so sophisticated I wouldn’t be qualified to turn them on—let’s assume they have their swollen heads up their highly-educated asses. Let’s assume that they were so wrong that it’s not 10 years but instead 20 years until the point of no return, so the amount of time we have left is double what they thought. That still means we should be thinking about nothing other than climate change. It still means our very survival as a species, or lack thereof, will be decided in the next couple decades. It stillmeans we have only a millisecond.
Maybe we’re right to die off. Maybe our hubris and egos the size and shape of SUVs have doomed us, and we should just give up and enjoy our final few years. But if that’s the case, I would like an announcement. I would honestly prefer a national address by some of our so-called leaders stating clearly, “Look folks, in order to continue civilized society of the human species, we would need to change everything. Every single one of us would have to labor toward a massive shift to a sustainable culture that works in harmony with nature, rather than abusing nature like it’s a servant who gave us an ugly look. We would have to focus on achieving this new society rather than spending a third of all our free time watching superhero movies. But we have no intention of doing that because it sounds kinda hard, not to mention corporate profits would suffer in the short term. So instead, we’re declaring here and now that we’ll all just keep functioning as is until such time as the oceans turn to acid, the ever-growing storms consume us, and California feels like the inside of a kiln. According to our best minds, that will be 10 to 20 years from now, so don’t worry about starting that retirement fund. Don’t buy the extended warranty on that vacuum. And whatever you do, at no point, and under no circumstances, quit smoking and drinking. …”Thank you, and good night.”
If that’s the choice we’ve decided to make, then I want an announcement along these lines. On the other hand, if we decide to do the opposite and save ourselves, someone should probably let everyone know it’s an all-hands-on-deck scenario.
Let’s make the call. We have less than a millisecond left.