We forgot the Spanish Flu because the rest of the century was so bad. Somehow, humans found a way to kill ourselves even more, and in much more interesting ways. ‘It’s just the flu’ was considered reassuring, one hundred years later.
Imagine saying ‘it’s just the flu’ to someone in 1919. Imagine what their ghosts would hear. Fifty million graves spun so fast they became an energy source.
Our descendants will forget COVID-19 because Climate Change is worse. Climate Change is like a grab bag full of razor blades, with yummy fossil fuels on top. COVID is just one disaster. Climate Change is a lot of disasters, going on for centuries. In the flesh-eating butt plague of 2120 people will be saying ‘it’s just a bad coronavirus season.’
And I’ll be spinning in my grave. Hook me up to a generator when I die.
The Last Century
Think of how we remember the Spanish Flu. We don’t.
Apparently it killed 1% of the population in Sri Lanka. Or maybe 6.7%. I’ve never talked about it in a local context, I had to look it up. We spent the next 90 years killing ourselves in much more colorful ways so who cares.
Globally, the Spanish flu was forgotten as well. Yes, people got sick, but shortly thereafter everyone got hit by a tank and dragged for fifty years. All anyone remembers is the tank.
History is a gangsta rapper these days, and we should listen when she rhymes. The 1919 flu was not the worst thing that happened in the 1900s. There was much worse to come. There is worse to come for us. I’m not reading tea leaves here. I’m not the Hunchback of Nostradamus.
Scientists have published hundreds of reports on the subject. It’s called Climate Change. Remember what scientists were screaming about before they were screaming about coronavirus? It’s still there. Congrats on skipping destination weddings this year. It’s still there.
You have to forgive the people of the 1900s. They couldn’t see it coming. Nobody was computer modeling Austrian painters and their interaction with economic winds. We are unforgivable.
We’ve been told. We’ve been told for decades. It is now an observable fact. Lighting stuff on fire makes it hot. We have detailed reports on precisely how hot, and how this fucks up the entire ecosystem of the planet. This IPCC Report outlines the best-case scenario, where we hold warming to 1.5°- 2°C.
The panoply of prizes includes:
- droughts, floods
- rising oceans
- mass extinction
- entire ecosystem changes
- collapse of ocean life
- health, food, water, and economic impacts
The Paris Agreement might as well be the Treaty Of Versailles. We negotiated for a terrible situation which has already exploded. America has gone full Hitler in this timeline, withdrawing from the ‘unfair’ agreement, and they’re about to fuck shit up. Shit being the planet.
People of the 2000s. We have been given the gift of sight but we remain dumbasses. We have been told and, indeed, shown. Every year is among the hottest ever. Zipcodes of ice are melting into the ocean. Scientists have been begging, pleading, and screaming about this. Children are protesting. We’ve got enough reports to choke a mule.
And yet we are not doing enough.
Let me be clear. All scientists have described are the first-order effects. The essentially chemical changes with predictable outcomes. They have not predicted the social changes, which will not be good. People generally do not react well to food and land disappearing.
This century could easily be a two-for-one. Get environmental collapse and the fates will throw in last century’s deal for free.
The Path We’re On
People keep talking about when things will get back to normal. This is insane. Normal is Climate Change. Normal is us whistling past the graveyard, smoking the Earth. Even this stay-at-home year, emissions will only drop like 10%. The problem is obviously how we produce power, and until we ban fossil fuels, we are screwed.
That’s the path we’re on. It’s not a good one. We have been shown.
If we learn anything from COVID-19 it should be to listen to scientists when they say something is bad. When they tell you to act now, act now. Don’t bicker about how much it will cost, or how annoying it is. Fate is a loan shark. Pay them fast or it’ll cost more. Pay them too late or you’ll pay in blood.
We know this. Not quickly following the science on the pandemic has led to tens of thousands of deaths and economic collapse. We must know this by now. Follow the science or die.
And yet we are still too slow. We’re not even talking about Climate Change anymore. We just long for a normal that will never come, and which was killing us anyways. We long for ignorance, we long for bliss. We are fools whistling past the graveyard. Unless we stop climate change, no one will even remember COVID-19.
If you thought this year was bad, it’s not even a year. More trouble lies ahead.