(Have the cocktail shaker at the ready. Or maybe just the bottle.) There could be about 20 years left for us to â€śenjoy life while we can.â€ť Thatâ€™s according to climate scientist James Lovelock, who was interviewed Sunday in the The Guardian, and a few months ago in Rolling Stone. By the dawn of the 22nd century, Lovelock says, the earthâ€™s population will be reduced by at least 80%. The reasons: floods, deserts, food shortages, and other problems related to dealing with a world that has largely become uninhabitable. Lovelock is the author of The Revenge of Gaia; his theories, formulated in the 60s, were first ignored but are now the basis of most climate science. Iâ€™ll quickly and superficially run down why he doesnâ€™t see anything weâ€™re doing now as possibly alleviating this Armageddon.
Windmills? You could cover the earth with themâ€”waste of time. No way would they generate the energy needed.
Sustainable development? Donâ€™t make him laugh. Itâ€™s all just a grotesque scam, aimed to use anything that could be termed â€śgreenâ€ť to profit from a doomed population.
Energy efficient bulbs? No more plastic bags? Backyard gardens? That would be: no, not so much, and sorry, Michele, there won’t be enough. You’ll have to get used to Quorn. Basically, Lovelock feels that if drastic measures had been taken about forty years ago when he and other visionaries began to sound the alarm, perhaps we might have been able to turn things around. Not now.
Do I buy all this? Iâ€™m trying not to; I can certainly see why such views are not widely reported. Nobody wants to hear this kind of talk. But seriously. When you use your canvas shopping bag instead of plastic, when you buy your hideous compact fluourescents, when you recycle, compost, or buy a hybridâ€”do you really think itâ€™s helping? I do all this stuff (well, not the hybridâ€”Iâ€™d rather just get down to one car and use more mass transpo), but itâ€™s hard to believe that itâ€™s enough to create real change. As I send the first Green issue of the magazine I edit to the press, I also am pretty sure it will be our last. Either sustainable becomes the rule and it helps (or doesnâ€™t), or everyone gets tired of the green talk and doesnâ€™t want to hear it anymore.
Lovelock, as all his interviewers report (Jeff Goodell, the writer of the Rolling Stone article, is Micheleâ€™s husband, BTW), is actually pretty chipper about the whole situation. He feels only a massive catastrophe will force us into a new paradigm. He also feels nuclear energy deserves a second chance.
I was fascinated by the Lovelock interviews (Goodellâ€™s is the more thorough) and feel you will be too. Tough talk, but it’s probably needed. We may be spending too much time arguing about “if.”