Less than a minute ago I was in the communal kitchen of this open prison some call an office. A man there had been told by a woman that using a disposable cup wasn’t great for the environment. He then said this:
“They say we shouldn’t use plastic cups and we should bring in our own mug but…I haven’t got time to clean it!”
This man clearly couldn’t give a shit that the world is aflame. Humanity is piling up its filth, sending heinous gases into the atmosphere and the planet is responding as you would expect any sensible organism to, by defending itself against what it perceives as an attack on its immune system. But he hasn’t got time to clean it!
My instinct in recent years has been to rage at people like this. In my mind’s eye I ram his plastic cup so far down his neck he shits 5p Tesco bags. I don’t see that instinct changing; he’s the archetype of everything I hate about office life, basking in his imaginary importance and forgetting that life doesn’t begin the moment you show your security pass to a guard who wants us all dead.
But as far as his trite dismissal of environmental issues is concerned, I think maybe he’s right.
For the record, I recycle. I don’t have a car. I don’t leave the tap running when I clean my teeth. I do fly often, but to offset that I won’t perform the most aggressively harmful act a human can do to the good lady Earth, namely create more humans.
But I don’t know why I do any of those things deemed positive for the carbon footprint. As I separate my green-bin garden waste from my blue-bin cardboard and plastic, food waste into the brown bin and landfill-fodder into the doom-laden black bin, I feel like an Indian farmer being told his tractor is maiming children’s lungs by an American in all-hemp clothing that cost him $600 but didn’t earn its maker quite as much.
We’re told often we’re destroying the planet. Are we fuck. Herein lies the root of the environmental problem.
Without humans, the planet tends to be fine. It did all right before us, and when we’re gone, you know, I just reckon it’ll find a way to make more trees without apes planting saplings.
What we’re doing is destroying the planet as fit for humans. Why pretend it’s about the Earth and not all about us? The declaration that we’ve entered a new geological era, the ‘Anthropocene’, is glorious in its arrogance. What comes next, the ‘Thankfuckthey’vegoneocene’?
Imagine what’ll happen if we just let it slide. The planet will heat up, sea levels will rise, people in low-level lands will migrate – oh dear God no, migrants! – to higher ground, food will become scarcer, fights will ensue, those with money and/or weapons will prevail, and fewer people will remain.
But those special few are the ones mainly causing it; thus fights between the people with the money and weapons, and fewer people still.
Either resources required will reduce, or humanity will pack up its tent and head for the heavens. Either way, temperatures fall, and oceans calm. Somewhere in Tanzania, an elephant gives birth and there’s no-one around to call dibs on its tusks.
Yeah yeah, loads of people will have to suffer to get to that point. But I won’t. As that most revered and reviled specimen on the Pale Blue Dot – a white, heterosexual, English-speaking male – I am confident that even if Earth continues to rain justice down on us at an increasingly frightening pace, I will still be allowed to proceed to my heart attack unmolested.
And after that I definitely won’t care. I won’t be here to see the lid fly off Krakatoa or the Maldives drown or the whole of Chile on fire. I don’t have to care about future humans any more than the as-yet unborn currently care about me.
I do, for evolutionary reasons I cannot explain, care about our home, this planet. But I’m confident that once it’s shaken off the temporary malaise known as humanity, everything will be fine. Maybe future civilisations will rise and fall, or not. Maybe the same mistakes will be made and maybe they won’t. Regardless, this planet will eventually be swallowed by its dying star, and none of it will have mattered.
I’m told I should make a will so that the things I drag about with me can be divided up equitably among the desperate as I’m being scraped off the pavement. I reply that I couldn’t give a damn what happens to these things when I’ll no longer be in a position to enjoy them.
That position is labelled ‘selfish’. I might create argument between warring families of people who once claimed to care about me. They’re fighting over a dead man’s stuff, and I’m selfish?
I can apply the same logic quite merrily to climate change. I fully accept, if only partially understand, the science of human-caused enviro-catastrophe – I just don’t care.
Obviously we’re doing this, and any argument to the contrary is risibility epitomised. David Bellamy can say the sun’s got closer or dolphins started it or whatever he’s claiming this week, but I think we can safely discount the views of a man last relevant when the biggest star on TV was Roland Rat.
Instead, I’ll take my insight from George Carlin: “We’re so self-important. Everybody’s going to save something now. “Save the trees, save the bees, save the whales, save those snails.” And the greatest arrogance of all: save the planet. What? Are these fucking people kidding me? Save the planet? We don’t even know how to take care of ourselves yet. We haven’t learned how to care for one another, and we’re going to save the fucking planet?”
I get climate change, but it’s time to stop giving a shit. Let the man have his plastic cup; nature will be fine. The damage we’re doing to our planet can be reversed – it’ll just take all of us to fuck off to make that happen. And given we’re dragging each other closer to the abyss on a weekly basis, I’d say Mother Earth’s prospects are really quite rosy indeed.