I’ve been thinking a great deal about a recent report that gives the human race, as a species, 30 years to extinction. Have you read it? I know, I know, this is a pretty heavy conversation for a beautiful summer day and I am sorry about that, but is there ever a good time to talk about species annihilation?

I brought the report up at dinner the other night, and that might have been a mistake. As I laid out its logic, based upon climate change, food systems collapse and so on, the teenager slowly sunk deeper and deeper into a pit of terrified hopelessness. I was prattling on and didn’t really notice until too late. By the time I looked up, he was sunk up to his eyeballs in it. That’s no good, of course. You can’t act from a place of terror.

Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at heather@heatherdmartin.com.

In that moment, I did my best to roll it back a bit. The next day I brought home a copy of “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss, along with a series of articles about teenagers suing world governments to enact new climate regulations. I stressed the always-present possibility of change.

But the truth is, I just don’t know, and my concern lies in more than the scientific data.

Yes, I do find the recent record temperatures at the Arctic Circle terrifying. I do find starving, emaciated polar bears hundreds of miles from their habitat worrisome. I am watching the reports of mass deaths of everything from bees to whales. But none of this, oddly, is as terrifying to me as the evidence that we, as a species, simply don’t care.

We humans are, on the whole, capable of remarkable things. When we put our minds to something, the results are impressive. Need I remind you, we’ve been to the moon. And since then, we’ve gone farther. We’ve put probes on Mars and into deep, deep outer space. We’ve gone into our own deep oceans and climbed the highest peaks. We really can do some astounding stuff. I believe we have the ability to figure this current situation out, and pull things back from the brink.


But we also have some rather staggering blind spots – and this is where we get into some pretty serious trouble. Our current predicament seems to me less a problem of science, and more a problem of reason. We do not, as a rule, seem capable of following a logic-chain of thought and acting upon it. Even when it is clearly in our own best interest.

For example, we know the damage caused by industrial level water extraction and the health implications of plastic, but we continue to buy bottled water sold by the very companies we curse. We watch the news footage of storms decimating the coast, but we continue to build massive McMansions right up against it. We know the value of bees, but we allow our government to lift the ban on pesticide that kills them.

So the Lorax’s enduring message, and question, remains: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

Do we?

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