I don’t know how many people caught the documentary last night on ABC, Earth 2100, but I hope it was everyone with a TV. If you didn’t catch the broadcast, follow the link and watch it online. The show uses an imaginary biography of a woman named Lucy, born June 2, 2009, the day of the show, and follows her to the year 2100. Lucy’s life is shown in anime-like graphics, interspersed with very famous talking heads. Well famous to me, since I read a lot of books on climate change, and also watch a lot of science shows featuring these same big brains Wizards from Oz..
The show is two hours long, and I’ll spoil the ending for you. Things go very bad. But that’s the point. The producers want to scare us, and their scenario is very scary. Imagine spending a lot of your life like those poor bastards at the stadium in New Orleans after Katrina. Throw in the Mad Max flicks, Waterworld and The Postman, and you’ll get the picture.
The producers of Earth 2100 claimed they were giving the worst case projection, but I’ve read and imagined far worse. In the last ten minutes of the show the producers pull back and plead, “It doesn’t have to be this way, if we act smart now.”
I’m afraid my first thought was of last broadcast of the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and his Jaywalking routine. I’m not trying to be a holier-than-thou snob. I just read The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time by Will Durant, and I’ve been feeling like total dumb-ass all day as it is. The world is loaded with brilliant people, but most of us aren’t so Einsteiny. The happy alternative ending to Earth 2100 only works if the average billions of ordinary boob-tube addicts start acting a lot smarter than we have been up to now. Is that even possible? As long as a good percentage of the population refuse to even accept we have a climate change problem, the odds of avoiding the coming dark ages is betting on a long-shot.
Within the show they bring up the conservative belief that, “The American Way of Life is Not Negotiable,” which is a fascinating philosophical stance. But that’s like a junky declaring that giving up heroin is not negotiable. A way of life that is totally self-destructive shouldn’t be one you want to keep, unless you are deluded that it’s one hell of a high that you can’t live without. If only it was an American problem! The Earth might survive just our abuse. The trouble is the rest of the world wants to copy our way of life.
At one point in the show they have a graphic that basically says, “Whoops, we just had 6 billion people die.” But that leaves the remaining 3.1 billion living in Hell on Earth. For decades we have sat in our wealth and watch African famines on high definition TVs and don’t do shit. But what if the American way of life becomes one of living in a refuge camp, starving with flies buzzing around our faces, and waiting all day for the water truck so we can riot to fill our plastic buckets? It’s one kind of ethical crime to ignore dying people half-way around the globe, but it’s a whole other monumental ethical failure to not help yourself and your family when you do have the resources.
Of course, prophets have always yelled that Hell is coming to town, but anyone who studies the Old Testament actually knows how many people pay attention. Who knows, maybe one day in the far future when a new civilization chronicles our looming dark ages, they will give credit to Earth 2100 as being some kind of 21st century televised Isaiah.
JWH – 6/3/9