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Probably the worst thing about the world deciding it has had enough of our species, and it's time we were put-down, is the fact that the people who always warned us this was going to happen, were often the particularly annoying ones, writes Kate Oktay.
Well, that and possibly watching a poisoned world die. That will also not be great.
Every few decades, a generation sees the need for change, and society jolts forth. Past generations have had their challenges: slavery, terrorising gay people, women being treated as not quite human. We have been making ourselves slowly better. Humanity has lifted itself, mostly, out of the mud of poverty, and despair, and overt and awful discrimination. But, now we are here, where, while we were trying to be less dickish to each other, it turns out we were still being quite dickish overall.
And the people who for the past half century have been smelling of patchouli and indignation while telling us about where the planet was headed, have turned out to be right. I think everyone can agree, that is fairly disappointing.
Right now, it feels as though civilisation is at a crux, and we could go one way or the other. Possibly with a crash. The sixth great extinction, Donald Trump leading America, and Britain imploding, all just feel a wee bit ... Hitler-ish. But there is also a fresh breeze whipping through the world, led by youth and the wonderful Greta, and suddenly everything feels a little less doomed.
But in order to turn the ship that is currently careening towards oblivion around, we all have to make major changes to our lives. Well, we can continue living exactly the way we have been for a few more years, but that will only really work out if you only have a few more years to live anyway. Because past that, we will get two new seasons, replacing the previous four. We can call them Flamey and Floody. There will also be a few more people here. Syria had 7 million refugees, and was quite a long way from New Zealand. Indonesia has a population of 264 million, is nice and close, and is predicted to be somewhat underwater in the coming decades. If you think Auckland is "a bit busy" you are not going to like what happens next.
The recent government call to slash agricultural emissions is a start, but why should rural people pay for their pollution when nobody else does? We need to protect our environment, but this requires everybody making a sacrifice. Yes, our rivers need protecting. But our oceans are also valuable, and city-dwellers in New Zealand are OK about their own effluent pouring into them after every heavy rain.
As a society we are all responsible. Producing unimaginable amounts of rubbish and "recycling" that gets picked up and driven away every week. Buying $5 tee-shirts even though the fast-fashion industry's carbon emissions dwarf aviation (let that happy little fact sit on your shoulder and whisper in your ear the next time you are adding discounted items to your online cart). Taking another loaf of plastic-wrapped bread out of the cupboard and plastic-bottled milk out of the fridge several times a day. We all need to change.
The environmental cost must be built into the cost at the till. There must be a cost for the polluter, and the person driving the pollution is the consumer. Yes, factories and farms should be regulated, but so should the individual. If you are buying things that are causing pollution elsewhere on the planet then you should be paying for it. The cost of a product is not just the dollar you are charged at the supermarket or the mall. It is the coal-powered factory that produced it. It is the exploitative labour practice that made it that cheap. It is having more plastic than fish in the sea. It is the ridiculous amount of unnecessary "stuff" we are drowning in.
Things need to change. We need to change. It's time to do something. Or, you could just chuck on The Road every Friday for the kids to watch as training for the future, get really good at swimming, knife fights, and lying to your grandchildren about how you always recycled, and think about the weight you will lose once all the canned goods get eaten.
PS: If you are part of the population that still doesn't believe in climate change, I would encourage you to look up the Flat Earth Society; you are gonna love those guys. You will have a lot in common; facts are just intellectuals trying to tell you what to think. Science is only one option, there is also magic, and just believing in what you would like to be true.