It's getting to the point where I'm ready to dig my snow brush from the garage and put it back into the trunk of my car.
Not for snow, for the ash.
I think of this as I ensure I have a clean face mask in my car, just in case I have to pop into the grocery story and buy another 32 roles of TP. Is it just me, or is the world coming to a crashing halt?
Scanning the headlines would seem to reinforce that point.
You may be asking, what's happening to our planet?
I have an answer for you and it's classic good-news, bad-news.
First, the bad news (stay with me, it gets better): we’re being surrounded by existential risks.
No, an existential risk isn’t something French philosophers debated in the 19th century (that’s existentialism). And it’s not what bookish teens of the 1980s pined about in their bedrooms (that’s existential angst or dread).
Existential risk is much worse.
In a twisted twist of fate, humanity appears to be facing more existential risks today than have ever threatened Earth in the previous 4.54 billion years.
They’re all around you, and they’re screaming for action.
An existential risk is a threat to all life on the planet, something so massive it demands to be taken seriously by every nation across the globe. An out-of-control virus and a runaway greenhouse effect are two of the easiest to understand.
Those should sound familiar, but we can also lump in the rise of Artificial Intelligence, errant asteroids the size of Vancouver, nuclear annihilation and the risks presented by physics experiments. They’re all low risks, but they may not stay that way for long.
By now, we’re all unwilling experts on coronavirus and climate change.
Anyone living west of the Pecos has witnessed uncontrollable wildfires encroach on their province or state each summer with increasing regularity. Farmers in California and Washington state are struggling under the crippling weight of record drought. Some towns in California have no water. None.
The people of Greece and Turkey are fleeing wildfires with the same fear those of you living on the west side of Okanagan Lake have done.
To top it off, nearly 200 people died when flooding swept through areas of Germany and Belgium.
I don’t care if you believe climate change is “business as usual” for the planet, just a normal phase the Earth endures every millennium or so.
And I really don’t care if you say COVID-19 was engineered in a lab and released upon the world by unscrupulous billionaires.
Regardless, we can do better and we’ll have to if we want this planet to survive into the 22nd century.
This is the good news. Humans have proven to be unfailingly resilient. We’ve survived global pandemics. We may have quelled the threat of nuclear war (for now), and we actually thrived after one of those asteroids snuffed out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
We have big brains. We need to use them. But we must be united, not as a nation, but as a planet.
Use the impending federal election to speak with candidates about existential risks. They’ll likely wrinkle their noses and look to make their escape, but these are issues they’ll have to learn about.
It’s not just an election issue. It’s a matter of survival.