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March 30, 2010

Re: The Coming Zomgpocalypse

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 8:05 pm

Jay talks a lot about how we’re headed for major social and economic collapse if we don’t get our act together with regards to the environment, and probably even if we do. Basically, we’ve only got about 40 years’ worth of fossil fuel left (at a conservative estimate) and then shit’s gonna get crazy.

For some reason, I take this more seriously when Jay says it than when I hear it on TV or from the Internet. I believe the analysts’ arguments are pretty sound, but they mostly roll off my back without having much emotional or practical impact. Whereas, after talking to Jay, I find myself worrying meaningfully about the future. But since I don’t have a good sense of what to do next, this generally just devolves into me fantasizing about postapocalyptic nightmare scenarios involving welding flamethrowers to the hood of the Forester and driving pell-mell to California in search of my long lost love(s)/a utopian eco-community high in the Redwoods/bees or something.

(Only slightly) more realistically, I worry that all my ivory tower academic experiences and idealistic theories about human intimacy are going to be irrelevant once there’s no more electricity to power Google. That in a post-information economy, my lack of practical survival/trade skills is going to get me raped – or, perhaps, by that point I’ll be so old/classically-unattactive enough that I won’t even be able to trade sex for food and I’ll end up joining the heap of overwhelmingly poor, brown, and female dead bodies.

Thus, if I want to survive, I should really drop everything right now and work on becoming an agriculturalist, a carpenter, a solar-panel installation tech or (ironically) a diesel mechanic. Or (only slightly) more realistically, I should be committing myself personally and professionally to hardcore environmental political activism in order to stave off said coming collapse.

But here’s what I realized about that: I’m already doing the best thing I could be doing.

The academic work I do, and have been doing for going on ten years, is explicitly focused on improving the state of science education so that more people, and a greater diversity of people, can become scientists. Yeah, I can definitely take the bus more and eat fewer animal products, and I’m committed to doing those things. And maybe, if EVERY major consumer in the world did those things, we’d run out of fuel in 60 years instead of 40. But ultimately, what’s gonna have to solve the energy crisis is science.

So one of the best things we can be doing for the environment and human society, right now, is supporting science. One of the best ways to support a discipline is, of course, to infuse it with money; the other is to infuse it with new, innovative ideas and perspectives. Every kid going into Chemistry, Physics, or Electrical Engineering who otherwise wouldn’t have had the money or encouragement to become a scientist is one more chance we have at improving the efficiency of our homes, limiting environmental degradation, and maybe even finding that magic bullet.

I don’t know if this is THE best thing I can do for the environment, but I do know it’s the thing I’m best AT doing, and that doing it also allows me to feed myself and be near my loved ones. So, basically, if I want to be sustainably involved in saving the world, I should really just get off the Internet and do my damn job.

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1 Comment »

  1. I’m really loving reading your blog posts! This is going to be one of those squishy I ❤ U SOOO MUCH omg huggzzz kinda comments, I'm still getting my blog legs underneath me.

    But aside from how much I adore you (which btw is A LOT) and all that good stuff – my actual point about your post was this: I think that the Best things that each one of us can do for the our health, our communities' health, and our earth's health individually will go a long way. Even if it isn't what we think we "should" be doing on a larger scale – I really do see it as a sort of harm reduction situation – where everyone who can and is willing to do what they can to stave off doom contributes to a larger group of people everywhere who are doing what they can.

    Also telling myself to get off the internet and do anything else (however ineffectively) is pretty much my constant refrain to myself. AND – In the case of any sort of Zomgapocolypse BE ON MY TEAM! The more the merrier, we can be a band of roving hot queer poly tough folks who protect each other and stuff 🙂 In my head that's really more of an awesome idea for Joss Wheedon's next project – are you listening internetz? Make this happen.

    Comment by Brandi — March 31, 2010 @ 9:31 pm | Reply


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