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Comment: Dealing with despair, despondency and disillusion

A commentary by a Victoria resident.
Donetsk People Republic Emergency Situations Ministry employees clear rubble at the side of the damaged Mariupol theatre building during heavy fighting in Mariupol, in territory under the government of the Donetsk People's Republic, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, May 12, 2022. (AP Photo, File)

First Dave Obee’s cri de coeur over the SUV tire vandals, and then Saturday’s dire warning about more protests if “we do not act on climate.” It is enough to drive us to despair, despondency and disillusion.

Despair that the apocalypse is around the corner, despondency at the lengths some zealots are prepared to go to make their point, and disillusion with common sense of supposedly STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) educated people.

Calling the SUV tire deflators “performers” is quite right, but it is the theatre of the absurd. A true performer needs audience and these folk work under cover of darkness, but probably see themselves as climate warriors, a bit like Don Quixote who also tilted at windmills.

My despondency arises from the distraction all this hot air about climate catastrophe removes from far worse evils, like social disintegration, and its companion, war.

Mankind itself is in a state of crisis with civil discourse all but ceased, war in Europe, vile oppression in China, anarchy in much of the Muslim world and in Africa, fear for the demise of good government in the Blue/Red colour-coded U.S. and even here in Canada with the public baying for Justin Trudeau’s blood.

And then there is disillusion around our views of ourselves as being driven in our actions by science. “Pay heed to the science” is on everyone’s lips whether we are dealing with a pandemic or climate change.

It is quite clear that some influential people do not give tuppence for science if it comes from the wrong source, like a chief medical officer instead of from Facebook. And yet others will absorb uncritically pronouncements from those who call themselves scientists but use language that reflects an opinion not different from that of a high priest.

A key feature of science is doubt, born from the realization that every coin has two sides. But for some folk doubt has been dispelled.

A person who climbs on top of a hay bale in Saskatchewan may be forgiven for thinking the world is really flat. No sir, the word is more or less round and most of it is covered by water and the distribution of thermal energy by the movement of ocean water exceeds by a substantial margin the effects of mankind and nobody has a clue how the earth, forever changing in shape, affects the movement of the ocean currents.

But in the meantime, climate which has changed incessantly over the last five or six billion years is now deemed as a worthwhile target for more stability through human intervention.

We do not know why the last ice age happened. Given our predilection to blame our forbears for today’s ills, why not blame our ignorant humanoid ancestors for that catastrophe?

With such appalling lack of critical thinking one wonders how much of what we deem as science is merely a new type of religion, where belief swamps understanding, and just like the religious warriors of the past, justifies all means by the noble end desired: Set an example by drawing attention to the assumed environmental damage caused by SUVs by deflating, to the immense inconvenience of the owners, its tires. At all costs stop Armageddon.

If we really want to save the world, if we really believe mankind is driving the world to its ghastly end, then the noble, altruistic thing to do would be to eliminate mankind. But thus far we are not planning to go.

We merely want to stop tar sand production and deflating tires is as good a way as any to achieve that end. This line of reasoning has the curious added benefit of driving home the fact that a reason why we have an oil industry at all, is because mankind enjoys the use of its product.

Gwyn Morgan should be pleased. “The fault dear Brutus, lies not in our industry, but with our customers.”