Friday, December 25, 2015

HOLODECK FOR THE HOLIDAYS?


Christmas Day here in Boston. It was 65' Fahrenheit (18'C) and sunny at the beach. The full moon tide was high up onto the causeway where we walk out into the harbor. It felt like we were walking on the water as we looked out to the harbor islands. The eider ducks, stopping off on their migration, looked at all the humans on the causeway from a safe distance. Perhaps they were thinking, "Why do they look so near?"

Well, the reason is climate change, of course. I say "of course" as someone who has been walking at the sea's edge regularly for the last decade. Something an Oklahoman oil-industry worker seldom does. I have not had the luxury of denial. I have been watching the tides climb, inch by inch.

Now the tides of human beings are in play. Tides of people fleeing from war are also fleeing from worsening environmental collapse in North Africa and Middle East due to global temperature rise and overpopulation. Tides of people fleeing Central America for the same reasons. Tides of people fleeing to mega-cities everywhere with the collapse of sustainable village-based agriculture.

Great personal fortunes are being made by the predators who always make great personal fortunes from human misery and war. I don't mean human traffickers, necessarily. I mean people with stock portfolios. I mean people who sell fast food to the obese. I mean people who sell SUV's cheaper than electric cars. Yes, I also mean human traffickers and drug dealers. I also mean distillers and brewers and bar owners and legitimate drug manufacturers. I also mean the owners of sports teams. casinos, violent computer games. I also mean the real estate developers who cram human beings into glass towers and praise themselves for design innovation.

Where is the planet going this Christmas Day? Around its sun, as it will do until that sun blows up eventually. Where are human beings going this Christmas Day? They are going against the best of human nature, as they have always done when they become too numerous and the quality of the single human life diminishes. This, after all, is the planet's nature: Closed system which seeks equilibrium. 

Perhaps the techies among us shrug. They may feel electronically omnipotent, even intellectually superior. The humble electron has made them powerful and wealthy, as oil has made others before them. Now they are wrestling for power among themselves, as the oil barons had before them. The looming wall of limited bandwidth threatens. The availability of tech to the billions also requires great effort and resources. Producing all those electrons in wires and batteries has its costs. How sustainable are those costs? Will the planet always cooperate with their agenda?

There may be a Christmas Day in the not-so-distant future when the rich will be sealed in their own safe ecosystems while the roiling masses struggle for survival outside. That outside may well encompass the vast majority of the surface of the planet. While billions scrap for food and warmth, the 1 % most assuredly will throw snowballs and ski on their holodecks. It is what certain humans will always do, while the rest suffer. 


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