As Zadie Smith writes in The New York Review of Books in an April 3, 2014 article entitled “Elegy for a Country’s Seasons”:
Sing an elegy for the washed away! For the cycles of life, for the saltwater marshes, the houses, the humans—whole islands of humans. Going, going, gone!
There is little doubt that our earth is changing, such that the next generation may not recognize the patterns that make for our own daily existence. Glaciers will be all but gone. Tornadoes, polar vortexes, hurricanes, typhoons, and giant storm cells will cover new parts of the globe. I for one will not say authoritatively that we are at fault or that we can prevent or even mitigate it, but I will try to do my part as if we can.
I do not profess to understand the psyche of climate change deniers. Suffice it to say that they will change their minds soon or die wrapped in a veil of profoundest ignorance. This actually has nothing to do with politics: It’s about the Earth, Our Mother. She’s entering a menopausal phase that will affect virtually everyone on the planet.
Zadie Smith continues:
Oh, what have we done! It’s a biblical question, and we do not seem to be able to pull ourselves out of its familiar—essentially religious—cycle of shame, denial, and self-flagellation. That is why (I shall tell my granddaughter) the apocalyptic scenarios did not help—the terrible truth is that we had a profound, historical attraction to apocalypse. In the end, the only thing that could create the necessary traction in our minds was the intimate loss of the things we loved.
Have we as a species ever turned our back on a powerful new technology? I can think of only a single example: When 16th Century Portuguese traders tried to sell the Japanese rifles, the Samurai opted to stick instead with their swords. Their whole military culture was predicated on the blade and their knowledge of how to wield it.
Maybe we should have stuck with the horse.