When We’ll Take the Environment Seriously

The arctic melts. The gulf stream stutters. Average temperatures rise. Species go extinct. Yet no one takes the destruction of the environment seriously. What would it take for that to change?

18 thoughts on “When We’ll Take the Environment Seriously

  1. You are absolutely right! We are incredibly shortsighted and it would take something huge, but also has an impact on daily lives to wake us up. Till then, Polar Bears, despite their cuteness, can go to hell.

  2. SilentEcho, if we could smoke, drink, or eat Polar Bears then they'd be saved and Global warming would be dealt with the way it should be. I normally don't agree with Ted but this comic is right on the mark.
    Nice Job.


  3. The problem is deeper than just a matter of convincing enough people to become environmentalists. Our entire economic system is based on the premise that the environment is a passive actor and that the only important component is getting the social and political systems to work in a more equitable manner.

    Industry does not operate on a fundamental component of scarcity, it mines nature for wealth, rather than working within ecological resource flows that permit recharge. In essence, Capitalism turns EVERYTHING into a non-renewable resource, because that is the only way to create wealth, through contrived scarcity.

    The problem with this is, our environment is not contrived through social constructions. The problem is so intense that people willfully and deliberately deny incredibly undeniable evidence, but deeper than that is the challenge of ecological sustainability to the entire social order of industrialism.

    We're screwed, now bring me my plate of Sashimi!

  4. It's a familiar Sci-Fi plot, what if the Earth was an organism with a sophisticated and healthy immune system? Tsunamis, earthquakes and other natural disasters have rid the Earth of millions of pesky human lice throughout history, this has been about as effective as as a dog scratching at it's flea infestation, and often eliminates only the the least harmful parasites. Imagine the freeways of your city swarming with gigantic leukocytes, headed for the financial districts, the malls and all the coal-fired power plants.

  5. Thank you for the good laugh Ted. I'm glad you have broken away from your recent kick of trying increase the suicide rate. I'm sure you will be back at it soon enough, but at least it will give my wrists time to heal (j/k)

    Another rude awakening would be if Dayton Speedway is flooded due to sea levels rising. NASCAR fans would finally understand about "climate change". Of course one could see a different NASCAR emerge from this.

    "Ladies and Gentlemen, what is more exciting than cars racing in a circle? Boats racing in a circle!"

  6. Aggie Dude, there's also the fact that our current system requires ever expanding markets to avoid collapse. So not only does it hungrily devour any "resource" that's deemed "profitable," but it also requires a constant acceleration of the consumption. We're screwed on both ends of this.

    The real sad thing is that the Earth's going to be much less biologically diverse place when the system finally collapses–and probably a less pleasant place for the surviving humans to live in, even if nuclear wars are avoided.

    There's a lot of talk these days about why we haven't been contacted by alien life, if life is indeed common in the Universe. The older I get, the more I think that the Drake equation should be factored using a very short time span as the average length of a civilization. The only alternative is imagining civilizations that develop technology, but somehow learn how to use it sparingly and return to a Native American kind of ethos…

  7. All this doom and gloom is so self-serving. It assumes that man is all that important. If you are talking time, we are a blip. When the earth is really old and gray and remembering its lonnnnnng history, man will be remembered (if at all) as that bad zit that ruined a teenage weekend.

    • You got into an IB English language and literature exam, I literally analysed this comic (sans the third panel) in contrast with your comment in my English class lmao.

  8. Grouchy, absolutely right.

    Anon 8:48. I see your point, but I think it's irrelevant. Of course we're "all that important." . . .what else would we be? Of course our continued survival, our posterity, and quality of life is important to us…what's the alternative? That's not to say nothing else is important, but at the end of the day, even if the Polar Bear IS important… important to whom? To US!

    As a collective we are not capable of NOT seeing ourselves as important.

  9. I dunno, I have met a lot of "average" people with strong opinions about the environment. The problem is, they're bad opinions.

    The environment is not ignored, the problem is it's become just another political football to be ground up and masticated by the gridlock machine that Washington uses to insure the sound and fury continues while nothing changes; especially including the people sitting in the cushy seats.

    As, for example, if you happen to say "I'm a biologist studying the Salt Water Titmouse", these days you are likely to get the response, "Oh, I see, so you're a socialist on Obama's dole who wants to gut the economy and weaken the dollar and international trade, then?"

  10. Grouchy, I'm with with Fermi on this one: the reason we haven't been contacted is that we are quite alone.

    Now, if there were other races in the universe, and they behaved like my native ancestors in this part of the Americas, they would be fighting wars against each other all over the Galaxy.

  11. Some of indigenous Americans might have liked war (which, incidentally, helps keep the population in check) but they didn't destroy their land base–they worshiped it and realized that their lives depended on it. When they attacked each other, they only left arrowheads in the earth, not depleted uranium.

    They could teach us something about sustainability–their way of living lasted 10s of thousands of years, and they would still be at it if the Europeans hadn't arrived. It looks doubtful that the present civilization of North America will last another century…

  12. Quoth Grouchy:

    Some of indigenous Americans might have liked war (which, incidentally, helps keep the population in check) …

    That is an abolutely abominable line of thought.

    but they didn't destroy their land base–they worshiped it and realized that their lives depended on it. When they attacked each other, they only left arrowheads in the earth, not depleted uranium.

    Yeah, tell that to the mammoth and giant sloth. Rousseau is so last century (wait, he's so the century before that). There ain't no such thing as a noble savage, and the only reason the Iroquois, the Arawak, or the Tupi (or Genghis Khan, for that matter) left only arrowheads and people heads on the ground is because they didn't know depleted uranium. War mongers will be war mongers, no matter their race, and your brand of White Guilt™ is so boring…

  13. Claiming that the natives wouldn't have polluted had they industrialized is like claiming that Kennedy wouldn't have escalated Vietnam had he not been assassinated.

    Read: Guns, Germs and Steel.

    It is an organizational process, the successful development project instills in its future generations a disregard for the weak. The environment is seen as weak.

    From the forest itself, comes the handle for the ax.

  14. Incitatus, The fate of the mammoth and giant sloth are debatable. It's looking unlikely that those species died because of human predation. Read the current science. Your science is so 20th century.

    And: You can point out a dozen war-like tribes, and I can point out a dozen peaceful tribes who were more egalitarian than present-day America.

    Aggie Dude's point is interesting. I'm talking about the native cultures that were decentralized–industrialization wasn't possible. They didn't produce pollution, and they realized that their lives (and their children's lives) depended on keeping their landbase intact. (It's pretty easy to keep that in mind when you're living directly off the land.)

    Those that became authoritarian and imperial (like the Mayans) died out. Egalitarian, hunter/gather cultures are sustainable. They last 10s of thousands of years. There's no reason to believe that the natives of North America wouldn't still be living sustainably until the end of the epoch if they hadn't been overrun by Europeans.

    I'm not peddling "white guilt," (hmmmm, you're quite quick to make the charge, why so defensive?), or Rousseau's noble savage. Read what I said.

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