On Monday, September 22, a group of protesters once again took to the streets of Wall Street. Much like the #Occupy protests which preceded them, these protesters were angry and arrested. The cause for their anger? Climate change.
- (Source: [[LINK||http://www.ncdc.noaa.
That’s right. The same climate change problem that has continually been called a hoax by some, a stance which was hilariously negated by John Oliver on Last Week Tonight. The same global problem which is causing rising sea temperatures, droughts, and may be pushing our planet toward a sixth mass extinction.
The connection between Wall Street and climate change seems stretched, at best, to most people. How could massive corporations have anything to do with the destruction of the ecosystem?
If you include, among those corporations which rake in untold sums of money annually, petroleum manufacturers – so called Big Oil – then the connection becomes clear. Global climate change (often referred to as global warming) has been linked to the increase of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, which comes from the burning of fossil fuels.
Of course, they’re not the only corporations which have a link to climate change. Nestle has famously said that water should not be a human right, and should be privatized. He may not even need to go that far – if climate change continues, and droughts get worse, Nestle won’t even have to pay off a politician to make people buy their water. They may literally have no other option.
The Problem With Change
The problem with change is rather simple – we don’t like it. Humans don’t like change because change is inherently a gamble, and it’s a gamble you often have very little control over. Sure, we could cut back on our oil consumption and put money into alternative energies, but then what would we do with our now-rapidly-not-expanding bank accounts?
My uncle is a chemical engineer for British Petroleum (BP). That’s right – THAT British Petroleum. Nevertheless, he is an incredibly smart man. When I visited him in Chicago a few years ago with my son, I asked him about alternative energy sources, and he responded that they just weren’t’ advanced or efficient enough to take the place of gasoline and other petroleum products.
Now, he raised a good point – alternative energy resources are often far less sophisticated than traditional petroleum resources. Part of that is because the energy economy runs almost entirely on petroleum, and so has no real incentive to churn out efficient alternative energy units. In effect, this argument is akin to pointing out my son can’t drive a car anywhere near as well as I can. Of course he can’t – I’m an adult and he’s four years old; but just because he can’t drive yet doesn’t mean we automatically ban him from driving a car ever.
Since that conversation with my uncle, great strides have been made in such alternative energies as solar panels.
And yet BP (the company, not my uncle) will almost undoubtedly say that solar energy is unreliable, or inefficient, or what have you. Because, at the base of it, the switch from petroleum to solar energy is a gamble they’ll have to bet their fortunes on. And for big oil, the transition from petroleum to renewable energy means that they will ultimately lose their power in the energy arena.
Necessary Steps to Type 1
As the human race continues to evolve and change, it will either head to it’s own destruction or to a new, grander status – Type 1. A civilization which is global, has outgrown the needs for fossil fuels, which can only be reached, altered, and used at the detriment of the only home we’ve yet known.
In his speech from The Dictator, Charlie Chaplin said, “To those who can hear my, I say do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress,” then stating that “you the people have the power.” In Jurassic Park, Jeff Goldblum states that “life breaks free, it expands to new territories and crashes through barriers, painfully, maybe even dangerously,” also saying that “life finds a way.”
While not explicitly about humanity’s movement towards Type 1 from Type 0, Goldblum’s words nonetheless feel relevant to trans-intellectualism. If we ever wish to truly be free of a Type 0 civilization, we need to break through the intellectual and economical cubicles which we have so complacently placed ourselves in.
We cannot have a global civilization if we have an outlook where those who have are winners, and those who have not should be simply left behind. We likewise cannot have a global civilization if we let our capitalistic tendencies and desires poison our only home, ruining it so that a few may have a slightly larger bank account.
We need to see our indulgence in petroleum as it truly is – an addiction, held by a powerful few with far too much influence within our society. Without that, we may have no hope. We must ask the hard questions, break through barriers to enlightenment in which the path towards Type 1 and beyond.
Without that necessary step, without confronting climate change and those who deny it or profit from it or both, our species epitaph may have already been written:
The indulgence of our lives has cast a shadow on our world. Our devotion to our appetites betrayed us all. -Disturbed, “Another Way to Die”