The Third Act
It is grimly, tragically comic to observe China, the US & Russia posture and/or act violently as they declare themselves the new (China), the continuing (US) or returning global colossus (Russia), precisely as the catastrophic consequences of unchecked carbon emissions reveal themselves and threaten to extinguish much life on Earth — including the climate collapse cause-species aka “the rogue species,” homo sapiens.
The powerful among us are too cowardly or too inebriated with their own narcissism to recognize a bedrock fact about today’s reality and about deep time: From the point of view of a consciousness gazing back on today from the vantage point of 200 years in the future, what will stand out as most consequential in the post-1835 years is that humans embarked upon an enterprise of transferring subterranean carbon & methane into the sky.
Carbon parts per million in the Earth’s atmosphere goes from 270 pre-industrial to 415 ppm today. Global surface temperature increases by 1.4° C in that time period. And yet, remarkably, carbon emissions continue to rise each year. We are exiting Holocene, the climatic conditions that enabled the advent of agriculture 12,000 years ago. We have lived as parasites on the living world, making it bend to our will. However, that was the second act of the play in which we act. We now enter the third act, wherein the consequences of living so ignorantly and so isolated finally emerge. The US, China and Russia, meanwhile, bicker over the privilege of who will lead the charge into the abyss with the greatest force and arrogance. The winner presides over a great expanse of dying, disappearance & grief.