We are on a collision course with the end of life here as we know it. The “icebergs” toward which we are heading “full-steam ahead” are the consequences of our failure to heed the warnings, deafened by the sound of our greed or, worse yet, apathy or denial.
Imagine us all, the human race, being aboard the fated ship Titanic. Only this time, its called Planet Earth.
Too many of us continue to believe we are “unsinkable” as an eco-system, preferring the myth that Earth heals itself.
Using this Titanic metaphor came to me while re-viewing the television mini-series “Titanic: Blood and Steel” which I would recommend to anyone as a perfect case study in the domino effect of wrong thinking coupled with failed leadership to listen to engineers’ cautions, while driven by pride and profit.
Ultimately, Titanic’s sinking tallied up to a massive 2,224 lost souls, with just 710 survivors. It should not escape us that the greatest loss of life was among the steerage, or lowest-paying, emmigrant passengers, at 78% lost, as compared to less than half that toll among the first-class, wealthy voyagers. Let us not forget also, that among any age group, the death toll among children was highest at 51%.
What can be learned here?
First, we see the sheer arrogance of finacier, J. P. Morgan, who commissioned the Titanic, emboldened by the vision that his White Star line could continue building larger and larger ships defying the mathmatics of scale vs. science and nature itself. After Titanic, another even larger ship was on the drawing board. To him and the Titanic builders, gambling with the environment, with nature, was never going to end badly.
Secondly, with the mini-series story centered around the trials of a hired metallurgist, we witness how he, on several occasions during Titanic’s construction, warned the shipyard owners of stress points, shoddy riveting (due to hiring unskilled workers during a labor dispute), and bulkheads not being strong or high enough. This last factor alone could have saved the ship’s compartments from collapsing so rapidly.
The bottom line, and why the ship now lies at the bottom of the Atlantic, comes to greed. At every turn, the protagonist in this story was denied his requests for improvements. His warnings, like scientists today, were ignored because of the potential “costs” to correct matters in time to avoid disaster.
This callous disregard even extended to the life boats. Refusing to place an adequate number to hold passengers and crew, was based on thinking the sheer number of boats would scare the passengers and ruin the deck’s ascetics.
Now for an eerie added note.
Some 14 years before the Titanic met its fate, a novel was published, ironically called, “Fatality: The Wreck of the Titan.” The ship in this story hits icebergs and sinks with great loss of life.
We have such harbingers of doom in the environmental realm too, in films, books, presentations, and with growing media attention.
Could it be that we simply do not have the “will” as a global community, despite the accords and agreements, to correct our course?
Alternative energy strategies and products are beginning to balance off dependency on fossil fuels. Prices for such tools are becoming more affordable and available on the “average consumer’s” level, though still far out of reach for most.
We have not choice. We must continue demonstrating the evidence-based realities of climate change, including rising temperatures and sea levels, erratic weather patterns altering hundreds of years of growing seasons, floods and droughts.
Could it be that most of the seminars, teach-ins, conferences and conventions on these matters are like preaching to the choir?
Will the last gasp be as Titanic’s Captain Smith said in is farewell to the crew, “Women and children first,” adding, a look-out-for-yourselves too.
“Women and children first?”
Well, yes, in this case, as in all struggles, aren’t they the first to absorb the shock of indecision, and will they not be the first victims of “too late” half attempts to save the planet from ourselves and for generations to come?
The more “fortunate” among us will be clamoring for the too few life boats (higher ground and safe places) while most of us will not escape. North/South, Have/ Have Not and
“class” conflicts will escalate over disputes for land and water. Wars instigated by religion, power, philosophies and even oil and minerals will be nothing compared to fights for survival.
Yes, we ARE Titanic! We are either passengers or the crew. We are the ship builders or the scientists who see the stress points, but they are silenced by “denial.” We elect politicians without knowing their true colors on climate change or their true allegiances and patrons to their campaigns.
If the good ship “Mother Earth” goes down, we are to blame. We, who refused to see the icebergs on the horizon.
When we fear, experts say, our human reactions are either “fight, flight, or freeze.” I am growing more concerned that we are caught in the “freeze” mode. To “fight” is not acceptable, not civil, and we cannot truly detect the real enemy anyway. We cannot take “flight” because we have no where to go.
So, if YOU are not ready to head for the life boats, try this:
Go to DoSomething.org, or any such environmental website, and take ACTION!
At risk of pushing the “Titanic” metaphor too much, PLEASE watch, “Before The Flood,” created and narrated by the “Titanic” film star , Leonardo DiCaprio, which airs on the National Geographic Channel, and FREE everywhere, October 30!
The film captivates DiCaprio’s three-year exploration of climate change and its devastating impact which is coming soon, too soon,to a continent nearer to you than you think.
The unlikely student