Billmon as prophet of the last days
Here’s an excerpt that echoes my pessimistic “fish out of water” hypothesis:
Maybe as a species we really have reached the same evolutionary dead end as Australopithecus robustus – intelligent enough as a species to create problems we're not bright enough, or adaptable enough, to solve. I don’t know. But if extinction, or a return to the dark ages, is indeed our fate – or our grandchildren’s fate, anyway – I think it will be a Hobson’s choice as to which cultural tendency will bear the largest share of the blame: the arrogant empiricism that has made human society into an instrument of technological progress instead of the other way around, the ignorant prejudices of the masses, who are happy to consume the material benefits of the Enlightenment but unwilling to assume intellectual responsibility for them, or the cynical nihilism of corporate and political elites who are willing to play upon the latter in order to perpetuate the former, which is, after all is said and done, their ultimate claim to power.I am perhaps more optimistic than this. I figure after about 350,000,000 people are dislocated or killed by climate-change related disasters (more if they’re African, fewer if they’re cute, blond, American 8-year-olds), our politicians and scientists will find some very expensive solutions and start to implement them. After another quarter billion or so perish, the problem will be brought under control. Some wonk will point out that if we had addressed the problem 20 years earlier half a billion lives could have been saved at one-tenth the cost. And then humanity will do it all over again.
None of this seems to faze Gore – or if it does, he and his cinema Boswells manage to keep it well hidden in An Inconvenient Truth. I don’t know if that’s because Al simply doesn’t see the situation in the same bleak terms that I do (he seems like a smart guy, but you never know) or whether, like the doctor protagonist in Camus’s The Plague , he’s decided that work – all that schlepping from airport to airport – is the only sane alternative to despair.