The Acid Reign of Ignorance

Ignorance isn’t something that changes overnight. Neither is intelligence. Both take time to develop, and if so much energy is being poured into believing something, wouldn’t it be more rewarding to eventually arrive at the truth? Granted, it is a truth that may change form in the future, for that is what drives science and life forward – mistakes – but given what we know and can tangibly prove, how can ignorance be more appealing than knowledge? Can it really all boil down to self-interest and greed? Special interests seeking short-term monetary gain or political clout at the expense of our planet’s future? Stubbornness outweighing the writing on the seawall?

The sky-is-falling rhetoric of our terrestrial abuse was barely a whisper back in the 1970’s, but nearly 50 years later, the narrative hasn’t changed or been reeled back. In fact, it has only grown more dire and difficult to reverse; the cynics (or realists) among us declare that we have passed this disaster’s point of no return, although the horrors beyond our event horizon can be seen in this environmentally barren future. There is a terrifying gravitas to what the coming decades will bring.

These were my thoughts on April 22nd of this year, the day of the Science March, in which the phrase on one hoisted sign is still burned in my memory – “I can’t believe I’m marching for this shit in 2017”.

Not artful, but accurate, and it remains the sentiment that epitomized the day best. In fact, in the recent deluge of protest marches and demonstrations, that sign wouldn’t have been out of place in a single one. It truly is unbelievable, like the shock of an accident that never wears off; instead, new jolts of insanity are continually fed into the main line, keeping us slack-jawed and enraged. It feels as though we are living in The Upside Down, or one of Dalí’s discarded mistakes – a place where facts are mercurial, progress flows backward, and the future is only a possibility.

Within this climate of ignorance, marching down the Chicago boulevards beside 40,000 other truth-seekers and scientific souls was a refreshing reminder that perhaps all is not lost. For a few moments in that rattling hum of far-too-clever slogans, it seemed – as it has inevitably done in every era of man – that truth would win out over falsehood, science would eradicate idiocy, and facts would supplant fantasies and fear.

I stood next to pollination scientists and astrophysicists shouting beside librarians and nurses, children proudly bearing dioramas and senior citizens hoisting banners borne of dot matrix printers, anti-Fascists and Christians and hippies galore, nerds and those who love them, families and loners, researchers and protest-lovers, sign-bearers and slogan-shouters, quiet dissenters and brash megaphone-heads… all marched together, in defense of reality, of the inalienable right to call bullshit when the rest of the world can already smell it.

Sustainability as a species now depends on that resilience of logic, of experts demanding the wheel of decision-making power, of passionate activists making their stand, of human beings to rise up, informed and infuriated, to demand that we not relinquish our right to exist – and persist. We humans are pathetically shortsighted, existentially armed with our century-if-we’re-lucky lifespans, and solving that tunnel vision of mortality seems impossible at times, but how can we ignore tentative reports that human extinction is entirely possible by the end of the 21st century? For someone to have crunched the numbers, assuming variables based in reality, and determined that the potential for our extinction is statistically significant… how can that be dismissed?

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Dig the rest of this rant in Sheriff Nottingham X: The Green Issue, coming out June 5th!

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