Decade of Destruction

The 2010’s have been a wild ride and we’ve seen some major shit.

The world is burning around us, Donald Trump is president, Brexit is Brexiting, and Jared from Subway is ‘Enjoying a Footlong in Jail’. Nobody would have believed any of this way back in 2009! We were too busy crying for Michael Jackson and deciding between Facebook and Myspace. Instagram and the iPad didn’t even exist yet, Miley Cyrus was still Hannah Montana, and Trump was still a second-tier blowhard reality star. Which he kinda still is.

You see where I’m going with this. A lot has changed in just ten years, and not a whole lot of it for the better. It was only halfway through this decade in 2015 that global C02 levels passed the symbolic 400-parts-per-million threshold. Symbolic how? Well, the last time it happened was between 3 and 5 million years ago. Humans didn’t exist, and sea levels were 10-20 meters higher than they are now. This would make New York City the new Atlantis. That C02 level keeps going up, by the way. In 2018, that number had spiked to 407.8 ppm, and continues rising today.

This means global warming is just starting to heat up, as evidenced by a decade of increasingly insane natural disasters all over the world, such as the fires burning now in Australia.

In the USA, (the richest nation in the world that somehow continues to rank at the bottom in the fight against climate change—slash—the end of the world as we know it) these disasters are piling up. Sadly, nobody in a position of political power seems to care.

From 2016 to 2018, the USA had 45 separate ‘events’ linked to climate that caused over a billion dollars each in damages. These events range from massive wildfires to hurricanes, drought, and polluted water supplies, a clarion call falling on deaf ears as the US government continued to withdraw from the already too-feeble Paris Climate Accord and loosened environmental regulations. Those fuckers even gutted the Clean Air Act.

With 17.6 billion pounds of plastic entering our oceans every year—so much that some scientists dourly predict it will outweigh all the fish in the sea by 2050, and Arctic temps spiking 1.8 degrees over the last ten years (the whole planet gained just 1 degree over the preceding half century)—it almost seems like it doesn’t matter anymore. It certainly doesn’t for an adorable mouse called the Bramble Cay melomy, who in 2016 claimed the dubious award of being the first mammal to go extinct because of climate change. So long, li’l buddy.

It didn’t have to be this way, of course.

Back in 2009, the United States military and intelligence agencies warned that climate would become one of the gravest threats to national security. Retired Marine General Anthony Zinni urged lawmakers to consider legislation that would curb fossil fuel and C02 emissions, despite the high price tag, ‘or we will pay the price later in military terms, and that will involve human lives.’

Ten years later, the Amazon is on fire and the President of the United States claims climate change is a hoax while installing fossil fuel lobbyists to run the EPA.

If nothing else, at least the ensuing years have seen an upswing of activism, thanks in part to our ability to share outrage in real time on now-ubiquitous social media. Millions of people have taken to the streets around the world to demand climate action. Children are rallying around an unlikely hero in the form of Greta Thunberg, whose unrelenting call for action earned her the youngest Time Magazine Person of the Year ever dished out, though it remains to be seen if such an honor matters in the grand scheme of things. At least she’s gotten the attention of President Trump, who took to his own social media feed to make fun of her before returning to lying constantly and stealing as much as his tiny little hands could grab before it’s too late.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned in these ten years, it’s that money and power—not common sense and the people—really rule the world. Here’s hoping that the next ten see that balance shift, one way or another.

Unless, of course, it’s already too late. Happy holidays!

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