The end game – a call to action
Having just watched Marvel Studios’ movie “Avengers, End Game” with my son, which is probably well on its way to becoming one of the most watched movies of all time, it got me thinking about which superhero I would like to be.
Perhaps ‘Iron Man’, aka Tony Stark, who seems to be extremely gifted and able to conceive and construct anything he needs, definitely one of the main characters and the star in this movie? Or, maybe ‘the Hulk’, aka Bruce Banner, with unmatched strength, although his strength comes mostly out of anger akin to the ultimate ‘road rage’? There are so many heroes in the movie it is hard to choose. God of Thunder, Thor? Captain America, maybe? Or possibly the Canadian equivalent, Captain Canada? He somehow didn’t make the cut for this movie and I’m not sure why. Probably for the same reason that Canada always seems to play second fiddle to our American cousins to the south.
Instead of identifying with any one of the superheroes in this great action movie, I have decided that I would like to create my own alter ego as ‘King Carbon’. This would be a salute to the vital element from which all known life forms are made and having ‘bon’ in the name is good. Carbon is good and Kings outrank mere Captains.
For one of my superhuman abilities I would instantly be able to create as many carbon copies of myself as I wanted. My suit would be made of incredibly strong carbon-fibre or graphene and it would have to be green in colour to make the statement that carbon is essential for all life on Earth, especially for the abundance of the green planetary plants and trees that share the biosphere with us humans and the animal kingdom and on which we all rely for sustenance and survival.
Carbon has taken a bad rap for many years particularly in combination with oxygen, since carbon monoxide is toxic. Carbon dioxide is blamed for being a greenhouse gas, even though it is mostly what animals expel from their bodies during the natural respiration process of breathing. Thankfully, so far, the government, hasn’t imposed a breathing tax on us.
The good news is that plants obtain much of the carbon they need through photosynthesis by absorbing carbon dioxide from the air and expelling oxygen, which is vital for our needs. This is the perfect symbiotic arrangement, a relationship that requires the right balance between plant and animal lifeforms (including humans).
Lately, even hydrocarbons are frowned upon, although without them our lives would be miserable in the extreme. A life without oil, gas, diesel, kerosene, butane, methane, ethane, propane, etc. would leave only limited choices for heating homes. Fueling all means of transport by land, sea and air would cause further decimation of the forests as burning wood would be the only realistic fuel of choice for the masses.
A life without polymers used for plastics, solvents, cleaners, paraffin, waxes, paint, greases, asphalt and as a component in just about every manufactured item in common use in the modern world today, would be a disaster on an unimaginable scale.
There are many who would like to see us return to the pre-industrial revolution era, which would mean turning our backs on technology and the worldwide advances made to improve our quality of life. Living off the grid does have some appeal, if only to save some money from the ever-increasing cost of fuel and energy, largely due to the taxes that are added on to fill government coffers.
Instead of imposing taxes on carbon emissions in a vain effort to change human behaviour and as a means to magically correct the perceived imperative to lower temperatures and somehow alter the climate favorably, (whatever that is), perhaps we should first be trying to restore the volume and diversity of plants and trees on the planet and somehow control the unsustainable exponential explosion of the human population.
We are living longer lives than in previous times, with better medicines, medical knowledge and technology. Pandemics that historically decimated populations can now be eliminated with vaccines and advanced imaging, diagnosis and treatment. Quality nutritious food and clean water are widely available, health and healthcare have generally improved, and if we can only convince people to live in peace and harmony without going to war, even more lives will be extended.
While all this is good, it compounds the over-population problem which is made worse by having to clear natural vegetation for crop growth and build infrastructure to accommodate more and more of us.
To put this into perspective, based on the current annual world population growth rate of 1.09%, there will be 83 million more of us each year. Calgary has a population of approximately 1.4 million which could mean that in less than 1 week and for every week thereafter, the world will need a new Calgary-sized city (including, houses, roads, bridges, offices, schools, hospitals). In fact, everything, to sustain all the new people for their ever-lengthening lifetimes.
Trying to reduce the rise in global temperatures by a couple of degrees within this century, whether that is even possible or useful, is not a solution.
We should stop deforestation, start reforestation, reduce or eliminate environmental pollution and mitigate all the negative impacts of human activity. We should continue to look for more needed energy resources whilst seeking replacement with safe and affordable energy alternatives to fossil fuels (which are a diminishing resource), and put our efforts into becoming more technologically savvy and finding a civilized solution to control population size.
This is the “End Game” that we are in as a species. Unfortunately, it isn’t an action movie with superheroes coming to the rescue in a dramatic finale. It will need action however; action that is meaningful without creating unnecessary hardship, pain or suffering for the current population or their descendants in the future.
In Canada, action isn’t something we have seen over the last few years, in fact inaction has become the status quo. Examples of this would be the government’s inability to approve and build much needed pipelines and replace decaying infrastructure, resolve indigenous issues, equip the military, resolve trade disputes, and the list goes on and on. We have legalized cannabis however so things can’t be all that bad, right?
This is a call to action and a hope that new governments and leaders get the message.