Pull on your bathing suits and slather on that Coppertone 45, children; the end of the world is almost here.
No matter the views and opinions of one group or the next, most of humanity has been united by the belief that the apocalypse will be nature's perfectly reasonable response to human stupidity. The Mayans gave us an evacuation date; the Christians told us not to bother saving up for that designer handbag.
The task of imagining our own destruction draws from within us, humanity's inner suicidal preteen. Apocalypse by fire, ice and rejection to the school prom all have their own cult followings. The world's collapse should be taken with a grain of salt and, according to the proprietors of the newest and most fashionable destructive force, a grain of Cape Cod sand.
Global warming: We all know about it. We all think something should be done about it. We all think the best people to do something about it are the people who are very definitely not ourselves.
The gradual Miamification of the planet is _ readers, I will now hurl myself into the jagged valley of Bad Puns for your amusement _ the hottest topic in today's headlines, eclipsed only by the more pressing matter of Britney's baby fat. Of course, environmental groups are still working to convince some Northern states that having 70-degree winters is a bad thing and not, in fact, a gift from God. Indeed, New York may soon be devoid of atheists if some Christian sub-sect latches onto the premise that global warming is a little holiday bonus thrown in by the Big Man Upstairs.
Everyone knows that global warming is bad. That's all most people know. The media can only manage to grab the public's attention for so long; after a few seconds, the modern world's ADD will take over and lead our eyes back to whichever celebrity's been caught "getting into character" for his role as a heroin junkie.
What entices us again and again to take interest in global warming is its capacity for being blamed. For as long as we've had the media capability to prop one up, humanity loves to have a whipping-boy cause to blame the world's problems on.
Is your son failing trigonometry? Ignore the fact that he doesn't study or do his homework; blame the national education system! His grades would soar if No Child Left Behind kept true to its name.
Did your boyfriend leave you for a woman 10 years younger and 200 pounds lighter? Blame the Hollywood scene; if big-boned women were allowed to see the light of day on television, his mind wouldn't be so warped that he no longer finds the idea of being crushed while making out a turn-on.
Global warming has overtaken terrorism as the latest cause of all the world's dilemmas. Generally, the public knows about some of the repercussions; unfortunately, we know about them for all the wrong reasons. The polar icecaps are melting, and why do we care? If the ice melts, the sweet little polar bear cubs won't have anywhere to live! When the colder temperatures that shield New York from many diseases crumble, we'll learn the devastation of tropical disease, yet do we fear the plagues that mosquitoes and other heat-loving vectors carry? No. We just don't want to wear bug spray.
Humanity is a brave and stupid species. For the good of the universe, I hope that whatever other life exists beyond Earth would be shocked to see some of the truths general to humankind.
Building skyscrapers, for example, defies every concept of common sense and safety, yet architects everywhere are in a never-ending race to see who can build a tower in which going to the top floor requires an oxygen tank. We seem to have a remarkable capacity for accepting the unacceptable.
Every day, Americans accept that thousands of Iraqi citizens have died for a war they've had little to do with. Every day, modern countries accept that the men and women of some developing nations will be lucky to live past 30. How do we accept such atrocities with our morning coffee? The truth is that we don't accept them; we ignore them.
Nine out of 10 American citizens live in a permanent state of shock. When the truths of current events becomes too much to bear, our minds paint over the gruesome images with the soft beige of everyday life: when do the bills have to be paid? When does little Jackie needs to go to soccer practice? They're vaguely aware that global warming is happening somewhere, but it isn't happening here. No; nothing all that bad could happen in America, or in any other civilized country where people talk English real good and brush their teeth (well, most of them).
So what if the weather is a bit warmer this October? That's wonderful; the beaches will be open longer. Yes, there might be a touch more flooding this year, but now the golf course won't have to buy that titanium sprinkler system. It's wonderful; everything is wonderful. Sometimes a few people have to be locked away or a few television shows have to be censored to ensure that everything stays wonderful.
The public may accept that the temperature will be rising in the next few years, but I can assure you that the majority of the public will resist putting a stop to global warming with the same tact and efficiency as a mule that lays down in the harness. Why? To halt the carbon dioxide emissions that cause our planet's grief would mean that the public lifestyle would be drastically altered. Some of the creature comforts that we have come to accept as natural rights would be yanked from beneath us.
If you were to poll most of America on whether we should reduce C02 emissions, the answer would be a resounding "yes." However, if you were to ask them which way would be the best to go about doing so, most would choose the answer, "None of the above."
Let's go through the choices:
Driving smaller, more energy-efficient cars is off the table, of course. What else but a mini-van can carry 100 gallons of Kool-Aid, little Jackie, his Wii and his portable television to soccer games?
Reducing energy and heat use is absolutely ridiculous; we aren't designed to handle 75-degree temperatures without life-saving air conditioning at the ready.
I suppose we could reduce plastic consumption; wait, you mean to tell me that Dorito bags are made of plastic? Well, that crosses that option off the list.
Today's population prefers to take the latest threat to our biosphere with a grain of beach sand, thank you. As each of you turns to the comics section, think of your to-do list for today. Were you planning to walk to the park this afternoon to save a little gas money? Don't bother; treat yourself to a half-mile of cushioned, air-conditioned car comfort. Your metallic beast of burden and the C02 levels of the atmosphere can easily absorb the weight of your decision.
After all, burning a little more gas isn't the end of the world, is it?
Jessie Matus is a junior at Oneonta High School.