(The phrase planetary emergency was used by scientists recently, with regards to the release of methane gas due to ice melt. See link below.)
As human beings we find it impossible to continually dwell on difficult or traumatic things. In fact, we're known to crack jokes amidst the most horrible situations. Also, our memories tend to erase the worst things we experienced, or at least attenuate them, and we function better recollecting pleasant memories. This is entirely normal. Living in a constant stress is unhealthy and quickly makes us ill.
This requirement to move away from things that are worrying is a great strength of ours, but in some ways also a weakness. Currently, we continue living our daily lives as if everything is 'normal', that nothing has changed and nothing will ever change.
We take the car out to the shops (using oil), keep our food refrigerated (electricity), switch on our televisions and computers (more electricity), keep in contact with our mobile phones (more electricity...) Many precious minerals in our electronic products come from Africa (transported using oil, and unearthed by children quite often), and our foods stocked in the supermarkets are also there because of.... oil and electricity.... and so on. In fact, many of the things we do, are entirely dependent of the allocation of resources that are parcelled out to us, while society functions smoothly and without fault.
But how realistic is it to expect this to continue? Our geological records show that large societies have come and gone before. Realistically, how long can our 'modern' technological age continue operating as it does?
Just yesterday I read an article on the BBC News website (See it here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-17400804 ) showing how deeply worried scientists are by the arctic ice melt. The main problem is the release of huge amounts of methane gas, which is a strong contributor to greenhouse gasses.
Abrupt methane gas release has been associated in the past with fundamental changes to our planet in the past. They regard this as such a serious situation, that they've been looking to fix it in some way, and regard it is as an planetary emergency. This isn't just a song, like Emergency on Planet Earth by Jamiroquai, but comes from actual scientific data. While we hear quite a lot about global warming, ice melting, seas rising, the greater danger of methane release is generally less known.
Yet, we continue to live our lives – on the edge of the precipice, as it were – as if not much was going on.
But what else can we do? And what can we tell our children?
On the face of it, there's very little we as individuals can do, or is that just a fatalistic standpoint?
Will we be forced to eventually live without electricity and oil?
A return to sanity
We could theoretically each do our parts to be less voracious consumers (the locust race) and try and lead sane lives not based on materialism, but even that can't stop the changing cycles of the planet.
Perhaps the best we could each do is just see how we feel without the constant distractions provided to us by modern society – just in case they come to be gone! Just recently I read a book by Jack Haas, someone who has inquired deeply into the meaning of things, of human nature, and so on. Here is someone who has lived on less than a shoe string, way beneath the accepted poverty line, and who has proposed that in the West, what we think of as the poverty line, is actually the distraction line.
To be distracted from ourselves is the one thing we all crave, as we find it so hard just to sit still, watch the flicker of a candle or fire, or the setting sun, without always wanting to run away from ourselves and our own neuroses and spiritual disconnection.
Perhaps a planetary emergency is really evidence of a spiritual crisis in mankind. Certainly, if we were less emotionally dependent on various comfort giving foods, and other distractions, we would be in more of a position to deal with sudden and dramatic global changes. We wouldn't miss the passing of Chicken Nuggets or Coca-Cola (poison/distraction foods), nor mourn the silence of the airwaves and empty highways.
Maybe so many writers have been fascinated by post-apocalyptic scenarios as it appeals to their spiritual aesthetic and inner craving for a truer and more simple life.
And if we don't begin to practice a more simple and centered life-style right now, somewhat removed from the insane glitz of entertainment and addictive consumption patterns, is this something that will be forced on us, when we simply can't live anymore the way we used to?
These are questions that only the near-ish future will provide answers to.