Letter: ‘Morbid topic’

Hot debate

I don’t question the sincerity, dedication and optimism of those described by Stephanie Hiller in her article [“Hot Pockets,” June 10]. One could argue that what they are doing is better than doing nothing but, as Elizabeth Kolbert put it, “… To argue that the current extinction event could be averted if people just cared more and were willing to make more sacrifices is not wrong, exactly; still, it misses the point. It doesn’t much matter whether people care or don’t care  … ” There is no real evidence that by joining together and rolling up our shirtsleeves we can regulate/ engineer/ manage our way out of the terracide we are causing.

The statement by the Napa Valley Vintners that, essentially, the jury is still out on the “actual impacts” of climate change and there are still many unknowns, put me in mind of the Buddhist Parable of the Poisoned Arrow. A man wounded with an arrow tipped with poison won’t allow the arrow to be removed until he knows who shot it, whether the shooter was tall, short or medium, whether the bow used to shoot the arrow was a crossbow or a long bow, what kind of arrow was used, etc., etc. While waiting for answers, the lethal toxin from the arrow continues its spread throughout the man’s body, killing him. As Nobel Laureate Sherwood Rowland put it: “What’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions if, in the end, all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true?”

We need to get real about how to prepare for a mass extinction event, what Elizabeth Kolbert calls the “morbid topic,” and that starts with massive population reductions. I’m not advocating or hoping for such reductions, knowing that draconian measures will be required to achieve them. I’m simply looking at how we can voluntarily and humanely prevent as much suffering as possible before the time comes when it is the environment that reduces the human population involuntarily.

Jim O’Callahan, Larkspur

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