Short answer: We were busy meme-ing.
If you read this in 2219, you may be sitting comfortably in your oxygen room, listening to the chirping of extinct birds from a long-ago jungle recording displayed on your wall-to-wall screen. On your desk, a 3D hologram of a majestic iceberg rotates slowly, bringing hues of deep blue from a time long gone. You’ve never seen one in real life. The only icebergs in your time are the ones floating in your drink, and the computer generated holograms based on old footage from your ancestors. We’ve dealt you a bad hand. We knew what we were doing. We knew how we could have fixed it. But we waited for the rest of the world to make the first move. We encouraged others to do the right thing, we even shared all those “climate change” memes to our social media friends. Some of us even stopped using plastic bottles and straws. But we blamed the “Big Plastic” and “Big Oil” and all the “Big Industry” and cried our inability to fight them. We could have influenced them to do better, to find cleaner ways to build, to produce, to provide us energy and food, however, we were still a bit too comfortable. Our own history gave us the false impression that we live in a period of natural planetary stability: look at our great grandparents and their ancestors, they didn’t live that differently than us, did they? We underestimated our power to destroy ecosystems. We underestimated our collective contribution to anti-terraforming this planet. We kept looking up to the skies for a new Earth knowing deep down that we’re destroying this one. We ignored the clear signs of our own actions, while hoping that we’d find a Planet-B somewhere else. Yeah, we probably went to Mars by now, then quickly realized that it’d be so much easier to fix our own Mother Earth than terraform other planets. But what we managed to do in just a couple hundred years of industrial revolution, may take our future generations thousands of years to fix. If we only had stopped before it was too late…
In the news this week, Iceland, the “Land of Fire and Ice” announced the installation of a memorial plaque for Okjokull, the first “dead” glacier lost to climate change. The sign will read: “This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done. Only you know if we did it”.
Did we do it?