Strategies to Unguilt the Species
I have so much to complain about at any given moment. Stop by and test me. “Ron, what time is it?” And I’ll tell you that it’s 100 seconds to midnight because the scientists tell me that. Many of them are actually paid to be consummate messengers of portents. Some get a hundred thousand a year and awards ceremonies. Some get book publishing deals with print runs of 5,000 copies to be distributed by cargo ships on oceans gradually becoming lemon water. Some fly to Melbourne to a conference with a headline speaker who explains, entertainingly, how air travel gives us all Sasquatch carbon footprints. He takes a sip from his plastic water bottle, and a room full of scientists applaud.
Just type “global warming news” on your hand held encyclopedia of all things human, and see that it’s not me being the only bummer in you life. They’re everywhere. Step outside and get bombarded by what you already know, but gracefully deny, just like the climate scientists who get grants to fly in planes to the Antarctic to count dead penguins and sample surface ice for microplastics. Back at camp are 50 cases of bottled water, tapped from the mountain springs of Maine.
At present the earth’s atmosphere has as much carbon as 3.6 million years ago. At that time the Miami Dolphins were actually dolphins swimming up Ocean Drive to Bluefish school. Trees stood in Antarctica, and Greenland was a good name for solid ground with lots of vegetation. Because of the plenitudes of scientific research and media’s lust for bad news, we know exactly what’s coming. But enough already. Stop paying these vanities to take and retake ice core samples just to give graduate students something to do. We get it. We deny it, but we get it. Just stay home! No more embellishment necessary. The assistant professor should know better than to apply for a grant to fly a team around the world to test and retest what has already been proven. It’s not an honor to release more carbon in order to publish another paper about releasing more carbon. There must be sustainable ways to remain a careerist. For instance, I’m writing and publishing this polemic from a table in my house. It’s easy. I don’t need anymore proof of impending climate catastrophe. I can hear it in the wind, and modern science predicts it too. Climate professors should know better. Change direction. Experiment more on potential solutions. We must take science into our home laboratories. There has been enough carbon counting by hypocrites. We need more natural philosophers, not Bill Nyes flying Airbus® first class all over the earth, landing in smog choked cities to lecture about wind and solar power. The time is now for more pre-industrial scientists. Dedicated people who reject modern living standards to teach and lead by example while experimenting with methods of carbon sequestration. Ghandis of the scientific method. Priests of the climate.
Of course their influence will be nil without the backing of a super power of benevolent all-powerful kings and queens (or their equivalent), which is very unlikely without a massive culling of humanity. But something must snap. The plutocracy must die off, quickly. A monumental shift in political expression is the only path we have to provide a human hand to roll the dice.
An immediate and intense regulation is the first step after we dissolve the fake democracies. How we get there is up to nature. Humans never had decision-making power, though, as nature’s imbeciles, they pretended too. Gaia will determine if our presence will be tolerated another century. Politicians and military industrial complexes do not morally love (nor mortally fear) the people enough to look after them. However, Gaia can flip reality very quickly with a well-timed caldera or continental shift pouring cities into seas. Even a teensy tiny microbe puts the fear of God into a non-believer. Humans are out of the loop. If I can’t persuade my family to let the pee water sit until it absolutely needs to be flushed, then no amount of people push will give us a sustainably correct bullet train to Omaha, especially while travelers still expect a Fruity Pebbles® breakfast in the club car.
Humans are the super catalyst to the sixth extinction. We get this whenever we stop to think about it. Our systems have locked humanity into a cycle of waste that is mind boggling. The enormity of the problem causes denial, and any one of us will drive to the drug store to purchase dental hygiene products because the periodontist recommended a plastic-based daily tooth care regimen to keep us chewing past 90. One trip to Walgreens® should fill a free-thinking American (an oxymoron) with hopeless despair. There is more pollution on those few shelves dedicated to mouth care than was generated by all industry in the kingdom of France during the spring of 756 CE.
And there is nothing that can be done about in time. Under the present system, to teach by example (in this case, a popular boycott of teeth cleaning products), it would take 2,000 years to persuade Proctor & Gamble® to dismantle perhaps, half of its Crest division. The next time you shop at your local supermarket or convenience store for oral care products, please note that there are about 250,000 of these cement boxes scattered across the United States. In my town (population 17,500) I counted 29 buildings, large and larger, where I can get my toothpaste and flossing accessories.
I could double up on baking soda and boycott oral hygiene products for the rest of my life. I could write about the process, paint the protest, tell my friends, and hope they tell their friends. I can feel righteous, and one up on my neighbor, while hastening inevitable gum rot and tooth loss. And yet not a single store will close its doors for lack of consumer interest in trendy toothpaste with activated charcoal.
But if a caldera erupted…
Now we’re talkin’. Unfortunately, though, with caveat of an even speedier extinction.
Now for some religious exercises…
Six years ago the periodontist diagnosed my bottom four front teeth to be just hanging on. They needed to get pulled and replaced with a partial or implants. I told him no way, out of the question. I’ve gone hairless without a toupee, and would go toothless too, since I was already married. He suggested a deep cleaning and a daily hygiene regimen to follow religiously if I wanted to keep my teeth another year. Yes please.
It’s been six years and I still have them, minus the two healthy wisdom teeth he pulled to make cleanings easier for him, (a story of malpractice for another day). I have followed his instructions at night, which is half the time, yet it’s been enough to persuade my gums to hold on.
The nightly regimen, in order:
Swish with mouthwash
Swish with mouthwash
Pick and poke with rubber-headed gum stimulator while watching TV
I thank the flossing and interdental brush for my success. I also followed a vegan diet for two of the six years, and I’ve always cut back on meat consumption — one reason being that it makes much worse breath than broccoli. Although floss and wire brush are excellent tools used to maintain healthy gums and teeth, they are just two of the 3 billion factory made products that are poised to deliver extinction to 558 mammal species by 2100. Still, that doesn’t prevent the guilty conscience from overriding a logical assessment of the problem, and I often go to bed with a fresh, clean mouth, yet irrationally feeling that I am solely responsible for the deaths of White Rhinos on African grasslands.
And if it isn’t my teeth cleaning causing overwhelming guilt, then it’s my car, the cereal box, recycling bin, stuffed toy, candle holder, smartphone, exercise bike, guitar stand, bird feeder, cat food, computer chair, plastic everything which is plastic anything that can be dreamed up by greedy losers wanting more money.
Who isn’t guilty for the end of civilization?
There isn’t oneupmanship during the climate crisis. Certainly not among nations in the industrial wild west or east. People of Burundi, however, are off the hook. They can and should look down on Americans with high aloofness. Annual U.S. toothpaste proceeds (27 billion dollars) is 9 times Burundi’s national wealth (GDP of 3 billion). I know that if I was a Burundian, I’d merrily trade economies to add 20 years to my families’ life expectancy. So although poorer nations can remain aloof and guilt-free, it’s not because they want to be. Burundi would crap on the earth too if Walgreens® stocked shelves there.
It’s just hypocritical posturing to point a disapproving finger at your neighbor. If it’s teeth-cleaning products guilting me, then it’s dish scrubbies guilting you. And if we both went cold turkey, it wouldn’t stop neighbor Joe, with a Godzilla-sized carbon footprint, from buying a thousand of each to hoard up for the next pandemic. Yes, Joe’s a slob. But so am I. Scale of slob doesn’t matter in the climate crisis.
My doctor prescribed teeth cleaning products with built-in obsolescence. The wire of the interdental brush he recommended bent and broke after the third use. Likewise the packaging and unpackaging of floss containers before floss ever reaches my gums, has me begging Gaia for a super volcano to give the dolphins a fair go at evolutionary improvement. With us out of the way, they might flop out of the water and grow opposable thumb-fins to write their pre-industrial histories on kelp paper. Maybe they’ll be satisfied with sunny days and good fishing, and opt to execute any James Watt dolphin that goes insane and tries to turn a profit.
In January 2020, my hygienist gave me three individually wrapped flossers (see first painting) to take home with me. It was like a gift from on high. I am using the last one now. That one inch of floss reused has kept the plaque at Tooth Decay Bay for four months. I just wash it after each use, like a tooth brush, and use it till it breaks.
No more plastic containers with 13 foot floss rolls tossed into the “recyclables” can each week. Hooray, I’ve lightened my bedtime guilt load! Though after a 100 days using the same flosser one begins to despair heavily over the state of humankind. Perhaps 3 billion earth citizens wouldn’t be as thrifty, and would let the capitalists sell them 100 count bags of flossers. Even if there were regularly programmed public service announcements decrying the sale of nonessential plastic (all plastic was nonessential when my grandfather first combed his hair), and multiple lesson plans used to teach the three R’s in elementary education, there would still be a billion ignoramuses left to sell flossers too. Two flosses a day adds up quickly. 730 billion flossers per year laying in parking lots and floating on ocean tides near you, and over 18 trillion laying around when your baby grandchild graduates from college.
Or, governments always have the option to legislate regulation to outlaw all nonessential plastic, which they do not do, and frankly cannot do, because what’s essential to you, ain’t to me, and vice-versa. You think sporks are nonessential. Of course they are! And so are cars. Marty says when plastic bags are outlawed, he’ll feel better about the environment. Good show Marty. I agree, But nuclear weapons are built of nonessential plastic components, and who on earth really thinks total annihilation is necessary? Sarah is convinced that flossers are essential and can also serve as a potent symbol of suffering and great joy to come.
And I have good news for Sarah…
I think they are too!
This is like Jesus good news. Like born again religious lingo. A devout jargon for the sixth extinction, with its iconic symbol: The Holy Flosser.
Christians used the cross to remind followers of Christ’s suffering. It kept true believers humble and species worthy, and made Popes rich and gluttonous slobs. Who could have thought in the beginning that it would warp into its opposite meaning, and function more or less as an adjunct of capitalism, individualistic greed, and universal laziness?
I want us to use this flosser to let go and freely allow what is to come. We need a hopeful symbol for the real future rather than a relic of the faithful past. Forge a bronze one, loop it through a chain link to wear around your neck (and use it twice a day). Touch it with a million “Hail Gaias” while waiting for the holy leveling that is to come. We must accept the new reality. Ancient paganism was earthy and down with the business of the natural world. Then the writing religions appeared and trumped the pagan’s pseudo science which could not refute the written word. The Industrial Revolution honed the predictions of modern science and invented machines and systems of our own doom. Let’s bear our modern cross and wear around our necks the flosser that was manufactured for you.
I’ll drill a hole in my plastic one, and wear it around my neck to forgive the sins of my species, one of a trillion left on the planet where life began 3.7 billion years ago. For 300,000 years we built fires to keep warm and cook fish. Things pretty much remained the same until James Watt boiled water to make disposable flossers to decimate all the tree frogs in Costa Rica.
I believe there is a path which will lead us back to Gaia, back to earth, sun and cosmos. How did some loving-kindness reform Judaism (Christianity) warp into this horrendous Moloch with its blind humanity army? A minority of greedy monotheists just garbaged up our paradise, didn’t they? Why did our ancestors allow it? How did we get locked into our own doom? Are daddy complexes this destructive on other planets too? It’s like Gaia threw up her big arms in 1800 and said, “Oh just screw it! I give up. These humans really suck. I’m so tired of their uptight false god(s) too. Worshiped like some big daddy when all he does is gamble and get drunk. And the plastic! And the wars and famine! Don’t even get me started with their poking their noses into my mass extinctions. Such arrogant ignorance from a useless species. Their cities smell like piss. And their offspring are incomprehensibly depressed while growing on the most beautiful planet in the universe. Oh I’ve had it! I’ll go play Mahjong with the ladies. When I’m ready, I’ll come back and make their ‘Biblical proportions’ look like tiny ant problems in the wake of the atmospheric monster I intend to let loose over my backskin.”
And here we have arrived. The scientist priests tell us that Gaia has finished Mahjong. After tea she’s going to send Category 7 hurricanes to our next decade of summers. They’ll feel like 4 hour long tornadoes spinning in the same trailer park. After tea she’ll put on her slippers and melt an ice cap or two. We’ll board the Queen Mary from the 23rd floor of the Empire State building. A few crackers later, half the world’s species have become extinct. Our great great grandchildren finished decimating the Northern Alberta Clan and are eating the hairs off the heads of their vanquished enemies.
Finally Gaia sets her tea down and calls to one of the medium-sized asteroids in the Jupiter Belt to break away and lay waste to all life on earth besides the 50 species of cyanobacteria that never complained. Then she lays her head back to take a brief nap.
I’m gonna wear my flosser and live my life. Just like the Christians wore their crosses during the world wars and plastic revolution. Meanwhile, dear Poindexter prophets with a penchant for scientific study, go down into your basement laboratories and experiment with carbon sequestration. Don’t waste any more time with the futile disciplines. If you succeed with the development of the inedible hybrid crabapple that can suck in 50 times its mass in carbon, seek an audience with Gaia via the usual channels. She might back your plan. Then again she might let the neighbors nail you to a wooden flosser at the summit of Molar Mountain.
Either way I’ll keep murmuring my “Hail Gaias” and get better acquainted with the sun that graciously shines for us (until it decides to cook us).