The belief that we will come up with the one idea that will save the species from pending demise is a cognitive bias. It presents a hypothetical grand solution as though to a simplistic problem while selectively disregarding the systemic collapse already underway that presents an ever-growing host of compounded problems that must now be individually addressed with an ever-decreasing likelihood of success. The analogy of the human body is apt – one might be able to save the heart, the liver, or the lungs, but if all are failing, and the cancer has spread to the brain, we refer to the situation as terminal. Analogously this is the terminal generation.
A word on terminology: I’m not using that word “generation” according to the current fad-theory of generational personalities (boomer, Gen-X, etc) spanning roughly 10 year periods, but in the more classical sense of the word or, if you prefer, the ‘biblical’ generation. E.g. when God was speaking with Abraham, a ‘generation’ was roughly a century but meant loosely the people of the current era. I’m suggesting the people of this era are the last of the species’ existence, as we have come to know existence. If the human species lives beyond it, it will not be living as we now know it, but a meager survival, scraping out a last, dying few breaths. Perhaps some fraction will survive a while longer in crumbling buildings on Earth and some handful will dwindle to nothing on a barren, airless Mars. But it will be a mold-like survival rather than one fit for human beings. For practical purposes it’s gone, even if there are stragglers. Or so I speculate.
Back to the issue at hand: Mass die-off of insects. Fast melting of irreplaceable glaciers. The acidity of ocean levels. Heart, liver, lungs. Again, we reach a point where hypothesizing a single solution no longer takes into account the complex nature of the catastrophe. It might once have been about eating right and exercise, but we are past that threshold. Now there is no simple, single solution. In fact, the best minds in the fields that would need to produce viable solutions say it’s too late to avoid significantly catastrophic consequences. Now it’s about how much we let the end continue to accelerate for as long as we retain even partial means to slow it. We will soon lose even that.
It doesn’t pay to ‘believe’ in fairy godmothers at this point. In fact, one might say it’s irresponsible in that it contributes to the problem and, to our rightful disgust, is the reason we are here. The conviction by an entire (biblical) generation that mom and dad, or scientists, or aliens, or the “rapture” would be there to bail us out justified postponing appropriate early interventions. After all, there would always be experts. We just didn’t count on the experts shrugging and saying even hypothetical solutions would now be too late.
At some point, someone needs to say “No one is coming. There’s no fix. We’re starving, cold, wet, with no fresh water, hunted by our enemies, and disease is poking up its head. What would you like to do with that reality?” And for those who say, “Well if I accept that, I have to give up and die,” I respond, “You already did. You gave up, and you are dead – you just don’t know it yet. Now stop arguing (you haven’t got an argument) and get out of the way of those of us who can live open-eyed and stare darkness in the maw. Go entertain yourself, sure, and let those of us who can face reality at least do so without you rocking and chanting mantras about imaginary rescuers all because you can’t accept the alternative.” Yes, that’s mean. But we don’t have the luxury of caring about being nice anymore.