How Does a Nation Adapt to Its Own Murder?

New York Times Jan. 25, 2020

By Richard Flanagan


Dr. AC: Hey EGB, did you read this new opinion piece by Richard Flanagan in the NY Times? About Australia, once again.

Dr. EGB: Yeah, I read it. More doom and gloom. How are we supposed to stay HOPEFUL when this is what the media subjects us to on a daily basis.

Dr. AC: Hopeful? Have you considered that hope may NOT be REALISTIC at this point?

Dr. EGB: Well, I have, but I just don’t know how there will BE any hope if we don’t HAVE any hope. Are you suggesting we just give up?

Dr. AC: NO! But you need to WAKE up. The new word for the decade is OMNICIDE.

Dr. EGB: Please stop SHOUTING at me. I’ve heard of ECOCIDE, but what on earth is OMNICIDE??

Dr. AC: It’s when EVERYTHING dies. When everything is ANNIHILATED. Not just wildlife and ecosystems, but everything. Weeds. Humans. Their towns and cities. Their health. Their way of life. Their economic and political systems. Everything! FORFEITED to fire and climate catastrophe as surely as those island atolls in the Pacific will be submerged by the rising oceans. ERADICATED.

Dr. EGB: Aren’t you being a bit melodramatic, AC?

Dr. AC: Well, read this. Perhaps you missed it the first time. And THINK. About the question Flanagan is posing: “How does a nation adapt to its own MURDER?” This is not merely an unmitigated genocide he’s talking about.

Dr. EGB: You know, I was pretty tired last evening when I read this piece. Maybe I did miss something. Is someone murdering Australia? The country? I know a few people have died in the fires but .  . .

Dr. AC: Yes. Someone is, and YOU need to ERADICATE YOUR COMPLACENCY and DO something about it.

Dr. EGB: How can I possibly do anything about the MURDER of Australia? I just re-read the article, and it’s obviously their own government that’s to blame. They’ve built their economy on coal, and they’re busy building more coal mines as the country burns. And stonewalling on international action on climate change, too. What do you expect me to do about the Australian government? I can’t even VOTE there.

Dr. AC: What you’re not getting, EGB, is that it’s not just Australia that’s being MURDERED. The MURDER of AmeriCanada is well underway too. In fact, the whole planet is being MURDERED. Planetary-scale OMNICIDE. And even if Australia were to stop conflagrating and peddling coal tomorrow, the rest of the world’s emissions would still incinerate them. It’s one big world out there. Greenhouse gases don’t respect borders, or even oceans. The killing is just faster and more conspicuous when the fires are burning out of control.

Here in AmeriCanada, Trudeau’s right hand implemented a cagey carbon tax, while his left hand was under the table buying a pipeline. And you VOTED for him! Across the border, Trump believes the Climate CRISIS is a counterfeit. Or FAKE, as he of limited vocabulary puts it.

Dr. EGB: Who should I have VOTED for?? It’s not like the choices were ideal. I voted strategically, to make sure the climate denying party didn’t win in my riding. What else could I have done? If too many people had voted GREEN, the deniers might just have won!

But look here, my dear friend . . . I booted you out of my brain so we could have rational discussions and try to work things out. I really don’t need more guilt trips. I take enough of them on my own. What I need are concrete suggestions on what I can actually do to make a difference. Do you have any?

Dr. AC: EGB, it’s time to get RADICAL. REVOLUTIONARY. Maybe you should join EXTINCTION REBELLION? You could dress up as me, complete with blue hair, which I know is not exactly in keeping with your generally fuddy-duddy bearing and demeanor, and get out on the streets. PROTEST. SCREAM. Measure PM2.5 in the air. Stand in front of transport trucks. Drive to Ottawa and set up a tent on Parliament Hill.

Dr. EGB: They’d probably arrest me if I set up a tent.

Dr. AC: Well, worse things have happened. And besides, what have you got to lose, when OMNICIDE is upon us. You do BELIEVE it is, don’t you?

Dr. EGB: Believe? What’s BELIEF got to do with it? This is SCIENCE we’re talking about.

Dr. AC: Well, on the surface that is indisputable FACT. But when it comes to how we react to facts, it’s all about BELIEFS. And WORLD VIEWS. And IDEOLOGIES. And VOTING habits. And what our friends and relatives think and do. Listen, EGB, I’ve written an essay about all this. You’ll be able to digest it next week, right here on our website.

Dr. EGB: SURE. But will it help me feel any better or know what I can do that would make a difference??

Dr. AC: Anything’s possible. Depends on you.