That is a quote from Dune and a truism that seems to be the order of the day for so many things. There is a segment of our society that seems hellbent on denying all reality and that life has changed systemically since 1950.
There are many challenges that face us as a society at the moment. There is drastic climate change that is occurring. That, to me, is the single biggest threat to civilization. Why?
The thing the ecologically illiterate don’t realize about an ecosystem is that it’s a system. A system! A system maintains a certain fluid stability that can be destroyed by a misstep in just one niche. A system has order, a flowing from point to point. If something dams the flow, order collapses. The untrained might miss that collapse until it was too late. That’s why the highest function of ecology is the understanding of consequences.We don't know the consequences of a collapse of the climate system that fostered the rise of humanity. Consider that everything we know about our history has come since the Ice Age ended. Humanity rose to build great cities and societies in a period of relative climate stability. Extended droughts in the American Mid-West will reduce grain supplies. Imagine disruptions in monsoons and normal rainfall amounts in India or the Ethiopian Highlands. Food instability and fresh water availability could lead to mass human migrations.
Pardot Kynes - Ecology of Dune.
But to address climate change requires thinking for the future. It requires real energy policies that can meet current needs, but place the structures for future developments on the table. Wind, Solar, and other clean technologies - along with smart grids that deliver the energy effectively - must be pushed now.
But too many politicians don't want to deal with reality. They claim that climate change is a hoax all the while burying their heads in the sand. Perhaps they need a swift kick in their upturned rumps to get them over their denial.
But that is not the only way that the future is denied...
When religion and politics travel in the same cart, the riders believe nothing can stand in their way. Their movement becomes headlong – faster and faster and faster. They put aside all thought of obstacles and forget that a precipice does not show itself to the man in a blind rush until it’s too late.Many of the same people who denigrate the change in the climate also use their belief systems in an attempt to impose their limited world view on the rest of the nation. 1950 is where they want society: women barefoot, pregnant, and home. They want all the colored peoples to be quiet and do the tasks they are meant to do. And they want all the sexual deviants locked up. That which is not male and of a specific skin color need not be heard.
Religion is often used by a specific political party to achieve goals or equate that mythical time in American society as a Golden Age. They fail to see how it was anything but golden to so many. They fail to realize that families had to adapt to changing economics by needing two incomes and now that is failing many families. But still religion is wielded by some to try to deny the changing society its move towards global equality.
Even as they try to rewind the clock, they rewrite history to remove ideas they view as challenging to their worldview. The Texas textbook fight illustrated that a minority of people wanted history purged of liberal influences because they deem that only a conservative worldview is right.
But back to the original quote. So much of the political debate on Capitol Hill seems to to lack any vision of what we want tomorrow to look like. When a segment of society refuses to deal the possiblity of a tomorrow they fear, then we get the political hell we are facing.
In 2011, Texas faced a drought of historic proportions. 78% of the state was at D4 drought levels. D4 means:
Exceptional and widespread crop/pasture losses; shortages of water in reservoirs, streams, and wells creating water emergenciesBy May of 2012, 18.5% of the state was drought free and only 1.4% was at D4 level. As of last week, 3.04% of the state is drought free and 11.96% is at D4 level. Thankfully, today much of the state is getting rained on, but in very high amounts. Taken seperately, none of these events mean anything, but one of the signs of climate change is the frequency of droughts and floods - extreme events. And yet nothing is being addressed.
When it comes to the future, decisions now will impact how those born today will have to deal with issues facing them tomorrow. I am not one who thinks that the national debt is one of those that needs to be considered as horrifying for future generations. I see plenty of ways that revenues can be raised to deal with what we need to address: climate change, crumbling infrastructure, educational development. But that requires having real debates about what we want the nation to look like and how that fits in with the rest of the world.
But to have those debates requires those who would back into the future to pull their collective heads out of the sand and face reality. The 1950's aren't coming back because they did not exist. The fairy tale was all a myth. But the 21st century is before us with massive challenges. Will we meet the future on our terms or will the future dictate what will happen to us?