Ninety-seven percent of the scientists agree that climate change is real and is caused by human activities. As a result, the Earth is becoming more and more inhospitable to the human species, while many other species continue to become extinct. As of now, even as the scientific evidence accumulates and we are faced with more and more climate change related threats and damages, we are still acting like business-as-usual without any urgent comprehensive plan to deal with this impending catastrophe.
What is wrong with us, or with America, or with the world, or with reality? Are we living in some version of The Matrix, as in the 1999 science fiction movie directed by The Wachowski Brothers? The Matrix is a simulated environment that resembles a normal modern world in the human perspective but exists in the human minds only while in reality, the world is in ruins. It is programmed by the Machine to control the humans who are in a perpetual state of illusion and are being held captive physically by the Machine to harness their collective energy to sustain its lifeline, the Machine’s computer networks. The humans in the Matrix are not living a true life, but merely going through the motions in their minds as controlled by the Machine which actually enslaves them. The only free humans are the ones outside the Matrix who have escaped from it, and their offspring. They have to eke out their existence in a primitive hideout colony from the wraths of the Machine who is constantly hunting them down.
Today’s Matrix also presents us with this simulated sense of unreal normalcy. While the world has not reached complete ruins in real time, it is on the road to perdition in slow motion as the average global temperature keeps rising year after year. Yet, some of us either deny climate change is happening or act as if we do not have to and cannot afford any changes to our fossil fuel-driven way of life. Such mentality is programmed and propagated by the immoral capitalist ‘profit vultures’ to control our human minds to be in a perpetual state of illusion so that our productive labor can be held captive to continue to make money and profit to benefit them. The humans in today’s Matrix are also not living a true life but merely going through the motions as controlled and dictated by their capitalist bosses who actually enslave them in their jobs.
For some of us outside this current Matrix-like life who can see the dire writing on the wall, is our only option to also eke out our existence in a primitive hideout colony from the wraths of the nefarious capitalist ‘profit vultures’? That will not even work because climate change is omnipresent and indiscriminate and no one and nowhere on Earth can escape from it. Everyone will just become collateral damage on the day of reckoning, inside and outside the Matrix. Where does it leave us?
For a moment, we indulge our discussion in pop culture and try to learn the lessons from the movie. The first thing that jumps out to us is that the reality may not be what we perceive it to be or what appears in our immediate surroundings. Even as most of us carry on our lives from one day to the next, not noticing much difference and not feeling much effect, the scientists are looking at their data and telling us that Planet Earth is undergoing major climate changes that are caused by humans and are going to have a significant and negative impact on us. What are our reactions so far? Nothing much that makes a difference. In this instance, are we not like the humans under the control and the spell of the Machine’s programs?
Secondly, the Machine in the original Matrix is a human creation that somehow becomes out of our control. The villains in the real life Matrix are the crooked capitalist ‘profit vultures’ who are also of human origins. Whether it is technology or human behavior, it is ultimately the humanity inside that dictates and directs their actions and the eventual outcomes. Sometimes they can be beneficent and sometimes they can be sinister. But we have to remember that it is also the humanity inside each of us that can effect any positive changes and overcome any past, present or future malfeasance, especially acting as a collective group.
Thirdly, the protagonists in the original Matrix movie demonstrate that they can perform superhuman acts in different classic mind-over-matter settings. As much as those are dramatic action scenes choreographed and manipulated for theatrical effects, they do speak to the power of the latent human potentials. It does not mean that we can all have superpowers, or we can all have the same potentials to develop similar prowess. But we have to believe that we all have some potentials to develop further and better at whatever we choose to do, only if we devote our time, energy and opportunities with dedication to develop them. Therefore, it is all the more pertinent and paramount that we should really focus on devoting our time, energy and opportunities with dedication to develop our potentials to solve this singular existential problem of climate change facing humanity.
So, now what? We figure there can be two ways to respond to the current climate crisis: either do nothing or do something. Doing nothing is akin to burying our heads in the sand and disregarding the distressing facts. Even though it is the easiest way to react, it may actually do more harm. While some people consider global warming a boon by making our harsh winters more pleasant, they do not realize that they are really the frogs in the warm water slowly becoming a boiling pot. On top of that, we are facing more and more devastating climate-induced events, like heat waves, wild fires, droughts, crop failures, flooding rivers and seashores, coastal erosion, sea level rise, clean water shortages, ferocious storms including hurricanes and snow storms, increasing pest infestations, spreading insect borne diseases, etc. Ignorance is definitely not bliss in this case.
That is why we cannot sit on the sideline and we must do something. But what? First, we have to become more aware, find out all the facts, educate ourselves, develop an understanding about the issue and evaluate how it will affect us, individually and collectively. While trusting our instincts and following our intuitions, we should also use our critical thinking skills to separate the truth from the fiction. Next, we have to be brave and practical by facing the reality even if it is grim. Only by recognizing and understanding the true extent and gravity of the situation will help us to prepare and brace properly and adequately for this especially difficult challenge. Then, we have to have faith in our fellow humans and humanity, believe in the people who choose to do the right things and join them to reach a critical mass to start a genuine revolution to bring a determined resolution of our existential crisis, while continuing to be optimistic and hopeful because giving up is not an option to win a battle. Even with setbacks, we have to fight and persevere till the end.
We all have a choice. We all can do something. We all have the power to act a lot or a little. We can stop drinking the Kool-Aid by actively and openly refuting the climate change deniers and skeptics. We can all convert ourselves and others from ‘inactivists’ to activists. We can all vote in the ballot boxes and with our wallets for climate change solutions. We can all join in the dialogue and the actions of moving ourselves to a fossil fuel-free future. We can all participate in some capacity or other, in some forms of campaign to push for a climate change resolution. We all have some power, and together, we may have just enough to overcome this obstacle.
Let us imagine what if…