Paul Andersen: Fair Game
December 28, 2009
It crawls. It slithers. It breathes fire. It excretes carbon. It belches methane. The Climate Monster is gobbling up the world so that it can grow bigger, always bigger, to consume yet more. Natural resources pour into its gaping maw, and from the other end gushes the effluence of affluence.
In the Japanese monster movies, “Godzilla,” “Mothra,” and “Rodan” stomped across the earth destroying cities and crushing hapless victims. The only way to stop these grotesque beasts was by unifying all mankind and fighting with everything we had.
But it wasn’t like that in Copenhagen, where nations gathered hoping to thwart the advances of the horrible Climate Monster. Instead of unifying to preserve life on earth, the group was divided. Not everyone wants to slay the Beowolfian beast.
The minions of the Climate Monster refused to negotiate. Our precious lifestyles are too glorious to compromise, they said. Our material virtues are too glamorous to violate, they insisted. Our exemption from natural laws is something you just have to appreciate, they stated.
Our sad, weak-kneed species slouched off toward the oblivion of inaction, mired in its own muck and lacking the will to extricate itself from the La Brea tar pits of its destiny. And what will be found there, eons from now, trapped in solid carbon? Dinosaurs that failed to grasp the immediacy of global events, dinosaurs that thought the asteroids made a pretty little light show.
If America is the head of the Climate Monster, then China is its tail, connected by a worm-like conduit flowing with goods and materials. The Monster thrashes about with spastic jerking, knocking down entire rain forests, gouging up whole mountains, polluting the atmosphere with its putrid breath, laying waste to rivers, lakes and oceans with its acid urine, covering the land with the stench of its feces.
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Some … only the few … have stepped up with heroic swords and done battle with the global warming worm. But their strikes and jabs are bare pinpricks to the behemoth’s hide, covered as it is with billions of scaly microbes that live off the slimy thing. These parasites populate vast cities whose uplifted towers are altars from which praise is showered down upon the Climate Monster.
So what if the Monster snacks on a few millions here and there. These measly parasites are expendable when sacrificed for the gluttony of the Monster, whose appetite is insatiable, whose slathering jaws are omnivorous, awesome, and drooling with pungent, black oil.
Some have suggested that the Climate Monster go on a diet, that it eat less and excrete less. They say that God’s green earth can provide enough for the worm forever and that we can go about our lives knowing the Monster is there, but assuming it won’t eat us if we control its food supply and hold it at bay in order than it can serve us instead of us serving it.
But the Climate Monster is stronger than they think. It is not happy being underfed. It has no master. It is driven by stronger, older, deeper forces that live within us, too. There are no bounds, no controls. There is only production and surplus and population and consumption, all accelerating like a Tilt-a-Whirl with a worn bearing, a fatal imbalance and a bad vibration that forewarns of the inevitable shattering, splintering catastrophe.
The Climate Monster is not to be trusted. They thought they could contain it in Copenhagen, but it broke free and writhed into the North Sea, where it brings tsunamis to low-lying islands, soaking the sand of their beaches with a high tide that knows no retreat.
We feed the Climate Monster with everything we do, from flushing the toilet, to shopping, to having sex. We feed it with our gross numbers, with the toil of our factory slaves, with our jaunts into town, and with the hot air thermals emanating from our capitals. Most precious of all, we feed it with our children, our collective future. We feed it and it grows, and we watch it with fascination, that strange blend of wonder and horror. We are paralyzed by what we see, making us perfect fodder for the warm, wiggling, wolfish worm.
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