Are We Screwed?

Is planet Earth and its inhabitants screwed?

The short answer is yes. I think so. Geoff Dembicki makes a case against this bad attitude in Are We Screwed?, using anecdotes about Millennials making a difference in the world against challenging odds.

They are great stories: stories about people bucking the status quo and going to start a farm and live on Denman Island, about galvanizing others around Bernie Sanders and transformative change, about becoming artists instead of oil sands workers, about blowing the whistle on environmental groups whose talk is bigger than their actions.

Dembicki’s book is about systematic problems preventing positive changes around our climate and environment. He makes a case for globalization of concerns—how protecting our environment can’t come before national issues. It has to come first, everywhere. He argues that Millennials embrace this and can be and are politically active when presented with a real choice for their future. I agree. Most of the time, my apathy about voting comes from the fact that our political leaders are more of the same in different packaging. There’s meh, and really bad. I’m looking at you Stephen Harper and your oil obsession and secretive government structure.

Millenials are really stuck with a big environmental problem, not entirely of their own making. The foundation for a collapsing climate was set before we came around.

“The planetary changes that we were inflicting were existentially terrifying—and everyone my age could potentially live to see their full doomsday impact in our lifetimes,” Dembicki writes. “We had no choice but to fight this injustice and all the political and economic leaders who perpetuated it.”

The problem is these leaders are few and far between. And even when they pop up (as Sanders did), the monstrous framework around them still has most of the power.

The problem, for me, is that Dembicki writes about Bernie Sanders and how young people believed in his message of transformative change and global environmentalism. But we still ended up with Trump. He writes about individuals ditching the oil sands, but but we still can’t have a national conversation about the negative impacts of them without old people and political leaders losing their minds. Millenials are doing what they can—but I’m still having heated, angry, completely illogical conversations with people over 55 about the necessity of bike lanes.

Dembicki writes “Peter [the aforementioned farmer] hasn’t yet been successful in resisting that systems inertia, but by dedicating his life to questioning its logic, he’s shown it doesn’t have to be inevitable.”

We should loudly question all this nonsense about how the world will fall apart without oil. We should think more critically about a lot of things: like how we use technology, how we interact with our politicians, who we elect, how we can move away from big money etc. Because usually the people holding tight to the past or to fear mongering messages are the ones with the most to lose. Don’t you love those people at work who refuse to get rid of old ways of doing things because “that’s how we’ve always done it?” They just don’t want to try new things. They don’t want to be uncomfortable. We should all be uncomfortable. Pain now or later—when everything falls apart and the stakes are higher.

I hope Dembicki, and his positive outlook is correct and we’re not screwed. I don’t doubt that Millennials can help change the world. I just wonder if we have a enough time to do so.

Geoff Dembicki was at Event 2 (Never too Late … Is it?)  at the 2017 Vancouver Writers Festival.

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