Saturday, July 02, 2022

10 Lines : We Knew

Image : S. Getzin / Discover March-April 2022

We Knew… 

1) We embraced ‘Live Better - Electrically!’, burning more and more coal to power our increasing demand, while the sulphur it contained turned more fresh water into sterile lakes of diluted acid. 

2) We watched the chemicals poison Love Canal, and knew it was just a warning for all our drinking water, as the phosphates that we used to make our clothes ‘whiter than white’ bloomed the algae, and choked the fish to death.

3) For years we saw the oil wells starting to run dry despite ever more extreme methods, bemoaning the rising cost of gasoline, all the while driving larger and larger personal vehicles, as if engine size and horsepower were some kind of status symbol. 

4) Our viewing portal to the world shifted to ever smaller and faster electronic gadgets designed for ever shortening life cycles, as if being constantly ‘connected’ was some kind of equivalent to an ability for critical evaluation or true understanding. 

5) Educated viewpoints, even practical experience, was increasingly buried under a massive tide of cell phone image captures and one hundred and forty character text summations, the opinions of anyone spewing content more valued that actual expertise. 

6) We filled our lives with plastics, more and more as disposables, thinking our blue boxes somehow magically made the leavings just disappear, while shipping off our leavings to the third world to become ‘someone else’s problem’. 

7) Our houses could just never be large enough, or filled with enough stuff, or have enough parking so every family member could have their own car (with extras like boats and quad runners and their trailers and additional vehicles just to haul those toys). 

8) All this massive, blind, consumerism bough on credit, ‘why wait for tomorrow when you can enjoy TODAY!’, as if the bill would never, ever, come due. 

9) The weather getting obviously stranger, hotter or wetter or drier, the storms more frequent and so much severe, but of course this was all just some plot by a bunch of Over-educated Leftie Socialists. 

10) And all the while, the little voice in the back of our heads reminding us of what we had suspected and feared might happen, a lifetime ago, all while we sat inside our little ’Social Bubbles’, in reality increasingly physically isolated from all those ‘Friends’ - none of which we actually never really knew. 


Ok - a bit of a diatribe. But pulling together a number of elements that have been pressing on me increasingly of late. Certainly a bit of a cheat on '10 Lines', as the sentences as composed are really strung out through the use of excessive commas.

* I * certainly Knew. Or at least had seen the warning signs, as anyone paying the least bit of attention, growing up through high school into college or university in the 1970's :

  • The effects of Acid Rain became increasingly obvious (and wide spread) in the 1960's, leading to attempts by governments to control emissions like the 1972 Clean Air Act (USA)
  • The Love Canal Disaster was a public outcry in the later 1970's
  • Alvin Toffler published Future Shock in 1970, defining the problem of accelerating rate of technological change on both individuals and societies.  
  • The concept of Peak Oil can be traced back at least as early as 1972, via projections from the oil companies themselves.
  • The first true home computers hit the popular market starting from the later half of the 1970's. The Internet itself, at least for general public access, effectively dates to the first half of the 1990's. The beginnings of the current dominance of cell phones as information portals only dates to 1999.
  • Facebook became available to the general public in 2006, the same year Twitter, with it's limit to 140 characters, was launched.
  • The truly massive impact ocean plastic accumulation has been documented by such highly respected researchers as Jacques Cousteau, and Silvia Earle 
  • The possibility of global climate change through human activities was first suggested by observations going back as early as the late 1800's (!) By the 1990's computer models, using hard data, had indicated not only the direct human causes, but forecast the dire consequences of our actions. 

As for the rest?

I was there at the start. I watched a generation's youthful concern turn into middle aged apathy, excesses and pure greed as seniors. I will not live to see the disaster looming, but fear for you reading who will have to live through it.


O who can stand? O who hath caused this?
O who can answer at the throne of God?
The Kings and Nobles of the Land have done it!
Hear it not, Heaven, thy Ministers have done it!

Loreena Makennitt - Lullaby

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February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

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