A line from the 1983 surreal Dutch movie The 4th Man (De vierde man) has remained in my head over the years, and it comes to mind repeatedly now when I read or watch the daily news. The line is this:
“When you are warned, you must listen.”
In the movie, the lead character keeps encountering ominous portents of something terrible to come. And here are just a few samples from recent news:
“Three-quarters of flying insects in nature reserves across Germany have vanished in 25 years, with serious implications for all life on Earth, scientists say…” https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/18/warning-of-ecological-armageddon-after-dramatic-plunge-in-insect-numbers
“Only 60 Years of Farming Left If Soil Degradation Continues
Generating three centimeters of top soil takes 1,000 years, and if current rates of degradation continue all of the world’s top soil could be gone within 60 years, a senior UN official said…” https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/only-60-years-of-farming-left-if-soil-degradation-continues/
“Thawing Alaska permafrost alarms scientists
- Much of the permafrost that blankets Alaska is slowly thawing.
- A group of researchers is taking core samples of permafrost.
- Scientists think thawing could contribute as much as 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit to the planet’s temperature.” https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/23/thawing-alaska-permafrost-alarms-scientists.html
“US scientists contradict Trump’s climate claims
As President Donald Trump touts new oil pipelines and pledges to revive the nation’s struggling Coal mines, federal scientists are warning that burning fossil fuels is already driving a steep increase in the United States of heat waves, droughts and floods.” https://phys.org/news/2017-08-scientists-contradict-trump-climate.html#jCp
“The world is facing a ‘biological annihilation’ of species, researchers warn
‘Earth’s sixth mass extinction episode has proceeded further than most assume’
The world is experiencing a “biological annihilation” of its animal species because of humans’ effect on the Earth, a new study has found.Researchers mapped 27,600 species of birds, amphibians, mammals and reptiles — nearly half of known terrestrial vertebrate species — and concluded the planet’s sixth mass extinction even was much worse than previously thought.
They found the number of individual animals that once lived alongside humans had now fallen by as much as 50 per cent…” http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/world-facing-annihilation-species-extinction-animal-population-proceedings-of-the-national-academy-a7834531.html
Our great misfortune at this time is to have a government — and not the only one — that does not listen. My own view of the matter is that any world leader who refuses to listen to the countless daily warnings of impending ecological disaster should be legally removed from office for gross negligence of duty by endangering the country and the planet.
There are many factors contributing to why people do not listen. Schools that do not teach students how to think critically and examine evidence. Religions that prefer fundamentalistic self-deception to factual evidence. The greed of corporations and individuals for lifestyles that require the rape and destruction of the environment.
Just consider one factor — the effects of people who insist on eating meat when a perfectly healthy (more healthy, in fact) diet can be had without it:
“Livestock farming has a vast environmental footprint. It contributes to land and water degradation, biodiversity loss, acid rain, coral reef degeneration and deforestation. Nowhere is this impact more apparent than climate change – livestock farming contributes 18% of human produced greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. This is more than all emissions from ships, planes, trucks, cars and all other transport put together.” https://phys.org/news/2017-04-ways-meat-plate-planet.html
Perhaps you are wondering why I am talking about this on a site usually devoted to hokku and other forms of verse. As I have mentioned before, hokku is a rather unique form of verse because it has as its subject matter Nature and the place of humans within and as a part of Nature, set in the context of the seasons. That means it is critically connected to the environment. And no one who pays attention to Nature and the seasons can fail to see the danger signs all around us every day now. And as the line in The 4th Man cautions,
“When you are warned, you must listen.”