Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Sashimi

While perhaps not up to the divine standards of Yata Supermarket in Hong Kong or Costco in Korea, I was able to pick up some Norwegian sashimi salmon at ICA today. Together with a glass of white wine from South Africa, the unfolding tragedies of the pandemic become even less tangible. For now, and at least for those of us who still enjoy relatively secure forms of employment, this is all somehow Apocalypse Light. The other night I was pondering what humanity would do if we were faced with a more absolute existential threat like a wandering black hole (Trump: “No one knows black holes better than me…”). On one level, we already know what to do, at least if we had time, namely to make sufficient social investments so that we could develop technologies advanced enough to overcome the threat and, with billions of people living in poverty, there are indeed formidable untapped intellectual resources for the world to draw on.

Every time I think about these things, I am reminded of the futility of our current approach to climate change. Unsurprisingly, atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide have continued to set new records despite the economic crash caused by the pandemic, simply because the core of the global economy remains just as fossil as before the crisis. The question of course is, what kind of feedback signal would it take for the world to somehow “wake up” and realize the futility of fighting planetary processes involving hundreds of billions of tons of anthropogenic carbon emissions with wind mills and Malthusian misanthropy?

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