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The Kids are Right

(Hamburg, Germany. Early estimates report over 50,000 protesters today, participating in the Global Climate Strike.)

In a recent, as yet unpublished work, the Italian writer and activist Erri De Luca salutes the youth of today and welcomes the rise and return of a generation of activists: "Today’s youth know the risks they run, but they also know, with greater force and reason, the avalanche of accumulated ruin hanging over them. They know it’s there, perched on the slope above them, ready to fall with the next increase in temperature. For this reason, the vocal chord of a collective prophet vibrates through them."

When it comes to the environment devastion we've wrought, the crimes of my own and all previous generations are unpardonable. And yet it would be wrong to say that many within these previous generations had not been sounding the alarm for years. On this day of the great global climate strike, we'll add our voice by quoting a pair of writers from our pages.

Already in 1970, in an essay titled "Horsemen of the Apocalypse," William W. Ballard wrote that,

"But now we know how badly we have fouled our nest, how much we are in danger of making the world uninhabitable for ourselves. A horrid picture from my childhood shows the four horsemen of the Apocalypse in the symbolic dress of famine, disease, war, and death. Modern apocalyptic writers need a larger number: eight perhaps."

To keep reading Ballard, click here.

More recently, in the Winter of 2018, we published Noam Chomsky, speculating on our "Prospects for Survival":

"As we move up the scale of what we call intelligence, biological success declines. Large mammals never did very well. Humans are a statistical blip in the past few hundred years. The history of life on Earth, [the late biologist Ernst] Mayr concludes, refutes the claim that “it is better to be smart than to be stupid.” In other words, what we call intelligence may be a lethal mutation."

As Chomsky comments, we don't yet know if Mayr's hypothesis is correct. But we will soon find out.


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