TUMBY BAY - As we lapuns drift gently into old age, the thoughts of many of us inevitably circle around concepts of mortality and the state of the world.
Such ponderings are part of an age old process that has been going on since humans first inhabited the planet.
As a species we tend to be naturally optimistic no matter what dire circumstances exist at the time.
This time round, however, things don’t seem to be as rosy as they should be.
Global warming seems to be a threat whose magnitude and potential for destruction is well beyond anything that has happened before.
If you add to this the rapid spread of the coronavirus in recent weeks you have a potent mix that has escalated anxiety levels worldwide.
Until now, global warming has only been seen in terms of a vague threat but the bushfires this summer in Australia considerably elevated that threat in the minds of people all over the world.
Of particular significance is the linking of global warming to potential mass extinctions, not just of plants and animals but us humans.
Is this possible?
Climate change deniers tell us this kind of talk is silly. Optimistic climate change believers say this kind of talk is premature. If we put our minds to it, the feeling is, we can turn around the changing climate.
Is this sort of optimism and reliance on human ingenuity justified?
It is worth considering what the scientists say. They tell us that on several occasions in the last 500 million years 75-90% of all species on the planet have been wiped out in rapid mass extinctions.
With that in mind we need to remind ourselves that as human beings we are not particularly special. We are, at the end of the day, just another mammal.
We are just animals and just as susceptible as any other to extinction.
We are not, as some would have it, a special species placed on the planet as caretakers by some supernatural being.
(And if that were the case, we have misled our heavenly creator on a grand scale.)
As psychologist Geoff Dawson said in a recent article on the ABC website, “The myth that we are somehow special and will continue to live forever as a dominant species is based on a deluded human-centric form of existential narcissism”.
As an intelligent animal species we are more than ever capable of engineering our own extinction and becoming just another blip in the continuum of time.
While our eventual individual death is an accepted inevitability our potential mass extinction through climate change is a decidedly unexpected possibility for us lapuns to consider.
Among other things, it pre-supposes that there is no future, or at least the possibility of a very uncomfortable one, for our descendants.
For people who have experienced a mostly vibrant and interesting lifetime, and for which we are decidedly grateful, such a dampener is a bit hard to take, especially when we consider we might have been innocently complicit in creating the mess.
I would suggest that it at least behoves us to own up to our perfidies and then poke a few sticks at our recalcitrant juniors to get them moving in the right direction.
For their own good and our clear conscience, no less.