The dreaded future is here – the courage to act is not


« Love of nature does not occupy any factory. »

– Aldous Huxley, « Brave New World »

In 2013, I gave a talk at the New School for Social Research in New York on film politics. Part of this presentation was Hollywood’s obsession with apocalyptic films and the usual American heroes preventing or mitigating pending global destruction.

For example, « The Day After Tomorrow », a film about natural disasters causing a new ice age and « Armageddon » and « Deep Impact », films showing asteroids colliding with Earth. The list extends to the most recent, depressingly sardonic, « Don’t Look Up, » and his take on the futility of politicians in the face of glaring existential threats. These films now look like glitzy documentaries.

According to Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s climate change minister, a third of his country has been submerged by historic floods. She calls it a « crisis of unimaginable proportions ».

CNN reported that a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change determined that the dramatic and continued melting of the Greenland ice sheet will cause sea levels to rise 10 inches. Researchers from Denmark and Greenland have concluded that ‘About 3.3% of Greenland’s ice sheet – around 110 trillion tonnes of ice – will melt due to climate change that has already occurred.

China rations electricity due to droughts, extreme heat and fires. Spain’s water supply for towns and farms is at around 36% capacity and underwater relics such as an 11th-century church and a man-made prehistoric stone circle have now resurfaced, all caused by climate change.

In Chile, scientists have recovered, thanks to the melting of a glacier, an unprecedented and complete fossilized ichthyosaur, an ancient marine reptile with intact embryos. Accelerated melting of the Yukon’s permafrost has exposed the well-preserved remains of Ice Age animals, from wolves to camels to giant beavers, according to the Smithsonian Magazine.

There is no doubt that this is happening all over the once freezing world and we will continue to be bombarded with discoveries about our planet’s evolutionary history because of our toxic conduct.

Here in Ontario, the Ford government plans to replace the aging Pickering Nuclear Generating Station with four new natural gas-fired power generation contracts. The Ontario government’s planned Highway 413 will open up a paradise of farmland, the Greenbelt and waterways.

Buried in all of this and other cataclysmic news is news of the death of the last member of an indigenous tribe in Brazil, who have isolated themselves from human contact. He and his group were off the grid that surrounded them and not in love with the material world.

How stupid we are as a species. As individuals and politicians, we so lack the necessary courage, awareness, discipline and determination in the face of what is happening and needs to be done. Behaviors must change and our collective economic choices must reflect this emerging existential crisis because the dreaded future is here.

Jerry Levitan is a Toronto lawyer, filmmaker, actor, writer and musician.

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