“And we won’t leave much of a trace, either. Thank God for that.” – the late great American satirist and all-round social critic, George Carlin
George Carlin’s take on what we humans are doing to the planet, with an Introduction by Niagara At Large publisher Doug Draper
Posted Febraury 5th, 2017 on Niagara At Large
Intro by Doug Draper – I want to make a confession here that is embarrassing because it shows what kind of a fool I’ve been been for most of my adult life.
I was once of those naïve young people who thought that I could do something in my own small way to save the planet form environmental degradation.
In my mid-teens, I made the mistake of reading’Silent Spring’ – a book by a late American scientist Rachel Carson, who warned that we humans were emitting agents into the environment and otherwise altering it in ways that could have deadly consequences for a web of life forms on the planet that includes us.
Corporations that produced the pesticides and other agents discussed in Silent Spring issued warnings of their own following the book’s 1962 publication that Carson was engaging in science fiction and fear-mongering, but I didn’t listen.
That’s poor dumb me in the black-and-white photo to the right – the one wearing the gas mask and holding up a sign reading; “If you aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the pollution” – still in my teens and participating in the very frist Earth Day in the spring of 1970 when, as some of the people working in the factory I was demonstrating in front of, said I should have been in school that weekday morning, working on multiplication tables.
Well, I went on in school and graduated with a Master’s degree in journalism before – wouldn’t you know it – spending the better part of the next three decades working as a full-time environment reporter at a daily newspaper in Niagara.
Unbenown to me at the time, what a waste of the middle years of my life that would turn out to be!
Through most of that time, some of us actually fooled ourselves in to believing that we were slowly but surely making some progress on water and air pollution, and a number of other environmental issues.
That was until recently when everyone from Donald Trump, with his promise to drill, mine and burn the blazes out of fossil fuels and gut what has been a world-leading Environmental Protection Agency, and to our own Canadian prime minister, along with more than a few of the countries premiers and big labour unions wanting to construct more tar sands pipelines, right on down to Niagara’s own regional government, have gone to work, taking us back to the dirtiest decades of the early to mid-20th century.
And except for a vocal minority of us, most people have sat back quietly – too busy going to the mall and playing those video games to pay attention – and let them.
As for all those future generations of people, some of said we wanted to save a healthy planet for, many of them are in their 20s and 30s now , and they don’t read newspapers. They are too busy sending each other selfies on Facebook to even know what is going on.
So maybe I should have listened to those workers at the plant I was demonstrating in front of during that first Earth Day and just gone back to school and set my sights on a job where I could have made money selling the products they were manufacturing in their plant. Never mind the ‘tree hugging’ stuff.
Indeed, the late American satirist George Carlin, who was one very astute observer of madness going on in the world around him, could have set me straight, if I had a mind to listen, in the following rant he delivered some 25 years ago.
Fair warning to the word police out there. George’s sermon on the environmental movement and the planet contains language some might find offensive. But his language is not anywhere near as offensive as the stinking mess we humans are making of this only place in the universe we know of where that our form of life has a chance for survival.
We”ve been making such a mess of the place, says George, that we humans are going away. But there’s some good news.
Think of how much better off the planet will be when we humans are gone.
Now here is Geroge Carlin’s lecture, titled ‘The Planet is Fine’, from 1992, more prophetic than ever in this Age of Trump –
“We’re so self-important. So self-important. Everybody’s going to save something now. “Save the trees, save the bees, save the whales, save those snails.” And the greatest arrogance of all: save the planet. What? Are these fucking people kidding me?
Save the planet, we don’t even know how to take care of ourselves yet. We haven’t learned how to care for one another, we’re gonna save the fucking planet? I’m getting tired of that shit. Tired of that shit.
I’m tired of fucking Earth Day, I’m tired of these self-righteous environmentalists, these white, bourgeois liberals who think the only thing wrong with this country is there aren’t enough bicycle paths. People trying to make the world safe for their Volvos. Besides, environmentalists don’t give a shit about the planet. They don’t care about the planet. Not in the abstract they don’t.
You know what they’re interested in? A clean place to live. Their own habitat. They’re worried that some day in the future, they might be personally inconvenienced. Narrow, unenlightened self-interest – doesn’t impress me. Besides, there is nothing wrong with the planet. Nothing wrong with the planet. The planet is fine. The PEOPLE are fucked. Difference. Difference.
The planet is fine. Compared to the people, the planet is doing great. Been here four and a half billion years. Did you ever think about the arithmetic?
The planet has been here four and a half billion years. We’ve been here, what, a hundred thousand? Maybe two hundred thousand? And we’ve only been engaged in heavy industry for a little over two hundred years. Two hundred years versus four and a half billion.
And we have the CONCEIT to think that somehow we’re a threat? That somehow we’re gonna put in jeopardy this beautiful little blue-green ball that’s just a-floatin’ around the sun?
The planet has been through a lot worse than us. Been through all kinds of things worse than us. Been through earthquakes, volcanoes, plate tectonics, continental drift, solar flares, sun spots, magnetic storms, the magnetic reversal of the poles…hundreds of thousands of years of bombardment by comets and asteroids and meteors, worldwide floods, tidal waves, worldwide fires, erosion, cosmic rays, recurring ice ages…And we think some plastic bags, and some aluminum cans are going to make a difference?
The planet…the planet…the planet isn’t going anywhere. WE ARE! We’re going away. Pack your shit, folks. We’re going away. And we won’t leave much of a trace, either. Thank God for that. Maybe a little styrofoam. Maybe. A little styrofoam.
The planet’ll be here and we’ll be long gone. Just another failed mutation. Just another closed-end biological mistake. An evolutionary cul-de-sac. The planet’ll shake us off like a bad case of fleas. A surface nuisance.
You wanna know how the planet’s doing? Ask those people at Pompeii, who are frozen into position from volcanic ash, how the planet’s doing. You wanna know if the planet’s all right, ask those people in Mexico City or Armenia or a hundred other places buried under thousands of tons of earthquake rubble, if they feel like a threat to the planet this week.
Or how about those people in Kilauea, Hawaii, who built their homes right next to an active volcano, and then wonder why they have lava in the living room. The planet will be here for a long, long, LONG time after we’re gone, and it will heal itself, it will cleanse itself, ’cause that’s what it does. It’s a self-correcting system.
The air and the water will recover, the earth will be renewed, and if it’s true that plastic is not degradable, well, the planet will simply incorporate plastic into a new pardigm: the earth plus plastic. The earth doesn’t share our prejudice towards plastic. Plastic came out of the earth. The earth probably sees plastic as just another one of its children.
Could be the only reason the earth allowed us to be spawned from it in the first place. It wanted plastic for itself. Didn’t know how to make it. Needed us.
Could be the answer to our age-old egocentric philosophical question, “Why are we here?” Plastic…asshole!
So, the plastic is here, our job is done, we can be phased out now. And I think that’s begun. Don’t you think that’s already started? I think, to be fair, the planet sees us as a mild threat. Something to be dealt with. And the planet can defend itself in an organized, collective way, the way a beehive or an ant colony can. A collective defense mechanism. The planet will think of something. What would you do if you were the planet? How would you defend yourself against this troublesome, pesky species?
Let’s see… Viruses. Viruses might be good. They seem vulnerable to viruses. And, uh…viruses are tricky, always mutating and forming new strains whenever a vaccine is developed.
Perhaps, this first virus could be one that compromises the immune system of these creatures. Perhaps a human immunodeficiency virus, making them vulnerable to all sorts of other diseases and infections that might come along. And maybe it could be spread sexually, making them a little reluctant to engage in the act of reproduction.
Well, that’s a poetic note. And it’s a start. And I can dream, can’t I? See I don’t worry about the little things: bees, trees, whales, snails. I think we’re part of a greater wisdom than we will ever understand. A higher order. Call it what you want.
Know what I call it? The Big Electron. The Big Electron…whoooa. Whoooa. Whoooa. It doesn’t punish, it doesn’t reward, it doesn’t judge at all. It just is. And so are we. For a little while.”
If you would like to watch George Carlin deliver the message you just read, click on –
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“A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders