Pique N Your Interest 


It seems like only yesterday that the doom and gloom brigade was warning the world to stock up on gold bullion and K-rations for Y2K, when all of the world’s computer and banking systems were supposed to simultaneously crash. Everything from the phone service to the electrical grid was supposed to collapse, creating a chain reaction throughout the world.

As everyone who woke up with a situation normal hangover on Jan. 1, 2000 knows, Y2K was a non-event. Most critical computer systems were easily fixed, while others harmlessly turned over to “00” without melting down or malfunctioning. A post-apocalyptic world where the survivors drive around the desert looking for fuel and eat dog food never materialized, to the everlasting disappointment of the world’s survivalists and Mel Gibson.

We’re now six years into this new Millennium, and humanity churns on as divided and thoughtless as ever. The Y2K scare did not teach us a lesson about fear mongering, or on the importance of focusing on all the right details. To whit, we still know more about the lives of most celebrities than we do about the lives of a billion people subsisting on less than $1 a day.

Thanks to the ineptitude of our mass media you can still find people out there who think Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and was responsible for 9/11, that democracy is flourishing in Afghanistan as well as the opium, that Iran should be next, that Israel is always right, that global trade will soften China, that global climate change is a myth, that the global economy is working just dandy for everybody. Thanks to the media, we can spend hours upon hours watching news and wind up less informed than we were before we turned on the television.

Despite the dominance of right wing voices in Canadian media — both national newspapers, numerous radio stations, and the whole CanWest empire — there is still a myth that the left wing somehow dominates the nightly news and cannot be trusted.

In a nod to Stephen Colbert (It’s French, bitch), the concept of “truthiness” now firmly outweighs the concept of truth. The only real truism in journalism used to be that you were entitled to your own opinion but not to your own facts. Lately even that simple rule has been turned on its head. People lie and distort freely, while the media presents all sides equally — true or not — to create a veneer of balance.

The real truth of the matter is that things are getting quite serious in this century.

Although war is increasingly ineffective as means to solve issues (I dare you to name three necessary and effective wars since 1945, where there is a clear winner and good outcome) it remains a primary tool of international coercion for most world powers.

And while we focus on war and celebrities (though not necessarily in that order), we’re missing the best opportunity to unite the planet since the moon landing.

Scientists are warning us that climate change has the potential to wipe out billions of people by the end of the 20 th century as water levels rise, glaciers melt, crops die, deserts grow, and people succumb to thirst, hunger and disease. Even the Pentagon expects that the great wars of this century will be the result of climate change and pressure on natural resources.

The evidence is all around us that things are happening, but we still give skeptics equal time in the climate change debate.

Despite the mounting proof, and the fact that most people are now tuning out the skeptics, nobody is asking us to do anything about it. I personally believe that millions of Canadians — and maybe hundreds of millions of people around the world – would be more than willing to make a few hard sacrifices to ensure there’s still a world left for future generations. My generation had no great war to fight, so the least we can do is buy compact fluorescent bulbs, backpack groceries and ride our bikes to work.

The whole idea that children are the future is also a cop-out, when it’s really us that create the future that our children will be living in. Every choice we make, good or bad, is part of that future.

It may seem like a bleak assessment of where we are as a species, but it’s not exactly hopeless providing you believe in evolution. After all, biologists have figured out that it’s not always the strongest that survives, or even the smartest — it’s usually the species that is most adaptive to change.

I have a feeling that 2007 is going to be an interesting year.


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