I think of HAL 9000's implacable red eye staring relentlessly, tirelessly at the activities of the Discovery One's unfortunate crew in Arthur Clarke's novel and Stanley Kubrick's movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. I also think of the Eye of Sauron in J.R.R. Tolkien's earlier Hobbit creations.
This is how I imagine the Earth: all-knowing yet impassive, and effectively eternal, regarding us in a dour, saturnine fashion as we flippantly gallivant our way to destruction. Ultimately, the Earth will do us in without a conscious thought if we manage to disrupt its environment sufficiently.
These dark thoughts cross my mind as the COP26 climate-abatement meeting in Glasgow wraps up today, a couple of weeks after a G20 meeting that also focused on climate change finished in Rome.
Late-Breaking Developments in Glasgow
The most current development shows France joining in with The Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance to prevent future oil-drilling permits and eventually stop the production of oil and natural gas altogether. The US state of California and UK's country of Wales joined this announcement.
Other pronouncements came out of Glasgow, including a late-hour agreement between the United States and China – the world's top two greenhouse-gas emitters – that promised “enhanced” climate-abatement action and the prospect of an imminent virtual meeting between US President Joe Biden and Chinese supreme leader Xi Jinping.
Meanwhile, current United Nations Secretary-General, Portugal's António Guterres, told Glasgow attendees that either “we stop (climate change), or it will stop us” and warned that “we're digging our own graves” if humans collectively don't act more quickly and aggressively.
Can We Hit Our Numbers?
Guterres wants a 45% cut in CO2 emissions by 2030 and net carbon-zero emissions by 2050. This is in line with the Biden Administration's recent announced goal of 50-52% reduction by 2030 and net-zero by 2050. If meeting these goals worldwide will do the trick, then score one for homo sapiens.
But the US and EU (with similar goals) account for about 16% of the world's emissions. Here's hoping that the new US-China talks yield substantial progress and help bring all of the world's major polluters on board.
I'm listening to the piano music of Francis Poulenc in my headphones as I write this. It's light and witty, elegantly crafted and maintains a steady, optimistic pulse throughout. I should probably be listening to something dark, heavy, and foreboding like the finale from Wagner's Twilight of the Gods. Maybe I will later.
I like this sort of music and cultural stuff related to it. I'd like it to persevere a few more centuries, at minimum. Even for those who are not fans of Poulenc or Wagner, I'd wager that everyone has something they'd like to last for awhile, not only during their lifetimes, but well beyond. So I head into this weekend with some optimism in mind, and hope for the world's climate-abatement future.
I do this knowing that the eyes of HAL and Sauron remain fixed upon us, perpetually glaring.