Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Climate Change

We saw Children of Men the other night. It's an adaptation of a novel by PD James which doesn't sound very much like the film. For a film about the lack of women's fertility in general but the pregnancy of one woman, the story revolves around men: The people who have put themselves in charge of what happens to the mother are all men, and the mother is more a vessel than anything else. In fact there are hardly any women in this film at all - I think three of them have speaking roles. Neva Chonin, a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, noticed this in a January column.

I was considering reading the book (the premise of which is that men are infertile) but I don't think I will. This is the thing: I don't like reading or seeing dystopian stories. I read 1984 the first time 23 years ago, and Brave New World not much later, but the stories written in my own time are hard for me to take. It doesn't matter if the dystopia is based on the weather, the culture, politics, technology, disease, or humans reverting to their baser natures (violence, xenophobia, superstition, etc.).

In my heart, I think this is what the future is going to look like. I could get pretty depressed about it so I avoid dystopian movies. Sure, I recycle and I drive a hybrid Civic, but I'm an American so am still responsible for a lot of global warming. And then there's China, and other countries for which economic development is more important than environmental impact (which is a fancy way of saying people who are hungry will burn forests to build farms). In fact, when a friend of mine mentioned recently that she is really concerned about global warming, I couldn't respond because I wasn't up for a conversation about the world going to hell in a handbasket.

I believe that people generally try to do the right thing for other people, and that the more we learn the more kindness we show each other. When I talk to a child or learn an acquaintance is pregnant, I feel hope. I'd rather feel hope than hopelessness, and I would rather imagine Gene Roddenberry's future than George Orwell's. I suppose that this makes me rather ostrich-like, but I try to do those things they tell us will make a difference even when I allow myself to think it won't make one.

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