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  • Hans van Mameren

Now we are the Walrus on the cliff.

A harsh reality for this Walrus.

This walrus learned something that humans also should be aware of:

Where to look for the “Point of No-return”. The sad answer is: “Behind you”.


More and more came onto the beach and some started to climb up to the cliff. By doing that, he passed a “Point of No-return” In the water he is an athlete, on land a wretch. Still, he has to return to the sea to feed. The only direction is down the slope of the cliff. Into the Abyss. Why is he trying to crawl further down? Out of despair? Or is he ignorant of gravity? Or does he hope to survive his decent?


His species will survive. There are many of them on the beach that did not pass the “Point of No-return”. The fate of those that climbed up, is visible at the bottom of the cliff.


Are we like the Walrus on the cliff?


In the past many of us have looked back and only then saw the “Point of No-return”. But our inventiveness gave us an escape route. New technologies shifted the limits further and further. We were not aware or didn’t want to see the hidden consequences.


And so, with every temporary solution, we climb higher and higher up on the cliff. With every step we fence ourselves in further. How to escape from this dangerous route?


We debate, we split in groups of deniers, believers, doomers and doers and so on. But that will not bring us safely down from the cliff. Why not?

We have passed a point and did not recognise its real meaning. Are we to blame?


Can you blame people for inventing a medicine, for a more productive food chain, for building a sewer, for providing safe drinking water? We call these “Achievements”. And with good reason.


And thus, our numbers grew. More and more of us were seduced to climb the cliff. And we enjoyed it. The view is beautiful, we enjoy the gentle breeze and all the comfort it brings. Those on the beach envy the ones who climbed and want to join. And why not. They have a right to it as well. With some technological tricks we can accommodate a few more on the cliff or another few more. The cliff did not grow any bigger over time. Only more crowded. And the first ones of us are now descending the cliff. Just as the walrus had to.


An accident is mostly caused by one or a few related events. Something breaks, it falls and someone is killed. A catastrophe happens when a series of seemingly unrelated events take place over a short time. And the impact is much bigger, much bigger. Climate change, droughts and floods, loss of biodiversity, sea-level rise, pollution impacts, depletion of resources of many kinds, pandemics, economic shifts, political shifts. It all comes at the same time. Some say we need to keep Global Warming within 1.50C or else!!!. Do we need to fight climate change or accommodate to it? Will it be 1.5 or 2 or 4? Do we have any control or choice or has the “Point of No-return” already been passed?

We reproduce to keep our species alive. Not each individual. We all will be phased out some day. We are now with 8, soon some predict with 10 billion. Or will it be with only 3 billion. Time will tell but for sure it will be messy at the foot of the cliff. Is this fatalistic? No not at all. The specie[1] will survive and that is what counts in nature. We are now learning all the tricks and technology for future generations to build their lives. Building back better and more sustainable, with a better life for those who remained. Politicians speak about “Building back better”. But Covid is not the bottom of the cliff. Just a bump on the way down. Keep learning and develop the new solutions. Those who will survive at the bottom of the cliff will need it. They will thank us for the lessons and tools we provided. For the means and technology that we are inventing now. The survivors will not blame us for the mess we made in our own house. We were all complicit.


Fatalistic has another way off the cliff. Blow it all up. And for that we have all the nuclear tools at hand. After that there is no need to look back and recognise that “Point of no-return”. Just by lack of future.


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