Where did it all start to go so wrong? There are several candidates for the irreversible, singular moment that set the course for the climate catastrophe trajectory into ultimate extinction -the advent of agriculture, the dawning of the neoliberal era under Reagan, the discovery of oil in Pendleton, TX, the election of some dummkopf whose name rhymes with “Fhumpwp” – but upon the discovery of the capacity to generate fire, human fate was sealed.
A highly social primate can deliver great and ever-more complex employment of that knowledge of how to generate fire, giving us small mp3 players that can house more music than could ever have been stored in all of the great libraries of antiquity, but a highly social primate can never generate the restraint of social controls upon the dangers that fire represents. Humans do not enjoy placing any form of trust in numbers over a tribal minimum (the fabled 150), and that number has certainly deliquesced with the growth of modern atomized society, so that there is no basis for a trust to control fire, in any form.
We humans were born of the fires from stars, and we now see that unrestrained fire, in the form of ever-expanding fossil fuel energy use, is consume our destiny. Despite all the well-meaning expressions of scientific and socio-political knowledge, our inability to locate a common source of deterrence within our collective social selves illustrates the dangers of a planet with such innocuous, ever-present sources of fire.
That first fire generated by humans must have been an immediate hit with the locals, since we today can sit for hours in front of the dancing flames with nothing but a can of Busch swill to accompany our mesmerized musings, but in our instinctive fear of fire, we must also have known that such power can represent a power much greater than our forces of control. We, the honored, grateful descendants of these proto-humans who had first found a workable source of warmth and good cooking, are now the human generation that can see the outlines of the real, coming fires in our own horizons, heading our way. Might as well pop open a cold one.