At hodie penis est in obscenis
NOTE. This piece reflects the opinions and beliefs of the author, separate from those of the Green Office.
Marcus Tullius Cicero once explored, in a letter to his friend, an evolution of the Latin word ‘penis’, which used to mean ‘tail’, but later became an obscene word describing a male organ. Anyway, this great, in my opinion, thinker, orator and politician could not anticipate two things (he was not a futurist after all): that his roast of Catiline in the Roman senate would be reused (incompetently) by Thierry Baudet in the Tweede Kamer; and more crucially that 2000 years later, it would not be the Republic that was threatened, but the very foundation of human civilisation that is Earth. Anyway, I believe that ultimately, although it will come too late, many other concepts will change their meaning into obscene ones. I do not mean by this obscenity in the most common – sexual context, but rather plain indecency and corruption.
There are things, we are all doing, to a varying degree, which are already quite obscene considering simple morality, and that we are heading towards 2 degrees Celsius (above pre-industrial levels). They are not seen as such due to the recognition problem. Homo sapiens is, alas, contrary to its scientific classification, quite a dumb animal. You can argue that I am too harsh because we have built civilisation, flown into space. Blahblahblah. I am not aware of the existence of any other species that destroys its own habitat. Unfortunately, despite this foolishness, we managed to avoid the power of natural selection for a long time and because of that, we will pull the whole planet down during our extinction. I do not enjoy exploring our obscene behaviour, because it is disgusting, but I believe it is important to decrease this cognitive dissonance between who we are and who we think we are.
Let’s begin with killing animals for meat. Why is this obscene? First, we believe to be moral beings, that clearly discern what is bad and what is good. This capability is often claimed as differentiating us from ‘animals’. Unfortunately, in our foolishness we do not see that, not only we are killing other animals for food, which is common among other animals (albeit the argument about our morality ceases to be valid then), but we do not eat them completely. We are throwing away tremendous amount of meat. In the Netherlands alone, it is more than 40 million kg of meat per year. Let’s stop here and try to imagine exactly how many animals are therefore being killed for no purpose beyond killing. On top of that, animals are preventatively being killed during pandemics of, e.g., bird flu.
I am not going to describe here what the process of meat production looks like, even in ‘developed’ countries, for two reasons. First, it is not needed at this stage to prove that humanity and morality have as much in common as a chair and an electric chair; secondly it is crueller than things we can see on Natural Geographic. We excelled carnivorous animals in cruelty, and I am afraid this piece would not get published if I went into detail. However, another obscene aspect of eating animals is the fact that 80% of cultivated land is intended for livestock, yet livestock amount to only 20% of the human calory supply. Furthermore, its share of global emissions is estimated to be 14.5 %. Fortunately, by eating meat we tremendously help natural selection. Pandemics originating from animal husbandry could be perhaps, the cure for our poor planet, if you know what I mean. Obviously, as dumb beings devoid of a self-preservation instinct, we do not care that the plant-based diet is just healthier. This absence, in the context of natural selection, is not a bad thing. Bon appétit.
Now, those of you who did not fly (but could) in the last 12 months can cast the first stone. Those of us (including myself) who flew on holidays will be the recipients. The rest can watch. Why so? Because we are hypocrites. I assume here that you read LUGO press because you believe that you care about the environment. So, ad nauseam, the cognitive dissonance, the great curse of humanity. We fly because we can. We fly in Europe, even though comfortable trains are available (albeit still expensive). To save a few hours, we destroy the environment. Did we visit all tourist attractions in a country we live in, maybe in our neighbourhoods? I doubt it, but tourists from other countries are coming here (by plane) to see them. Are we even sentient beings? If not, it would excuse our behaviour, if so, it is abominable and obscene.
Do you own a car? Yes? So, why do you need to own car in the Netherlands for? In those extremely rare cases when a car is necessary, you can borrow one. There is a public transport, there are bicycles, which in fact are the most efficient vehicles used for transport. Finally, you get delivered many things either cheaply or even for free. The interesting thing about cars is that they are collaterally working against global warming because aerosols which cause air pollutions are cooling the atmosphere. Those aerosols are also causing cancers (10% of all cases in Europe) and other diseases. Apparently, we are too dumb to be egoists considering that we do not even care about ourselves. Humanity at its finest.
There are other things we are doing that will probably be seen as obscene. However, those three should be seen as a particularly perverse and decadent kind of obscenity. There is a simple reason for that, we do not need to do this, we can live a fruitful life without eating meat, without flying on holidays, and without owning a car, at least in the Netherlands.
In closing words, I would like to point out that we can still change. It is possible to leave this stupefying fog surrounding almost all humans, which leads us and the entire world into the hot abyss which awaits us after exceeding the environmental tipping points. We should quickly realise, though, that (paraphrasing Cicero) nowadays, many things we do are obscenities, or to get a similar lame rhyme to the one Cicero was able to come up with: nowadays, our “necessities” are just obscenities.