A World in Trouble; Warnings and Denial

Climate change is creating difficult living arrangements across the globe, with habitats and ecosystems falling at an alarming rate. Mankind’s insatiable desire to rid the planet of all available resources seems to be playing a pivotal role in the destruction. We wake up each day drilling for more oil, precious metals, and water, drilling a little deeper than yesterday. Cutting acre after acre of the forest away, to make room for new buildings and roads that will be outdated in 50 years. Coming up with more and more clever ways to quickly strip Earth of all its life-sustaining features.

The cover of "The Lorax" by Dr. Seuss
Cover of The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss. This children’s story is about the power of a single voice to effect positive change for the environment (Johnson).

As materialistic people, we carry on as if there is no limit to Earth’s bounty even though we all should know better than that. At an early age, we are taught about litter, pollution, and waste. We are also taught to respect ourselves, others, and nature. We go on field trips to nature centers, recycling plants, wastewater treatment facilities, and we get trees to plant for Earth Day. Guest speakers from other counties, scientists, and conservation officers present relevant educational information from elementary school through high school. Yet we walk among the ignorant. Some are in full denial, others too frightened to face facts. Cathrine Ingram says “I also marveled at how oblivious most people are to the coming catastrophes.” So who is Cathrine Ingram anyway?

Cathrine Ingram is the author of an essay titled “Facing Extinction” in which she claims that “we are facing extinction in the near future.” Ingram’s YouTube channel showcases how well “Facing Extinction” has been received by the global population. Most people won’t give this essay the time of day. A lot more people will stop reading this essay in the first paragraph.  However, curiosity took hold of me, and I read it completely through. What I read made me angry at the human race, sad for the future and the children, and left me feeling hopeless. Catherine Ingram’s “Facing Extinction” will evoke anger, fear, dread, depression, and a plethora of other negative emotions within anyone brave enough to read it.

“Facing Extinction” is Ingrams’ attempt to bring awareness to an unpopular subject, the consequences of climate change. Her first section, titled “Dark Knowledge,” explains how humans have created the perfect storm for “the sixth mass extinction.” Ingram believes humanity has created a thick layer of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that is heating our planet beyond homeostasis. She feels that this is melting the ice caps and releasing large quantities of methane into the atmosphere, accelerating the warming effects. Ingram explains that with the retreating ice caps, the ocean is being left to take the brunt of incoming solar rays, further warming the water and intensifying melting. In turn, as the ice melts, oil deposits are exposed to additional human exploitation.

Ingram thinks the world superpowers are locked in a race to take ownership of the potential oil deposits unlocked by this travesty. She is puzzled at how humanity has chosen to look away from these threats and continue filling time with trivial pursuits, even in the face of impending doom. We entertain ourselves with television and movies, which portray human extinction as a fiction rather than a true threat. Ingram writes, “there has never been a greater news story than that of humans facing full extinction, and yet extinction is rarely mentioned.” It amazes me that we can look at human extinction as a source of entertainment, and then turn a blind eye to scientific research and nature’s warning signs that predict our end.

Ingram wrote her essay, knowing it would only make an impact with a minute part of the population. She knew most people wouldn’t want to hear the words, that her audience would be small.  For those readers, she explains, “the words on these pages are meant only for those who are ready for them.” Ingram doesn’t want people to feel alone in this dark revelation, she wants them to know that other people are “awakening” to climate consequences.

However, she also knew that her constraints shouldn’t hold her back anymore.  It doesn’t matter if the topic is unpopular or if people are just in denial. Climate change needs a light shined on it because it is our reality. Ingram writes, “what we now need to find is courage.” She did just that publishing “Facing Extinction” in February, 2019, leaving her constituents to their own devices.

After reading “Facing Extinction” the exigence was clear. It doesn’t matter what your stance on climate change is, this essay will infuriate readers. While I find Ingram’s essay mostly accurate, I also find that I don’t completely agree with her. I was mad at Ingram for saying that hope is lost, and we are just going to die.  Then I realized it is what she wants. Ingram wants readers to connect with what she is saying. She wants people to feel something, anything.

To get a reaction, Ingram uses three appeals to try and hold us captive. Right off the bat, she begins with a pathos appeal, trying to get an emotional reaction with the use of bold statements by telling readers that she believes we are going extinct soon. Ingram points out that “150 plant and animal species are going extinct every day” and that we are also on the list. She tells us “I offer no hope or solutions for our continuation.” Cathrine Ingram wants people to feel bad, and its works.

At the same time, Ingram uses the logos appeal very well, causing readers to look at facts and determine if they are logical. Ingram explains how the gases CO2, methane, and SF6 are creating a blanket of gas in the atmosphere that is accelerating planetary warming. The warming itself is causing more issues depending on where people live. Floods, fires, drought, famine, disease, and more violent storms are already an observable effect. And these issues lead to economic problems, needing more resources, and wars for more resources. Ingram says, “The U.S., Russia, and China are now vying for the hegemony of the Arctic region.” Logically, if we know we are poisoning our environment and the ice caps are melting, we have a problem that deserves major attention. Instead, we are fighting each other, exploiting the planet, and destroying more habitats.

As these habitats disappear there is usually a journalist who writes up an interesting article for the world to largely ignore. Catherine Ingram started her career as a journalist in 1982, writing on social and environmental issues, publishing around 100 articles. Ingram has served on the editorial staff for several magazines, written a life advice column, and has been an organizer and co-founder for a few different activist groups around the world. She is also the President of Living Dharma where she leads Dharma Dialogues to help people learn to live ethically and happily. Ingram uses her credibility, or ethos appeals, to expand the sphere of influence past just scientific research publications, bringing more awareness through an enlarging network. She has compiled climate change data, available online, into one essay for anyone to read, with links to the data.

After reflecting on Ingram’s words, I can more clearly see the need to bring awareness to the ignorant. Catherine Ingram’s “Facing Extinction” is well written, it will get your attention, and it does ask you to face some harsh realities. I challenge anyone to read “Facing Extinction,” so that next time we meet we can engage in an intelligent conversation.

Work Cited

Ingram, Catherine. “Biography.” Catherine Ingram, 2019, https://www.catherineingram.com/biography/.

—. “Catherine Ingram, Facing Extinction, Facing Extinction by Catherine Ingram, 2019 Facing Extinction by Catherine Ingram, 2019-Facing Extinction by Catherine Ingram, Leonard Cohen, Dahr Jamail, Chris Hedges, Extinction, Extinction Rebellion, Global Warming, Climate Change, Climate Disruption, Deep Adaptation, In the Deep, Catherine Ingram Podcast, In the Deep with Catherine Ingram, Post, Extinction Facebook, near-Term Extinction.” Catherine Ingram, Feb. 2019, https://www.catherineingram.com/facingextinction/.

—. “Facing Extinction by Catherine Ingram (Read by the Author) – YouTube.” Youtube, 5 Apr. 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9LI1Dv0DEg&t=2939s.

Johnson, Jayme. The Lorax | Teaching Children Philosophy. 29 Feb. 2016, https://www.teachingchildrenphilosophy.org/BookModule/TheLorax.

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