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 Cutting acre after acre of the forest away, to make room for new buildings and roads that will be outdated in 50 years.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.

Putting the Future in the past

In Catherine Ingrams 2019 essay titled “Facing Extinction,” she makes it clear that the impressions and actions of the human race, both past and present will ultimately lead to our very own extinction. Ingram writes on various topics that us humans will most likely come face to face with while battling the reality of our existence. One of the topics that Ingram highlighted in her essay was “The end of Legacy,” in this section she advocates that it’ll be difficult to stop the act of future thinking, adapting to forget future aspirations, living with the idea of losing the past, being incapable of seeing your children develop, and lastly, finding relief in the realization that you no longer need to leave behind a legacy. Under the circumstances that Ingram projects the world will ultimately reach as human extinction nears, she makes it clear through the passage that creating a legacy will be illogical and one would be better off spending the remainder of their time wisely, without future goals. 

Though it is tough to truly accept the facts of our rapidly changing world, the reality of it all is that we must adapt to those changes if we wish to survive. Catherine Ingram writes on         “ The end of Legacy,” as one of the ramifications of human extinction. In the text she expresses that “people are often conditioned in the idea of leaving behind a legacy and they spend a lot of their lives in perhaps an unconscious dedication to that project” ( Ingram 24). For the most part, people who hope to succeed in life have goals and ambitions set for themselves in order to have a lucrative future. Those who don’t look toward the future and are very short term oriented are in luck, for Ingram claims that “ you will no longer need to consider what you might leave behind as there will likely not be anyone there to see or experience it, [or] at least not for long” (Ingram 24). Ingram generates the hardship of putting a person’s future behind them as part of the obstacle that will conclusively lead to one “ finding great relief and freedom in the irrelevance of [thoughts] [of] [the] [future]” (Ingram 25).  Who would have thought that one day the conflict that would arise in everyone’s life would be the troubles of forgetting the legacy you were never given the chance to leave behind.  

The notion of legacy can and should be tied to all humans. Everyone should have an idea of what kind of legacy they want to leave behind and it should be everyone’s goal to leave a mark when they’re gone.  Because Ingram believes that “ [everyone] is often conditioned in the idea of leaving behind a legacy” (Ingram 24), it could be easily said that she was targeting all humans as an audience. Although she does aim to target everyone, she has a select few types of people who she expresses will have a harder time coping with their loss of future hopes and dreams. These are parents, the individuals whose job it is to influence their offspring and prepare them for the crazy world we live in are one of Ingrams targets. Ingram describes children as “the most common and by far the most emotional charged form of legacy”( Ingram 24), and because there are hundreds of thousands of babies born each day, this makes parents a number one audience. Being a parent is a hardship in itself, you’d like to steer your kids in the direction of excellence, while also showing them what it takes to be great and do good. You have to provide and protect them from any harm, but what if the harm is something you can’t control? Like the well being of their planet, that will ultimately decide their fate as well. 

 Young adults and truly anyone who believes that climate change is occurring is also apart of Ingrams audience.  For most young adults without children, we have to worry about our parents who also worry about us. Those who hope and dream of having children in the future have to think about what exactly their children will go through, what kind of planet will they grow up in, and if they’ll even have enough time to see their kids develop. Having to ask ourselves these questions is sad. Wanting to create more children even though there are so many who are currently struggling is even sadder.  Having to settle for the realization that you wont need to create a legacy is relieving, heartbreaking and infuriating all in one.

Is forgetting something easy? Especially something you’ve been looking forward to all your life? We often find it easier to forget things that don’t usually appeal to us. But can we truly forget the legacy we plan to leave behind or the future we’ve been looking forward too? Ingram glorifies the feelings of “great relief and freedom” (Ingram 25), that people might feel after letting go of the legacy projects that were causing them “a lot of stress and strain”(ibid 25). However, she doesn’t go into depth of how exactly one can go about forgetting those important aspects of their life. Ingram doesn’t give instructions on how to forget, she only states how one may feel after they’ve forgotten. This causes a problem for all audiences, especially the younger generations. Fortunately, adults have had their time to make something of their life, see the world and possibly find their calling. The youth, however, have not. Which would make it difficult for them to“ [adapt] to ignoring [future] thoughts as they arise” (ibid 25), and forget future plans without having  relatively higher emotional trauma than adults. In the end, does the youth not deserve to know how we should go about this crisis? We will be paying the price of those who lived before us, those who decided to do nothing when the signs were clear that change was needed. This is not fair. 

Although Ingram doesn’t give us a true run down of how we can eventually forget future projections, she does do a good job of getting the reader to accept the idea that forgetting dreams of a legacy will eventually be best the best answer. Through the use of her prophecy, she explains that not leaving a legacy behind won’t be a problem because “there will likely not be anyone around to experience it” (Ingram 24). The first time I read this, I stopped to think of what I had in mind for my future and as I continued reading I couldn’t agree more with her. I came to the conclusion that if times were more critical I’d probably stop doing all the things that would make my future successful and focus on bucket list ideas. Thinking about these kinds of things would work anyone up and that was exactly Ingrams intention. This is how she was able to get across the idea that one needs to “ [let] go of the future and re-order [their] tendencies of thinking about the future” (ibid 25). Ingram is able to persuade us to believe that leaving behind a legacy is illogical. She does this by relating to reader, most people want to leave something behind and if others who were reading this essay were like me, they also read it thoroughly.

Throughout this piece of her essay, Ingram is well aware what the emotional response would be for her readers. Fear, anger and optimism would be reasonable types of responses, especially in regard to the way Ingram starts this section. She begins by saying that “ the because of the deadly threats ahead and the unlikeness of solutions, [we] might find a strange re-ordering of [our] thoughts and motivations” ( Ingram 24). Right off the bat we are aware that whatever we will be reading next will be eye opening, and not something everyone hopes to learn and read about. As Ingram continues to tell readers that we’d be better off forgetting the future, we find our way to the section that involves children as “the most emotionally charged form of legacy.” For most people, having kids is a dream they’d like to make a reality, however, Ingram quotes that “in facing extinction, you find yourself thinking, ‘what’s the point of all [the] effort; should [kids] even bother going to school? Maybe we should just find ways to enjoy whatever time is left with our children without any future goals’ ” (Ingram 24-25). For those parents who read this, I can imagine it was difficult to process. The thought of having kids that will grow up in a dysfunctional world would be difficult and you might find yourself asking exactly why you chose to bring them into it. In addition, I’m sure Ingrams intention was to make those without kids question themselves more and more about bringing them into what could be soon an uninhabitable planet. 

Living in a melting pot is hard. You find yourself not knowing what to do or continue doing. You find yourself questioning everything you do that is a step in the direction of your future, and whether is is worth it. Under the circumstances that Ingram projects the world will ultimately reach as human extinction nears, she makes it clear through the passage that creating a legacy will be illogical and one would be better off spending the remainder of their time wisely, without future goals. In the end, when the world is old, grey and unable to support those who live on it, will you strive to reach your goals? Or simply let life do what it wants and make the most of the time you have?




Works Cited

Ingram, Catherine. “Facing Exctinction.” Catherineingram, Feb. 2019, https://www.catherineingram.com/facingextinction/.