Comfort and Optimism for the Future


Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

At a recent dinner party in San Francisco the conversation swung from gourmet recipes to trash politics to old Volvos — and back.

It was consistently engrossing, if not always optimistic, other than general agreement on the reliability of 1960s — 1970s Volvos. Guest ages ranged from twenties to geezers, including one nonagenarian. It was among this latter group, particularly, that there was dismay about the state of the union and the planet.

“If we don’t get really serious about addressing climate change,” remarked one among the elder group, “what else is going to matter? There won’t be any planet to care about.”

Wrong. The universe is alive and well.

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“We know when the next Ice Age is coming,” remarked another guest in a calm and quiet voice.

Turns out he is an engineer whose career involves space and galaxies and, in general, stuff incomprehensible to this right-brained reporter.

“Sixty-eight thousand years. We know when previous ice ages have occurred, and we can predict with some accuracy, the arrival of the next one.”

68,000. Added to 2023, that comes to the year 70023 if I am not mistaken.

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Wikipedia says that ice ages, “long period(s) of reduction in the temperature of Earth’s surface and atmosphere, resulting in the presence or expansion of continental and polar ice sheets and alpine glaciers” come around every 50,000 years, but I tend to believe this particular dinner guest even beyond my faith in Wikipedia. Therefore, I’m going with 70023.

Does anyone really plan to be around until 70023?

For my part, having reached a very advanced age already, I’d settle for another decade MAX.

October 2034 seems a perilous moment, assuming we get through 2024 unscathed. But 70024? Breathe deeply.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

Somehow, contemplation of the universe — specifically including our lovely little Planet Earth — surviving just fine despite the degredations we inflict upon it for the next 68,000 years (please consider all calculations as right-brained approximations) is both encouraging and uplifting.

It also puts us humanoids in our places. Which is, insignificant.

I still think it’s incumbent upon us to try to save democracy, and address homelessness, and quit denying climate change, stuff like that.

But I feel better now. Hope you do too.

PS, the dinner was delicious.

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