As far as the environment goes, we're like kids living in a candy house. It's beautiful, and it protects us, but we're going to eat it anyway. Even those of us who claim to be sensitive to environmental issues, while throwing our $5.00 Starbucks cups out the windows of our SUVs, could stand to be a little more aware.
I don't exempt myself here. In fact, the older I get, the more paper towels I seem to go through during the course of a day. Perhaps I'm a late-blooming klutz, but I prefer to think in more scientific terms. It's increasing entropy.
On the other hand, we are completely unable to comprehend any threat that's more than about an hour and a half in the future. This was demonstrated yet again last week when the U.S. Senate chose not even to vote on a gun buyer background check bill the same week that the country was in an uproar about the Boston Marathon bombing fueled by ... gunpowder!
In fact, everything we do is reactive, instead of proactive. Terrorists hijack some planes, so we start locking the cockpit door. A guy tries to blow up his shoes, so we make passengers take their shoes off at the airport. I'm convinced the underwear bomber was just a way of seeing how far we would go.
But as Pogo so eloquently said, "We have met the enemy and he is us." Imagine a science fiction movie in which hostile aliens comes upon a planet where the dominant species spends most of its time converting petroleum into plastic and carbon dioxide, and then discards the plastic and releases the CO2 into the air. No need to conquer that planet. Just wait a while.
So if we can't, as a nation or as a species, avert an environmental calamity, what can we do as individuals? There are a few possibilities:
1) Save up to buy oceanfront property in Ohio or Nevada.
2) Take pictures of the nighttime sky, so when a younger generation says, "I loved Star Wars and Star Trek, but what the hell are stars?" you can show them.
3) Try to hasten "The Singularity," when we can endow robots with human intelligence (and then some, hopefully.)
4) Dispose of that Starbucks cup properly, so you can tell yourself you're a good person.