Dan and I are driving to Montreal, where I will be going to Worldcon 67 (Anticipation 2009), and Dan will be hanging out partly working and partly on vacation. We cross the Merrimac River, and Dan says, “Did you know there used to be salmon on the Merrimac River?”
“Well, I’m not surprised,” I say. “The lobster in the ocean used to be so plentiful that they washed up onto the beaches. They fed lobster to the prisoners in the jails so frequently that the prisoners sent a petition to King George begging him to make them stop.”
“Let’s face it,” says Dan. “The planet isn’t what it used to be.”
No, it isn’t. “It’s going downhill fast,” I say, letting my pessimism get the better of me. “Time to move on. Time to get that colony ship ready to voyage out to the next planet.”
“I’ll be the first to volunteer,” says my science-fiction-averse husband.
Wasn’t there an article recently in The Boston Globe Magazine in which the author opines that “The baby boomers are the first generation that will… actually live too long. By refusing to expire after a reasonable number of years, the boomers are threatening the social order”? In arguing that the average lifespan of generations ago was in the forties meant that people in their forties were old, the author has succumbed to a common misunderstanding. She has overlooked the fact that over a third of the population died in infancy, in childhood, and in childbirth. And in war. It was not unusual for those that survived these catastrophes to live into their seventies or eighties or longer. But the author puts forth an argument that may be only too popular among the younger generations: The old folks have been around too long. Time to find a graceful, civilized way to get rid of them.
Well, young lady, this is your chance. We can solve the problem of the Earth on her last gasp and the overpopulation of healthy boomers growing older in one single, visionary stroke: Just pack us up in a space ship and send us off.
Hey, maybe a lot of us will go.
We baby boomers get a virgin planet where lobsters wash up on the beaches, and you get to deal with this dying Earth. Do you think you might actually do something about it before the human cancer kills the whole planet? Somehow, I don’t think so. Maybe it’s already too late.
And worse: Wouldn’t it be just like us to ruin the next planet, too?