New iPads are here! If you live long enough, that is

April 15, 2016 Originally published on SFGate

I adore juxtaposition. I love it when, thanks to the cataleptic cruelties of the Interwebs, you can now read all manner of surreal, inspiring, devastating and/or intellectually insulting headline all at once, all screaming for your attention and all piled atop one another like a pack of feral dogs fighting over a (supremely jaded) bone.

Examples? Everywhere. Such as:

Much flurry in techtopia over the announcement of a new iPad, and a new iPhone model from Apple – news which, in my feed anyway, slammed right up against a fine, inspiring tale about how CO2 emissions haven’t been this high since the last dinosaur extinction – that’s about 66 million years, give or take, when an asteroid crashed into the planet and blotted out the sun for awhile – and lo, what hell we humans hath wrought to have hit that ignoble mark.

Boom. Simultaneously fascinating and jarring, that narrative interplay, that wild n’ heartbreaking juxtaposition of elements. Don’t you think?

It’s straightforward enough: It says that our extraordinary technologies continue on apace, offering magnificent amounts of everyday magic and unprecedented connectivity, even as the planet appears to be racing in the exact opposite direction, offering increasing amounts of dissolution and cataclysm, and thereby instantly negating, on a massive scale, everything our shiny tech is so desperately trying to pretend isn’t really happening.

Deny the correlation, the direct and undeniable cause/effect at your peril. The truth is unstoppable: The harder and more ruthlessly we keep pushing in one direction, the more violently the planet keeps recoiling in the other.

Be very happy you do not live here

Be very happy you do not live here

Of course, this isn’t just about Apple, per se. It could have been nearly any story of a similar ilk, from tech to global profiteering to Trump’s sickening rise; they all underscore exactly how our mad lust for progress, profit and ideological megalomania keeps slamming against the moral and environmental cost we’re paying for it all – which is, essentially, ourselves.

It all dovetails fabulously with the recent news that science, that bastion of lies and liberal conspiracy, is now suggesting that the planet has transformed and upheaved so much during humanity’s short stay, we’ve actually ushered in an entirely new geologic epoch.

It’s true. Geoscientists now say that we’ve “decisively” exited the Holocene era, a roughly 12,000-year epoch that was defined by a very slow, natural warming period (a response to the previous cooling epoch), and are currently aswim in the roiling, people-fueled magma of the so-called Anthropocene – AKA, the Age of Humans. AKA the age of OMG WTF Have We Done.

It’s flattering only in the worst possible way. It means humankind has altered the planet’s core conditions and ecosystems, at a deep structural level, quite likely irreversibly, and quite likely forever.

It means there is no longer any doubt – just look at the polar ice cores and deep ocean sediments, they say – that our feral obsessions with technology, population growth and unchecked resource abuse have had unimaginable, largely deleterious effects on our home planet.

Upshot: Mother Nature is no longer in charge of earth’s overall trajectory. She’s now merely bashing against and reacting to our overwhelming abuse of her – and her reactions are, shall we say, not at all pleased.

Don’t believe it? That’s OK. There’s an iPad app for that.

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Mark Morford

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