The Environment Spirit of Christmas Past must represent apathy, greed and neglect, to symbolise the rapid decline of species over the last 50 years. In all this time, the natural world has been singing, but far too few people have been listening. In the last 12 months, the singing has turned to shouting and screaming, in the form of a global pandemic, zoonotic in nature; created as a result of the line between humans and animals being breached, as the latter has been exploited for trade.
The Environment Spirit of Christmas Past represents how nearly 50 years, of neoliberalism, has built our Jacob Marley like chains, created through a lifestyle of excess, at the expense of the planet. I see Gordon Gekko’s chains trailing all the way to the oceans, the rain forests and the savannas that are falling silent, as they are emptied for profit. Marley’s cash-boxes, ledgers and deeds are replaced with computers, mobile phones, derivatives, collateralised debt obligations and subprime mortgages, again all wrought in steel.
A Christmas Carol was even used to create an anthem for this partying lifestyle, with the UK number-one hit Ebeneezer Goode.
The Environment Spirit of Christmas Present is a reflection of our self-absorption and inability to resist commercialisation. How have we learnt to compartmentalise, to such a degree, that while we feel challenged by the pandemic, we can also set new records for spending on Black Friday and Singles Day? And, how can we expect to help non-human animals, when we have devalued humans to the point, maybe best expressed by Miranda Pristley when she asks, “Is there some reason that my coffee isn’t here? Has she died or something?”; the only possible reason she could consider, why someone hadn’t met her demands was that she must have died!
And, as predicted in the 2006 movie Idiocracy, commercialism runs rampant, as mankind embraced anti-intellectualism, creating a society that appears devoid of intellectual curiosity, social responsibility, and human and non-human rights, as highlighted by the character of Frito. Miranda or Frito are my pick for the Environment Spirit of Christmas Present.
Since the election of Donald Trump in 2016, commentators have pointed out that Idiocracy’s predictions show a level of accuracy. The director himself compared the film’s dim-witted wrestler-turned-president, Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho, to Trump, after his election. When asked about predicting the future, he remarked, “I’m no prophet, I was off by 490 years.”, given that Idiocracy was set in the year 2505.
And who would be the Environment Spirit of Christmas Future? It is time to make a choice, can we collectively make the change needed? If we don’t, I think my two picks for the Environment Spirit of Christmas Future would be Max in Elysium or Wall-e; one character trying to live in the mess we have created, but barely existing, and the other trying to clean the mess up.