I am not a cynic because I enjoy the empty half, or because I enjoy putting the optimistic down. But, I tend to be a realist when it comes to a subject I know enough about to be confident in making my own appraisal. And, in general, this makes me a pessimist toward those things.
I am a pessimist when it comes to the environment for the same reason that I am when it comes to sweeping political change. It's not that there is evil more powerful than any good. It's not because I choose not to see the positive aspects of Human existence, either. But, I see them as definitively Human. And, while people usually like to revel in their support for huge changes, modern culture prohibits them. We are too languid and sedentary to make huge changes. And, intellectually, we are forever paralyzed.
I put fixing the environment in the same category as something like prosecuting Bush for the many crimes he was directly and indirectly responsible for being committed during his eight years. Even if 99.99% of the public wants either of these things done, they simply will not -get- done. And they won't because of the power structure of America, and her real contemporary interests. They aren't with doling out justice or trying to re-right the harmony of our modern existence. All they exist to do is to accumulate power and money for whoever happens to temporarily be in charge of it at the time. It is an unthinking monolith with no memory whatsoever, and anyone who thinks different is deluding themselves.
Moreso, this speaks to Mankind's tendency to act the same way: without logic or memory. Western society is geared towards finding subtle ways of appealing to our basest instincts to sell products or services, or to push ideologies. Because of this, and because of how pernicious this type of appeal is, real logic does not have any power. Even after eight years of such a horrible presidency, when right-wing extremists ruled with an iron fist and did oh-so many things to undermine the rule of law and all of the ideals the country was founded on, logic never had enough power to correct any of the problems. The most that ever happened was what happened recently with the huge oil spill: there was an obligatory concession -- a purely symbolic one -- and then they moved on in a different direction, suffering no real penalties or judgment for things that were blatantly illegal. They are symbolic, half-assed gestures, meant to appease the public. And they do, because the public has become the very definition of an unthinking herd.
So, I honestly believe that, minutes before the world collapses, as volcanoes all over the planet simultaneously erupt, as the oceans turn into boiling acid, as the moon crashes into the earth and obliterates half of the globe, there will still never be more than the same half-hearted kind of concessions given. Those in the power structure are not accustomed to real guilt and real change anymore. They only know how to use different forms of public relations, or how to put their own ass-covering on the official record, even when it is a glaring lie. Then, they will duck out of view, and the few people who care on a serious level will probably -still- wonder how societies could be so blind. But, it is the essence of Human nature.