Cartoonist Walt Kelly was the man who came up with the slogan, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” It is a pithy way of referring to people causing an ecological disaster, and trashing the planet. I don’t usually care much for bumper stickers as philosophy, but that one is an exception. He was correct, probably even beyond his wildest imaginings. He died in 1973, so he did not get to see what an enemy we really are to ourselves.
“Chicken Little” is a story Kelly did for a book, Uncle Pogo’s So-So Stories, in 1953. It is original to the book, and has all Kelly’s piquant humor. Kelly was just making a funny story out of an old tale. But to me, Chicken Little was right: the sky IS falling! Chicken Little just got off to a bad start with a false warning, and then his credibility was crushed. The sky is falling (metaphorically), because our continued disrespect and abuse of our planet has caused it to turn on us in ways the planet can...by wind, flood and fire.
We have been hearing about climate change and global warming for several years now, and yet we have been slow to react. Some of it has to do with outright denial. Some influential people — whose fortunes were made on pumping stuff into the atmosphere that is causing us troubles now — continue to say that there is no problem; it is all just cyclical stuff, they say...Earth will make the necessary corrections and things will go back to the way they were, they say.
I’d say if there is even a 50-50 chance the top climatologists in the world are correct (and I believe the chance is actually 100%; after all, since they are the experts), then we should have been busy doing something about it for a long time, now. When the president of the United States, protecting his fellow million-and-billionaire buddies and their dirty industries says “It’s a hoax,” and 1/3 of the American population believe him, then he begins dismantling government agencies that have traditionally helped with efforts to take the crap out of the air, we know we are in serious trouble.
I scanned the story from a secondary source, from the humor anthology, Houseful of Laughter, edited by Bennett Cerf.
Copyright © 1963 by Random House.