Why Everyone In Harry Potter Is Kind Of A Jerk
Harry Potter is about brave wizards and witches fighting to save countless innocents from horrible death at the hands of the evil Lord Voldemort. But they apparently don't give two shits about saving innocents from things that are much more likely to kill them.
When it's an evil wizard supremacist attacking, everyone from the Ministry to the students at Hogwarts cares so damn much about the muggles and the senseless loss of life. But the world has much more pressing problems than He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. We have multiple catastrophes-which-must-be-fixed, yet we never hear a single wizard talk about them even once.
Look, global warming is a complex issue for which there is no magic solution. Oh wait, there is literally a spell called Glacius that could be a solution -- an incredibly easy solution. It shoots freezing cold air out the tip of your wand so as to freeze water solid within seconds. It would be hard to think of a spell more perfectly suited to fixing global warming, other than reparo ice caps.
Climate change is perhaps the biggest problem facing mankind today. Current estimates of mortality indirectly caused by the phenomenon run as high as 300,000 deaths per year. Even if that's way off, it's still far more deaths than those caused all the Death Eaters combined.
He's a Hufflepuff, so it should only count as half.
Yet we hear climate change mentioned in Harry Potter a grand total of zero times. Not once does someone say, "After we stop this coup, we could really do something about global warming." Not once do we hear about some wizard version of the Peace Corps that could easily take care of this thing. My rough estimate is that they could stop the effects of global warming with a thousand wizards working three months out of the year. So why is Harry spending summer break living under the staircase of a family that hates him?
You just know he's in there casting Glacius anyway because they're too cheap for A/C.
Colony Collapse Disorder
If you think bees mysteriously keeling over for no good reason isn't a problem for the wizarding world, you must be suffering from a Confundus Charm. That's a very cute way for me to remind you that everyone on Earth is about to be royally screwed because of bee SIDS.
Bees are an integral part of the pollination of all kinds of plants, and are therefore an integral part of the life cycles of all kinds of things we like to eat. If they continue to mysteriously die for no apparent reason, there could be untold consequences that ripple through the world's ecosystems. Not to mention the fact that because wizards cannot create food (only multiply, enlarge, or bamf it in from elsewhere), they would eventually have to go without a mind-boggling number of foods pollinated by bees -- like avocado, onion, tomato, peppers, and lime. That's right, wizards would have no guacamole.
A scene from Harry Potter And The World's Most Depressing Burrito Order.
We don't know what is causing colonies to collapse. Scientists are divided on whether it is pesticides, invasive parasites, or an environmental factor like changing diet or stress. One thing we do know is which wizard could easily find out. Animagi (wizards that can turn themselves into animals) are able to communicate with similar animals, and we know that yellow journalist Rita Skeeter's Animagus form is a beetle.
Once she found a colony suffering from CCD, it would literally take her minutes to find out what the cause was. Since she's a journalist, we must assume that the cause is either known in the wizarding world, or is of so little interest to people that she isn't even willing to take 15 minutes to figure it out. In either case, these people are heartless monsters.
The rainforests are the lungs of the world. And as every schoolboy knows, every day, the world's lungs are getting chopped down and set on fire. Now, I understand that even for the wizarding community, protecting an entire forest from muggles might be a tall order. Maybe that's too much to ask for.
Except that they do exactly that every Quidditch World Cup.
Those brooms better be made of recycled wood, assholes.
In order to hide a giant gathering of cheering wizards, a specialized team puts charms and enchantments all over an entire forest to keep muggles from finding it. If they did literally the exact same thing in multiple forests, they could protect them so well that they wouldn't be turning away loggers; the loggers would never even think to look there.
Apparently, Quidditch warrants hundreds of charms to shield acres and acres of land from muggle gaze, but the planet continuing to have oxygen does not.
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Do you know what "loose nukes" are? The Ministry of Magic sure seems not to. They're nuclear weapons that are poorly secured, and they're disturbingly common.
At the time of its collapse in 1991, the Soviet Union had 27,000 nuclear weapons. A large proportion of them were stored in countries like Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan -- which aren't the most stable or prosperous states, perhaps because they were too busy storing nukes to develop their own version of Cabbage Patch Kids. As a result, these countries currently have weapons that make bad guys salivate like cartoon wolves, but lack the ability to properly secure them. That means it's terrifyingly plausible that terrorists or other criminal organizations could gain possession of a nuke using little more than the Kazak translation of "There is no overtime for guarding the nuclear arsenal."
For a group of people who make such a big deal about the Killing Curse, which can kill one person every 10 seconds or so, there seems to be remarkably little concern for a device that can kill hundreds of thousands in an instant.
Spoiler: Explosions kill wizards, too.
Maybe wizards give zero fucks about muggles dying (which appears to be the case, given that they can make small amounts of food feed arbitrarily large groups of people, and yet a child dies because of poor nutrition every 10 seconds). Even so, we've got to assume that nukes going off in London would still be inconvenient for them, at least. Given that you can apparently stroll into Russia and throw one in your Pravda tote bag, you'd think Dumbledore's Army could spare 15 minutes to jinx some detonators. But no, they have a Yule Ball to prepare for.
As we draw closer and closer to a Mad Max-style world in which we are harpooning one another for a Nalgene's worth of water, you'd think an ethical wizard or witch would secretly hook us up with some Weasley's Wet Weather jars or an Aguamenti spell every now and again. Wizards in Harry Potter can produce water with nothing but the flick of a wrist, and can buy magical charms that influence the weather. If you have the power to do that and you choose instead to sit idly by while lives are ruined by drought, you are an unfeeling sociopath and have no business being the hero in a successful children's franchise.
There are more uses for water than hot tub ghost handjobs.
And that's to say nothing of the possibility of using their powers for the desalination of ocean water to be used for crops or animals. Many parts of the world still have no access to clean drinking water. Harry, Ron, and Hermione could save hundreds of lives per day by filling jugs with free, magical water. How long would it take them to dig a well for a town using a Gouging Spell? Fifteen minutes? Twenty? Wizard privilege is real.
And are there no wizards in California? Are they lookinging forward to the whole state brushing their teeth with water reclaimed from Moaning Myrtle?
"This tastes ... funny."
What happens when we completely mess up all of the food chains in the ocean with overfishing? No one knows! Ecosystems are incredibly complex and have nonlinear effects. There's no telling what a world devoid of all the big tasty fish would be like, but we can be pretty certain about one thing it wouldn't be: good.
And they wonder why Merpeople are always so pissed.
And yet, because we lack the foresight to really commit to doing anything about it, we continue using unsustainable fishing practices. Make more fish, make illusory fish, help fish evade nets, make deep-sea trawling nets feather-light so they are unusable ... there are so many ways this could be solved with magic. But once again, this issue is given even less attention than Hogwarts' obvious diversity problem.
The Pacific Trash Vortex (AKA Garbage Island)
Get 20 wizards on a boat and have them "Accio garbage island," instantly pulling the plastic toxic swamp out of the water. Problem fucking solved.
This. Just do a bigger version of this, you lazy dingus.
So the world in Harry Potter, despite being filled with whimsical magic, is actually much darker than reality. In reality, we have hard problems that we're valiantly struggling with. In the world of Harry Potter, there exist a race of demigods who could easily solve these threats to human existence, but will literally not lift a magic finger. The things that threaten our very existence rate so low to them that they don't even merit a halfhearted "OK, this week got away from us, but next week, we really should actually fix this whole 'All the muggles might die' thing." Hell, Ron's dad fetishizing our technology and then enchanting it basically makes a mockery of all human suffering on a global scale. It's like if your hobby was taking artifacts from concentration camps and turning them into high-end dining ware.
Aaron Kheifets is an occasionally mustachioed comedian, writer, and director. You are allowed to follow him on Twitter.
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