The environmentalist interpretation certainly is good, and it seems clear that is what Fripp meant to imply with that lead-in on Exposure. Moreover, in my opinion, free interpretation of songs is wonderful. In fact, more often than not I'm disappointed at learning what the exact lyrics to a song are, or finding out what the artist really meant by the song. This song is an exception. (a few others would be Semi-Charmed Life, All My Love, and Mighty KC... all of which (imho) are tragic and beautiful, none of which beat you over the head with what they're about.)
This is really one of those "truth is stranger than fiction" cases, where the reality of what the song is about is far more esoteric (and yet far more literal) then one would have imagined:
When I wrote this song [Here Comes The Flood] I had an obsession with short-wave radio and I was always amazed at the way in which the radio signals would become stronger as daylight faded. I felt as if psychic energy levels would also increase in the night. I had had an apocalyptic dream in which the psychic barriers which normally prevent us from seeing into each others' thoughts had been completely eroded producing a mental flood. Those that had been used to having their innermost thoughts exposed would handle this torrent and those inclined to concealment would drown in it. ('Peter Gabriel' by Armando Gallo, Omnibus Press, 1986.)
Surprised? I know I was.
Let's look at some of those lyrics again.
Don't be afraid to cry at what you see
The actor's gone, there's only you and me
This was always my favorite line of the song (I only have the Shaking The Tree version) and it certainly takes on new meaning in this light. I love Peter's vision of all the lies and masks being washed away, and seeing everyone's pain and truth and ugliness as though it were your own. Like that moment where you want to comfort your suffering friend, and are tempted to say "I know how you feel." - because you know if you really did understand them, they'd feel better if they knew - but really knowing and understanding, for everyone in the world. A beautiful and horrifying thought.
Assuming most of us don't go insane from the sensation of becoming connected with every other human on the planet, within a year or so the world would be a great place! Of course, if most humans did go crazy, catastrophic death would ensue, as millions of unattended lunatics perished of starvation and/or exposure. But that's a risk I'm willing to take.
Too bad this is just a song.
Of course, being somewhat of an introvert, according
to Pete I would be lost in the flood, so
perhaps it's just as well. ^_^