Last Week, David Wallace-Wells wrote a cover story for of New York Magazine, "The Uninhabitable Earth," on some of the worst-case scenarios that the climate crisis could cause by the end of this century. It describes killer heat waves, crippling agricultural failures, devastated economies, plagues, resource wars, and more. It has been read more than two million times.
I don’t know the psychological label for waiting for doomsday that takes a long while to come. Most people already know about climate change and live in a low level anxiety state concerning it but the climate changes they see are not so bad yet. So they experience a little bit of denial as well as anxiety too!
A heat wave? Been there done that last year. Forest fires? This year we cleared that brush that we should have cleared last year! We don’t see the reasons to be so afraid! Not yet. So talking in extremes and trying to scare people with dire reports works for a while. It does scare them but when their lives seem almost the same as they always are, they quickly lose that fear.
It isn’t visible enough yet on a personal level. A gigantic ice shelf breaking off Antarctica does not really affect finding a good parking space at the mall. Blistering heat means nothing to the air conditioner.
Dire predictions of climate chaos should and do scare people but at this moment in time, they just can’t scare people enough. Not yet!
What you can’t see can’t hurt you…yet!
I am glad that the excellent Wallace piece was read by so many people, but it was not nearly enough to start a real movement. can I get it out?I edited the piece to about 1/5th its size to increase its impact. How can I get it out? John.email@example.com.
Now we are talking.
Finally - some common sense.
While can’t live in fear
We have to live with it
The cats are in the flower bed
A red hawk rides the sky
I guess I should be happy
Just to be alive…
But we have poisoned everything
And oblivious to it all
The cell phone zombies babble
Through the shopping malls
While condors fall from Indian skies
Whales beach and die in sand…
Bad dreams are good
In the great plan.
You cannot be trusted
Do you even know you’re lying
It’s dangerous to kid yourself
You go deaf and dumb and blind.
You take with such entitlement.
You give bad attitude.
You have no grace
You have no sense of consequence
Oh my head is in my hands…
Bad dreams are good
In the great plan.
Before that altering apple
We were one with everything
No sense of self and other
But now we have to grapple
With our man-made world backfiring
Keeping one eye on our brother’s deadly selfishness.
And everyone’s a victim!
Nobody’s hands are clean.
There’s so very little left of wild Eden Earth
So near the jaws of our machines.
We live in these electric scabs.
These lesions once were lakes.
No one knows how to shoulder the blame
Or learn from past mistakes…
So who will come to save the day?
Bad dreams are good in the great plan.
by Joni Mitchell
I hope that article wakes some people up, as global warming is accelerating and following the status quo path will doom our civilization well before end of century …
How about we start by banning all U.S. initiated armed conflict? And ban the sale of weapons that others use for armed conflict.
Bingo! One of the “must happen” points in her article reads, …“massive government investment in renewables…”. This could easily be offset by equally massive dis-investments in “defense” spending.
I don’t see a glimmer of hope in making a WWII-type effort politically possible. People still talk about WWII-type efforts but nobody has offered any way to create the required political change. What this sometimes called is the gap between politics and science. There is tremendous momentum around the world against the possibility of a WWII-type to effort. There are something like 1,600 coal plants being constructed or having been proposed. Chinese construction firms are in the middle of this building a large number of these plants in many countries. Astronomical sums of money have been invested in power plants that burn coal or natural gas. This creates all kinds of financial issues if these plants are suddenly closed. Of course there is the Republican Party, which is perhaps the single biggest obstacle, gumming up the works of the wealthiest country in the world. Whether or not people are afraid of climate change or not there is seemingly no path to adequate action.
…and since the MIC has a seventy year head start on us, I’d say we better get cracking, eh? We are so phkd!! Phkd by power and greed. These “modern slavers in drag as Champions of Freedom” (Bruce Cockburn) are hell bent on taking the world for themselves, except they don’t realize their ‘slaves’ are dying out quickly. I’m glad I’m old, because they’re not going to get much ‘slaving’ out me anymore. Phk 'em with a cue stick, because I’m about done with their shenanigans, because I have the ability to jump off a cliff if need be. One of ‘those’ just landed on the flat in our harbor just the other day, and may come to be a common occurrence. The ‘powers that be’ kind of want that to some degree already. Zombie bastards!!
“They paved paradise and put up a parking lot”. Joni Mitchell
I’m not saying that this will save a goddamn thing, however China is spending more on solar than they are on coal, I suppose only because they know that coal makes money now and solar makes money later…and that is my only conjecture here…and just ‘more money for rich people’… We’re phkd!!
These are the 25 top grossing companies supplying the MIC, I’d say remove the employees and raze 'em!!
Pratt & Whitney
Computer Sciences Corp
I am so done with this sh*t!!!
Hopefully the shock factor of the essay will get more people talking about the crisis unfolding in slow motion before us all. To ignore the crisis just worsens the eventual outcome and right now it doesn’t look very good at all. So it’s time for governments to wake the f*** up and do something to mitigate the crisis. Let’s start with the 1,000 lb elephant of the military and immediately start dismantling it while retraining the folks to address all the ways to transition away from fossil fuels as rapidly as possible. Business as usual is no longer an option as humans continue to murder Earth and her creatures in a greedy dance to the death. Please wake up, America and the World.
Unfortunately, in the not too distant future, given all this of this criminal failure to address climate change, the climate is going to be done with you and the rest of us and our children and grandchildren, and so on… not to mention the other species on the planet.
I get #1, #2 and #3. Not sure what #4 means, but I’m open to being educated. #5 is probably a step in the right direction.
But #6 – I’m not sure why this one is one the list. What is the argument for this? I get that we need to tax the rich and equalize wealth in society, but if someone’s making $1,000,000 and paying all their employees handsome wages and (let’s say) actually reducing carbon, should we take all of their profits above $500,000? Sounds like an arbitrary rule. Better to conform incentives with collective objectives than to remove all incentives from the equation, I think.
Sitting here in my small apartment, peacefully in the morning with the sun rising above this little piece of German paradise, and viewing the hills of the southwestern Rhine Valley, a few kilometers from the town of Kallstadt where Trump’s great grandfather decided that his dolche far ninete son Frederick would be better off opening a brothel in west Canada rather than eking out an existence in the local vineyards, I’m reading this gloom and doom assessment of the possible near term demise of life on Earth which got me to thinking of a superb little snippet of TV performance wherein “Newsroom’s” Will McAvoy interviews Richard Westbrook, a fictional functionary of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Information ( which I kid you not, does exist), on the subject of catastrophic climate change.
Here is a YouTube excerpt of the interview, and below is a text rendering of part of the exchange for anyone who may not yet have encountered this gem.
McAVOY: … The report says we can release (a measured amount of CO2) without the effects being calamitous.
WESTBROOK: It says we can only release 565 gigatons.
McAVOY: So, what if we only release 564?
WESTBROOK: Well, then we would have a reasonable shot at some form of dystopian, post-apocalyptic life. But the carbon dioxide in the oil that we’ve already leased is 2,795 gigatons. So…
McAVOY: What would all this look like?
WESTBROOK: Well, mass migrations, food and water shortages, spread of deadly disease, endless wildfires. Way too many to keep under control. Storms that have the power to level cities, blacken out the sky, and create permanent darkness.
McAVOY: Are you gonna get in trouble for saying this publicly?
WESTBROOK: Who cares?
McAVOY: Mr. Westbrook, we want to inform people, but we don’t want to alarm them. Can you give us a reason to be optimistic?
WESTBROOK: Well, that’s the thing, Will. Americans are optimistic by nature. And if we face this problem head on, if we listen to our best scientists, and act decisively and passionately, I still don’t see any way we can survive.
I’d go with an even stronger measure as the only rational way to deal with wealth. (The only real wealth, after all, is physically and psychologically healthy people in a thriving biosphere.) We don’t produce wealth alone, only as part of a tribe, so all wealth does and must belong to the tribe. One person one vote also has to mean mean one person one share; we need one universal income for one person one vote to work.
IOW, Political democracy can’t work without economic democracy; as long as some people have many times more money to spend on influencing politics, economics and the world, there is no democracy. Democracies make much better decisions than oligarchies or autocracies because in those systems the decision-makers use their wealth and power to insulate themselves from the unwanted consequences of their decisions. Because they can make others pay the price of their actions, they can’t judge properly what’s real or how the world responds to actions, how to live in the world and what’s important.
People who won’t feel fear, rage, grief, sadness, uncertainty, and the entire world of other emotions because they don’t like them and can evade them by insulating themselves from emotional as well as other feedback make terrible decisions, too. Emotions are the body’s and mind’s feedback; people who are isolated from them don’t know what’s real, either.
When peaceful protest, direct action and other polite forms of feedback are kept out, the feedback tends to becomes stronger and stronger until it finds its way through, one way or another. The same is true of emotional feedback; isolation from it just causes people to keep committing the same maladaptive acts until the feedback gets strong enough to break through whatever defenses have been constructed.
The primitive defense mechanism of projection has corollaries in other realms; it manifests as externalizing in the economic realm, scapegoating, redlining and gerrymandering in politics. Pollution is one form of externalizing that’s been growing stronger and stronger as feedback, and has now reached its strongest form yet—climate catastrophe. The right wing continues to try to block it out, afraid of it, the emotions it triggers, and the responses it demands. With it they’ve been blocking out the messages the feedback brings—that pollution is no more benign than other forms of projection and that we’re all connected in the eco-psychological system in which projection operates.
So it’s about damn time we got into a more realistic discussion of the effects of climate catastrophe and other projections; we can’t operate as a society without accurate feedback getting through on both fronts. Those who have stopped the feedback for decades still have too much power; one of the main ways to take it from them is to show how horrifically dishonest and stupid they’ve been to try to ignore reality. We need to tell the truth. How anyone can have a problem with that is beyond me; it’s decades past due. The nitpicking engaged in even by scientists who should know better has been a projective (or projectile) way they’ve tried to deal with their fear of fear; it and the much more dangerous unfelt fears of denying delayalists should be dealt with in more appropriate places and in ways more in keeping and more in touch with the real.
That’s not funny… which is why I had to laugh at the punch line.
Despite all the apparent facts and those yet to be, I can’t see humanity letting the fifth horseman (actually he is riding in a humvee gas guzzler) of the apocalypse - self induced catastrophic climate change …um… have a free ride! Call me an optimist (after nearly 50 years of being called a doom and gloomer) but I believe that humanity will survive.
I don’t expect that we will like the way we are forced to survive but hey, the original four horsemen will have their day! Yes we will have made ordinary life grim and apocalyptic but we will still have cable though nothing will be on of course! I envision a densely populated northern region (like Hong Kong or Tokyo densely populated) and the basic measure of wealth and success is that you manage to eat well.
Meanwhile humanity will keep experimenting with new foods like algae and plankton grown in toxic seas, food substitutes like edible cellulose and of course a high protein diet derived from insect paste.
Oh and … cable!
It was only much later that they erected solar panels over the parking lot.