So we have entered the Anthropocene era. So the Doomsday Clock reads two minutes to midnight. So everything we touch is petro-chemical. So we’re burning fossil fuels like a crazed, hollowed out crack addict long after the party turned toxic. So what can be done? Or rather not done, because that’s often the form climate ‘action’ seems to take. It’s the flights not taken, the miles not driver, the steaks not eaten that matters. This kind of passive action plays tricks on the mind. It makes you feel flaccid, right as you are actually doing something via all that not-doing. It’s bad for the big, busy Western ego. Then there’s the scale of the problem, the 250 fresh consumers born every minute. Rolling stones up hills comes to mind, as does pissing in the wind. Isn’t starting a blog just another layer of passivity? I could just send the WordPress fee to the rainforest instead. I could power down the laptop right now, and stop burning up the billion-year-old compacted vegetation that fuels it.
But this blog feeds a need. One of those selfish human ones. I’m blogging because all around me the world goes on as before. There’s a big conspiracy of sanity. Like it’s all not happening. Like the emperor isn’t wearing a slick of boiling oil. I need a bucket into which to pour my horror. I need a pin to stick into my reality map and say look, right there: some facts. See, I do know. I only wear the blinkers when I’m not at home.
It was the early months of 2016. I kept reading these articles – the bleaching of the reefs, glaciers melting over methane fields, refugees on the sea floor. A twitchy, queasy feeling. The bad stuff wasn’t just theoretical anymore. It was everywhere you looked. Except that even in winter 2016 you had to look, because the media really didn’t want to tell you. And I couldn’t not look. I asked Google if there was hope. But the answers weren’t really answers: I got a big fat maybe; a perhaps – for some people; not likely but no-one really knows. It hit me hard. There was disbelief, shock. Then that hollow sad feeling. Forget backing up the photos, they’ll be no-one there to see them. Why write the novel? It won’t live long. It’s a kind of grief that no-one should have to face, the loss of everything. I took comfort of sorts reading about the Irish famine, just one of the many times whole human worlds have fallen apart. I thought about the Haulocaust, the Cultural Revolution, Syria… but actually what’s ahead is bigger and more total than anything behind. Isn’t it?
It was a few tough weeks and I skipped a few cheeseburgers but life goes on, as they’ve always told us. I slipped quietly back into the stream of carbon-spewing traffic. I stopped looking and seeing again, for the most part. Denial is the shadow side of psychological survival, after all. What’s the alternative? Well that’s what I’m here to explore.