Re: The Point of No Return – Climate Change Nightmares Are Already Here
I haven’t been writing much over the past year. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say, it’s more that I don’t see the point. I’ve been struggling with depression on and off, and the worst part of depression is that everything seems rather pointless, in a vast existential kind of way. For me, at least, it’s a chicken and egg situation. What came first; intense knowledge of the impending doom of climate change triggering this mindset, or a built-in depression that leads me to seek out knowledge justifying my doom and gloom mood?
Most days I’m fine. I’m actually really good and I still have a hard time accepting just how blessed I have been in this life. Surrounded by love and support, countless trinkets and material items that make me very happy, lucky to have seen so much of the world at such a young age. Truly happy in my marriage. But still. What’s the freaking point of it all? My mother says it’s all this idleness. It would drive anyone crazy. She probably has a point. Plus no regular source of income leads to a certain stagnation, especially when one spent their 20’s flying off to exotic locations at the drop of a hat. So I finally got a job that I can feel good about, helping out good people with plenty of time to write on the clock. Again, I’m just too damn lucky for my own good. This is just background information. I don’t want anyone to actually feel bad for me because I don’t.
I’ve been thinking maybe I’ve just got too much education for my own good. I don’t think there has ever been a time when philosophy and thinkers have been especially encouraged but it feels extra hard today for some reason. Slogans like “in the age of information ignorance is a choice” sound very progressive and hard hitting but let’s get real. Ignorance is encouraged more than ever.
We are drowning in useless information. Opinions and emotions are encouraged over facts, which are considered boring. It’s all about your emotions. Or other people’s emotions, on reality TV. But real-real emotions, like depression and the inability to fit into today’s very narrow and rigid success paradigm, are highly discouraged. Because it might lead others to question their place in the system. I feel like I do this a lot when speaking to people, and I feel bad about it. So I laugh it off and apologize for being a “downer”. I’ve learned enough about depression to understand that it is a false reality, and not one worth spreading. If you have a solid grasp on your meaning of life, hang on to it with all you’ve got. Unless of course it harms anyone else. Don’t be a psychopath.
I spent some time questioning whether or not I am a psychopath or at least narcissistic. I’m pretty sure these things fall on a scale and if 10 is Ted Bundy and 1 is Mother Theresa I am maybe a four or five. I tend to be pretty self centered and I will bite your head off (metaphorically speaking) if I’m hungry or tired, but I also suffer from an overload of select empathy. Stories about animals suffering leave me in tears. I can’t really enter pet stores and shelters. I have two white little bunnies that I love like crazy. To me, one of the most amazing aspects of being alive is to have a little (or big) creature show you love and affection in return. We can’t really communicate and they have no inherent reason to trust me, but they do and we co-exist and show each other love.
I guess, to me, that is the core of being alive. If the universe is just one big experiment and all living things on this planet is a one-in-a-trillion coincidence among billions upon billions of empty stars and planets, then the reason we are here must be for the universe to experience itself through life, joy and love. This is a beautiful planet. Animals have beautiful, trusting souls. Individually, most people are beautiful, too. But collectively? We have near destroyed this planet. Maybe I was drawn to study sustainability to understand why. I have most of the facts now but I still don’t understand the way.
Fact: in the last 40 years 50% of all species have gone extinct. Fact: every second 5 babies are born but only 2 people die. Fact: since the 2008 financial crash 99% of all capital gain has gone to the 1%. In 2016 the 1% will own 51% of the planet’s wealth. Fact: catastrophic climate change is now unavoidable. 150 years of industrialized civilization has essentially rendered the planet close to incapable of supporting life.
I think most people would like to think these things aren’t connected because once you realize that they are, it will change you. I will most likely not have children. I think in decades rather than lifetimes. I am so grateful for the wonderful three decades granted to me. I hope to have at least a couple of good ones more. I’m not naive enough to wish for decades of stable employment but I do wish to infuse my life with as much meaning as I possibly can and maybe make a small difference, maybe with my writing or maybe in a way that will surprise me. Because I am grateful I do not fear death, but I would like it to be on my own terms; not starving, fleeing violence. Over 50 million people (the world’s refugee population has increased 50% in the past 5 years) already find themselves in that circumstance right now. It will not get better. Our window to “fix” the world have closed and greed was the culprit.
Climate change. Such an innocent word. Unlike war there are not a handful of people responsible. In a way, we are all responsible, and then none of us are. I didn’t build the factories but I benefited from them. I didn’t kill wildlife but I couldn’t stop it either. I didn’t poison my beloved oceans but I live a lifestyle that require 100 000 ships to sail them at any given moment.
The sadness I feel in my heart stem mostly from the fact that it doesn’t have to be this way. This beautiful planet could provide for us, given the chance. We don’t have to destroy it to survive. What an insane time to be alive. It seems against all logic but maybe, in the big, big picture, things were meant to play out this way. Our amazing, crazy species came so far in such a short time. We created things that rivaled the beauty of the universe. We saw, learned and felt wonder. We allowed the universe to experience itself in a brand new way. And now the party is over. We are the last loitering guests. Only here to witness the demise of the lions, tigers and polar bears. In in some 20 million years the planet will re-balance itself and perhaps give life to new species. It’s more likely than not, given that it has already done that six times in the past 4 billion years. Maybe this, all of this creative genius combined with senseless destruction, had to happen for whatever will rise next to be born. And in that way, I get less sad. It’s almost comforting.
I’ll still keep fighting for a more sane world. I’ll love and take care of my little bunnies, my husband, my family and friends. I’ll try and help out where I can, write when I have time, travel some more when I have money. I’m still excited about all these things. I hope you are, too. I hope you are living a life that is meaningful to you, while remaining mindful to the world around you. That’s it. That’s all you have to do, really, that’s the only thing the universe requires of you. But you still don’t get to slack off, though. You still have to fight bullshit institutions and bullshit jobs, created only to keep a system that decayed long ago on life support. Try voting for candidates who want real change (not just saying it.) Start a new political party, or join one that is still not corrupted to the core. The unknown is scary, but the good news is, it really can’t get much worse at this point so let’s try something new. Let’s try politicians who put climate ahead of everything – even bribes and personal security. The media dictates what we care about. That’s a pretty important responsibility – make them fucking earn it. You have to help make advertisement-based corporate media obsolete simply by ignoring them, and by supporting journalists and writers with integrity. Most of them are freelance these days, or barely getting by. Cutting bullshit from your life will leave a void for a while, and that emptiness is going to be filled with sadness and questions, but don’t reject it. Just let it happen.
And what happens on the other side of all that? Maybe nothing. Maybe you only get to go quietly and/or screaming into that good night knowing that at least you tried. You may even earn yourself a smug ‘I told you so’ when shit really hits. But maybe, just maybe, we can also become the ‘change’ in climate change.
A good post on climate change. Thank you 😊
I’m with you and can say, I truly understand everything you’re saying and feeling.
Thank you. I’m glad I’m not alone! :)
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So you’ve come to mind off and on since you wrote all this. I wanted to write some sort of post as an encouragement, and it seems life just keeps drumming along in different directions. Therefore, I leave you with Wendell Berry. This is a small little quote from a piece the Times did on him: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/24/wendell-berry-american-hero/?_r=0
Change, he says, is going to come from “people at the bottom” doing things differently. “[N]o great feat is going to happen to change all this; you’re going to have to humble yourself to be willing to do it one little bit at a time. You can’t make people do this. What you have to do is notice that they’re already doing it.”
I just hate to hear you’re feeling discouraged. I get there myself, pretty much every day and for these reasons and more, but we must keep on keepin’ on. There’s so much to be grateful for, each and every day. You are far too valuable a person to give up. Not that you are or anything, and perhaps I’m writing to myself! Ha ha. Over on my end I wrestle because I’m in the church, and expect more than I’m seeing. LONG story, but you know, we shouldn’t lose hope. Sorry to ramble. Continue to love and touch lives.
I will repost this much to my sadness at your words. When will we wake up to what we are doing to the only home we will ever have? I fear it is to late and Sincerly hope that I am wrong. Get your heads out of the sand people and save our beautiful world before it is to late.I am glad I am 91 years old and won’t have to see the horrible end but feel sadness for children and great grandchildren and all generations to come
Thank you very much for writing and sharing. Let us fight together.
Excellent essay. Wonderfully honest without being sentimental and despite the overwhelming challenge, a hint of constructive defiance!
I recognise your feelings – almost like looking in a mirror. According to my dissertation supervisor there is an extensive body of literature about depression amongst those active in or actively concerned about the sustainability of our lovely planet. When I am at my lowest I pop into my tiny garden and watch the instinct for life amongst the plants and the insects in the soil. It doesn’t fix the overall issue but gives a shot in the arm to keep trying…
Lovely Honey. My sense is that any human life containing some amount of Love, Happiness & Purpose is a life truly worth celebrating. Sadly, with a global population of 7.3billion there are, arguably, too many people and certainly too many with neither Love, Happiness nor Purpose… many are existing, not living… Perhaps all we can do is live more simply so that others can simply live, and in so doing, Yes! be that ‘change’ in climate change!
Reblogged this on Shunyata's Apprentice and commented:
This is a really wonderful expression of the deep sadness and joy that intertwine for us all in this life, especially as we live in the shadow of global catastrophe growing darker every day. Honey lays it out in such and brave, honest yet joyful way… the comments are interesting as well!
Wow. That’s a great piece, Honey! I love the pure, candid, no-bullshit way you lay it all out. I think, for what it’s worth, that you have presented the situation just exactly as it is, in all of its sadness and joy together. Thank you for this. I will share in my circles. Keep writing! And keep smiling!
I love writers as yourself with such an acute sense of conscience and awareness. Thank you for the beautiful piece. I hope you will find your equilibrium and impact us to make a change whether personally or communally, even if it is just a little step.
First world problems which are caused by no one but ourselves. I am guilty as charged too.
You’re beautiful and I love you :)
It never ceases to amaze me all the similarities I find between us, opinions, tastes and all. You put to words so wonderfully the things that I feel sometimes.
That is all.
Very good points Honey!
This is a topic I’ve also dwelled on for a long time.
I have arrived at a point that is more spiritual.
First of all, I think – well, on a personal level, there must be a way to ‘win’ and not just lose. That way must be ‘doing the best I can’. Aha. But that is always where we are, in our local situation.
Also, it is in the interest of the ‘news’ to make us afraid and tell us the ‘bad news’.
However there are always more personal actions we can take, ways we can take positive steps.
For example, I have recently decided to become basically vegan, and also to fast every other day. As a big American guy, this is a huge reduction in my “footprint”.
And there are plenty of ‘selfish’ reasons to live this way. Personally these selfish reasons won me over. But I also suspect that, as we dig deeper in ourselves, the things that are good for us coincide with the things that are good for the earth.
Also, there are nonlinearities in group behavior. As I learn, through lots of reading and watching documentaries such as “eat, fast, and live longer” and “forks over knives”, about fasting and veganism, rrespectively, I can share this with others.
As this change in behaviour percolates thorough society (after all it seems an incredibly healthy way for all of us to live and eat, really benefiting our health hugely and feeling much better and more alive!), this begins to have a positive snowball effect. New community forms around this new way of behaving. People also perhaps connect to their food sources – farms, gardening, nature. This happens many places at once, in parallel. It is very powerful personally and for nature.
This gives me a lot of hope. No, it does not guarantee a global solution. But perhaps that is never the way to win. Read Voltaire’s “Candide” and think about the last sentence. :-)
Beautiful comment! And I love your blogging alias :) I admire you for becoming vegan – selfish reasons or not. It is probably one of the best things one can do for climate. I’m not quite there yet, I’m a very picky eater with tons of food hang ups and I rely on yogurt and cheese a lot. But I’ve studied the benefits of living vegan, and I totally believe it. As I learn more about animals and how emotional and intelligent they are, it’s becoming harder and harder to justify the way they have to live for our benefit, so I feel like I am slowly making a transition. I definitely feel these are important questions people need to ask themselves, but I’m also realizing how hard that is, especially working full time with low income. At some point, you just have to eat.
I think there are infinite solutions to our current crisis, and it could be for the better if we make the right choices.
Interesting book suggestion – I’ll check it out :)
Dude! How can you lay that on me! Just kidding! I love what you’ve said here. I have been in and out of vegetarian/vegan, always conflicted – your words are pushing me back toward vegan! As my vegan daughter once said, in response to my complaints about how hard it was to give up fried chicken, “I just think about the chicken…” I’m now thinking about the chicken again, as well as the whole footprint issue… dang! Such a persuasive argument you made! And the Candide reference… ah, yes, must tend our gardens.
So thanks! And thanks for your support for Honey – I think she’s a great blogger. I you follow her, you’ll see me here and i’ll try to update you on my progress toward vegan life!
Nice thoughtful piece. self-awareness without being maudlin, signs of optimism amongst the gloom, so I thought I would give you a “word-hug” from over here to over there. As you identify, there is so much information around, but that can also obscure the problem(s) for many people and the negativity and terrible things we hear about every day is probably building a sort of societal “thickness of skin” to the very problems we need to pay attention to. All we can do is to keep trying as individuals to make what difference we can, rather than let things slide – so your post today has already made a difference, I hear what you say and you are not alone! Well done – keep writing. Kind regards – Keith
Thank you for the word-hug :) I think you touched on something very important – that there are infinite solutions as well as problems, and try as one might, at any given time, you are only able to see a very small slice of reality. This is mine, at this point in time, but through blogging and writing and sharing, I’m able to see more angles. Thanks for your comment. I hope you keep writing, too.