NFL Season Opens as World Burns

Last night in the opening National Football League bore-fest, the Green Bay Packers beat the Chicago Bears 10-3 in front of a standing room only crowd of 62,435 at Soldier Field in Chicago, who were, no doubt, very tired when the game ended.

What does this have to do with climate anything?

I suppose we could add up all the carbon expended by the cars that drove, the lights that shone and the hot dogs consumed but everyone gets that. Putting a number on it engenders a yawn.

No, for me, the NFL season-opener, with a packed house and a national TV audience is indicative to me that ordinary life will, of course, continue until it can’t.

The Amazon, Central Africa and the Arctic are still burning. Just because the news editors got bored with the story doesn’t mean the disaster stopped. It’s just that here in the US, we have a sexier disaster occupying our screens – Hurricane Dorian (Dorian? What’s next, Hurricane Hortense?) which was most likely turbocharged by climate warming although if you missed CNN’s 60 seconds with Dr. Michael Mann you probably didn’t know that.

India and Africa continue to run out of water. The permafrost continues to melt, and methane continues to reach Heavenward to hasten our demise.

But the NFL Will Go On. (yes, go ahead and sing it in your best Celine Dion accent)

I’ve been a football (US version) fan all my life. The present-day NFL only dimly resembles the game I remember as a kid in the 70s, but I still watch, out of habit (and rooting for the Steelers) more than anything. I used to live and die with the results, especially of my hometown Cleveland Browns when I was growing up, but when my adopted Pittsburgh Steelers lose, I feel about five minutes of disappointment, shrug, and see whose on Twitter.

That’s a good thing I guess. I would chalk it up to maturity, but I think it’s more likely the dulling of the senses from anti-deps that have done the job. I stare at the TV when Trump is on. In my head things happen (very bad things) but I don’t move. I look at my laptop screen – same thing. I stare at things, I disassociate, I have that dumb thousand-mile stare so many Americans have.

I know what is happening with the Sixth Mass Extinction. I know what is happening right now all over the world. And yet, there it is: football on TV just like last year and the year before and the decade before and so on. In fact, the NFL celebrates 100 years of existence this year. I know it won’t go another 100 years, but it’s here again.

It’s reassuring. To me, to millions of Americans. The NFL only cancelled two weekends of football ever – 9-11 and JFK’s assassination. And Commissioner Pete Rozelle always regretted his decision of 1963 – the nation needed football to heal, he said.

What might be the first sign in NFL-land and in fandom, that something was amiss?

Lightning shows ARE becoming more common at football stadiums.

Well, flooding could halt games at the stadiums close to the water. The perfect candidate would be TIAA Bank Field, the home of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The stadium sits about 500 feet from the St. Johns River which runs to the Atlantic. However, being Jacksonville, the rest of the league may not notice it. Levi’s Stadium, home of the ‘Santa Clara’ 49ers, sits one foot above sea level.

Perhaps, and just as likely, it might get so hot at the University of Phoenix stadium where the Arizona Cardinals play, that, despite the roof, electrical circuits could fry, and one might risk heat stroke just walking from the blazing parking lot.

It might get too hot to play in many open-air stadiums – Los Angeles, Denver, Kansas City, many others.

But I would say that unless and until fans start routinely seeing games rescheduled because of weather-related events, most Americans will sit comfortably in their chairs and dream of Super Bowls. Baseball won’t count since it’s played in the summer. But the NFL, the acknowledged number one sport in the USA, start turning out the lights there (power outages would do it too) and people will finally sit up and take notice.

They’ll be mad as Hell, but they’ll take notice. Of course, it will be way too late at that point to do anything about it.

Of course, it’s sad. Sad that until the entertainment is interrupted most Americans won’t care. But as long as all of the usual distractions go on while the rest of the world burns and floods, this is the way it will be.

And when we reach that point in time in America, all Hell will break loose.

Meanwhile, in the US. . .

But the preppers — the people who just buy their generator and their guns and store food for three months — I’m worried about them. In America where there’s so many guns, we’re going to shoot each other, and it’s very scary to me. It’s a very individualistic, survivalist approach, whereas the Dark Mountain project and Jem Bendell’s deep adaptation are actually doing some of the deep psychological and social work required to get to a different place.

— Susanne Moser, climate scientist and adviser to governments on climate issues. German by birth.

Story: Despairing about the Climate Crisis? Read This.

Societal collapse will look very different around the world. In Europe, it will look like the closing of a large department store. People will queue up in lines for the last merchandise and be given shovels and instructed how to dig – dugouts, crops, graves, whatever. It won’t be any fun and a lot of people will die but there’s a chance a new society, one far less complex than the old one, will emerge. That is, of course, unless the certain nuclear powers bring the curtain down on all of us.

With Boris Johnson now PM in the UK, and Brexit beckoning, all bets are off. But whatever happens in the UK or Europe or the rest of the world for that matter, nothing will come close to the apocalypse of the USA.

And it’s all about the guns. And the loss of the commons which breeds social isolation and distrust. And the racism. And the petty hatreds and insecurities fostered by our particular form of capitalism. In fact, one can say with a straight face that societal collapse is already happening in the US, with climate change playing a very small role – for now.

Americans are generally only dimly aware of the lands beyond its’ shores. Ask any American three basic questions about Canada and they’ll look at you dumbfounded. But maybe you’ve heard about Extinction Rebellion and their actions in the UK and Europe and that of 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg.

As opposed to the thousands that rallied in the UK and Europe, a few days ago a handful of Extinction Rebellion Americans glued themselves to the front doors of the Capitol and received zero mainstream media exposure. Reactions from legislators were pretty much the usual:

Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., former vice chair of the House Subcommittee on Environment, mocked the group on Twitter, posting a video of himself appearing to duck under a protester’s arm to get through with the note, “…Supergluing yourself to a door is a very dumb way to protest.”

from The Intercept

Recently a half million people in the American protectorate, Puerto Rico, took to the streets to demand the resignation of their President. They were successful.

Activists in the US bemoan these developments, asking ‘why can’t we do that here?’

You know why.

Here’s part of the reason:

Here’s the other:

First photo: the people who want to protest can’t risk being away from their jobs or arrested since most of them are in a precarious financial position. The system keeps you tied to your desk and dependent on whatever scraps you can get to eke out a living. They have neither the time, money or energy for protest.

Second photo: American cops can pretty much get away with anything nowadays and know it. A severe beating could send you to the hospital (good luck with the bill), to jail (good luck keeping your job) or the morgue.

But what if things get really bad and so many people have nothing to lose? Then the last system of social control comes in: psychological. This is the greatest country in the world – what the Hell are you protesting about? Also: protesters are probably a bunch of Communists and anti-American. If they get in the street, maybe we can run them over in our cars someday. We’re expected from childhood to be very obedient and do what we’re told. We see people losing their livelihoods and futures because of Trump’s policies and they’ll still come back and vote for him because: racism and: owning the libs.

We’re an interesting people, we Americans.

So who will we turn on? Ourselves, naturally.

So when collapse happens in the US, expect scenes right out of every dystopian movie you can think of from ‘The Road’ to ‘The Postman’ to ‘Soylent Green.’ Why do you think Hollywood is so good at making those kind of movies anyway?