Reality intruding

Now that climate disaster news has moved into the (American) mainstream media, a few caveats are in order.

First, the studies will be soft-pedaled to a degree. If you would read them, and the raw data associated with them, you would get the whole, horrible message. But newspapers and other media in the US can’t go doomer at this point. The problem, as always, is people believe there are solutions to every problem and demand them in articles about climate change. If a solution is not included, it will be dismissed by most readers.

Second, in general, people don’t want to believe they and their world are doomed. If they actually did buy off on it, wouldn’t you think many people would cash in their assets, quit their jobs, stop buying all the ridiculous shit that fuels our retail economy and essentially, check out on capitalism? Do you understand what that would do to the markets and the fortunes of those titans of industry who depend on the worker bees to produce and consume?

By the time you see total honesty about climate disaster in the media, someone you know personally is probably already starving or dead from a climate disaster. And even then, you’ll have Fox News blaming people for waiting around for a government handout rather than stalking the neighborhood for dogs and cats to shoot. After all, dem’s good eatin’ when you’re starving? Ain’t that right Kilmeade?

In any case, the fact that the major media is allowing progressively more frightful news, however its couched, into the information sphere, is and will continue contributing to more cases of ‘eco-anxiety’ (ow whatever they’re calling it this week), which is the fastest growing field of psychology.

I’ve even brought it up with my quasi-conservative (likes Trump on Facebook) psychologist myself. I don’t quite remember how we got on the subject, but I wanted to back away from it, but she wanted to know more. I really didn’t want to open her eyes (if that’s possible) since she has a nine-year-old daughter, but remembering that she is a pro-life Trump lover, I decided to let curiosity kill the cat.

I gave her two names to Google: Jem Bendell and Guy McPherson. I told her between the two of them, you’ll get a good introduction to, um, this ‘issue.’

I see her again tomorrow. I wonder how far down the rabbit hole she went?

The doomer groups on Facebook that I’m a member have been talking about this more and more: how do we continue on knowing what we know. As you can imagine, the answer is unique to every person. I’ve said that, in a large part, my own mental illness/personality disorder has provided a shield of sorts from emotional crash and burns. Basically, when you’ve had enough trauma in your life, something like the end of the world doesn’t seem so bad, especially when you’re my age. And besides, being something of a misanthrope, I’d like to like long enough to see Jeff Bezos’ drown in his limousine trying to escape a inundated Seattle.

Then I have no problem going with a smile on my face.

But it’s only when I turn to that other side of me – the sensitive nice guy who appreciates art and beauty, that my iron helmet of denial cracks. When I hear a particularly beautiful piece of music or see a painting or remember a scene from a musical it all is too much. We did create so much beauty, well, one part of our community did. And all these wonderful books, movies, plays, paintings and music will be gone, perhaps consigned to the memories of a handpicked group of survivors, ala ‘Fahrenheit 451.’

How could the same race create such beauty and be stupid and greedy enough to destroy the ecosystem that housed these works? It’s enough to cast my soul into a deep melancholy.

Shrinks will be boning up on treating a different kind of grief if they aren’t already. Grief will be the major issue of our time.

The question then becomes: how does one soak in the beauty that still exists without going to pieces? I have no answer to that. All I know is that we only have so much more time to experience the best of humankind and nature. I want to have some memories playing in my head when I go.

Like Edward G. Robinson in Soylent Green:

The Denialists’ Pyrrhic Victory or, we’ll all go together when we go.

The oil and gas industry intends to spend $4.9tn over the next 10 years, exploring and developing new reserves, none of which we can afford to burn. According to the IMF, every year governments subsidise fossil fuels to the tune of $5tn – many times more than they spend on addressing our existential predicament. The US spends 10 times more on these mad subsidies than on its federal education budget. Last year, the world burned more fossil fuels than ever before.

George Monbiot in The Guardian, 7 AUG 19

Climate change denialism followers generally fall into two categories. The first, are the religious whack-jobs whose adherence to their pernicious worldview of Evangelical Christianity is so tight, it resembles that of a baby to its blanket. They cannot admit that ‘God’s creation’ could be in any way affected by anything man does. Man is puny, God is great. Therefore, who are we to think we can influence his perfect creation?

The second group are capitalists of all stripes. It’s a simple thing – climate change threatens their cash flow and they can’t have that. After all, they earned their money the good old-fashioned American way (usually through inheritance or graft) and since, despite many of their claims of being Christian, believe they only get one life of luxury to live, they don’t mind seeing the rest of the world perish if their lives have been, well, enriched.

The greed with many of these is so strong, they are willing to fuck their own children over, perhaps believing that a shorter life of wealth and luxury beats no life at all. Many of them are also digging underground bunkers, buying land in New Zealand or hatching plans to live in fortified floating cities on the world’s oceans.

Of course, these two groups can intersect in a Venn diagram of evil, forming perhaps a third group — small but powerful, typified by millionaire mega-church preachers.

For the rest of us little people, ensnared in a trap laid for us by the above groups’ dominance of the media, think tanks, politics and police, the best we can do are sober scientists and Extinction Rebellion. Our leader is 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, the St. Joan of Arc of climate causes. The scientists are harassed online, Thunberg is ridiculed in the press and Extinction Rebellion is looked upon with measured amusement as long as they remain non-violent and pay their taxes.

Merely believing in what any reasonably cognizant people can observe happening around them, is not enough and will not be enough. In the end, being able to say, ‘I told you so,’ will be the cold comfort provided to us.

Of course, you and I are not blameless. We made the choices that, little by little, helped pile drive humanity into an early grave. But I would also submit, we had a limited range of choice in consumer goods, employment, transportation and other forms of modern living. It was modern living itself, in its own wasteful, profiteering and polluting way, that set the course in motion over a hundred years ago. I live in a city, Pittsburgh, whose pollution in the early 20th century was so bad it was referred to as ‘Hell with the lid off.’

Some sociologists, scientists and historians do say that the die was cast at the start of the industrial revolution, while some hold that the machine was set in motion when humankind first started organized agriculture.

It almost seems beside the point now. In many ways, in our rush to develop and advance we, the collective we, were not wise enough to understand the long-term effects. And by the time we had the science to show us the error of our ways, it was almost too late. And since we were so locked in to our way of life, it became too late.

How long the deniers will keep up their charade remains to be seen. When the world is in extremis, the religious will probably say that what is happening are just the prophecies given in the book of Revelations (in allegorical form, of course) and they were right to oppose any attempt to stop them. After all, evidently, this was ‘God’s will.’

The plutocrats will attempt some last-minute half-hearted attempts to stop climate disaster – their final attempt at PR to assure their final grab for gold – but they will probably more invested in getting safely to their bug out bunkers than answering for their crimes.

That leaves the rest of us who knew, believed and fought the good fight to the end. What will God or gold do for us then? Nothing. The final act of grace will be for us to keep our heads and help each other do whatever must be done to either provide for a remnant of human life on earth or to ameliorate the suffering of people who, a few years ago, were planning a future that no longer exists.

And we will all go together when we go
What a comforting fact that is to know
Universal bereavement
An inspiring achievement
Yes, we all will go together when we go

We will all go together when we go
All suffuse with an incandescent glow
No one will have the endurance
To collect on his insurance
Lloyd’s of London will be loaded when they go

Oh we will all fry together when we fry
We’ll be french fried potatoes by and by
There will be no more misery
When the world is our rotisserie
Yes, we will all fry together when we fry

— Tom Lehrer

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?

Hotter than July?

Weather records will soon become meaningless

NBC News story here.

No, we’re not talking about the Stevie Wonder album. . .

July is on track to become the hottest month in recorded history, climate scientists say, after heat waves blanketed North America and the Arctic saw warmer than usual temperatures. It’s the latest sign that the planet’s overall climate is warming, and that human activities are causing extreme events such as heat waves to become more likely and more intense, the scientists say.

NBC News/Denise Chow

Do the people who cling to denialism think this is some kind of a joke? Or perhaps, a grand illusion; a conspiracy in which nearly every scientist and meteorologist is, um, colluding to deceive the people so as to seize their cars, airplanes and charcoal grills and RAM SOCIALISM DOWN OUR THROATS?

I could recite all the statistics about the hottest years in history being recent ones, the hottest months being recent ones, etc., etc., but only the willfully obtuse don’t get the point.

Charts and statistics is hard!

I have no doubt that sometime this upcoming winter, it will snow and temperatures will drop to near zero Fahrenheit. This of course, will launch the usual smelly army of trolls out from under their slimy rocks to say ‘so where’s your precious global warming now, Socialists?’ I can almost hear Rush Limbaugh’s voice sputtering this.

The phrase is ‘overall climate,’ not isolated events which can actually be explained by global warming, but, you know, what the Hell? Why go on?

Looking at Donald Trump in America and now the feckless showman Boris Johnson in the United Kingston (h/t Ivanka Trump and it’s not a Jamaican football team although it could be), I’ve pretty much lost all hope that this issue will be no more than a punch line in the White House or Number 10. It also leave Macron backpedaling, Merkel looking severe as usual and Putin with that evil grin as his country continues to ratchet up their carbon emissions.

Meanwhile, reputable climate scientists, peddling hopium, still go on about how we could ‘avoid the worst’ if governments would just agree to wind down the current industrial and financial systems of the developed world in, oh, about a year.

Let’s be grown-ups about this. It’s not going to happen. Extinction Rebellion, a fine group of people, can chain themselves to bridges all over London and it won’t make any difference. If they try that in America, they’ll be treated no better than Black Lives Matter marchers. Making people late for work by blocking highways is a sin akin to child abuse in this country.

So where does that leave us?

In planetary hospice.

Keeping a Sense of Humor

Changing Climate Times Newsletter (subscribe!) has just run their first Climate Crisis Cartoon Roundup! Some incredibly incisive work from a number of comic artists. Like good satire, these comics make you chuckle first – and then think.

Here’s my favorite:

Bob Mankoff, formerly of The New Yorker, now Esquire.

Anyone who knows me, knows why I would pick this one: because it’s painfully spot on. The ‘endless growth’ greedhead capitalists that gave us this mess, I believe, know full well what they’ve done and what will happen and they don’t care. Well they do care about one thing – making sure they can play with their expensive toys until the very last minute because what is life all about anyway?

Remember the bumper sticker from the 80s? – ‘He Who Dies With the Most Toys Wins?’ Yeah, they weren’t kidding then or now.

So when you see these same people salivating over the profit prospectus of drilling in an ice-free Arctic, this is what I’m talking about. New year long shipping lanes! Think of the fortunes that can be made just in time for humanity to bow out! But he who dies with the most toys. . .