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.

You’re the star in your very own end of times movie

How good is your imagination?

When I was a kid, between the abuse I got from my family and the abuse I endured from the nuns at Catholic school, I developed a rich inner world.

Translation: I lived in a vivid fantasy world.

It was my number one coping mechanism. All day long I would ‘daydream’ where I was the hero of the world inside my mind. At night, the wonderful ruminations would continue until I fell asleep, perchance to dream.

What did I dream about? Mostly I’d create scenarios in which girls would like me but also that I would someday be a football hero or a super soldier in some war movie.

As I got older and my mental illnesses coalesced, I would literally tune out. I would begin to disassociate, if the situation I was in was too unbearable.

But of all the scenarios I would construct for myself, daydreams would combine with disassociation and my life would become a movie. Being the star of my own movie was the longest lasting and most popular of all my fantasies. It would get so serious that I would literally be watching my own movie through my eyes.

I would add opening credits, opening music, a soundtrack, etc.

One of my favorite movie genres is apocalyptic or disaster movies. I have watched quite a few of them. Name one and chances are I’ve seen it. My favorite movie of all time is Dr. Strangelove which mixes humor with global thermonuclear war. And copulating like rabbit in mine shafts.

I realize I’ve gone a long way in this essay to get to the point. It’s coming.

So. I always wondered how I would react (or act) in such a movie.

So now, I’ve gotten my perverse wish – I’m a player in a disaster movie; a live action dystopian cinema with a cast of millions. But the movie we’re a part of contains a script that is written solely for us.

I’m in a movie. I’m well aware of the scenario and script. I’m watching it through my own eyes. Every news report, every conversation, every movie I make, I find that I’m reacting as if this all leads to a crisis.

Well, I don’t do this every waking moment (thank goodness), but enough. Surround yourself in climate crisis news long enough and your mind will start playing tricks on you as well.

Many people are looking for coping mechanisms to handle the whole idea of rapid climate change and the end of the world as we know it. This is serious stuff. Immersing oneself in the increasingly depressing realm of climate news are now sending people to psychologists. Some people are having a hard time functioning if they think too much about it.

It’s customary to quote Shakespeare here, so I will.

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,

— The Bard

This, of course, it literally true. So why not go with it?

In my quest to help people with this issue, I offer this coping action. Into climate activism? You’re playing a part. Into hedonism? You’re playing a part too. You can be the classic ‘method actor.’

A funny thing happened on the way to the library! You’ll never believe it!
(from ‘The Day After Tomorrow’)

Changing your kid’s diaper? Making the bed? Yep – you’re performing ordinary actions in an increasingly disorderly world. You write the script, you play your part, you do your best with your role. Drama is the spice of human existence.

One day you’re doing your job as always and – what is that?!
From ‘Deep Impact’

Is this healthy? In the long run, probably not. But as a stopgap measure when things get too much to bear, putting yourself in a state of slightly altered reality will keep your mind occupied. It costs a whole lot less than therapy.

If you act now you can maybe avoid the worst of climate change. But you know you’re not going to | First Dog on the Moon | Opinion | The Guardian

From me: It’s a cartoon – so click on the link!

The rage inducing, sober reality of it, you could do it but you won’t

Source: If you act now you can maybe avoid the worst of climate change. But you know you’re not going to | First Dog on the Moon | Opinion | The Guardian

And Andrew Yang is getting beat up in the mainstream press for pretty much telling the truth. I know it sounds like conspiracy claptrap, but in this case, it’s true: they don’t want you to look too carefully at it. Don’t panic (no, really, don’t, it’s a waste of energy), don’t sell your stock, cash in your retirement, start hoarding, etc. The people who count need you to keep pushing away at your jobs so the CEO can be the last person on Earth to drive their Lamborghini into the sun.

Start being selfish. Start thinking about what YOU want to do before that’s no longer an option. And for God’s sakes, don’t help the bastards pile drive humanity into an early grave. Every little bit of ecological effort buys time.

How I learned to stop worrying and embrace the suck

As a person with mental illness, you would be correct to wonder how I respond to all the increasingly dire climate news. After all, although you wouldn’t know this, I’ve my periods of suicidal ideation.

I’ve found that I no longer have any periods of suicidal ideation.

How can that be?

To understand why that is, remember that each person with a mental illness will see and react to things just a little bit differently that someone who even has the same diagnosis.

Also remember, that the external motivations of those of us so afflicted work in unexpected ways.

I no longer have suicidal ideation since the endgame of abrupt climate change has placed an event horizon on my life anyway. I merely have to give in to every sybaritic pleasure I’ve ever wanted to indulge in and wait for the inevitable.

Having a 10-year (or less) event horizon on societal collapse, renders quite a bit of the things that deeply worry me, well, moot. In a way it’s like the tagline of my all-time favorite movie ‘Dr. Strangelove,’ or, how I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb.

The fuel that runs my conditions and all their attendant symptoms are the things ordinary people worry about all the time but get blown out of proportion by myself. Things like: worrying about keeping my job, whether everyone can be made to like me, will I ever find my purpose in life, am I going to die of cancer, whether I have enough to retire on, etc. etc.

The likelihood of social collapse due to global climate change has freed me from all that.

The one thing I have learned is not to worry about things that are out of my control and climate change and societal collapse are WAY out of my control.

And to add something else that must be admitted: the medications I am on make it very easy for me not to worry about things I can’t control. The downside is that I’m unable to experience joy.

It’s a necessary tradeoff, unfortunately. Me unmedicated is not good for myself or anyone else.

I have dark thoughts sometimes

I’ve spent a lifetime vainly trying to find a mission. Climate change and societal collapse has given me one: you’re reading it. And my podcast as well.

Why do I do it?

Because I can and do feel terrible for the people mentioned in this article because I used to worry as they do – to the point of being all but dysfunctional. It’s not their fault – worrying about having your future cut short is very legitimate.

Being something of an empath, I don’t have to personally know the people in the article to image the pain they are in. Everything I do now is an attempt, in some small way, to help them.

I believe we must not lie about what is coming. My greatest fear, one I still possess, is being blindsided by bad news. Setting people up to be blindsided by the sudden realization that climate change and its attendant societal collapse was not a Socialist plot by evil scientists is going to hit people very hard.

Not that people shouldn’t protest or do what they can on a local level to help the earth, but we need to be realistic: for every tree we plant, Brazil cuts down 30 and the industrialized nations pump untold millions of cubic tons of carbon into the atmosphere. Meanwhile, the threat of a giant methane threat looms. And with Trump and Johnson in charge of the US and the UK, things will just get worse.

Physically, most people can bear a surprising amount of pain and stress. Mentally, things are a different story nowadays. Western societies, especially the US, have given their people the expectations that each succeeding generation will have it better than the one before, technology will free us from our mundane existence and provide us with so many wonderful toys, and human progress is measured in an ever-increasing GDP which will one day make everyone rich.

or not. . .

The whole idea that everything in that preceding paragraph set us up for this disaster is something people are not handling well. They shouldn’t be expected to.

This is not license for people like me to run around pointing at people and screaming ‘you’re all gonna die and you deserve it you bastard Capitalists!’

Most people simply believed what they were told. And why would the government and corporations lie to us? In the absence of other competing information, what were people to think? Surely a climate Armageddon seems so far-fetched!

Although I consider myself an agnostic now, I was raised Catholic. In Catholic school, while my eyes glazed over during most classes, it seems that Catholic social teaching, derided as it was at the time by many of my classmates, stuck. And the whole ethos of Catholic social teaching can be summed up thusly: ‘we are made for service to care for all men.’

The masses of people are going to have a hard time imagining their hopes, dreams and aspirations being cut cruelly short. They deserve our care and sympathy, not derision. The denialists, well, OK, they deserve derision, but ordinary people need care.

I’m 56 years of age. It’s easy for me to say I’ve had a good run. But for my sons, for your children, for those embarking on their adult lives, for lives of those being born now, this is a monstrous thing.

Even if we can hold civilization together for 10 years or more, our children will remember these times of relative plenty as they live on a globe radically different than the one they knew just a scant decade ago.

What will we tell them? How will we prepare people for this? How do we ease the pain of knowing, of realizing? How can we nurse humankind into their fate?

There’s an oft-quoted line from the movie Braveheart: “Every man dies. Not every man really lives.”

And there’s another, just as important: “I’m so afraid. Give me the strength to die well.”

Pennsylvania irregular militia, c. 2039

Regarding the first quote it is imperative that we assist people, not to stand in frozen terror, but to go out and live as they have never lived before; to try everything they’ve ever wanted to do; go everywhere they’ve wanted to go. If you feel called to devote the remainder of your life to the Earth through Extinction Rebellion or another group – great! Bucket lists must be honored. Enemies must be forgiven. We must reconcile ourselves to whatever spirituality we seek. For the love of all that’s holy – live with reckless abandon. The future truly is now.

Climate dystopia? You’re living in it!

As to the second one, if what I have suggested people do in the paragraph above is done well, then dying well, whenever and however it comes, will come with satisfaction of a life, perhaps shorted than we envisioned, but just as well lived as any longer.

When I was in Catholic elementary school, we had a nun who taught math to the junior high grades. In our intentions said at the beginning of class, she would make us all pray for a happy death.

Happy happy death death happy happy death. . .

As you can imagine, this was quite a shock to 13-year-olds. But as she explained it, the concept was very important. In her mind, when the time came, we should look with favor upon our lives as servants to God and God would look favorably upon us and, thus, we had nothing to fear from death but only the grand expectation of an eternal afterlife.

For those of us not Catholic or Christian, a ‘happy death’ can mean being reconciled to all that is good in your life, forgiving yourselves and others of transgressions, and having a minimum of regrets to how one has spent their time on Earth. Or it can mean whatever the bloody Hell you want it to mean.

I know one day that I will face the fear that my medication and psychology has buried. Until that time, I must do what I can to help people with the transition.

So, I dedicate this to all of healers of the Earth, of humanity, the people in the helping professions, all those who believe they are their brothers’ keeper. We all have work to do.

Yeah, I know, it’s Doreen Virtue, but I wanted to throw some niceness out there

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. . .