I get to use that pejorative term in addressing you, because I'm one of you. The radical fringe of the climate movement, we're the ones uncomfortably pointing out in meetings, online, and in person that the science is telling us it's too late to have a movement. The physics and chemistry of the atmosphere got away from us; the tipping points have all been reached and breached; the window of opportunity has closed.
It's too late to stop, or even arrest climate change. Adaptation is a fool's errand. So, I'll see you at the People's Climate March, right?
I'll just summarize the evidence here, for anyone else who might be reading this, unconvinced. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change now predicts 4--6C of warming within a century. But even this august body of scientists is leaving out huge and key pieces of evidence known as positive feedback loops (they were considered to unpredictable to factor into the original reports). The warming we cause sets in motion natural processes which cause more warming--melting glaciers and methane release are two of the most dangerous ones, each of which could bring about several more degrees of warming. It is likely that these feedback loops are already unstoppable at this point. The World Bank and the International Energy Agency, along with many individual scientists, have stated that it will likely be impossible for human civilization to survive warming of more than 4C.
So, Doomers, will I see you at the People's Climate March in NYC on September 21? The one that's going to be "the largest climate march in history". Indeed it will, given that human history is just about over, right?
I agree. It's too late to do anything that will work, and the only appropriate response is terror and despair. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise: Your terror and despair are justified, and you are not clinically depressed or delusional--you're sane, and most people are in denial.
But depending on your age, you still have some time to fill. Maybe a lifetime of time. What's the right thing to do with that time? I myself have tried a number of things, including spending a lot of time spreading the bad news, arguing with activists who say "we're a very resilient species" and "humans have faced adversity before." I have raged at the hopium that mimics the bipolar mind--grasping at little threads of hope, only to have them collapse.
Having done all that (I've been a climate activist for 8 years now), I find that I still enjoy life. The beauty of mountains and ocean is still present; the thrill of spotting wildlife is the same as ever; my garden amazes me every year with its willingness to return from the dead. Nature hasn't given up, so why have I given up?
Despair is a very inert place, very dull. I created an urban homestead, energy positive, with a huge garden, that functions as a demonstration home and a budget B&B. Should I give up on that? Is it meaningless to try create a better future now? If so, what should I do instead? And what do I tell my children? Life doesn't give up that easily.
No one should get out of bed for this. I think despair is a place you have to go and be familiar with, so that you can leave it willingly. But it might just be that the fight itself means something. That attending the People's Climate March, or working in any way against the inevitability of climate change, is a worthy fight that will energize you and fill you with love and pride so that you can enjoy the time that is left.
"Today is a good day to die, follow me," is an oft-cited phrase attributed to Low Dog, of the Lakota, as he addressed his men before a battle. I looked into it and it turns out that the actual phrase, "nake nula waun", is better translated to mean "I am ready for whatever comes." That level of presence, acceptance and willingness to engage would be a worthy way to live. I don't claim to have it, yet.
Here's another phrase I repeat to myself at times: "We don't know what we don't know." There may be options yet unseen that will make a future possible. I don't dwell on that, personally, because I don't want to spend a lot of time imagining scenarios. But I allow for it.
So, fellow climate realists--see you in New York?