I’ll be honest. I thought people would freak out more about the end of the world.
It’s been a couple weeks since the IPCC report dropped. We done been told. People are thinking about it, too. Every once in a while, someone will randomly be like, Yeah, if we’re here in another 100 years. Whooph! Shudder shudder shudder I’m freaking out about climate change. And we almost have a conversation.
Then they say, Did you hear the YankSox won again?
And the conversation ends.
Guys. Guys. Guys.
Nothing is going to happen if we accept this. Without our raucous disapproval, our enthusiastic and radical life changes, and our absolutely obnoxious badgering of our political leaders, nothing will change. Because ultimately, corrupt though they may be, our politicians reflect our priorities. If they don’t think we care, they definitely aren’t going to pursue this. In this case, it is the future of our species on this planet. It must be pursued with tremendous prejudice. By all of us.
Personally, I’m planning a few big changes. Right now I can’t go public with all of it, for reasons that might become clearer later on, but for now, I can say that my wife and I are no longer planning on adding to the population of this planet. With – what, 7.6 billion? – too many people here, it doesn’t make sense to want “our own.” What does that even mean? Of all the people I like and love best in the world, only a few of them are blood relatives. So when we decide to have a family, we’ll be adopting. Fewer humans means less ecological stress on this place.
At risk of tipping my hand, I’m also ramping up the freelance work again. This time, instead of settling with Upwork alone, I’m going for a wider range of income streams. Different platforms. Bylines, even. From here, I can’t say what will happen, only that a multitalented person has a lot of options in this world, and I’m motivated to have a habitable Earth for my grandchildren.
Finally, because I tend to sink into the mud now and then on this issue, I’ve created a Facebook group to keep myself and like-minded people motivated. It’s called Climate Change: Resisting Despair, and it will be called that until someone comes up with a better title. Click on over and join! We’re going to do this together or not at all.
Edit: Did I write IFCC? Dur. Clearly I meant IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The relevant report is here.
The storm clouds that hovered over this summer are finally dissipating. I’m very happy to report that my family member, who fell ill in July, is making a banner recovery. Everyone’s thrilled at how well she’s doing, not least of all her. If you were one of those who sent thoughts, prayers, and offerings to The Goat God, then thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Those manifestations brought a good person back to her loved ones.
It’s alarming how emergencies constrict our lives. Suddenly, everything else comes second. We humans are engineered for crisis situations and we adapt to them without much of a second thought, at least, when they’re right in front of us. We don’t do so well with abstract, huge-picture stuff that requires us to think long-term. I think that’s why it’s so hard for people to realize what a dire situation we’re all in right now. We’ve lit a fire under ourselves and now we’re cooking. Things are heating up fast.
I mean, of course, that we are global warming ourselves to possible extinction. And that I’ve got a full head of steam.
The exact fire that is happening under my ass right now is fueled by the 500-page environmental report, originating from the Trump administration, that explains the following line of logic:
- The environment is completely fucked.
- Cars are cheaper if they have low fuel standards.
- Since the environment is fucked anyway, let’s eliminate fuel standards and all get lots of cheap cars!
WaPo does a pretty good summary in case you don’t feel like slogging through a Robert Jordan novel’s worth of sniveling capitalist nihilism. Want to hear the craziest part? Fuel standards save so much money in the long run that it’s actually more economical to buy a pricier car with better fuel efficiency up-front. So standards actually help the consumer. Dude! It’s like they don’t actually care about how these things impact us!
Because the car bit is definitely the crux of that story.
I kid! The crux, my friends and others, is that our government has decided that we may as well just lie down with paper bags over our heads and await the end. Because they do believe in the end. Seven degrees of warming is the end for large parts of the Earth’s surface, the end for millions of human beings, the end of our comfortable lives as we know them. It’s also a beginning of a world of hurt that could ultimately snuff us. But hey, let’s sell some gas! Priorities, people. The quarter’s ending and the shareholders must be appeased or they will reveal their fangs and desanguinate us all.
I want to signal-boost this appalling craven perfidy because I was raised to believe that giving up is not the American way. It’s not even the human way! Even when things are hopeless, do we throw up our hands? Do we go quietly? Obviously not. As a species, we’re notoriously pugnacious and obstinate. Is this going to be the one and only time that we fail to fight something? Are we that greedy, that short-sighted, that cowardly that we won’t stand up to the people who care more about the profit-go-round that they’re stuck on than about the future of their species?
Let’s stop arguing with each other on this and do something about it. Climate change is clearly real and clearly caused by humans. The White House just said so itself. So let’s bug our governments and raise hell in the streets. Let’s ditch our cars and take the train. Let’s not be taken in by “natural” gas, which is methane, which is a way stronger greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Let’s demand, demand, demand. Time to be super obnoxious about this!
And on that note, allow me to get a trifle religious on you.
I don’t believe in an afterlife. I’m a pagan. I believe that Nature is the closest thing we’ve got to a god. It rewards us like a god, and it punishes us like a god, and it doesn’t listen to human appeals. If we screw up the climate, it’ll let us snuff ourselves with no sentimentality either way. I don’t expect a chance to ever explain myself at a set of pearly gates. This is it. This is what I’ve got. So for my part, I want to make it count. I want humanity to see another five hundred thousand years. I want us to survive this. That’s why I care about climate change.
However, I also grew up Catholic, and I think I know why some people resist the idea that we could wipe ourselves out. I’ve heard more than a couple Christians argue that none of this climate change nonsense matters because Jesus is coming back soon. OK. I acknowledge that this could be true, and I could be wrong, and God could be a real human-like person who is right now coming to get his buddies. But what if he does come back, sees the mess we’ve made, and decides we’re too damn immature? Is he going to let the good Christians go trash Heaven? Why would he tolerate irresponsible slobs whose idea of a good time is screwing all the other Earthly life forms – you know, the ones they were given responsibility for in Genesis 1:26? Why would he have compassion for those who did not have compassion for their own great-grandkids? It just doesn’t seem like behavior that a responsible parent would appreciate. Why would a parent reward a child for fatally messing up their room, killing their pets through neglect, and causing floods that left them huddled on the bed screaming about how none of this was their fault?
Just food for thought.
I have a garden. Not near my apartment, of course. My apartment is surrounded on four sides by cement. Nothing grows there but an oily darkness that seeps into my soul, runoff from the heartless hearts of the metal beasts we’ve made.
See how they’ll talk about us after the apocalypse?
My garden is within walking distance. It’s also within bicycling distance, but I easily overshoot when I’m riding my bike. There are no bike lanes, you see. If traffic decides that I’m headed to Beverly instead of to my garden, then such is the way of life. Resistance is very dangerous when metal beasts are involved.
When I do make it to my garden, I find that it’s short on the traditional kind of weeds. This is because I have mounted a pirate flag above it and weeds cower in its presence. I suspect that it’s also because of the same rabbit that is eating my carrots. The curse that blights my produce also blights a lot of the tender young weed shoots, many of which are completely edible, if you happen to feel like eating them. Which I arbitrarily don’t, and the rabbit arbitrarily does. This is why I don’t kill the rabbit.
I also don’t think that killing the rabbit is in my realm of capabilities, as it were. I’m not an Elmer Fudd type and I don’t really need the carrots. Plus, there’s something else in the garden that is quite enthusiastically killing small animals, and I’m impressed that the rabbit is evading it. The rats aren’t so lucky. I’ve disposed of one body already and I suspect that there have been more just because I refuse to believe I’ve been so fortunate as to be the lone dead rat scooper upper.
The reason I label this creature enthusiastic is that it really seems to enjoy its work. The rat I found was just a mess, my friend. It snooped in hoping for a nice juicy tomato, and it got itself Freddy Kreuger’ed instead. It hadn’t even been much consumed, except by the flies that hummed around its sad red bulk. I felt terrible for it. I’ve known fancy pet rats who were good company, and I’m convinced it’s no rat’s fault that it’s born ugly. If unicorns were as ubiquitous as rats and generally got into everything and carried Bubonic plague, we’d still adore them because they’re freaking beautiful magical unicorns. We’d be implementing unicorn protection acts in Congress as we all expired of unicorn hantavirus.
In fact, the mice that occasionally invade our apartment are morphologically similar to rats in all ways except size, and this change alone makes me feel actively maternal toward them. I like to think I’d rescue a rat from one of my cats. It’s not true, though. A rat would be able to protest its rescue. I guess I’d probably get bitten a few times, and then I’d have to get shots. What were you doing? The dismissive doctor would say. Rescuing a rat, of course! I’d reply. Well, now you get a series of painful rabies vaccines directly into your spine, the doctor would sniff. I hope the rat is having a good day.
So I’m left with the fact that I prefer a dead rat to a living one. It’s a hard piece of information about myself, but no harder than the opposite truth: the rat probably feels the same way. Thus the animal kingdom remains divided. As I trundle out to my garden once more, I ponder the unpleasant possibility that I’ll run into one alive. The conversation we’ll have to endure.
Uh – this is your plot. Isn’t it?
Yes. Are you eating my carrots?
The rabbit is sick today.
Oh. Could you not?
No. I told him I’d fill in.
I really don’t want you to eat my carrots.
Nobody does. If it helps, I can’t eat much. I have another twenty boxes to hit and my stomach’s the size of a small apricot.
That does not help.
Whatever. Hey, have you seen the hawk?
There’s a hawk?
Yeah. She’s a bitch. Got my brother.
Oh. I’m sorry.
I barely knew him. I have 1300 brothers.
Eh, wasn’t me. OK, listen. I’m going to do my weird humpy rat-run over to this other box and eat some of their squash. So I’m not going to talk to you anymore.
OK. Goodbye, I guess. Good luck with your hawk situation. Glad you’re not dead.
Well…I didn’t want to have to bring your rotting carcass over to the scrub using two sticks.
That’s a good reason. If I found you dead, I’d probably just eat the part of you that looked least likely to give me food poisoning.
As though hit by a blast from a giant hair dryer, my hometown of Somerville is melting. The snow is first to go, but I can’t help but notice how much of the infrastructure is crumbling, too. Roads, for example, which have developed some truly impressive potholes. The front steps of our apartment building, which have buckled under the weight of the snow. Sidewalks. Small dogs that have been stuck in snowdrifts for months, surviving only because batty old ladies bring them kibble whenever the constant blinding snowstorm abates. I do believe that ice may be all that’s keeping some of this stuff together. (Especially the dogs, who have adjusted to their new existence and would be traumatized by release.)
My guess is that this summer will be at least as ridiculously overwrought as this winter has been. Some junk science and a horde of squalling liberal fascists suggest that we now live on a planet of constant meteorological opera. But, as Nostrodamus once said, that’s bullshit. What is opera to me? I don’t even speak Italian.
In other news, today I pick up our first farm share of…THE SPRING. It will include beets and carrots and rosemary and apples and a bunch of other stuff that I will cram into the slow cooker tonight while I read another book for Sidekicks, write another article for ForeWord, whip up a library-themed article for to enter a competition, finally catch up on my work for No Flying No Tights, and blast into the upper atmosphere with the sheer power of my awesome. And, of course, I’ll catalog about a million books before all that. No biggie.
SPEAK OF THE DEVIL.
People are saying that the Toyota Mirai is going to give Tesla a run for its money. I’d love to believe that. Toyotas are notoriously affordable in comparison to the Model S, over which I have spent many a long drive salivating. However, much as I’d love to trade in my gas guzzler for a hydrogen-powered futuremobile right now, my guess is that I’ll need to wait maybe twenty years for Toyota’s gamble to pan out.
First of all, I have a lot of respect for Toyota as a company. The last car I owned had a Toyota engine and when I got rid of it at 150,000 miles, it was still capable of making a 400-mile trip as long as you were willing to dump two quarts of oil into it at regular intervals. From the perspective of the absolute non-businessperson writing this blog post, their business strategies seem pretty well thought-out. If it were any other company inventing a completely new power source for automobiles, I’d be leery. But toyota’s good name has me hopefully optimistic.
That said, I see some problems for them on the horizon.
First of all, I think they’re going to have a hell of a time if they want to sell this thing in the U.S. Building an infrastructure won’t necessarily be a practical issue – Tesla’s been there and as a company, their market base is far smaller than Toyota’s. (At least Toyota has something other than luxury cars in production.) But an energy source that isn’t gas? In a country that freaking loves gas? I anticipate a veritable fiesta of regulation funded by fossil fuel interests. I have a feeling that regulating the cars themselves is going to be hard, especially since there’ll be a spike of interest. Wealthy idealists and collectors might be willing enough to get their hands on a Mirai that they’re willing to jump through a few hoops and hand out a little extra cash. But regulating the hydrogen filling stations – ay, there’s the rub. There are all kinds of weak points there, from ensuring hydrogen quality to making sure the damn thing doesn’t blow up. Fighting that will cost a nice chunk of change. Don’t get me wrong: I’m on board with a greener car. I happen to be aware that gasoline blows up too. But, you know, “the CHILLING DANGERS of HYDROGEN BOMB CARS” is something that can be media-spun pretty easily. My guess is that regulation will keep fuel cell cars outside of your average commuter’s budget for a while yet, and by the time the mainland U.S. sees them in significant supply, there may be better options out there.
Nevertheless, it’s a step toward the realization of my first video game car come true. (Minus the mutants and the radioactivity, of course.)
So, my neighbor and I have been engaged in a cold war (heh) of parking space ever since the roads in my town became mostly impassable. We’re lucky (?) enough to share off-street parking, and if I manage to get my car to the interior of the space, there’s no problem. My neighbor is far more alacritous than I and, despite all evidence to to contrary, probably does not enjoy giving me the stink eye when I emerge, bleary and eyesore after a late night of freelancing, to move my poor little busted-up Nissan out of the way of her spiffy smarthipstermobile.
I’m given to understand that sea levels in Boston are, in fact, rising. Now that I’m driving 70 miles a day for my part-time library gig, I feel that I may be the tipping point. Me. Personally. Until I began driving, I never heard about a sea level rise in Boston.
Bitterly do I I weep as I burn the dead dinosaurs before the God of Rent and Bills and Career and Stuff.
But there’s a Worst Part. In the course of interacting with my neighbor, I nearly obliterated my car, her smarthipstermobile, her, and her boyfriend’s hipster bicycle because I did not have snow tires, a truth which caused me to slide into a wall and damage my vehicle while simultaneously cementing the neighbor’s opinion of me as a hazard to her life. Very well. Determined to be a good citizen and at my fiancee’s insistence that she wanted a living wife, I purchased and installed two spiffy snow tires. Would you believe that those spinning turds increase the gas consumption of my car by close to 5%?
I like my job. I love being a librarian. But dear God do I hate driving. As I rocket down the road, all that runs through my mind is a litany of “I’m sorry grandchildren, I’m sorry grandchildren, I’m sorry grandchildren” until the very noise of those spiffy damned snow tire spinning turds mocks me. What’s the point of being an environmentally conscious human if you can’t afford to maintain an environmentally conscious lifestyle?