Bridging clumsily into an extended climate change brain dump, I continue my quest. For what? …to normalise discussions about our mortal souls, of course. In On Aging, Climate Change and Escaping Nihilism, I briefly summarise my climate anxiety:
“Nature is Changing“
“Staring me down in my older adulthood is the vortex of climate change, which is already accelerating with a vengeance and I anticipate it to be worse than we all try to tell ourselves it will be. The most cruel part of it is I’ll probably dodge the most catastrophic aspects of it but it will strike at my children, and their children’s children, assuming we get that far – assuming that in spite of all this, I do the baby-making thing. I think about Z for Zachariah, a book I read for year 9 English, and I think about Sweet Tooth. Those worlds, while fictional, feel hopelessly tethered to a universe that is ploughing towards us with no signs of stopping.“
After much anticipation, I have just started reading An Uninhabitable Earth, by David Wallace-Wells. If you want to protect your existential dread and keep your climate anxiety at bay, I’d give it a miss. I have genuinely set myself a ground rule to not read it before bed – it blazes through my neurons like wildfire and throws my brain into overdrive if I’m not careful.
It only confirms my darkest fears. That it is worse than the media depicts it, that it’s going to be catastrophic even if we can prevent the worst temperature rise thresholds. The consequences are already unfolding around us. Evidently, it’s unlikely to truly hit home until it’s physically in our own backyards. Our favourite game is climate ignorance, and we’re all either compartmentalising, in denial, utterly jaded, or some combination of the three*. Civilians have little to no power beyond rallying, activism and voting with our wallet. We have our voices, we have our minds. Some of us have money to burn, most of us don’t. Sadistically, the ones contributing most to greenhouse gases and temperature rise are the ones who can typically afford to buy their way out of the worst affects of the future we are already witnessing. On the flip side – impoverished countries and communities, small island nations, coastal regions and places proximate to the equator bare the brunt of the impacts.
*genuine climate deniers don’t warrant a mention imo
My Own Backyard
Just in the last two weeks – Ōtautahi has seen a meteorological turbulence that’s fluctuated rapidly between tropical heat and cool deluges. This is not even close to the summers of my childhood, and I’m only 24. Other regions, like the West Coast, have seen significant flooding and are still recovering from these impacts. New Zealand had a bloody cyclone warning last week – entirely atypical of anything I ever remember in my lifetime – and remnants of Cyclone Dovi actually made their way here. We are the lucky ones.
Nobody is talking about it. Not properly. It’s numbing, it’s in the taboo zone of most people’s brains, and it’s hardly a hot topic when it’s 1. depressing as hell, and 2. a quiet constant in the backdrop of our busy lives. Where buying the groceries, keeping on top of the laundry, and flopping onto the couch at the end of each 8-5 is about all our brain power can sustain.
The pessimist in me doesn’t see a whole lot of change happening in our elusive approach to climate action. The problem is so mammoth, global and multi-faceted that where does one even begin?
Just Look Up
I was astounded by the depth of Netflix’s Don’t Look Up. Featuring a star-studded cast, including Meryl Streep, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Jonah Hill and even Ariana Grande (?), the movie centres around an astronomy PhD candidate and her ground-breaking discovery: a comet on track to obliterate earth within 6 months. Without spoiling it, the whole movie is an allegory for climate change: the global inaction we face, rampant misinformation in the digital age, political rhetoric and partisan-driven instability, and capitalistic motivations of international superpowers. The film squirrels away various humorous moments – balancing clever satire and dopey characters with the devastatingly real. It all rings so painfully true, and I am waiting for my friends to catch up and watch it so we can emotionally recover together. xoxo
I don’t like to end my blog posts on a low, but equally, I don’t want to cheapen my message. Which I suppose, is: stay informed, but always guard your mental wellbeing. This is dark, heavy, and brain-bursting stuff if we dwell on it too long. Put your money where your mouth is, if you are financially able, and stay locally minded – no one exists in isolation, and you never know when your neighbours might need you. Get to know people in your community, be kind, but also be smart.
Count the lovely things – not in a girl-boss-instagram-influencer-good-vibes-only way, but in a human way. Invest in people, live for the stupid inside jokes, the fun surprises, and channel your inner Epicurus.
I’m trying to take my own advice. We’re all works in progress though, yeah? That’s what keeps it interesting, nē.