In a lot of ways I feel like nothing has changed. The IPCC report confirms what we’ve known for a very long time, and I gave up on the world I know still existing when I’m old about a decade ago. We still need to eliminate fossil fuel use. Because the warming has gone so far, there’s also zero question in my mind that we need nuclear power – especially for industry, as one of my esteemed commenters has pointed out – as well as solar and wind power. The fact that the warming will continue for centuries or even millennia, unless we start pulling vast amounts of CO2 out of the atmosphere at a currently unattainable rate means that our survival as a species now depends entirely on our technology. All other tools of survival are dependent on the climate conditions under which we’ve evolved, and those are gone. For all practical purposes, they are gone forever. We may be able to re-terraform the planet and return the climate to a temperature that’s more optimal for humanity, but that’s at least a lifetime away, and in order to get there, we have to survive.
We also need to stop driving our entire society based on what generates profit for rich assholes. There is no way that the scale of change we need will be more profitable in the short term than a continuation of the trajectory we are on. That means that our ruling class, who got and maintain their power by sacrificing the lives and happiness of others and who clearly believe they are the best people in the world to decide our fates, will happily drive us to extinction while believing to their dying breaths that nobody could possibly have done better. We are out of time. In my view we have been for many years. If we leave it to those in power, our response to climate change will be increasingly authoritarian societies, mass murder, needless destruction of land and resources through warfare, and ultimately an extinction that may have been preventable. I know this sounds alarmist to some, but I’d like to point out that I got the same response a decade ago when I said people should start thinking about storing food against emergencies, for the sake of their communities. These days it’s getting harder to find someone who would call that alarmist. Capitalism is driving us to extinction, and fascism is on the rise on a global scale.
I also want to repeat that I think extinction may be preventable. Based on where our society is at, right now, I do not think the odds are in our favor. I do, however, believe we can change those odds. I still believe both survival and a better, more just world is possible, but the longer we rely on our current rulers (some of whom have been involved in politics for longer than I’ve been alive, and yet haven’t come close to dealing with this problem), the worse our chances will get. I also believe that we don’t have a lot of room to screw up, which is why I’ve been advocating that we start the process of building a better society right now from the ground up, as part of building the power to create the political change we need. We need that resilience no matter what’s coming, and taking that approach seems to me to be the best way to save lives through both climate change and political change.
It’s a lot. It’s too much, really. There is no justice to what’s happening. Those responsible still wield unimaginable wealth and power, and the people suffering and dying the most are the poorest among us, not just in those nations kept in poverty by the rich nations, but also within the rich nations. Add in the pandemic, and there’s a burden of grief upon everyone who understands what’s going on. It’s hard to see any hope at all sometimes. We’re stuck in a fog bank, and not only can we not see a way out, we know there’s a very real possibility that the fog now envelops the entire world. Insofar as the temperature is going to keep rising, we may be stuck in that “fog” for the rest of our lives. Our best hope to get out is to build new spaces that are fog-proof, so that we can actually see each other and be whole again. In the meantime, we do what people always do when stuck in the fog. We call to each other, so we know we’re not alone. We feel our way forward, and guide those around us to better footing. We build fog horns to call those beyond reach of our voices, and warn them of rocks, or direct them to harbor.
I’m planning to post science fiction much more often here, and more regularly to my patrons, because I think a lot of people have trouble imagining how human society could exist on such a strange and hostile world. Storytelling – narrative of one form or another – is a method of communicating information and ideas that seems to be universal within our species. Hopefully I can find ways of doing it that can help at least some of you in that regard. I also decided, based on comments, to engage a little more directly with bad news and the darker end of things. Beyond that, I’ll keep trying to make content that will help people figure out their role in all this, and I’ll at least consider requests if there are particular things someone wants me to look into.
On that note, I think I’ll leave you with Rebecca Watson’s video about the IPCC report, because I like the tone: