The November rain didn’t come this year.
It’s 17° C outside and my plants are wilting on the balcony.
I know it’s fall because the trees are aflame with orange and brown.
The entrance to our apartment building is full of dead leaves.
But outside guys are walking round in shorts.
Maybe that’s normal in your part of the world.
In mine it’s anything but.
I miss the fog. The damp. The smell of woodsmoke in the air and the intimation of approaching winter. The feeling you get in a November railway station where people are hunched up against the cold and hurrying to be home so they can be inside and warm and there’s still that sense of something beautiful coming, because it’s winter, right, and winter always brings a lot of intense, interior rituals along with it.
It’s 17° C outside and I don’t even know if winter is coming this year.
I sat drinking coffee with my partner in bed this morning. She said “Here’s a site that lets you calculate your carbon footprint.”
I said ok but my heart wasn’t in it.
Something inside me is dying and there’s not a thing I can do about it.
If I thought my personal carbon footprint would make a difference at this stage of the game I’d be on it, I swear.
If I thought personal consumer choices would turn this mess around, I’d be propagating it like no-one else.
But we’re beyond that now.
I guess what is dying inside me is the Earth.
That’s the way it is now.
I see beautiful autumn sunshine and my immediate association is “This is not normal.”
Nothing to do with the Earth is normal anymore.
Not the Anthropocene, not the IPCC Report, not the Hothouse Earth Scenario, not the Secretary General of the United Nations getting up and saying that we have fourteen months – as of September 2018 – to reach Peak Carbon if we want some chance of planetary survival.
None of that is normal.
I would be ok with that, with the world not being normal, if the human world around me wasn’t behaving as if nothing is wrong.
As if everything is going to be just fine.
Maybe other things are just more important? Surely the incipient fascism that we are starting to experience around the globe is more worrying? Something we need to deal with first, before we can really start coming to grips with climate breakdown?
Well right, and wrong.
The way I see it, these are just two sides of the same coin.
Climate breakdown and the struggle for resources are propelling increasing numbers of people to undertake dangerous migrations to uncertain futures.
Large sections of the ruling class see their profits seriously endangered by the building pressure for decarbonized economies and are putting huge amounts of money into funding political parties that will defend the status quo.
Maintaining the status quo with regard to fossil fuel companies means consciously making the climate crisis worse. That, plus the drive for neoliberal deregulation, means that the super-rich are aiming to maximize profits while they can, at the expense of a liveable planet. At the expense of everyone else, in fact.
That, for example, is the core of the Trump agenda. But it’s also playing out in different forms and variants around the planet.
And this, I feel, is one of the most difficult things to comprehend. Not the agenda, but the fact that human beings can be so devoid of empathy, that they are prepared to contemplate death and destruction on an unimaginable scale, for all time to come, as long as their wealth remains untouched. As long as it is happening to other people.
The consequences of the super-rich agenda can perhaps best be described as planetary, ecocidal, genocidal criminal negligence. No, negligence is too passive a description. Maybe something more active: sabotage perhaps. Criminal damage on a global scale.
We have no problem thinking of the slave-owners of the pre-Abolitionist era as criminals, presiding over an inhuman system.
And yet we balk at thinking of our own super-rich in the same terms.
I think that coming generations will have no such trouble making the analogy.