“We’re all going to die!”
My take on Don’t Look up, unbridled emotion and deep adaptation — a reflection to a species riding in denial towards extinction.
Yes, we are all going to die. Eventually. Sooner or later we will go back to the dirt where we have come from but why is this movie then so poignant?
A small drop in an ocean of noise
The scientists just like in the movie have been telling us since the 1930’s that carbon emissions were having a warming effect…
By the 1930s, at least one scientist would start to claim that carbon emissions might already be having a warming effect. British engineer Guy Stewart Callendar noted that the United States and North Atlantic region had warmed significantly on the heels of the Industrial Revolution.
Callendar’s calculations suggested that a doubling of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere could warm Earth by 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F). He would continue to argue into the 1960s that a greenhouse-effect warming of the planet was underway.
Quote from Climate change history article on History.com
Guy Callendar was a real person not some Leonardo DiCaprio pretending the world was ending on Netflix and he spent his life trying to warn people, governments… and what happened?
The people in charge knew and did nothing. The corporations knew and did nothing. Let that sink in for a moment.
A bit of a shock
It wasn’t until 1988 which was at the time the hottest year on record, — we have had much hotter since then — with droughts and wildfires across the US that scientists were given a platform on the media sounding the alarm.
NASA scientist James Hansen delivered testimony and presented models to congress in June of 1988, saying he was “99 percent sure” that global warming was upon us.
Climate change history article on History.com
In 1989 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established. They have since issued reports, one more damning than the other and what have we done?
If you are thinking… oh no that’s not true — what about the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement?
Countries set their own targets, and there are no enforcement mechanisms to ensure they meet them.
Aha, do you want to know how many countries have met their self imposed barely make a difference targets up to now?
Are you losing it yet??
Did you think it was funny when the actress telling the world they were going towards extinction got angry and frustrated at being ignored and ridiculed by the media?
Tears welled in my eyes as she stormed off. For the activists who campaign for the rest of us to look up… this is what we’ve been doing. Taking selfies and wondering what’s new on ticktock this week in a world that is designed to make us feel miserable, consuming shit we don’t need that pushes our foot on that accelerator towards an impending car crash. While the scientists wreck their brains trying and failing miserably to compete with Kanye West or whatever influencer is relevant now to get our attention…
This is not a drill
Capitalism put profit above all else and that includes the human species, you, me, your children, all the creatures, the planet, we go in so far as blowing up mountains for profit and it sits on top of each and every government. Since the industrial revolution but lets say at at least from 1989 when the IPCC started issuing warnings — every warning was ignored. There are no government campaigns anywhere to reduce consumption, to make do with what you have, there are only adverts to buy the latest, fastest crap on the market to make you feel important, validated, pretty, successful so that profits keep being made at the expense of life on this wonderful planet.
In the meantime the voices of the scientists are dulled down, money buys more adverts, better targeted streams. No one wants to know about the Holocene Extinction going on right now.
The current rate of extinction of species is estimated at 100 to 1,000 times higher than natural background extinction rates.
Let that settle in for a moment
How are you feeling?
Are you feeling helpless, sad, grieving, depressed?… these are appropriate emotional responses to have. Yes. It is normal to feel this way. It is normal to be angry. It is normal to cry and it is normal to want to rant about it for hours.
Do not let people tell you otherwise.
It is normal to feel guilty for having been a contribution to it. It is normal to want to hug your children, your parents. It is normal to feel bad when you are getting bad news and this isn’t some end of year party prank or some April fools day.
If you are grieving and don’t have people who are going through what you are going through I advise you to do some reading here:
Deep Adaptation Forum
Connecting people, in all spheres of life, to foster mutual support and collaboration in the process of anticipating…
Around the world people are already dealing with climate change induced difficulties, these go from mental health challenges to practical day to day adaptation as we deal with increased incidences of depression and isolation to droughts, failed crops, floods, species extinction to various degrees.
The car is crashing and denying it is happening will not make it better — in fact it is accelerating it
Build community and mutual support
We cannot stop the car crash but we can build in some resilience, that’s only possible if we accept the fact that people are dying and will continue to do so without support. Pull a chair up at that dinner table, in moments of despair it is in each other that we find strength.
Learn about loving responses
Anger and frustration suck up huge amounts of energy, they are useful and normal but should not dominate my days.
Sometimes I see glimpses of sadness for what is happening in people as they become aware, I do not push the message, everyone knows already deep down that nothing is being done and nothing will be done. I can be a presence of comfort, a witness, a friend, a conduit on the way to acceptance and strive towards the collaborative spirit we need to have a meaningful life.
I try to find compassion for my fellow humans in pain, in denial and stand back as they vent their anger.
Take that foot off the accelerator
I will no longer be taken for a fool, manipulated, talked into consuming what I don’t need. I reduce my consumption to the bare minimum and share what I grow with my neighbors in full knowledge that the car is still going to crash but we need each other. I need my neighbors and they need me for we share a common reality that is hard and getting harder and we need all the help we can summon.
There is still joy
I do not live in false hope of change that is not coming, I live in the joy of love for my partner, my dogs, my family, my neighbors, the blossoming almond, the stunning sunrises, sunsets, starlit skies, full moons and country walks. I lay on the bare soil turning into desert before my eyes grateful that I am here to bear witness as the insects populations decline, the trees dry up and die. I find my place amongst the creatures I share this space with and grieve them when they are gone.
Some days I weep for the loss and some days I weep for joy for my small glimpses of what is still here for the time being. I appoint myself defender of my small patch free of the poisons sprayed here for 25 years in full knowledge that it won’t stop the car crash but creates a small temporary reprieve. For the snake slithering in the rocks, the birds to nest and whatever is left of the pollinators to find a place to feed until the last of the water leaves us and then perhaps we too will leave if we can.
There is joy to be had in the company of people who tell stories about this precious place, the glorious years of abundant water and biodiversity, of family gatherings, harvests and fire cooked meals and to pass that on with our stories on the Holocene as it goes on to whoever is willing to listen wherever we may be.
Now take a moment to hold yourself tight. The car is crashing in some places slower than others. You need not run away in haste. You need not wallow in despair on your own.
You can take the foot of the accelerator but you cannot make others do the same. They have to decide for themselves. Meet others where they are at. Be it in denial, in grief or in acceptance.
Help whenever you can, whoever you can with whatever you can because good deeds may be needed at your end eventually. If we became the community of mutual support we may greatly reduce suffering.
Do not sit alone with your grief. Share your grief as you do your joy.
If you need to see more then you can watch and read:
Understanding grief can help us adapt to climate change
Grief is a natural response to the loss of something cherished - a loved one, a place, a memory, an icon, a way of…
Climate grief: How we mourn a changing planet
Climate grief comes in many forms. There is the bereavement-like grief and trauma when a climate change-enhanced…
What is Climate Grief? - Climate & Mind
One of the penalties of an ecological educationis that one lives alone in a world of wounds. -Aldo Leopold Along with…
'Climate grief': The growing emotional toll of climate change
When the U.N. released its latest climate report in October, it warned that without "unprecedented" action…
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I have chosen not to monetize this article because I believe it should be a part of the public voice towards raising awareness of the Holocene and collapse.
May you find your own way towards adaptation, know that you are not alone, that we all sit with our discomfort and cradle the small peace that comes from giving up false hope. May you make space for joy, tenderness and gratitude. May your community be knit with mutual support and your life be full of experiences, adventures and stories of love and care for the earth, it’s creatures and each other.