In recent years, maybe the last decade or so, climate change has so galvanized my focus on how serious a concern it is for civilization, and for everybody’s children, I used to get depressed, sad and produced a worried-anxiety off environmental, physical-science reports of Arctic/Antarctic/Greenland ice melting, record heat-related events, or whatever/wherever nature was getting ruined, but nowadays I feel only a way-slight tightening in the throat, maybe a tiny-stomach cramp on recent/daily released climate studies — none of them good.
And along with body functions, I most-usually add a toss-up shrug to myself of ‘Told you so.’
A trait off a situation becoming old hat, really, and now obvious.
Although the subject of climate change didn’t even arrive to my conscious mind until 2007 — coinciding with the release of the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report in February that year (‘offered its strongest language yet that Earth’s climate is warming and humans are largely responsible‘), and me in April getting my first laptop, really opening the InterWebs — it didn’t take me long to grasp the terror already by then a highly advanced cluster-fuck.
Dramatic witnessing the end of civilization from my laptop.
Despite the odds, humanity did have a slight opening to hopefully advert the worse aspects of climate change with The Paris Agreement in 2016, but now we’re pretty-much fucked with the T-Rump’s cruel actions and a sinking knowledge the Paris accords weren’t enough to halt (even slow down) the tide. Our current scenario is written with that oft-used too-little-too-late motif.
And with this quickly-spreading coronavirus, tagged COVID-19, the most-graphic horrors of climate change will be left to unfurl without much resistance, or even perfunctory attempts to lower CO2 emissions or anything. In these early stages of the pandemic nothing will be done, and on the other side of this crisis (if there is one), the world will be worn down to such a frizzle just about any measures needed to dwarf the onrushing environmental disaster will fly in the wind.
One particular attribute to the virus is the apparent deglobalization of the planet after a generation of open borders, wide-scale trade, and a general alacrity to join each other in promoting growth and industrialization. In the face of COVID-19, countries as a whole are sheltering in place, going quickly into lock-down after the virus slaps the shit out the population. Italy now tighter than a drum, though, they don’t know if the procedure is even working — today Italy’s deaths are up by 475, biggest jump anywhere in a single day, bringing that country’s overall death total to approaching 3,000.
Surreal the panorama of COVID-19’s impact on the planet with scary scenarios escalating daily, from shut-downs to the horrors from the T-Rump’s administration, all to crimp the fight on climate change.
Noted climate activist Bill McKibben also commented on this particular matter today in The New Yorker:
That’s why, for me, one frustration of the coronavirus pandemic is that it’s temporarily interrupting the movement-building that is necessary to beat the fossil-fuel industry.
Just as basketball and Broadway have had to take a break, so have some forms of protest.
Greta Thunberg asked school-strikers to go digital for a while: “We young people are the least affected by this virus but it’s essential that we act in solidarity with the most vulnerable and that we act in the best interest of our common society,” she told her four million Twitter followers.
The Sunrise Movement — the inspiring young people who made the Green New Deal into a cause célèbre—asked organizers “to avoid mass physical gatherings,” saying, “as a generation shaped by the Internet and social media, it’s time to innovate, esp. digitally.”
Digital activism is rarely as effective as in-the-flesh nonviolent action, but, for the time being, that is what people can engage in.
On Monday, Paul Engler, one of the best strategists of nonviolent action, wrote that “we should draw both on the possibilities of new technology that allow for decentralized action and some time-honored lessons from past social movements.”
And when the pandemic passes?
Here is how Extinction Rebellion U.K. put it: “Nothing will feel the same and we need to be ready”—ready for resuming civil disobedience “when the time is right.”
Big question is if, and when, ‘the pandemic passes.’
And what will the world be like then?
We’re not being too vigilant, however, especially among the young — via Grist this morning:
“I’m waiting for the government to tell me I should be more concerned, if I’m being honest.”
I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this quote for the past few days.
A Gothamist reporter heard these words from a woman waiting in line to get into an infamously raucous Manhattan dance club on Saturday night.
The journalist was there to find out why people were still going out to bars and clubs where they could contract or spread the novel coronavirus, despite urgent warnings to avoid crowds from elected officials and journalists.
“We’re 100 percent concerned. Definitely,” the woman told Gothamist.
So why wasn’t she practicing social distancing?</stron
“Because I’m drunk! It’s my friend’s 25th birthday,” she replied.
Maybe she changed her mind in the last four days.
Different program — it’s Springbreak!
One 21-year-old piped: ‘“If I get corona, I get corona. At the end of the day, I’m not going to let it stop me from partying. You know, I’ve been waiting, we’ve been waiting for Miami spring break for a while, about two months, we’ve had this trip planned, two, three months, and we’re just out here having a good time. Whatever happens, happens,” said Brady Sluder.‘
Dangerous as shit…
These kids are top-notch COVID-19 carriers and passers-off of the virus, especially to old people like me. Despite growing evidence young people can get coronavirus and become deadly sick, the trick is in passing it off unintentionally to older family members, or just the elderly in general..
A way-good explanation on this phenomena a couple of days ago came from Mel Brooks and his son (h/t once again tengrain):
— Max Brooks (@maxbrooksauthor) March 16, 2020
This has become personal quickly, from faraway nations to your daddy or grand-daddy, to even the kids in Miami. A complicated, huge problem with the spread of COVID-19 is the enormous amount of mystery to the disease, how it is transferred, who and when people get infected (sometimes with no symptoms) and just a general lack of hard knowledge on the science of the virus.
And along with crippling climate change activism, the coronavirus itself might be a product of the very thing that’s killing us, slowly and ponderously, but still killing us — climate change.
Via GreenBiz last Monday: ‘“Infectious disease transmission is sensitive to local, small-scale differences in weather, human modification of the landscape, the diversity of animal hosts, and human behavior that affects vector-human contact, among other factors,” write the authors of the Third National Climate Assessment, produced by more than 300 experts guided by a 60-member Federal Advisory Committee and reviewed by the National Academy of Sciences.‘
I came across this video just last week (my post), though, I knew the song like forever — it encapsulates in images and music the tenor of our age:
And here we are…
(Illustration: MC Escher’s engraving, ‘Old Oliver Tree,’ found here.