About a lifetime ago (the early 2000’s, to be exact), when I was doing my undergraduate degree in Marine Biology, I spent some time going over climate change evidence.
I went through all the usual data; the narrative that ice core samples tell us about temperature cycles. The tight correlation between greenhouse emissions and temperature increases. And the apocalyptic impact just a 2-degree centigrade change would have on the world.
Back then, the scientific consensus was that we still had time to act. If we were to make drastic changes, say, decrease emissions by 25%-50% or shrink the meat industry, we could avoid the worst of it.
Forget about the sea level rising. The “worst of it” was fires, floods, and drought. It was our food supply being threatened. It was conditions where humans could no longer survive in. Us, Homo sapiens. The ultimate badasses that can thrive anywhere, from the Sahara desert to Antarctica, dropping dead because the environment becomes too hostile.
That was 20 years ago. And we’ve failed to act.
For all the awareness that we now have, for all the Greta Thunberg’s of the world and green initiatives, things look bleak. I remember Jeff Vandermeer, probably my favorite environmentally-conscious writer, having a mini-breakdown on social media over how desperate things look for the future. As he wrote, however, in his novel “Dead Astronauts”, winning (whatever that means for our planet) may not be the point. Maybe the struggle is the point.
I’m currently brainstorming a book idea revolving around this feeling of despair over the environment. This state of knowing black days are to come, of fighting against the inevitable, and failing. It’s something I feel I need to get our of my chest. I’d be lying if I said I din’t sometimes lie awake at 3am, thinking about what kind of world my two-year old niece will grow up in. Are we heading into a “The Road” kind of situation? Or is “The Parable of the Sower” the best we can hope for?
I also think this state of hopelessness makes for an interesting story. The definition of tragedy is suffering because of personal flaws, and what could be more tragic than bringing about our own suffering because we failed to take action?
I just hope this book remains forever in the fiction section.
PS. Maybe not all hope is lost. Check out this article on geoengineering.