the elephant on my keyboard

Hello from the first sentence of one of the weirdest and saddest posts I will ever write - a post that for some of you may very well be the last of mine you'll ever read. I write it despite knowing that might be the case, because I know of no other way to move forward truthfully and genuinely, until I've written it.

I've been quiet lately because of this unwritten post, which stands in the way of everything else I'll ever have to say. Because I haven't known how to approach it, or if I even should. What I haven't said has been all-consuming for weeks, like an elephant sitting on my keyboard who won't clear off until I have given him the time and attention he demands. 

Fuck. Here goes.

So, a content warning. This post - as will be all subsequent Elliequent posts - is written from the perspective (the belief) that the climate crisis is in fact so bad, that humans have much, much less time left than people want to 1) admit 2) talk about. And by people I mean everyone from scientists to the media to everyday people like you and I. 

And when I say much, much less time, I mean a couple of decades. 

I think we have a couple of decades left before societal collapse. At most. 

Please read that again, so you can decide whether you want to keep following a blog that operates from that point of view. Think through the implications of what that will mean, for this space. It means I will be writing under the assumption that within twenty years, society will completely break down due to some combination of crises in the environment (deadly warming leading to mass migration, crop failure and famine in an untenably overpopulated world) and the economy (wars over dwindling resources and a permanent abandonment of a regulated banking system). 

If you think I'm crazy and want to bug off now, godspeed. If you think there's a possibility I could be right, but that makes you too uncomfortable/sad to want to hang around me anymore, godspeed.

If you're still here: deep breath.

So. How did I get here? I got here by stepping from stone to stone, waiting until I felt my footing sure underneath me (i.e., did I understand what I was reading? did I believe it? what follows from this, if it's true?) before taking the next step. Specifically:

News of the IPCC report led me to obsessively following the climate and weather experts on Twitter who are frantically urging the implementation of renewable energy, and promising that with enough fast, bold action we can turn this thing around. (Sort of.) Really digging into those conversations, replies, links, and articles led me to picking up clues and hints about another, less vocal (read: less well-platformed) subset of experts who aren't so optimistic. Which led me off of Twitter and into their arena which, to my naive shock, is vast and long-established. It turns out that there is a group of scientists who've been saying, "Yeah bro, the jig is up" for much longer than I realized.

I read and I watched and I listened and I learned. I learned about overshoot and the paradox of cooling aerosols, and how if fossil fuels were shut down immediately today, we'd be in a worse spot because of the loss of those aerosols. I learned about albedo and the warming feedback loop that now cannot be corrected because of how much ice has disappeared. I learned what will happen when the methane pouring out of the melting permafrost, which is a much bigger problem even than CO2, is fully released. I learned about the ocean currents which are showing warning signs of collapse and what that will mean for every part of the world when they do give out. I learned the truth about renewable energy, which is a myth, because all forms of it still require non-renewables. I learned exactly how many people come onto this planet every day, which is a terrifying fucking number no one talks about, because babies are cute and hashtag biological imperative. And I started to connect the dots between these ineluctable outcomes and what people will do when they arrive. Namely, they will run out of food, water, money, and options. And it will be really fucking bad. 

In my travels to these horrifying places, I started to understand why the voices that are clearly, coolly, and compassionately saying "It's too late" get no amplification, no traction, and no respect. There is no money to be made in doomerism. Climatologists are human like the rest of us, and they better than anyone know what's coming down the pipeline. If they can cram in another couple of books, or a lecture series, or a consultation tour - whatever makes the dollars - that's that much more security for them when the shit hits the fan. Everyone is desperate to hear (and buy) solutions. World leaders and power companies will do anything to make it seem like they are trying to fix the problem. Everyday people want to believe the problem can be fixed.

Absolutely no one wants to hear that we are already toast, and while yes, we should continue to mitigate by implementing ameliorating solutions to improve as best we can the time we have remaining, we can all just stop pretending that this is a long game anymore. It's not.

Deep breath.

I don't expect anyone to be in the same place as me. I have not and will not bring this up to any of my friends. I cannot risk alienating them, because I need them now more than ever. But I won't be able to contain all that I feel about all of this. Believing that the world I know will be effectively destroyed before I can even grow old (well, really old) changes everything. 

It changes everything

And I will need to talk about those changes, because holy fuck. What do you do when the clock starts ticking down, right in front of your face? How do you adapt to that knowledge? How does it affect your plans, choices, and beliefs about how to exist in a world on a timer? 

What do you spend your time and attention on, from this point forward? 

On the off chance that even a single one of you is anywhere near where I am, I will share two resources. Just two. Because I am certainly not going to footnote this fucking post with all my research in an attempt to sway the more optimistic of you over to this, the utterly depressing side of the yard. I think this is a deeply personal journey everyone needs to make for themselves. But if deep down you too have been feeling a relentless tugging at your soul, and the narrative you're being pitched just isn't adding up for you, and you're looking to understand why, here are two places to start:

1. Catherine Ingram's essay Facing Extinction (audio version here). I have listened to it three times now, and it is pure oxygen: eloquent, warm, thoughtful and compelling. She tempers unflinching facts with a life-affirming perspective on how to metabolize those facts. Hers strikes me as exactly the kind of pure, gentle wisdom called for in a time like this. In fact I emailed her to say as much (and she replied immediately). Would that I had the funds to attend one of her retreats. I'd probably ask her to adopt me. 

2. This compendium of literally everything related to climate disaster, societal collapse, and the apocalypse. Yes it's a goofily titled, dated blogspot blog clearly written by an academic, and not as slick or engaging as what you'll find in the apocaloptimists' camp. But it's absolutely definitive. Studies, lectures, lexicon, literature, film, and links, links, and more links to the experts (and their findings) who've been warning the world since the middle of last century. 

So there you go. You got through it. I got through it. I confessed my terrible dark secret. I unburdened myself of the burdensome belief that this beautiful world is expiring much faster than most everyone is admitting or aware. Then again, what did we expect?