The one aspect of our current lives that will be of interest to people in the future is why, if we knew climate change was coming, didn’t we do anything? I imagine that for future people, that question will be a constant nagging feeling of incredulity toward the past, the same way we don’t understand the worlds our parents and grandparents and great grandparents grew up in and were complicit in.
I can’t help but think of the future tainted by a dystopian unhappiness, a dream of what could have been had we planned a little better, had we recognized the future we were headed toward, rather worrying about the all-consuming and inconsequential travails of our daily life. Instead, we passed off the unnerving task of saving the planet to future generations until it became insurmountable.
Well, I think the reason why we don’t do anything is because we don’t know how to do anything. When just 100 corporations are responsible for 71 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions, what do one person’s actions matter? That’s the closest answer I can come up with right now.
I’m starting this new series “Rushing headfirst into the apocalypse” as a result of that powerlessness.
Each week, I plan on compiling the best environmental stories and posting them here, along with some of my own musings and writing. This will both serve as a way for me to make sure I hold my own feet to the fire when thinking about and writing about climate change, but it will also hopefully help you, the reader, find a place where you can get easily digestible information about climate change.
Feel free to come back or don’t. I’m going to start a newsletter, where this information will be emailed out every week. Please subscribe if you’re interested.
Without further ado…
Sunday, February 17
So far, I’ve found winter more redeeming in Montana than in the Midwest.
Since my birthday in January, when my parents bought me cross-country skis, I have been going out at least a couple days a week, largely to Custer Gallatin National Forest, north of Yellowstone National Park. The trails I’ve gone on aren’t extremely busy but have semi-consistent use.
Last weekend, I went down to Yellowstone National Park to ski on the road from the Tower-Roosevelt junction up toward Tower Fall and farther. I went back about 4 miles, then turned to go back down the road.
Though bears are hibernating right now, I couldn’t help but feel jumpy. Every time a little snow fell off a tree, I had a heart palpitation, though I calmed down as the day went on. On the way back toward my car, I saw elk along the side of the road and then some bison.
After turning one corner, I saw three bison standing on the side of the road about 75 yards ahead. I slowly moved closer, making noise and waving my arms. As I got about 25 yards away, I stopped because the bison, two adults and one calf, had yet to move. I explained that I was just trying to get back to my car and asked if it was OK if I continued along my way. The bison didn’t say anything, so I tried taking a step forward. The bison closest to me, which was a mother bison, threw her head back and snorted, taking a step toward me. I backed up, apologizing, and the three bison ran down the hill on the right side of the road. I waited for a moment, and a baby bison ran down the hill from the left to the road and followed the other three down the hill. It turns out I was between a mother and her calf.
In Yellowstone, there are so many bison that you often forget they’re wild animals, not just cattle in a field. But that was a stark reminder of the power the animals have, and the wild places they need to live.
Stories for this week:
Chicago is going to feel like Dayton in 2040 and Kansas City in 2080. On average, the 540 cities move 528 miles to the south.
Really, the inspiration for me to start this series. It’s almost certainly going to be worse than we think. Two degrees warming, long considered the ceiling of warming to mitigate disaster, is looking more and more like the floor. I don’t know what else to do, so I guess I’ll try writing. Also, if you haven’t read David Wallace Wells’ story on “The Uninhabitable Earth,” you should. It’s being published as a book this week.
“The total mass of insects is falling by a precipitous 2.5% a year, according to the best data available, suggesting they could vanish within a century.” Why so much death? Pesticides being sprayed on more and more GMO crops.
Speaking of pesticides…
A new study found that eating an all-organic diet will drop pesticide levels in your blood by 61 percent after just a week. This includes pesticides associated with increased risk of autism, cancers, autoimmune disorders, infertility, hormone disruption, and Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. This includes a drop in chlorpyrifos, a pesticide known to damage children’s brains that is only being sprayed because of the Trump administration’s decision to reverse a ban on the pesticide.
This affects both elm trees back in Illinois dying of emerald ash borer and whitebark pine trees in Montana dying because of mountain pine beetles.
I read Charlie Pierce almost every day. He writes that maybe the Green New Deal will make it so Republicans start to have talking about talking about a solution to climate change.
And last but not least…
2,000 people. 52 polar bears. I don’t much like my chances.
What I’ve been working on (I’m going to feature something I’ve written every week, mostly to make myself write something):
A bill that bans mining on 30,000 acres of Custer Gallatin National Forest passed the Senate. More news coming as it passes the House.
Thanks for reading,