It’s more than a little disappointing.
The world’s largest economies are falling back on fossil fuels. China is building more coal plants than they have in the last seven years. Germany is using more coal, and the U.S. recently approved the Alaskan Willow Project, a massive oil drilling site that climate experts describe as a carbon bomb.
Climate optimists tell us that we’re transitioning to green energy. They remind us that solar and wind are growing faster in the U.S. now than other sources. It’s cold comfort to some of us for one simple reason:
It’s not enough.
The general public remains largely unaware of the real stakes. Politicians and corporations promise to make us carbon neutral by 2050. That goal comes from the IEA (International Energy Agency). The decider class has embraced it for a few different reasons. It’s convenient. It aligns with their incrementalist approach. It hovers safely in the distance. It excuses them from any responsibility to cut emissions now, and it permits more fossil fuels.
It looks like cutting back on energy use is off the table at this point. Everyone seems to believe we can just muddle through until renewable energy replaces coal and natural gas in a way that doesn’t threaten their endless growth economies. Until then, they’re going to keep buying as much as they want, traveling as much as they want, and eating whatever they want.
And cheering for war.
In reality, climate scientists are shocked by what they’ve seen over the last few years. The reality they expected in 2050 is coming at us now. The droughts. The storms. The heatwaves. The bread basket failures. All of it.
It reached 113 degrees in Thailand last week.
It reached 111 degrees in Myanmar.
Washington D.C. is having its warmest year on record, with temperatures consistently 5-6 degrees above normal. El Nino might bring more rain this year, but it’s a temporary relief. It also brings floods, and floods destroy property and contaminate drinking water. We’ve seen that, too.
There’s no denying what’s going on, and yet that’s all the majority of people want to do. Even people who see global warming don’t seem to understand that we’ve basically jumped forward 20 years. We don’t have decades to cut back emissions, not anymore. Every day means life or death for someone else down the line. Every jet ride seals their fate. We’re looking at major cities around the world running out of water by the end of this decade, if not sooner. We’re looking at those same cities becoming unlivable hellscapes during the summer. Anyone with air conditioning had better pray the power doesn’t go out.
I get it, this all sounds very doomy.
It’s just the truth.
As for the west’s relentless hunger for war, that’s going to topple us over. If the general public knew what we were actually dealing with, they would be calling for an end to the war in Ukraine now. They should be shouting down anyone who even suggests we go to war with China. They wouldn’t be talking in such high and mighty terms about protecting democracy. They wouldn’t be losing their minds over spy balloons and TikTok. They would understand that the climate disasters coming our way make it all look like a mimosa brunch.
There’s no point in protecting democracy if you’re going to let trains full of toxic chemicals derail on a regular basis. (They do.) There’s no point in protecting democracy if you’re going to force people to work when they’re sick, and you’re not going to do anything to protect them from diseases or rising food prices. There’s no point in protecting democracy if you’re going to let plants and factories conduct strategic neglect on their facilities, resulting in everything from shortages of baby formula to massive fires that spew even more toxic chemicals into the sky. There’s no point in protecting democracy if you’re going to let cities cook during the summer, or run out of water, with no relief for the vulnerable.
As we speak, conservative and liberal politicians are both manufacturing public support for a war with China. Even military commanders and strategists predict we’ll be fighting by 2025. I don’t see the point of that either. China stands to gain nothing by invading Taiwan. We stand to gain nothing by getting involved. For the last seventy years, our interventions in this or that conflict around the world have done nothing but add to the death, destruction, and misery. Even a proxy war with China, added to our proxy war with Russia, will deplete the last of our resources.
It will drive everyone deeper into fossil fuels.
Again, the general public doesn’t seem to know or acknowledge one uncomfortable truth. As much as we might not “like” China, we need them. We depend on them to produce our goods. That includes the solar panels and wind turbines we need for our new grids. Without their cooperation, it’s game over.
Now here’s the real question:
Some of us already know all of this. So what do we do? How do we keep living as the world moves backward?
We just do it.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve already lived through some grim stuff. No matter how bad things got, I always found something worth living for. There was always something worth doing. So that’s the plan.
We live until we can’t.
As for the doomer mentality, I don’t see the point of giving up. I don’t see any good reason to suddenly start driving around just for fun, planning vacations, going to big concerts, and buying tons of stuff I don’t need.
It doesn’t appeal to me.
I’ve never understood why anyone would want a yard that looks like a golf course when they could have a wild one. I don’t understand why your average suburban knight spends their weekends sterilizing a strip of land, or even paying someone else to do it. They just complain about it anyway. I’ve never understood why they spend years piling up junk in a garage, then complain about that too until they find a book that tells them how to get rid of it.
I don’t see the point in suddenly deciding to buy a bunch of clothes I’m going to wear once or twice and then stick in a closet or throw away. It blows my mind to read that’s what people actually do. I also don’t see the point in stressing my family out trying to plan a trip halfway around the world, when we have a great time playing in our wild back yard or hanging out at local parks.
I don’t see the point in suddenly deciding to eat out three times a week, when we can just cook at home and it tastes just as good.
I don’t see the point in blowing my budget on takeout.
I don’t see what’s so special about a showerhead that uses 2 gallons a minute. I like my shower head that uses half a gallon.
None of this American lifestyle stuff makes any sense.
This is what “climate activists” understand. Living a simple life makes you happier. It also shrinks your carbon footprint.
People seem to want to defend lifestyles of excessive consumption simply because they don’t know any other way to live.
They never give it a chance.
In the end, it doesn’t matter how much time we have left to prevent the worst of climate change. It doesn’t matter if it’s already happening. Anyone can just choose to start living a better more sustainable life now. It’ll make them happier. It’ll make them healthier. It’ll help us save and preserve whatever’s left of the future. It’ll make them more immune and resilient in the face of the future that’s coming. There’s no reason to wait. There’s no reason to sit around and wonder if it’ll still make a difference. Of course it’ll make a difference.
I like the way I live.
I would choose this over keeping up with some influencer family any day. I would choose it over living like any billionaire.
I can’t see any good reason to revert back to a life full of excess and consumption because it’s “already too late.”
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I've begun to embrace simple living and have found myself enjoying it more and more. The calm and lower speed, more reading and more time in nature, and yet more stimulus and things to think about. We've got to find our way back.
And the sad part is "renewables" have so much downside. Lithium mining for electric vehicles, don't read about it unless you have a strong stomach. Quartz mining for solar panels, ditto. Environmental effects of wind turbines. The only real answer is REDUCE!