The biggest dilemma for any environmental writer is simple. How to talk about climate change without you instantly turning the page?
Because, no matter how it's discussed, research continues to find that readers are switching off. If they were ever turned on to begin with.
Part of the problem is the language of increasing urgency, or moralisation, or stone cold science. All those bothersome facts. Who wants to hear about them?
So, stay with me. Because this is not that.
We all have a different experience of what living in a warming world feels like. This is mine. Like a passing cloud on a sunny day, or a thunder clap, it is what it is.
I'm a functioning nihilist. There, I've said it.
Yet, despite that, I still get up every morning and carry on as best I can.
I may look a bit pale and drawn but, basically, I can still fake it enough to get by.
Yes. I drive a V6 Jeep, sometimes use plastic bags, and travel on a big plane across the vast oceans most years.
I prefer to eat meat that I've killed myself, but that's becoming much harder to do as I age. I don't eat whitebait or longfin eels or kereru. Threatened species? Nope.
My property boasts abundant fruit trees and a thriving vegetable garden, and native and exotic trees for Africa. Sometimes I give to environmental causes, and the SPCA. Never humans, although my partner donated to the local foodbank last week. We have no children, and there are no regrets on that score.
I'm part of the environmental problems on the planet; just as you are. By merely breathing, we're all caught in this net called life. I've learned that governments are unlikely to lead any meaningful change until the will of the people forces them to. I hope that happens soon but logic points to the contrary.
It's true. I somehow equate sports (male, usually) dominating the main news with everything that's truly wrong with the world. Like, how can the twists and turns of rugby or the America's Cup be more important than ... just about everything happening out there in front of our eyes?
There are days - most days these days - when I'm driving and I see the endless Golden Arches, the Colonel, the King, the Rebel, and I think to myself I'm lost. This is not my world; this is not my home. Above all, all of this is against nature and it cannot last.
It's alienation. Pure and simple. A sense that something's profoundly changed; a chord has been struck that only I can hear. Except, I know many others are hearing it too. A distant bell ringing.
What if, as I suspect, the climate tipping point has been reached? What if it's already locked and loaded? How to deal with that? Writing this. Writing is what I do. It's how I make sense of a world that no longer makes any sense.
What if, as I suspect, the climate tipping point has been reached? What if it's already locked and loaded? How to deal with that?
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As Grenfell Tower now looms large over the evil that is neoliberalism, the climate reality looms ever larger over precisely everything. Because running out of resources, and the resultant human scrabbling, means everything's up for grabs. Even sanity is for sale.
Nothing seems to move our politicians anymore. Be they in London, Washington, or Wellington. It's all about votes, and deals, amidst never-ending capitalism, and pretending we have time to solve it all. They act like we've got heaps of it. Infinity. They piss me off.
It's all centrism, business as usual, and growth. Endless effing growth. Like a cancerous tumour. Bulbous and bulging and deadly.
While the breeders keep breeding. Like there's no tomorrow. Because white Westerners are not the problem, you know. We've slowed right down in the population growth stakes, so we're guilt-free. C'mon, let's have another.
And let's keep pretending there's hope. What are we without hope, right?
There's a new traffic tunnel in Auckland, and immigration is good for the economy. Just like irrigation. Depending on your version of what constitutes getting ahead. Dollars or decent water. Keep the milk, the tourists, and the cash flowing. Endlessly. Ad infinitum. It'll make us great again!
Fake news makes it seem like real news is fake, and it's playing havoc with feeling earthed. A connection to this big, blue ball is needed now more than ever, yet it's never felt more distant.
What can I say? I'm a functioning nihilist, and my nihilism just leaked all over the page. I'll work on it. I'll do the 12 steps, go to rehab. Whatever it takes. I'll sober up. I promise.
Next week I'll write about the minutiae of what some talking head said like it truly matters. I'll have an opinion.
But for today, I need my nihilism. Like there's no tomorrow.