The World-As We Know It-Has Already Ended Due to Climate Change
I hate to be the one to break this to you.
If you were wondering what the end of the world might look like—we now have a pretty good idea, judging from this past month.
Wildfires raging out of control, turning into not just “firenados”, but an actual “fire tsunami”. This is not hyperbole. As The Grist describes it like this: “When a fire gets hot enough, it can generate its own weather conditions and wind speeds can approach hurricane force, drying out the surrounding land.” But you can’t have a real apocalypse without floods of biblical proportions.
Ask Japan, 2 million people had to be evacuated from floods and landslides that killed over 200. Most of western Japan had a foot of rain, with some areas seeing multiple feet of rain. A week later, a heat wave struck, and the 106 degree temperatures were the highest ever recorded. Dozens died and thousands were hospitalized from the heat wave. And now, at this moment, Typhoon Jongdari has just made landfall.
An article in New York Magazine asks “How Did the End of the World Become Old News?” It lists our the horrifying news above, and more, and describes July as “a month of historic, even unprecedented climate horrors.” And yet, media is reluctant to connect the dots to climate change because that would be a “ratings killer”. Yes, we are talking about worrying about television ratings while the world burns.
Alex Steffen, on Twitter, explains how “There is no new normal.”
There is no new normal.
I find that to be the most shattering fact of the planetary crisis, for most people: There is no point coming (at least in our lifetimes) when things will settle into a new stable, long-term state. https://t.co/m6o0SC0hU4
— Alex Steffen (@AlexSteffen) July 28, 2018
What this meant to me is that the world *as we know it* has already ended.
That doesn’t mean the has actually ended (it has not).
Or that we won’t survive the catastrophic changes that are sure to come (I believe we will).
But it does mean—as Alex Steffen points out so eloquently—we have reached a point of no return. There is no foreseeable point when we can get back to stability.
There’s only the loss of normal.
It’s economic disruptions and disaster impacts, abnormal weather and ecological weirdings, social upheavals and technological acceleration from here on out.
Either we rapidly become a species who can thrive amidst those pressures, or…we don’t.
— Alex Steffen (@AlexSteffen) July 28, 2018
This is not in any way to imply that we should throw up our hands in hopeless despair. It means quite the contrary. We must accelerate our efforts, at breakneck speed. We must solve the problems we can solve today, and work towards solving problems we don’t yet know how to solve.
Here are a few things you could do, starting today, no matter how much environmental activism you have done in the past.
- Become better informed and keep environmental activism on your radar ever day.
- Bring up the environment in every conversation you can. Figure out which of your friends, family, colleagues *also* care. Support their efforts, get excited about what they are doing. Talk about those in the media who ARE discussing climate change as the new heroes. The goal is for you to lead the way in building communities of people who care about these issues.
- Call, text, email or tweet at your Congresspeople and Representatives. Tell them you want to see more action, and support the ones who are speaking up and taking action.
- Sign up for email lists from places like 360.org or Friends of the Earth. You’ll not only get a steady stream of information, but they will give give you a variety of ways to take action.
- Learn about the systemic nature of environmental change. Like systemic racism or sexism, there are things we have to change at a deep foundational level. Learn how economics really work to create change—either positive or negative. Use that knowledge for good.
- Envision the future. The good and the bad. Write about your hopes and fears, and include the action steps you are taking. When you write, we’d be happy to publish you on The good
- Make a vow to never use single use plastic again. Start somewhere, start anywhere.
- Follow Alex Steffan on Twitter and Medium.
- Consider adopting a Zero Waste lifestyle, and spread the word about it. Jonathan Levy writes about this on The Good Men Project.
- Join our Environmental Activism group on Facebook, and share content, information and activism—the good, the bad, the ugly and everything in between. Invite others to join too. Again, it’s about building a community of people who care so we can leverage efforts.
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