This Cold, Never Again
The Climate Crisis is "the biggest story in the world”. Our governments have agreed to tackle it. Our pensions fund our transition to a sustainable economy. Even our children and grandchildren agreed to pay for our mistakes and the ones of our fore-parents.
Thunberg’s “biggest story” epithet is revealing. As much as I read about climate change, global warming, the Anthropocene, yadi, and yada, the more facts and processes that fill my brain and emaciate my heart.
Today, I saw a post that did the opposite. Reto Knutti, a Swiss professor posted on LinkedIn the picture I share below. The picture was taken on January 1st, 2023. It shows the majestic Swiss alps from the viewpoint of where little Reto first learned to ski. Yet, this winter, the slopes shine in a majestic green. Grass, not snow, cover the slopes.
Thousands of years ago, Pandora fucked up. She opened a box and let everything good leave our lives. She managed, though, to close it before hope escaped. Ever since our world has been dark, yet, as Rebecca Solnit reminds us, we can hope in the dark.
As I saw Reto’s post, Pandora’s gift sprang into action. I remind myself that we are in a transition, that we have the resources and the technology to fix this mess. That it was just a lapse of moral oversight. That in the future things will be better. As I engaged my spurious mental models, a big pink furry and fluffy elephant materialized in my mind’s eye.
Today is the coldest it will ever be. Never again, and as long as our species dominates our biome, will the world be as cold as it is today. Our children will not live in a world where the Alps look as white as they do today. The future will be warm. We plan our future to be warmer. There is no one on Earth working for a future in which Earth remains at this point.
Our governments and pensions are working to leave our children a worse world. We are not leaving them the world we grew up in. We are not leaving them the world we have today. We are leaving them to pay the bill for our mistakes and a world in which one can hike in the alps in Switzerland, drink wine grown in Sweden, coffee grown in Italy.
We need our guts to fight for our climate. One point five degrees sounds good enough to our brains. A goal that our governments and pension funds can aim at tackling. But two digits fail to encompass our dearth of empathy for future generations. We are leaving them a future in which our books and stories will be seen in contempt.
Imagine reading of snow in the Alps, fish in the sea, and Rhinocerous in Africa, as you work to pay the debt you inherit from the people who stole them from you. We need fairness, not hope. Hope lets us be joyous as we plunder our children. Ain't nobody has time for that.