Want to know how I feel about the threat of climate change?

Then read this essay by Megan Mayhew Bergman.

A taste:

I want to be hopeful. On good days, I go to 350.org and am heartened by their belief that we can make large-scale changes in the human activity that results in global warming. Not that we can, but we will. But most days, I don’t think we’re going to save this planet. I don’t think, as humans, we’re going to do the right thing. Is that constructive to say? No. Is it subscribing to the very unhelpful school of shaming the enemy, even if that enemy is yourself?  Yes. But if I knock the moral sieve out of the way and give it to you straight, that’s what keeps me up at night. Our inevitable failure.

I don’t know how she got inside my head. This is how I feel, down to the letter, with the one major difference that she has small children whereas I don’t even have kids yet.  How do I even begin to think about bringing new lives into this world?

When it comes to fat activism, I feel like I can make a difference. Even just putting pictures of myself on the internet, pictures of myself being fat and happy and fabulous, can be radical in its own small way.

But climate change? It’s huge, and all-encompassing, and terrifying. It makes everything else feel meaningless.

I don’t have the guts (or the financial stability, but mostly the guts) to devote my life to it. To chain myself to other activists like the Westboro 8, or lock myself to a piece of heavy machinery like a grandmother from Oklahoma. I admire the hell out of them from a distance. I go to 350 meetings, I do my little bits of activism, and I distract myself.

I don’t know how I’d get through the day if I didn’t distract myself. I don’t know how I’d stay sane.

Deep down, I’m terrified.

And, unlike my various irrational anxieties, I know that this terror is real. This terror is justified. I don’t think there’s any way to quell it without going completely into denial.

How can we build good lives atop this undercurrent of panic? How can we keep hoping in the face of overwhelming odds, while our government twiddles its fingers?

How do we live well and justly in this world when there’s a very real chance that it’s just too late?

I wish I had answers.

I wish there were answers.

5 thoughts on “Want to know how I feel about the threat of climate change?

  1. Great post. Sadly, I really don’t know how to cope with this, but I relate to this so much….it is really frightening to be living at this point in human history, to see this challenge so clearly, and yet to see the proliferation of denial and apathy. Where I live, little signs of the impending changes are already happening (close to sea level so unprecedented levels of flooding, shore erosion/shore loss, the need to desalinate water supplies and the costs that come with that, etc), yet so many here still deny! I want to believe it can be stopped, but so much damage has already been done; I’m terrified that we will not make the drastic changes that will be required in time. What a horrible tragedy, to live in these times, to see this reality, to know it can be stopped, but to be powerless (at least relative to things like big oil) in enacting the changes that would cause it to slow down and stop…how depressing. At the very least, I’m glad to see some posts on climate change linked through Feministe (coming from a feminist who does climate change research, on the social science end of things, looking at things like media framing and public understanding).

    • Thanks. It is really frightening, and it must be especially hard to see the changes happening where you live! Here in Boston we haven’t really been impacted yet, but Sandy could have hit us just as easily as New York–and I’m afraid there are more superstorms to come, and our luck won’t hold out forever.

      I’m always glad to hear from other people who feel the same way, even though I hate that we’re in this predicament. That’s really cool that you do social science research on climate change–keep up the good work! Hopefully your work, and everyone else’s, will turn the tides sooner than later, soon enough to make a real difference.

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