In a state about the state of things

The more I read, lately, the worse it gets. The more in-depth, well-researched and holistic the article, the more terrifying the conclusions for our planet and our species. If you think that’s being hysterical or dramatic, I would absolutely love for you to prove me wrong — but I’m going to need to see your evidence.

If your answer is “just stop reading things”, I sincerely hope you’ve figured out how you’ll explain that strategy to your children when they ask you how everything got so fucked up.

Because this is not about the world our great-grandchildren will live in, or even our grandchildren. Our children will deal with this. We will probably be alive to see it. We’ll definitely be alive for them to call us to account and ask us why we sat here, now, and chose to do nothing.

I started looking up the latest general climate change science, but it’s just too depressing to even continue. I just read an article by one climate scientist who said that, as a generalist looking at the big picture instead of focusing on one area of change, he’s concluded we’ll probably all be dead within 10 years, so there’s no point in even worrying about it anymore.

Things that are not the answer:

  • telling everyone to stop having children, especially if you don’t want children or have already had your children. We have too many people right now, but we do need some humans to continue our species, and if no one gets to have kids then we may as well be fucking extinct because what’s even the point anymore, am I right? If the meaning of life is to watch TV and eat burgers, we do not deserve this planet anyway.
  • hoping the government/the “market” will solve this by itself. That has never worked and never will. We need to actually be informed and agitate for real change.
  • saying “one person can’t make a difference” like the world isn’t made up of individual people. You personally can’t solve the whole problem, but you can sure as shit stop making everything a fuck-ton worse. Recycle. Stop buying plastic crap. Vote. Eat less meat. Do your own cooking. Buy sustainable, organic, free-range and fair-trade. Support local business. Talk to your kids about compassion and empathy and the issues. The power you have, as one individual person, is your vote and your dollar. Use them.

I’ve given myself a thumping headache and, as Brazil points out to me six times a day at the moment, my personal distress isn’t actually helping anyone, so I’m going to wander off.

Anyway. Here’s a list of books I’ve read over the last year or so that I would thoroughly recommend:

  • This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein
  • The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan
  • Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
  • The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith (good counterpoint to Eating Animals, but gets a bit too out there in places)
  • Postcapitalism by Paul Mason
  • The Soil Will Save Us by Kristin Ohlson
  • Grass, Soil, Hope by Courtney White

If you have any further recommendations to add to this list, I’d love to hear them. Also any ideas for what we can actually do, here in NZ, to get past the wishy-washy left-right political BS and start having some actual conversations about things that matter.

Also, if you disagree with me, I would love to hear from you. Please, please tell me I’m wrong, or crazy, or being too dramatic. Just also tell me why.

By Katie Freire

Writer of things. Annoyer of cats. Mother of very small dragons.

One reply on “In a state about the state of things”

Hi Katie,

I can’t offer much to cheer you up and am going through the same struggle to find good news about the future of the world. I have to agree with Corey Bradshaw when he says “that there is no single metric, whether it be biodiversity, conservation or pollution indices, or deforestation rates, that’s improving” so we have either a massive problem when that all gets to a critical point (if it hasn’t already) or a probably unimaginable change to the structure of civilisation as we understand it to make the big changes to turn it around.

I would recommend reading 2052 (by one of the original authors) which is really the 40 year update of the Limits to Growth. It’s relatively optimistic about things out to 2052, though dramatically less so past then.

At the end of 2052 are a range of recommendations, a major one of which is to start orienting your life towards the likely future, or at least the future you think is likely. In our case that’s planning to move to a smaller house which is as resilient as possible to wild weather and has a reasonable area for gardening, living in a low carbon-producing and low resource consuming way, giving the kids a good understanding of the problems and why we walk and bike as much as possible, don’t waste power and water etc. Hopefully this also means that as the kids grow up and really get to grips with the future they’ll inherit they are better prepared to face it in practical terms but they won’t have a disconnect from us in feeling that their parents were/are part of the problem and don’t ‘get it’ so we can keep working on facing the challenges as a family.

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