On Climate Change and Social Participation

Earlier in February, battling a storm of despair & homesickness and deeply questioning my life choices, I wrote a thing for Facebook. I’ve reproduced it in full below.

I have not written anything on here in quite some time. What I am writing right now, isn’t something most of you will want to read on a Sunday. It’s about the climate, and the next ten years. It’s not a happy essay, but this is wearing on my mind.

If you don’t want to feel exceedingly grim, scroll onwards.

Anyone who pays attention to the weather knows I have been working outside in very nearly -40c for several weeks straight, now. Ontario and the American Midwest have been the coldest place on earth, thanks to a weakening jet stream pushing air which should have been in the arctic down on my head. It’s been unpleasant. I’ve had a good chunk of time to think, and catch up on recent publications.

Yesterday it warmed up 30 degrees. Today, it is raining. It is February 3rd, in North Ontario.

You know what’s fun about wind turbines? They have an effective lifespan of about 25 years, before they require demolition and replacement. That’s not very long, compared to Nuclear, Geothermal, Hydro, or even Solar. And it’s really bad, altogether, when you think about how the next decade is going to play out for heavy industry. Based on what I’ve been reading, at least they’ll carry our civilization to the finish line before failing.

When I read, say, that Antarctica lost 18 Billion tons of ice in the past three years and the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is on the verge of collapse, I wonder what I’m even doing here.

When I see that global insect populations have declined by up to three quarters in my lifetime, and the birds are beginning to go with them, I really question why I’m burning time making money.

Every time I open a journal publication and the abstract contains “Previously unnoticed feedback loop” or “Faster Than Expected”, I wonder how much the IPCC is feeding us bullshit to keep us happy and placated and the party going a little bit longer.

To go into the details of the many severe and immediate crises threatening the functional existence of the planets biosphere, and the immediate future of the human race, exceeds both the will I drummed up to write this and your patience as a reader. The data is readily available – if you want to be informed enough to not sleep for a week and seriously question your participation in society.

It would be nice if more people seriously questioned their participation in society. It doesn’t distress me that we’ve got about fifteen years left before western civilization falls apart, it distresses me that it’s going to hurt virtually everyone I know.

Most of all it distresses me to know that my day to day existence is inherently contributing to the largest and fastest eradication of life on earth since the End-Permian Extinction, and that even if we shut down industrial civilization as we know it to try and save ourselves – we’ve carved such a wound into this planet that we’re still going to lose virtually all of what makes it beautiful and we rely on for our own survival.

I stayed out of Oil & Gas, and worked to get into wind, because I was an idealist. I wanted to say I at least tried to do something which could mitigate the damage we’ve done and avert a looming disaster.

Climbing 900+ feet of ladder a day, when it’s thirty below zero and the wind is making that tower sway, thinking about how I’m building infrastructure solely to sustain a system of living which is inherently unsustainable beyond a very hard deadline – which is lurking visibly on the horizon?

Idealism is a great appetizer for despair.

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