No Absolution

There are moments in my everyday life that are mournful, their own tiny funeral procession. Small deaths every day. Climate grief has the power to lift a person out of their life and contexts and completely isolate them, a personal apocalypse as the veil is torn away and we, if not the end of the worlds, face the end of many little worlds and the possibilities that go along with them. My  experience with it was not that dissimilar to my experience with mental illness, which I was diagnosed with in my teens. There’s a force external to your self that influences your perception of the world; a filter across reality that doesn’t affect everyone. Except in the case of climate change, it’s the removal of the filter – that business as usual lull that nothing will change – that sent me hurtling. The dictionary, literary meaning of apocalypse, if not the actual end of humanity or the rapture.

Truth is, apocalypses happen every day. This sense of permanence and safety was always a privilege.

I’ve never been an inveterate optimist. I’ve spent most of my life feeling as though something was deeply wrong, whether it be with me or with everyone else. Alienated by everyone around me because they couldn’t touch the pain I was experiencing. I came across an article in The Believer today ( Chris, a man stricken with climate grief who reacted by stripping himself of his own personhood. I’’m reminded of the person I used to be and who I am now – and they are very similar in many ways. Climate grief, however, isn’t a manifestation of mental illness, it’s a real response to the material fact of our changing climate while depression is a response to the material neurodivergence in a brain. They determine how we construct reality and thus they are both deeply subjective.

I recognized a lot of my own initial response to climate grief in Chris: his desire to make himself smaller, as though it would reduce harm. I once told a grief counselor, over the phone, that I didn’t want to die but I didn’t know how I was going to live. That’s the sort of burden knowledge of the climate crisis forces on us, in the vaccuum of climate leadership and real traction on a global level. We internalize the misanthropic message that we are the bad thing, and maybe if we opt out of life and living in an oppressive system, we can reduce harm.

Later, Chris tells the author “I couldn’t accept the privileges of humanity when I didn’t want any part of humanity”, though I would argue that the privileges he experiences aren’t universal to all humans and living things and we not treating them like they should be is part of the reason we’re in this predicament.

I think it’s very natural, even rational, to want to reject everything about a system that we find maladaptive, one that we know causes harm. We want to erase ourselves from a future where we know there will be suffering, many climate activists wish to avert but do not have the direct or individual power to stop. Rebecca Burnell and I have discussed “soft suicide,” or the conscious editing of ourselves out of a future we find too painful to countenance. I wonder if the belief in near-term human extinction is a similar reaction – what would the world look like without humans in it? Human extinction presents itself as its own kind of denial – that it’s possible to live in the world and not make a ripple somewhere for someone. Focus on human extinction jumps over the ensuing human suffering, as though it doesn’t matter and as though humans themselves aren’t part of the earth, just like every other living thing. We, like the microbes, the fungus, the song birds, and the wandering herds are just as much a part of the web of life on this planet, though I can’t deny that many of us have forgotten that fact and our systems reflect that forgetting. Human extinction also makes us ignore our responsibility to each other and the non human. And that responsibility is easy enough to drown myself in.

Extinctionists also seem to believe that there exists, somewhere after people have gone, a return to an Edenic state for life on earth. That collapse and extinction are an ennobling state. The heroic martyrdom that makes space for nature to return. Uncomfortable thought experiments, yes. But no less mythic in my mind than the idea of constant human progress and utopia. Life is too messy. There is no returning to any previous time.

A few months ago when reading The Optimist’s Telescope, Bina Venkataraman gave me pause when she wrote that we have more sympathy for the future and our future selves when we can picture them. Some of us have a very difficult time picturing ourselves in a future we know is filled with death and the thought of living through such a future with any amount of happiness evokes in me a deep guilt. But it isn’t just the future is it? I’ve been living alongside death my entire lifetime. Climate change isn’t coming, it’s here, and what we really fear is that it will eventually come to us. It’s just that – now – some of us are paying attention. And what do I do then, with this eco anxiety? This grief?

I’ve been told by the many therapists I’ve seen (and abandoned) over the last two and half decades that I should go easy on myself, that there are things out of my control. But I refuse to abdicate responsibility. Maybe what matters most is what I do with the empathy and the grief I feel because certainly none of us deserves anything we get in our lives, there’s no such thing as karma. Only what we do.

Ash Sanders, the author of The Believer article, writes of herself,  “I wanted a world that would last through the century. I wanted a world where my existence didn’t mean the end for others. But, barring that, I really wanted just one thing: To grieve. To say, This is unbearable, and to have people to try to bear it with.” To live in such an imperfect world is deeply unbearable, especially when we don’t have the means to change that imperfection immediately. And to just slough off the responsibility for change, with lives in the balance, is equally unbearable to me. There are so many people out there, through no fault of their own, who are suffering as a result of the systems that have benefited me and, to my mind, this as a side effect not only of ecological breakdown but inequity, colonialism, and capitalism. How the fuck am I supposed to deal with the fact my life means death? And how are we supposed to bear any of the above if we can’t acknowledge that fact? How are supposed to fix it if we don’t? But there will be no escaping either way, not if we deny the system and not even if we deny ourselves.

There will be no absolution.

Time Travel – Two Forms

“The audience of someone living fifty years from now, especially if it is a child, is an anchor in the future to which people can tie the listless boats of their attention in the present.” – Bina Venkataraman, The Optimist’s Telescope

The future has never come easily for me.

I remember being a teenager and not expecting to live to see 30. By the time I was in my mid-teens, I had tried to kill myself once and would try again just before my 20th birthday, a week or two before my marriage to a man I felt I had to marry in order to survive.

People with trauma find themselves stuck in the past. I remember my father catching me with my bedroom light on when I was maybe 5 or 6 years old. I tried to pretend I was sleeping but he knew better. I remember his hands around my throat, then later, him trying to calm my hysterical sobbing before I woke my mother up. In retrospect, I know he was probably drunk at the time, a fact that doesn’t dull the pain of the memory.

Later, when I was 16, again I believed he would kill me as he strangled me again when I told him I knew he abused me when I was young.

These memories are at odds with my memories of a person I loved, a person deeply flawed, who died almost two years ago. Someone with their own trauma who loved his grandchild deeply. My father now is firmly in the past. But I find myself still here, despite my best gut feelings. Returning time and again to the periods of pain and not daring to look much past the present because short-term survival was enough.

I didn’t begin to expect much of a future until I met my partner, and it’s because I found a place of safety that I decided I wanted to be a parent. Foolhardy though it may seem, I thought I could rewrite some of my past, offering up a different vision going forward that was marked by generational trauma and pain that never completely goes away, only subsides for a while before it wells up again.

As a climate activist, I think very often about my son’s future and what he’ll think of my efforts once he’s living in the future we’re trying to build for him. He’s my audience, he’s my anchor, and I do everything with him in mind. Now, rather than half-living in the past, I spend much of my time with a foot in his future, locking arms with the person he will be and our planet as it undergoes accelerating change.

When that time comes, I hope my son can remember me and know that I did my best.

Mythologizing the Future

I’ve been thinking about how we think about the future. In the midst of the planetary crisis, in a panic, we spend a lot of time trying to analogize our present moment with something familiar – the most popular one right now being mobilization during the second world war. But surely, those of us who spend a lot of time thinking about the future are as prone to mythologizing it as those who spend their time thinking about history. We have blank spots and we omit possibilities, people who are working behind the scenes, and noting only the big moments; we like events we can set a date to, underline in a book. Neat rows with discernible facts.

I understand why people mythologize the future, especially now as our current period is more of an elipsis – we are dangling over a cliff’s edge and we remain unsure as to the steepness of our potential drop. So much depends on what we do as a collective, how much power we’re able to wrest back from the fossil fuel and other extractive industries, and how climate impacts unfold in real time. But we also have to contend with an invisible web of details, interconnecting and moving like gears. A machine with constantly moving parts that we can only hope to direct on a small scale. Every little input mattering but only the sum of our collective actions will determine where we eventually end up. Some of us, the worst of us perhaps, have more control over the machine than we’d like. That’s why we need to be large on the scale of the collective.

But still we dangle.

Given this uncertainty, many people veer off to the side to cling to the ledge of certainty of the status quo or our utter demise. Both positions are more comfortable than trying to gain control of our trajectory as both presume our course will correct itself – a deus ex natura of the apocalypse – or the god emerging from the market, rebalancing all the imbalances that climate change will bring, leaving us unscathed. Both are mythologies in and of themselves, an attempt at prophecy that makes us feel safe, even if that security also means death. The end of all things brings its own comfort; rest and peace, no more struggling. A redemptive arc for the planet wherein it can restore itself without the hassle of human interference. It’s easier to ignore the human and non-human suffering in complete darkness.

But the future isn’t a prophecy. It’s a living document that is being written, erased, rewritten, and written over right now. By too many hands to count. And, consequently, skipping to the end seems foolish, and impossible, to me.

I’m trying to find a slick way to introduce this poem, aside from the fact that I adore it. But I cannot help but be the kind of asshole who puts a poem at the end of a blog post. The poet is Margaret Avison,

Necessary Conditions For Hope.

“I’ve come to understand uncertainty as a necessary condition for hope.”

I understand the inclination towards certainty as we live at a cusp, the edge of a lacuna. We’ve begun the construction of a bridge that leads into a crevasse and we have no complete idea of how to finish our path to the other side.

Certainty, in any form, can be a form of solace. Giving up is a comfort because it means we can rest, stop striving towards a goal that is far from assured.
Preferring the period to the lacuna or the ellipsis, some of us choose an abrupt stop. That stop represents power, if not over the planet but over the categorical knowledge of our fate. We enclose ourselves.

To imagine us continuing, especially on a planet made unstable with no hope of returning to Eden, only compounds our insecurities. And it would be a lie if I said that, some times, the idea of rest, of a completion, didn’t have it’s own appeal. Because the world will keep coming and coming until the day we stop.


Change is certain. But it isn’t doom. Hardship is likewise assured. But so is love. And every time I look at my child, I remember that he’s not going into the future alone.

So, I prefer, rather than to conjure up certainties of a future, constructing narratives and fates when I cannot possibly know. I prefer to remain in the spaces in between. The not knowing. The Not Yet. Watching the shadows on the wall take shape and try to shape them myself as best as I can.

There is more than one story for us and there has always been. To deny that multiplicity of stories is to further erase those who have been at the margins with their own histories.

To say there is nothing to be done is to say you haven’t thought of alternatives, that you’ve always thought yourself above the toil of other people. That you’d rather be dead than brought so low as an uncertain future.

To give up in the anthropocene is to refuse to struggle and to me that indicates a grand arrogance and an attitude that one is too precious to fight, to continue to try to live no matter the chaos and grime of our possible futures. To grieve over climate breakdown is to lament the loss of the future as we thought it was but to pretend that one future was the only one possible is, to me, not transcendence but submission.

And I refuse to submit, not to the forces that brought us here or to the voices that foreclose our futures.

That’s where I stay, at the brink of this new moment.

On Fear, Hope, and Climate Elephants, Awkwardly, In A Room.

I remember being at my son’s first Thanksgiving dinner, when the climate and environment came up at dinner. I don’t remember how or why and I don’t recall who brought it up, but I yelled, “can we stop talking about this because it terrifies me!”

Yes, I am thinking about climate change in this picture.

Everyone looked uncomfortable, not knowing they had inadvertently triggered an ever present anxiety in me and one that had been growing since my son was born about 6 months earlier. Platitudes were offered, not to quiet me, but in order to offer me genuine support even though no one knew what to say.

I know everyone was at a loss. No one could help me. But also, no one really wanted to face what it was I was afraid of.

Five years later and a definite shift has occurred in my life – one rather hard to ignore. I’m a full-time climate activist and advocate. And I’m loud about it. It hasn’t gone over well with everyone but I accept that. Talking about climate change is enough to drive anyone to despair, especially as so few of us talk about it or have accepted that it will define much of our lives, and the lives of our children.

A few people have likely noticed – and rolled their eyes – that I find a way to talk about the climate crisis in almost every situation. I do this, not because I want to depress anyone, but because I think about it. All the time. And we need to talk about climate change if we’re going to do anything at all to mitigate the problem. I do everything I can to avert a climate destroyed future for my son. And it’s not enough because I am only one person.

I talk about it so that, maybe, I’ll be less alone. Not in my misery but in my action and advocacy for a future better than the one we’re heading for: 4 – 5C of global average temperature rise isn’t a future anyone wants for their child, or anyone’s child.

So I talk about climate change, even if no one wants to hear it, because I care a great deal. I don’t exaggerate. I haven’t taken up this banner because I want to force people to live a certain way in line with an ideological standpoint, even though many biologists and climate scientists have pointed out that capitalism, in its current form, is a primary driver of our planetary crisis. I don’t aim to be a buzzkill who comments that air travel is the highest emitting activity we do as individuals. I don’t find joy in it. To be perfectly frank, I talk about the climate because I’m desperate. Desperate to help form a future where my son will thrive. I talk to people about the climate because I think we can transform the ways we live for the better, but only if we acknowledge the predicament we’re in.

I talk about these things because I know I can’t take the climate crisis on alone. I can’t transform the world by myself in ways we need to ensure a livable planet for our children. I need help. I need it from every single person I know, the ones who love or like me and even the ones who can’t stand me. I need help from you too.

I am asking a lot, I’m aware. But I ask it with my heart broken open. I’m not always in despair but some days it’s all I can do to just keep going because the possibilities, especially if we don’t act, leave me devastated. The scientifically sound, peer reviewed study of climate impacts are enough to keep me awake at night. I don’t need to pretend things are worse than they are.

And I’m going to keep shouting and making everyone uncomfortable because, when it comes down to it, I don’t care how uncomfortable I make people.

Or maybe I do but I recognize that any discomfort I may cause doesn’t signify compared to my love for my son; nothing means as much to me as his future and the future of this living planet we all share.

Not Waving, But Drowning

I’m sitting in my bedroom in the dark right now because today has been one long period of ecological grief for me.

I am absolutely heartbroken and no amount of optimism about the prospects of continued human civilization can wrench me from this grief.

Our home is gone. We’re never going to get it back. And I don’t know how to tell my son that. I don’t want to have to. I don’t want to have to live through this period of mounting losses and hearing myself say that scares me. Climate change represents every insidious thing my depression and anxiety has ever told me – nothing will get better. Maybe we’ll never have anything but grief.

I want so very much to be able to fix this on my own. I want to be able to protect and and heal everything I touch but I’m so small and so very frightened. All I have is love and determination and some days that’s not enough to keep me afloat. Not when everything seems so very daunting.

The loneliness is the worst; I feel like I’m treading water and so many people aren’t paying attention. They tell me that they’re inspired by the work I do and move on while I feel some days my head is going under and I can’t bear this all on my own.

On a carpool ride back from Ottawa for a climate conference, one of my fellow conference goers told me she couldn’t look at her grandson without feeling awful. She keeps him at a distance because she doesn’t want to get attached to someone she’s convinced doesn’t have a future. And I felt so deeply sorry for her. Our ecological crisis tarnishes our ability to freely love our children without guilt, our connection to the future. Neoliberal ideas of progress be damned – our disconnect from our descendants, our children and their children, is a bigger tragedy than the upheaval of civilizational progress.

I love my son so much. I love this earth so much. And they both break my heart.


My father was a crummy neighbour and most of my early childhood memories are framed by grass almost as tall as I was. Weedy flowers, daisies and buttercups, crushed under my fists as I spread seeds across the yard, absently destructive as a child is when they live in abundance. Our neighbour, on the other hand, had a neat flower garden edging the fence that separated her yard from ours. I would throw dandelions and other weeds over the fence into her yard in what must have been a sense of childish benevolence. Dogweed was my favourite gift; I loved its orange and the smell still lingers, illusory perhaps, in my memory.

I don’t mean to paint my childhood as idyllic but nostalgia is the realm of early childhood. Grass was for trundling through, there were blackberries behind our shed, a bush I freely ate from. I would return to the house covered in thistles that made me itch for days.

Children, put outside with the confidence of their safety, found each other without fear or hesitance. I remember one of the neighbour boys taught me to stop on bees until my father put a stop to it with a brief rebuke that I’ve never forgotten, even if the words in my memory are imprecise:

They deserve to live too.

I remember the fat, soft body I stomped into the ground and I still feel a sharp sense of shame.

Now when, my son plays in our yard, dutifully manicured by our landlord, there aren’t many bees. And if I caught my son purposefully crushing one, I would respond with a great deal of parental outrage. But the bees, to Henry, are more of a curiosity. They’re bigger in his imagination, his fear of being stung, than they are in real life. He isn’t around them enough to know that they have no concern for him as they nuzzle the few wildflowers. I tell him we can’t leave his pool outside for any length of time for fear of bees drowning in it. He asks why. And I tell them that they’re precious.

If it’s already too late, what choice do we have?

Reading Wen Stephenson’s new Piece for The National, I find myself in the odd position of identifying with the climate doomists. He writes:

“But being a doomist—that is, by my definition, accepting the fact that almost any possible future now involves catastrophic levels of climate change—is not the same as being a fatalist, much less a nihilist, as some would have it.”

It’s mildly bewildering for someone who pushes back against doom as a concept as much as I do but my perspective on climate change and Stephenson’s is fairly aligned, our phrasing choices aside. But doom here isn’t the end. It’s not a period so much a series of elipses with space between where we need to determine what our catastrophe will look like and how it will play out. Regardless, our predicament means and requires no small amount of social upheaval.

I accepted the reality that we were going to meet with disastrous levels of climate change early into my realization that climate change was more imminent than I thought and here I am, five or so years later, feeling a significant amount of burnout in the moment and trying to sort through my thoughts on the matter. The world will be more dangerous for my child in many ways. But he’s also a child of incredible privilege which means he owes something to that dangerous world and to the people in it.

Perhaps, as someone who has suffered mental health ups and downs for most of her life, I’ve been become very good at managing expectations, although the management of expectations reads as an emotionally hollow reaction to the levels of human suffering that climate change can and will cause. I will never be ok with human or animal suffering, especially for those of us who have done so very little to cause the problems we are facing. There are days when, after I’ve looked really hard at all the possibilities, not just for myself but for other people with significantly less privilege, I’m hardly functional.

But I need to keep going as much as I need to know about the truth. As Stephenson quotes McKibben, I strive to “live in a state of engagement, not despair.” Avoiding despair isn’t easy as I’m parent and uncertainty breeds anxiety, but to succumb is to be made passive during a time when we can least afford it. We need praxis and action to survive the century and beyond and we need it from all of us. The next few decades, as my son reaches adolescence and early adulthood, will decide a great deal of our future trajectories.

But even as we are certainly going to suffer from climate change, someone wise recently also told me that we have almost an infinite number of (climate changed) futures to choose from. And wisdom, like reason, is but choosing and the choice to act together.

We are finite tied to the Infinite: Climate Despair and the Sublime.

From yon remotest waste, have overthrown

The limits of the dead and living world,

Never to be reclaimed. The dwelling-place

Of insects, beasts, and birds, becomes its spoil;⁠

Their food and their retreat for ever gone,

So much of life and joy is lost.

“Mont Blanc” – Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1816

I was almost a poetry scholar, in another life. I began with the Romantic period, fell in love with William Blake, but ended up loving radical feminist work. It seems so long ago now.

Now I work as a climate activist and I think on climate despair on a regular basis. I try not to get trapped in it but I find, as someone who often acts as the emotional touchstone for other people, that there are very few people who do the same for me. This isn’t a lament so much as a fact; the work I do is hard and I wish for the life of me that I didn’t have to do it but here I am.

Times like these, when I’m more despairing than others, I’m reminded of the sublime. Sublimity isn’t something often brought up in climate discourse. We largely talk about fear and hope and doom and a range of other cliches because we don’t quite know how to talk about what we feel in the face of climate change. We don’t have the language for it. When I talk about the sublime I do not mean the sublime as it’s entered the popular lexicon, meaning simply “blissfully transcendent.” I’m not talking about a cupcake or a positive experience. I reference it specifically as the Romantic poets used it: something so utterly overwhelming that we immediately dwarfed by its presence.

Most Romantic poets used it in reference to nature. In his poem, “Mont Blanc,” Shelley, standing atop a mountain, felt so keenly his smallness in the wake of deep geologic history and Biblical creation, that he felt a kind of terror. The terror of being inconsequential, of being nothing but a drop in the ocean, easily consumed and washed away. In the face of nature and natural disasters, we lose our individuality, ourselves, our complete consciousness turns dark in rejection. The sublime is what we feel every time we really take in the possibilities of climate breakdown.

There are writers who take on the sublimity of climate change: Ghosh and Scranton, for example. Novelist David Mitchell’s body of work comments on the helplessness we feel against a backdrop of climate change and millenia of history in Cloud Atlas. “We are all “duck farts in a thunderstorm,” which is a glib way of saying that not one of us really matters in the face of destruction; we’ll all be absorbed without comment by the planet when we consider our existence on the planetary scale. Climate breakdown has sped up the processes of the planet; its tendency towards creative obliteration.

I often hear from fellow activists, or rubberneckers to the planetary crisis,  that“the planet will be fine. It’s the life on it that will die,” and in that void, something new will take its place. Alien, inhumane, unknowable to us. Sublimity is knowing that, despite all of the mother earth rhetoric, we actually do not matter to the planet. We are igniting a (physic)al reaction on our shared home that we may not be able to survive but our home will eventually shrug off.

I read a study in Nature today claiming that 1.5 – 2C in anthropogenic global warming may be enough to destabliize Antarctica and Greenland entirely, leading to their total loss. Sea levels would rise about 270ft and the effects on our biosphere may render it uninhabitable to humans. It would take multiple centuries to millennia for both ice sheets to melt but it’s still a fact worthy of pause: longterm, we may have already decided our own fate. We’ve put a deadline on how long we live on this planet, no matter what our descendants do. Our diachronic destiny.

But is the eventual outcome always what matters? What about the synchronic? Cross sections of life that happen every day, that have happened every day since humanity started tinkering in the dirt, occasionally looking up. What, then, are we to do knowing how small we are?

When people declare that we’re doomed, they’re in fact wrestling with their own sublime terror in the face of capitalism and greed, the hard limits that physics puts on human civilization. Their brains go blank and their imaginations go flat, and why shouldn’t they? Everything is, quite frankly, so damned difficult. I worry about my son having to contend with his own smallness when he gets older, even as he’s the largest, most luminous body in my orbit.

I don’t have answers to anyone’s existential crisis. I know that, regardless of outcomes, regardless of climate and planetary crises, we will eventually die. All of us. I accept that. I tell my son that when we die, we become part of the planet again. Our discrete parts return from whence they came, indistinguishable from the planet itself. What makes us human disappears, changes, becomes something else. That doesn’t make our lives worth less than when we were human, however – even as small and fragile as we are individually.

In the very same poem where Shelley reflects on the violence of nature, he begins:

“The everlasting universe of things

Flows through the mind, and rolls its rapid waves,

Now dark—now glittering—now reflecting gloom—

Now lending splendour, where from secret springs

The source of human thought its tribute brings

Of waters—with a sound but half its own”

This gesture, the movement from hope to despair, then back again, is my daily wax and wane. I don’t think our extinction is assured but I’m not certain because I’m not omnipotent. I’m small and human. I know there has been and will be enough suffering to deem our collective future deeply tragic. I wrestle with doing the work of climate advocacy and longterm systems thinking by remembering that I have to live my life.

“My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean,” writes David Mitchell, again in Cloud Atlas, reminding us that we live on an ocean planet filled an impossible-to-account for abundance of possibility and a finite amount of power. We are weak and easily swept away. He answers this – his quandary of the sublime – by reminding us that “ yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?” I can never forget the synchonic because my real life right now, is full and beautiful, even if not permanent. I am  bound to context and relationships and bright in this very moment, regardless of an uncertain future. All the optimism or pessimism doesn’t alter that fact. I am alive now. And I have love. We have each other and we will continue to have each other into the future. And we have right now and what we do with this moment is entirely ours. So as I am carried helplessly between the currents of hope and despair, I remind myself of that.

The Task Before Us is Civilization

The thing about climate change, folks, is that there is no new normal and the fires and flooding won’t go away. They’ll only get worse until we face up to the situation we’re in. Normal is over. It’s done.

I am not exaggerating when I say the insurance industry is about to undergo massive changes, if not collapse. How can we insure anything if we can’t rely on a stable climate?

We’re also in the middle of a housing crisis, which means we do not have enough homes for the people who need them and the ones we do have are too expensive. Why is this? Because homes have been commodities. If you own a house, the value of your house has been artificially inflated by the lack of homes for other people. You’re profiting off of other people’s lack of affordable housing.

How do we fix this? We build four storey apartment complexes in a massive way – infill housing, not urban sprawl – around public transit hubs, which we will need to also buildout in the next 10 years if we are to halve our emissions in 10 years.

We need to halve global emissions in 10 years.

Fossil fuel prices, driven by surpluses, are going to drop, leaving economies like Canada’s in the lurch. We won’t be able to sell it at high enough prices to maintain our extraction industry. This has been playing out in various ways across the world for a while now. Venezuela’s collapse, Alberta’s unemployment, Russian aggression in Europe.

We’re going to have rethink flying (seriously) as it’s the most carbon intensive thing an individual can do and we’re going to all have to think about climate action on the personal level. Yes, I know capitalism is a huge culprit but that’s in no way – I repeat, in NO WAY – a reason not to bring climate action down to the personal. You don’t get to fob this off because of rich people.

We’re going to start eating less meat, if any, and turn to vegetarian diets, alternative foods like seaweed (it’s actually delicious), and other artificially cultivated foods. Science can’t save us but it will help us.

You also don’t get to ignore this because India –  one of few countries on target for the UN’s 2C limit by the way – or China. Per capita, they have some of the lowest carbon emissions in the world. You do not get to avoid personal responsibility because of the poor either.

India is set to suffer the most extreme climate impacts in the future. It’s already suffering.

You don’t get to ignore any of this. I’m not telling you this to be smug. This is only a portion of what we need to keep ourselves and our children safe. I haven’t even gotten to how we need to stop driving as many cars as we do and we need to drive only electric cars if we have to.

Again, this is only a portion of the transformation we are looking at in the near term and, quite frankly, have no choice over.

A wealthy country isn’t where everyone has cars. It’s where everyone takes public transit.

We have to extend our collective rights and enrich the commons so that private citizens have everything they need but the real luxury is in the public sphere. Everyone has access to everything and we share our wealth.

This isn’t Utopian. It’s possible and it’s necessary.

The task before us now, is civilization.