(Potential barely-relevant music to accompany post*)
Yesterday, the news- including this blog– was more or less full of Donald Trump bloviating some nonsense about abortion, before claiming he was misquoted, and all right, everyone is very unfair to him. That’s cool. It’s an interesting thing to talk about, since he is a Presidential candidate. Also drawing some interest is that New York and London might be destroyed way sooner than anyone thought.
I’ll admit this was a headline I saw and sort of initially skipped over. It’s too overwhelming to think about, and the sense of despair is too great. And that’s exactly the problem. I don’t think we refuse to deal with just because it isn’t an immediate issue, or that a shattered democracy like this one, which is too big, too unwieldy, too distracted, and too easily misled, is structurally incapable of managing catastrophe, or even just that one of our two parties has a nihilistic disregard for anything that could be seen as progressive. Those are all important factors! But there’s also the ostrich effect, and many of us are guilty. Hell, I’ve woken up early having imaginary arguments with Ted Cruz about climate science, and even I don’t like to think about this. It’s not even a dislike: it’s an inability.
If these models are accurate, and the reinforcing loop of warming is happening quicker than we thought, cities like New York and London will be uninhabitable by 2100. It’s one of those things that you hear, but really have to think about. If you have children this year, there is a good chance that New York and London- which are pretty important cities- will be non-existent, drowned beneath a relentless sea in their lifetime. The cities won’t be underwater, exactly. The peaks will be rising up, useless, a monument to our ability to create and inability to sustain. This surreal nightmare can happen. The question isn’t “might it happen?” It’s “can we stop it?”
There isn’t much to say. I certainly don’t have any deep insight into this. We know the battle lines, and they are depressing in their certainty. We can act out this play in our sleep. The arguments are known in advance. Most people agree with the science, but structurally, we are in a sport where a small minority can nihilistically drown the future of humanity. Again, the election matters. 2020, with its bearing on the census and gerrymandering, matters even more. The tide has to be turned, before that phrase is less a metaphor, and more of a death knell.
*The song, hazy with dissipation, deals directly with disconnection and not being able to grasp the real world. It’s not really a direct comparison, but you can stretch it if you want. Or just remember it for the same reason I did, because she starts with “Apartments in New York, London, and Paris”. Not for long.