Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Toad

When I left Wit's End early this morning, dead leaves - in September! - littered the drive.

When I came back it was night, and too dark to show that the number of leaves on the ground had increased to the point there was barely any pavement showing.

But when I stopped at the coop to collect the day's eggs (thank you chickens!), an obdurate toad was squatting obstinately in front of the door. Finally, with some prodding, he hopped away.

I saw a lovely fox kit on the way home. It ran ahead of me along the road for a while and then abruptly leapt across to the other side. Fox are so enchanting.

I am in despair for all the critters of the earth. Their demise is deafening in its hollow silence. And I am in even greater alarm and full of grief for the prospects for us humans, since I happen to be related to a few.

Accepting the facts of climate change, as reported by scientific researchers who study the causes and outcomes, is extremely difficult and happens only rarely, because the implications are simply soul-crushing. That's probably why most people either outright deny the climate is changing or, if they do recognize something is afoot, either ignore it completely or convince themselves that the worst effects will be in the distant future, or occur at a distant place, or both.

But not here, not now. And that explains much of our collective paralysis in confronting the necessary actions to mitigate, adapt, and reduce our personal and national carbon footprints.

Not only is the notion that we will have to drastically alter our fossil-fuel guzzling lifestyle uncomfortable and downright scary. The paleoclimatic record clearly demonstrates that climate change is always, and must be, followed by mass extinctions. It's simply part of the evolutionary process that a particular species occupies a particular niche, because it has become suited over time to interact with the other species in its ecosystem, and to breathe a certain atmosphere, within balanced weather and temperature patterns.

The science tells us we are on a path to runaway greenhouse warming, because we have already set in motion destabilizing amplifying feedback effects that once unleashed, lead inexorably to a planet that may well be uninhabitable for any form of life, and certainly, the world we know and cherish.

Accepting this inevitability induces unbearable mourning, which is why even many educated professionals well versed in the recording of such effects already occurring still profess hope that if we, say, lower our emissions by 2015 we can still restrain the worst scenarios.

To acknowledge that we are facing unmitigated global climate disaster(s) is only practical, and resembles the process of confronting mortality, as individuals or the death of a loved one. Only it's much, much worse, because it's not merely the death of one person, or even many, but it's the death of everything that gives meaning to life.

Customs, rituals, families, civil society and the borders of countries all will likely be torn asunder and destroyed if we continue unabated, and likely, even if we magically stopped all greenhouse gas emissions tomorrow morning. History will not even exist, despite the fantasy of a global archivist in the movie, The Age of Stupid. Music, paintings and sculpture, culinary delights, twinkling fireflies, skinny dipping in the surf under the moonlight, anything you can think of that creates delight and joy, won't even exist as a memory, because there won't be anyone left to remember.

For a while I thought that there would be a new growth industry of shrinks specializing in climate anxiety and guilt. But now, I doubt there will be enough time for that to happen. Climate chaos is happening too fast to keep up with.

I'm not going to post links here that support my opinion. Go to for the most comprehensive coverage of climate change disasters happening all over the world. And go to for the science and politics.

And if you've any hope left, even if it's recklessly unreasonable (like me! what the hell)) go to and sign up.

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