10 February 2019

The Cold, Hard Truth

Another storm with high winds caused a 24-hour power outage this weekend for my community. My beloved and I spent that time in the cold and the dark (why we didn't build a fire in our woodstove and stay cozy and warm is a longer story). 

I had a fun novel on hand (thanks to a friend) and lots of marking (done by flashlight, candlelight, and then sunlight) to keep me occupied. Peter is reading Matthieu Auzanneau's Oil, Power, and War: A Dark History — the perfect book when the power is off and the lights are out.  

All this to preface what I realized yesterday, curled up in bed with a toque and mitts on. I am overwhelmed. Well, I'm feeling overwhelmed (and realizing that we ain't seen nothin' yet). Between schoolwork and housework and trying to hang on to friends and trying to keep up with all the climate change happenings (but definitely not succeeding), I'm not doing anything well. 

Not only is the climate change emergency going to continue to shower us with [pick your region's worst nightmare: storms, floods, droughts, sea level rise, food shortages, water conflicts], but while we're dealing with those crises, life has to continue. We have to continue to make meals (sometimes without power and, in the not-too-distant future, without ingredients that used to be widely available). We have to keep getting the kids ready for school (until schoolyards are taken over for food production and the children are growing it). We have to continue to do our jobs (until societies break down and jobs are useless because everyone's labour is needed just for survival). 

In 2018, the world experienced 39 weather disasters that cost over $1 billion. (We're talking hurricanes, flooding, wildfires and severe weather.)
The U.S. had the most billion-dollar weather disasters in 2018 of any country, with 16. That's its second-highest total on record, behind the 20 billion-dollar weather disasters of 2017. NOAA has not yet released its final list of billion-dollar disasters for the U.S. in 2018 due to the government shutdown. China had seven billion-dollar weather disasters in 2018.

The combined economic losses (insured and uninsured) from all 394 weather and earthquake disasters catalogued by Aon in 2018 was $225 billion (2018 USD), which is 33 percent above the 1980-2017 inflation-adjusted average of $169 billion. The great bulk of the 2018 total came from weather-related disasters ($215 billion of the $225 billion).

And yet, I still read comments like:

"CO2 is fine the way it is, without need of 'fixing.' Plants in greenhouses with fortified CO2 do much better of course." [Ooh, ooh, I love that one. Because of course the real world of agriculture is just like a giant experiment in a greenhouse. With no pests, no storms, no floods, no droughts, no heatwaves to worry about. No sirree.] 

"While flooding and more severe weather events are bad consider the alternative if nature takes it's [sic] course." [I think she's taking her course and it's obvious she's miffed.] 

"We still haven't returned to the Medieval or Roman Climate Optimum. Until then, I am not worried. :)" [That's someone who doesn't get the "global" in global warming.] 

"So, you're afraid of the havoc wrought by milder winters and nights?" [Sigh, yeah. Some people just have zero ecological literacy. Milder winters = less insect kill = an increase in vector-borne diseases + huge swathes of trees killed by bark beetles. Oh, and milder winters also = less snowpack lasting for a shorter time in spring = lower drinking water supply + water shortages by summer.]

I would love to know who created this ... it's brilliant.
You know what? I've just realized what's overwhelming me. It's the inertia. It's that there only seem to be 37 people (and that feels generous) in the whole world fighting against Big Money, Big Oil and Stupid Government in order to safeguard the future. Talk about tilting at windmills. The Don Quixotes of the world are still being laughed at by armchair "experts," excoriated by fake news pundits, fake-scienced by paid trolls, and ignored by the millions (or is it billions) of people who are too overwhelmed with their own lives to share a care for the future. 

Okay, well, now that I understand my overwhelm, I think I'll be okay. I think I'll be able to become Person #38 again, and get back into the fray. Thanks for listening and helping me sort this out. And if you ever need the same sort of help sorting through the cold, hard truth, my hearing is still pretty good and I've got strong shoulders. Send me a message!

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I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?