Currently, the climate news is fucking terrifying. Ice caps are melting. California is entering drought. Many of the worlds forests will die off as the weather warms beyond what the plant respiration can handle. Carbon, deadly carbon, will enter the atmosphere and create an exponential warming event. I know this, and I am stuck driving across town to my job. It is a long drive, and I know I don’t earn very much at it, but there is no alternative. I buy food at the grocery store that came from so far away. There is so much wasted fuel. There is so much plastic derived from fossil fuels. One tiny life is impossible and future life looks harder. If I do not drive, eat, etc., then I have no life at all. I become a homeless wanderer foraging in dumpsters for slightly-less-rotten lettuce, which is not something I am willing to do when it wouldn’t even work to save the world unless we all did it en masse.
the only rational response, when faced with imminent personal disaster, and distant global disaster is to shut down and deny. Climate change deniers do this on a grand, inspiring scale. The rest of us shop for a new car and pretend that it is unconnected with the larger picture. We browse grocery stores for things that we feel that we need, and forget to calculate how much petrol burned to bring the produce here. Imagine buying bananas and oranges in Alaska and North Dakota. People stand looking out at the very oil and gas fields, reach out and touch the pipes directly, and feel the dramatic impact of the changing climate directly. They probably don’t think about it when they are sitting down to dinner.
We are all climate change deniers. We just pretend not to deny the science when approached. We have learned patterns of behavior that are hard to unlearn, and lifestyle expectations that we cannot easily crack inside our brains. I am just as guilty as everyone. I am drinking coffee from far away, sitting on furniture made in foreign countries, wearing clothes from foreign countries, and preparing to drive to work over half-an-hour away in traffic, where the gas burns and burns, and I sell products that are made and shipped from carbon processed and burned. Coal fire runs through the wires of my house. We would call the people who actually make the radical lifestyle changes required to save the world “radicals” and we would grumble and complain about it if we were forced to experience it from authority figures above us.
We are all climate change deniers. We are living under a cloud of our own denial, and it is warming up.