by Leanne Ogasawara
Are we deranged?
In recent days, watching friends and family reeling over the Trump win, I keep thinking that climate disaster will be a disaster-of-denial just like this. Shell-shocked and busy blaming, who will be in a position to lead the way forward when the unthinkable happens?
Why do we remain in denial about climate change?
And by denial, I mean, why aren't we making the changes we need to make in our own lives to reduce our carbon imprint and step away from the systems and corporations that are destroying our planet? Is it because it seems too impossible to imagine that our beautiful and perfect earth will suddenly become less hospitable? Or hard to really understand that species of animals we love are disappearing? Impossible to wrap our minds around what warmer oceans mean?
For me, the most compelling description I have read of imagined things to come was the last chapter of David Mitchell's The Bone Clocks. By the time things fall apart in the world, according to Mitchell, it is too late for most people to protect themselves, as governments collapse and the world is divided into a few oil states with the rest of the world descending into pure chaos. In the novel, we find ourselves in rural Ireland, in 2043
as the electricity’s running out, the Internet seems about to crash for good and people are reduced to foraging for rabbits and eating dried seaweed.
Within months of what becomes known as the "global endarkenment," gangs are roving the countryside stealing and killing and even the most common medications are no longer available. It all happened so quickly so that no one had the time to really prepare before resource scarcity caused total collapse. Toward the end of the novel, a young gangster is robbing an old woman of her solar panels; and when she protests, he says,
"They had a better life than I did, mind. So did you. Your power stations your cars, your creature comforts. You lived too long. The bill; due today."
The old woman protests, "But it wasn't us, personally, who trashed the world. It was the system. We couldn't change it."
Not missing a beat, the young gangster retorts: "Then its not us, personally, taking your panels. It's the system. We can't change it.
Like Trump, the end of the world kind of crept up on people.