This morning, my colleague Amy shared an article from this weekend’s New York Times Magazine entitled “It’s the End of the World as We Know it…and He Feels Fine.” It’s about author, one time deputy editor of The Ecologist, and former environmental activist Paul Kingsnorth, who now now says,”We aren’t going to stop climate change” and proposes that we start facing and feeling that despair.
This is not the first time Amy has shared an article that discusses ecocidal despair. I think we all feel this at times. The biggest problem is that most people don’t know why they are feeling this despair as they are stuck in the first stage of grief, denial. A denial often compounded by obliviousness that we are in fact of this world.
One of the greatest contributions we can make is to reveal the need to connect with nature and restore a sense of intimacy with it. Perhaps mourning is a good step? But the important thing to know is that nature will continue on for millions of years. Our impact will become a fossil record. This despair is more about humanity losing a sense of who we are and recognizing the tragedy of what we have done. Although giving in might be easier, especially for an activist tired by years of frontline confrontation with bull dozers, whaling vessels, and corporate masters of the marketplace, but I’d rather do what we are doing. That is looking to nature for insight and translating those insights into ideas and methods that can bend our trajectory away from ecological collapse and toward restoring ecosystems, even incrementally.
Once there is acceptance, we can move onto the stuff that we need to do to live another day, and figure out how to do so in a way that benefits everything that’s left.
While we’re at it, here’s another argument to add to the mêlée.