Doomsday Clock

Where I live in the Pacific Northwest, uncontrolled summer wildfires have become a devastating but inevitable part of the annual cycle. Usually sometime in August, smoke fills the sky, turning the sun a ghostly red, filling my nostrils with a dusty burn. I grieve the endless expanses of forest choked up in flames. I have to tell Owen it isn’t safe to play outside today. I wonder how much worse it will be next year. I wonder how many trees will be left by the time my sons are my age.

Seemingly everyone in the world has some similar annual climate catastrophe to share.

In Louisiana, they brace for the next hurricane to drown their homes. In Iceland, Alaska, and Patagonia, they watch ancient glaciers disappear forever. In the Maldives and other island nations, they watch and wait as the sea level rises just a bit more every year, forcing just a bit more of their world underwater. In the Western U.S. and Brazil they endure year after year of unprecedented drought. In Australia, they watch the Great Barrier Reef bleach out and die from unnaturally warm seas. In West Africa, the Sahara creeps just a bit further south, destroying farmland and pastureland in communities already enduring chronic poverty.

In my lifetime, climate change has gone from a prediction to an inevitability to something that I experience with my own two eyes, every day of my life. Droughts, floods, typhoons, and hurricanes have always occurred. But what were once relatively rare occurrences now are not only much more frequent but much more intense and devastating.

The climate crisis is upon us. Every year it gets worse. And there’s no end in sight. 

Many of us had already seen the illusions and facades of The Story of Progress. In the face of the hollow promises of capitalism, many of us have questioned whether the advances of modernity truly were the real progress we made them out to be.

But now we visibly witness the world seemingly crumbling before our eyes. We hear alarm bell after alarm bell after alarm bell. We watch in terror as the Doomsday Clock ticks down to midnight.

We no longer dream of creating a perfect society. We no longer imagine what great future might await our children. We desperately scramble simply to ensure this isn’t humanity’s last generation. We agonize over whether it is cruel to bring children into the world at all.

We now live The Story of Decline.

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