Climate nihilism

This entry is part of my journal from Semester in the West. For all SITW journal entries, click here. For all SITW posts, including blog posts I wrote while on the program, click here. To learn more about the program, click here.


camp: with Bill deBuys, Northern New Mexico
I am the last generation to be born and raised on cheap energy with the promise of a better life.
I am the first generation slated to be poorer and die sooner than my parents.
I drive past clear cuts, open pits of coal, landfills, smokestacks belching black clouds into the air. I am seduced by the vision of industry, impressed by the sheer magnitude of the changes we have made on this land. I don’t want a world without city-sized industrial fortresses or Superfund sites, because then I would have nothing left to fight.
I know we’re past the point of saving the planet. I hope we’re past the point of saving ourselves. I’ve always wanted to watch the apocalypse.
I like the idea of fighting a losing battle. Winning is black and white, its narrative a simple recollection of events. The story of losing requires nuance, character, tragedy. I’ve always found the Trojans a more compelling people, Hector a better hero than Achilles. Valor and heroism are determined not by how many victories you win, but by how your defeat finally occurs.
I find the world a more beautiful place with such clear imperfections. I like the causes, but no the effects. I find smokestacks terrifyingly beautiful, but not dissolving coral reefs. I see moral contradiction written on every landscape.
I know industrial capitalism is killing the planet. I don’t want industrial capitalism to go away because I want to see this awful comedy play out until the bitter, bloody end.
I’m tired of being sad and too numb to be angry. Some days, all I want is a house with a garden and lot of books so I can come home to someone I love and put all the frustration and passion and uncertainty I have into loving them, before we make dinner together and ignore the fire raging all around us.
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