Welcome to Sunday Curiosities, the series where I bring you the strange and fascinating tidbits I’ve collected over the week.
This week, we explore climate change apocalypse, the nuances of humor within oppression, and losing faith.
Content warning: this post contains some upsetting material, including discussions of extreme climate change and transphobia.
The Uninhabitable Earth
Let’s go straight for the horrific: David Wallace-Wells has just published a book called The Uninhabitable Earth, and it’s scaring the shit out of everybody. The book is a detailed, unflinching gaze into the hellscape that awaits us if we take no immediate and all-encompassing action against climate disaster. I’ve been struggling through interviews with him, and it makes me want to hide under the bed … forever.
The book is an expansion of Wallace-Wells’ 2017 New Yorker article by the same name. I remember reading the article, and being so shattered by the visions of ancient plagues, boiling cities, and unending war, I wondered if killing myself was the better alternative. The article was a viral sensation, and it seems that we are now ready to confront the terrible possibilities. My hope is that this book will spark change.
I reached out to climate activist Peterson Toscano for his perspective on the book. I found his words encouraging:
What this article and now the book does is help people see how serious the stakes are if we do nothing. He makes it very clear in the article that these dire warnings are based on inaction. The PURPOSE of the article and book is to provoke people to action. While some climate communicators say we need to avoid fear tactics, that New York article was the most read on-line in their entire history. So it hit a chord. People want to hear it straight. There is a disconnect with how serious this issue is and how serious the public and more importantly our leaders are taking it. As a result, this Friday 10s of thousands of students around the world are walking out of their schools to demand climate action. Next month Extinction Rebellion in the UK will shut down the city of London and other sites for several days to demand action.
We are in the midst of a crisis. It is like the HIV/AIDS crisis when most people were not talking about it and the government was unconcerned. Silence=Death. Folks like you and me need to bring up this issue. Get people engaged and to start preparing for very hard times ahead. We also need the government to act. There is one bipartisan bill that has been introduced to congress that can do a powerful job to begin to decarbonize our economy. You can read about that here: https://citizensclimatelobby.org/energy-innovation-and-carbon-dividend-act/
Fear has a place in how we communicate. It can jar us awake, but it can also paralyze us. Books that the one you are hearing about help to shock me awake afresh about the urgency of the work we are doing. Hope is not lost. Hope could be lost though. We are in a critical period where we need people to engage with this issue in serious, creative, and thoughtful ways. We need to mitigate the causes of climate change (decarbonize, change systems, plant forests, etc) and we need to adapt to the effects of climate change that will hit our communities—often disproportionately.
Peterson has appeared on my podcast to discuss Climate Change, and he has also covered David Wallace-Wells’ original article on his own podcast. I have downloaded the Uninhabitable Earth on Audible, and depending on my mental state I may or may not listen to it.
Reader Michael recently commented on my post Terrible Things Christians Say When you Stop Believing in God, and linked to an article he wrote about his own process of losing faith. He writes,
It sounds strange, but the idea that there were people who had heard the Gospel and been left untouched by it was unfathomable to an evangelical kid like me. I always thought there must be other factors at play when it comes to disbelief.
But my girlfriend showed me that there were unbelievers who hadn’t turned their backs on God in an act of grand Freudian defiance, or shunned their creator in spite of what they know in their hearts and minds to be true. That there were people who had looked at Christianity and been unmoved, unstirred; simply, unsold.
It was upon this realisation that the edifice of my faith began to crack.
Read the rest of the article. I think I take a broader view of Christianity than he does (for example, I see Christianity as possibly extended beyond the literal claims of the central creeds) but I think it’s thoughtful and very interesting.
Contrapoints, the degenerate queen of YouTube, returns with an impressive video about humor within the trans community, while tackling some enormous transphobic cultural memes. How do I begin to summarize this video? I can’t. I’ll let the Queen speak for herself:
Feeling just a tad depressed after this post? That’s ok, I do too. Here’s a picture of one of my cats to cheer you up. This is Eli, our adorable chubby cat panda.
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