Sarah Miller writes about how it feels to talk and write about climate change now that the first wave of climate disasters have begun:
I probably talked for 11 minutes straight. I told her I didn’t have anything to say about climate change anymore, other than that I was not doing well, that I was miserable. “I am so unhappy right now.” I said those words. So unhappy. Fire season was not only already here, I said, but it was going to go on for at least four more months, and I didn’t know what I was going to do with myself. I didn’t know how I would stand the anxiety. I told her I felt like all I did every day was try to act normal while watching the world end, watching the lake recede from the shore, and the river film over, under the sun, an enormous and steady weight.
There’s only one thing I have to say about climate change, I said, and that’s that I want it to rain, a lot, but it’s not going to rain a lot, and since that’s the only thing I have to say and it’s not going to happen, I don’t have anything to say.
The editor said, “That’s really interesting.” It was the moment in the conversation with an editor where you have, in your rambling, hit upon the thing that they maybe haven’t heard yet, that they might want you to write about.
When she said “That’s really interesting,” I forgot for a second that I had been talking about my life, and felt instead that I had done what I set out to do. Had I Been Myself but also Made the Sale? It was what I always waited for.
This week it was almost 100º in greater New York City (where we live), over 115º in Portland, OR, and over 120º in Lytton, BC, Canada, which after four days of extreme heat burned to the ground.
On Twitter, lots of people have independently thought of the quip that this summer isn’t the hottest on record so much as the coolest summer for the rest of our lives. I mean, yeah, that is probably true. It’s a horrifying truth. Drought, fire, floods, polar vortexes, the crumbling of what remains of our infrastructure, misinformation, and gaslighting about these facts — that would seem to be our present and future.
It’s exhausting to think about, let alone write about, and yet we seem to lack the language to do anything more than point out the obvious. As Miller says, it may be because every persuasive, interesting thing about climate has already been written, and we’re reduced to cataloging the damage as we try to stay sane.