News & Politics

We're All Gonna Die!

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before:

What does it mean to be alive right now? Right now. Right this second, right this epoch, as mankind alters the Earth beyond recognition. In Arizona, in the summer, the pinyon pines don’t smell like they used to, says Nikki Cooley, and the wind sometimes feels in error, like it’s blowing the wrong way, at the wrong time of year. She knows these are feelings, not data, but she is measuring them nonetheless.

Cooley, 39, grew up without running water or electricity on Diné Nation land, herding her grandmother’s sheep and sleeping in corn fields. She became one of the first members of her family to get a master’s degree, in forestry, and now she has her dream job, co-managing a tribes and climate change program in Arizona, acting as an emissary between her ancestral world and the modern one that upended it.

“If you talk to elders, who are some of the most revered people in our tribal communities,” says Cooley, “they’re like, ‘We told you so, we have been saying this.’”

Yes, it’s a “global warming” story whose first quoted source comes from a numinous 39-year-old Indian woman. But wait — scientists agree!

Scientists, too, have been saying this. Data, not feelings: A United Nations panel reported in October that we have around 12 years to act if we want to keep the Quite Horrible from becoming Truly Terrible. A report this month saysthat Antarctic glaciers are melting faster than we thought. Last week, environmental dangers occupied the top three spots on a survey of the biggest global risks, as compiled by the World Economic Forum.

They told us so. Are telling us so.

But here’s where you stop reading, because you have a mortgage payment to scrape together. You have a kid to pick up from school. You have a migraine. The U.S. government is in shambles. You’re sitting at your desk, or on the subway, and deep in the southern Indian Ocean, blue whales are calling to each other at higher pitches, to be heard over the crack and whoosh of melting polar ice. What do you even do with that?

Because it’s my job, I kept reading, in order to get the buried nugget of codswallop at the heart of this journalistic sob-story-cum-Leftist hoax. And surprise — at the root this is just another partisan opinion piece in the guise of a “science” story. This comports perfectly with Walsh’s First Rule of Journalism, which states that every single story — whether it’s about politics, the arts, travel, movies, or health care — must include a reference to $%@*Trump!$$#^%:

“I don’t believe it,” President Trump said of his own administration’s November report, which stated that “climate change is transforming where and how we live.”

The midterm cycle flushed out nearly half of the 45 Republicans in the caucus, a blow to its bipartisan stability, but it swept in Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) — and suddenly Capitol Hill was talking about a Green New Deal, about the waywardness of the capitalist ad­ven­ture.

Actually, make that “suddenly the media was talking about…”

“The world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change,” Ocasio-Cortez said Monday in New York, with a doomsayer’s zeal. “And your biggest issue is how are we going to pay for it?”

Ms. Bronx is all of 29 years old.

Climate change is a “huge issue,” the acting head of the Environmental Protection Agency told a Senate committee last week, but not our “greatest crisis.”

Since the last crisis… but hey, bring on the anecdotal evidence as related by small children!

The problem is clear, but it has yet to consume us.

And so there is no crisis, just an accumulation of curiosities and irritants. Your basement now floods every year instead of every five or 10 years. Your asthma has gotten worse. You grew up wearing a winter jacket under your Halloween costume in Buffalo, and now your kids don’t have to. The southern pine beetle that made its home in South America 400 years ago is now boring through trees on Long Island.

Oh, shut up. I grew up in San Diego and we always wore a light jacket or sweater under our Halloween costumes… in the 1950s. I went to college and worked for several years in Rochester — that’s near Buffalo, for the geographically challenged — and some years it snowed and some years the temperatures at the end of October were in the low 70s.

Anyway, blah blah blah and then we get to this:

If you have an infant daughter, she is expected to live 81.1 years, and so she will be here for 2100, a year that is no longer mythical. She may see the world’s largest naval base, in Norfolk, swamped by rising seas. If she lives in Phoenix, she may feel nearly double the amount of 100-degree days. During her lifetime, the oceans will acidify at a rate not seen in 66 million years. One research team suggests that by her 29th birthday, there will be no more saltwater fish.

Okay, I lied. After that I stopped reading. As I tweeted earlier today:

The New Yorker, when it was witty, literate, and funny, used to run cartoons depicting a crazy-eyed, wild-haired nut holding a sign saying, “The End is Near.” Here’s one:

Good question. I think we all know the answer.