Climate crisis as fact
It is not impossible to envision a future with less than two degrees of global heating: It’s not even that hard. The effort required is more akin to JFK’s New Deal, the “abolition” of the transatlantic slave trade, or the European and American WW2 war efforts. These were big efforts, but fundamentally were undertaken without significant political change- capitalism and colonialism, misogyny and racism all survived.
I don’t think it’s that likely, however. I think that the capitalist class is going to let the world burn, at least allowing two degrees of heating, maybe three or four. It’s an efficient eugenics effort, and there’s nothing that capitalism loves more than a crisis and a desperate customer.
So for the last few years (and in the last couple of months especially) I’ve been normalising internally what that means. What does that actually look like, in terms of who dies, who lives, what needs to change in our architecture and infrastructure, our supply chains?
I don’t necessarily advocate accepting this for most people: demanding the (actually not that) impossible and not only cutting and reversing climate change but the end of capitalism is very much a solid and correct political stance, and something that we should focus on. But I’m in favor of being ready in case that fails.
The rest of this post is boring and local and not really that political in a traditional sense: it’s basically a lifestyle blog. But for 2-4 degrees climate change. This is not to minimise the effects of the climate crisis, which has already got a body count in the millions, and may have one in the billions, mostly of the poor, but simply an attempt to discuss how we (broadly “people who read my blog normally”: a western, rich (globally) and leftist demographic, relate to climate crisis)
I’m not going to rant about the changes in “our” lives that are coming here and now. Suffice to say: Britain’s architecture is going to mean most of us boil alive in the summers without significant work, and our food supply chain basically converts oil into pollutants, greenhouse gasses and a small amount of food.
What’s interesting is what it means with acceptance of this as fact: I’m planning where I live differently, accepting that there’s not going to be much chance for international travel more than 5 or 6 years out (optimistically), that if I want certain foods (and other products) it’s probably a good idea to have a pile of them somewhere or know how to make them, cos they’re going to get expensive (it’s capitalism: things don’t disappear, they just become only possible to buy in very expensive shops).
It’s worth taking time here to differentiate between this attitude (maybe trying to live somewhere with a garden I can grow some spices and soy beans because that shit is going out the window, and I should probably know how to bandage someone who got bashed by the fash) from prepping (macho fantasy motivated by an existential racialised fear).
Living alone or with a small community in the sticks isn’t going to solve shit, and when your food runs out and your shit breaks, you’re going to be fucked. Building a community and friendship circle with the knowledge that you’re going to need to be able to live in a very different manner might do things a bit differently. Knowing how to make good nutritious food from assorted stuff that doesn’t require a ton of refrigeration is useful. Having a vat of shelf stable potato soup….less so.
With internalising these ideas, I find myself thinking differently about things day to day, and generally living my life differently in small, basic ways: I don’t “buy sustainably” but I do buy cheaply, with versatility in mind, and in bulk. I don’t dress for the apocalypse, but I do tend to wear a lot of sportswear (ok, this is partially cos I do a lot of unexpected outdoors shit and often have to clean miscilaneous substances off my clothes: queer carer life is messy.)
I’ve also found knowing actually what the problems are very helpful for coping with the news of climate change: when I see a story that panics my timeline because “omg we’re not going to prevent cliamte change”, I react with “that’s shit, but it specifically means X Y and Z terrible things are going to happen, and we have poltiical strategies for dealing with those (“desertification of north africa” becomes “mass migration from north africa”, which is a difficult political problem, and one that will likely have terrible fucking consequences, but also one with a solution and not just a body count (abolishing borders).
I encourage doing some reading and thinking about what climate change is going to do to your community and the world at large, and approaching it not an apocalypse, but an upcoming, known, fact, with upcoming known consequences that are not the seas suddenly boiling and the pennines erupting like volcanoes, but more simple, day to day changes like our buildings being too hot to live in(we should think about passive cooling and more windows, maybe?), the moors catching fire a lot more(that’s fine, ecosystems like that exist!). Both of which are problems dealt with by other parts of the world all the time.