Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe wrote, “The six stages of climate denial are: It’s not real. It’s not us. It’s not that bad. It’s too expensive to fix. Aha, here’s a great solution (that actually does nothing). And — oh no! Now it’s too late. You really should have warned us earlier.”
Substitute pandemic for climate in the above quote, and the denial progression likewise occurs.
Less burning of petroleum during the pandemic, as people stay home, results in clearer skies.
Most people don’t know that clearer skies from fewer aerosols emitted (particulates from industrial pollution) means no “umbrella” to shield the sun’s heat. While the particulates fall quickly, invisible greenhouse gasses already emitted remain in the atmosphere as a “blanket” heating the planet.
This summer’s heat, especially going in dry, without much rain this year where we are (Northern California, a major agricultural region) could be killer, to people and other life forms.
The economic hit from so many staying at home with no income could be a killer. No money, no food, no shelter. In response, our nation enacted a stimulus package, sending out life-saving money to most everyone soon.
The stimulus packages may keep coming, due to the prolonged pandemic, damaging the stressed dollar.
Our nation keeps digging a deeper hole of debt in order to keep our casino economy going. All our nation knows how to do, apparently, is to create more fiat currency and to lower the interest rate.
The feelings of people, judging from shortages in grocery stores to gun shops, is that we’re going to be on our own soon.
Communities will step up somehow as the global system gets bumpy. It’s been more than bumpy for Paradise. We’re famous as the town that burned in 2018. COVID-2019 threatens to slow our 2020 rebuilding.
My resilience columns these past few years are grounded in my growing awareness, more apparent by the day, of the unsustainability of our system.
Those of us not in denial have seen disaster at our doorstep for years, hoping that we’re wrong. There’s no surprise except in how exactly the disaster unfolds. Pandemic has shown up at our doorsteps. It could have been someone else first, perhaps Depletion. Fire showed up before pandemic, but only here and there.
We who know that the experience of our undoing is exponential also understand how incomprehensible that curve is. Change appears gradually then suddenly very rapidly.
In our complex systems, like a chord, unraveling occurs along several lines. Each line is an exponential curve.
Although we’re doomed, we’re still here. Let’s make the best of the time we have, be it days or optimistically decades, for ourselves and for our living planet.
On Key Systems Unraveling was published in the Paradise Post on 4-1-2020.
Robin Huffman lived in Paradise, California from 1989 until she evacuated from the Camp Fire on Nov. 8, 2018.