Bidding Farewell to the World?
Updated: Jan 14, 2020
I've never wanted to put children into this world. It has always seemed like an overwhelming responsibility, one that I neither felt willing, nor equipped to take on. Having children is pretty much the only irreversible thing one can do in life, except dying. You can move somewhere far away, but then move back again. You can get married but it doesn't have to be til death do us apart, only until the divorce papers are signed and filed. You can shave your head and it will grow back. But you can't un-have a child.
And I've also harboured a nagging suspicion that soon the world might not be such a kid-friendly place.
The destruction that us humans have inflicted upon our plant has become harder to turn a blind eye to. This senseless raping and pillaging of the natural resources -- they are abundant, but we have been treating them as endless.
Last year, I think it finally dawned on many of us that we have managed to royally fuck up the planet, likely beyond repair.
Still I've kept on pushing it away from me. I've kept it at bay. I've kept keeping on. In order to keep living, I guess. And also, because it seems so damn hard to truly do anything to reverse the damage done before it is too late (if it isn't already). Since 1970 (not long before I was born) Co2 emissions have increased by a staggering ninety percent.
And to meet the goal of preventing a 2 degree temperature rise, the so called western world, at least, must decrease our Co2 footprint by about ninety percent!!!! And by 2050 we need to be at 0% emissions, and after that we have to start to go minus (meaning we need to invent some sort of technology to 'withdraw' the emissions we've produced) How can we do that? The way I see it that means we radically must change the way we live. It doesn't just mean no more flying, no more gas-guzzling SUVs, no more meat eating, no more take away food and drinks, no more shopping for things we don't really, really need (that's 99% of all shopping I do), no more 2,2 kids per nuclear family. It also likely means, no more long hot showers, no more heating the houses to 20 degrees in winter (if we'll even have winter). No more spas. No more air conditioning. No more being online all the time (that takes up insane amounts of energy). Maybe scheduled power outages? No more armies and no more war (good fucking riddance). No more online shopping. No more Christmas trees (this is so dumb anyway). No more fireworks.
And what's even more crucial, we need to break our dependency on fossil fuels, and our love affair with capitalism and consumerism needs to end.
But I don't see any leaders pushing for any of the radical changes that must happen. Instead they all continue to talk about financial growth. And we continue to fly, to drive, to shop, to eat animals ...
First, the California fires, now the bushfires in Australia, in which over a billion animals and more than two dozen humans have lost their lives. And this far twenty-five million acres have been set ablaze. This, in turn, has let out 350 million tonnes of co2 into the atmosphere so far.
And of course, climate change has already been devastating to the lives of people in the so called developing world for a long time, we just don't hear much about it.
I'm starting to fear that the end of life as we know it is a lot nearer, probably even for me to experience in my lifetime.
I lived in New Orleans in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina struck the city. That devastation that I experienced first hand (although my home and my life was spared, many others weren't) was also largely a man-made disaster. Warmer weather causing more extreme weather phenomena. Nature striking back against our greed.
And the saddest thing about it all for me, is that it's poor people, the ones that have had the least to do with fucking up the planet, that get struck the hardest.
Because the more money you have, the more you will fuck up the planet. You will drive bigger cars, consume more, use up more water, travel more, have bigger homes, faster internet etc, etc. But also, you also need a certain level of income (and maybe education) to care about things like recycling, veganism, zero waste lifestyles, taking the train instead of flying.
Yesterday morning I was shopping at Der Sache Wegen. I've been going there for a couple of years now, getting better and better at zero waste lifestyle (although I am light years from perfect). And I've seen the shop get busier and busier. And I'm really touched by all these people, coming in with their baskets or backpacks, full of glass jars that they have to weigh and fill up -- it's a lot more time-consuming (and sadly also more expensive) way of shopping than at your regular supermarket. I was feeling hopeful when I left the shop with my oats and my loose rolls of toilet paper, and my raw cacao that I filled in a recycled scruffy paper bag I had brought with me.
That same afternoon, a friend of mine showed me a picture that he had snapped outside Original Unverpackt, the Kreuzberg shop for buying plastic-free and zero waste-ish. His photo was of the shop's delivery arriving on pallets covered in insane amounts of plastic wrap. So ironic. And also telling of how deep in the shit we are.
While at retreat in Brandenburg over New Years, I was brought to tears by the night sky, sprinkled generously with stars. It was so beautiful. And it was all around me. I've lived in big cities since my late teens, and I rarely see stars because of the light pollution (and regular pollution). And I also spend way more time looking into tiny screens than up at vast night skies. Even though the later fills me with inner peace and awe while the screen usually feeds me anxiety and my scatterbrain. On that same retreat I saw gangs of deer with white butts sprint across the fields.
Back in Berlin, the other night, I saw the bright full moon leaking its bright white light behind the chimneys of the former power plant on Köpenicker Straße.
Over the years of my medium length life I've been lucky enough to see the sun slowly slide down into the sea while dying the sky pink. I've seen so much natural beauty all over the world. White sandy beaches in the north, south and east. The spectacular, almost neon green of the Northern Lights. Grumpy armour-clad rhinos mud-bathing in South Africa. The strange red rock formations of the American South West. Lush rain forest growth. The stern nordic beauty of snow-covered trees in a white landscape.
But lately, taking in whatever beauty nature is offering up to me, has also made me ache.
Are we about to say goodbye to all of this?
What will the world be like in five years, in ten? In fifty? Will it even by habitable for humans?
It also makes me really sad that kids today have to worry about whether they even have a future or not.