I’m Sorry, but Climate Change Will Not Be Stopped

Don’t get me wrong. Your heart is in the right place, but you are still living a delusional life, thinking that your desires are reflected in our politics because a 70-something-year-old in political office said some words once. You’re kind of like a smoker saying they’ll quit tomorrow, right after they finish this pack.

Tomorrow never comes, however. The smoker buys another pack. They’ll quit after this fresh new pack, after all.

You vote for another corporate politician who is paid to be liked by you, paid to say the things you want to hear, who enacts legislation favorable to big industries — in this case, any industry reliant on or producing fossil fuels. Like that smoker, you’ll quit your bad behavior tomorrow. The behavior of electing the same people who make the same promises over and over that they then break over and over. The same behavior of purchasing goods and services from those corporations that create all the emissions that cause the climate issues.

Today, though? You still have hope. The future is always full of potential correct choices that we can make. You can always quit smoking tomorrow. The past and present, however…

I’m sorry liberals, but climate change is coming. Your carbon taxes and credits won’t stop the easy money of fossil fuels from either simply paying for those credits and taxes while still burning fuel in excess, or from avoiding those regulations altogether through accounting tricks and the systemic reality of global capitalism.

Dodging some phone calls

Corporations consume, just like whatever ate most of this mushroom.

How can corporations avoid those regulations? Well, depending on the implementation of these liberal political solutions, big firms will either just drill elsewhere, refine elsewhere, or find a consumer base elsewhere.

That “elsewhere” is whatever country doesn’t have those carbon-reducing regulations. If you think this won’t happen, I offer the entire history of neoliberal global capitalism as proof of how these regulations will be avoided.

New labor markets get exploited elsewhere when unions are a problem locally. Corporations move headquarters for tax avoidance all the time. They also find new markets to sell their goods within when consumers in one location can’t afford the price of the goods locally — the consumer can always import them from elsewhere if they want them enough and have the extra cash.

Cash is king. Screw the environment. That’s not your home, is it? Capitalism is your culture, now. Accept it.

Regulatory pressure and the corporations avoiding that pressure are no different — it will either be cheap enough locally to pay off politicians to prevent regulation, or corporations will just move their headquarters somewhere else, a place that doesn’t impose regulations on them in exchange for the jobs and GDP growth to bolster that country’s tax receipts.

The politicians love that stuff.

No, I don’t mean wherever you grew up, or wherever your parents are. Wherever that home is might be underwater when climate change is in full swing — depending on the surrounding topography, of course.

I mean go back home.

The interesting scientific fact of life here on earth is that we are all related. I’m related to you, even if the distance of our relation is large.

The other interesting scientific fact of life here on earth is that all life is related. From the tiniest little fungus growing on a fallen branch, to the huge oak tree whose branch fell off and is rotting on the ground, to the snake that lives under the fallen branch, to the coyote that just trotted past the fallen branch, to the human hunter tracking the coyote because it killed a chicken… We are all related.

Everything you look at that is alive is a distant relative.

You haven’t been home in a long, long time.

You’ve been in a world of steel and concrete and carbon and asphalt and glass and drywall. You’ve been in a world of on-demand air-conditioning and heating — all reliant on carbon, of course. You’ve been in a world of on-demand entertainment, unable to entertain yourself in the ways humans have entertained themselves for a million years. You’ve been in a world of on-demand McDonald’s and Panera and Subway and the French Laundry and Door Dash and Uber and Lyft and AirBnB and artisanal soaps and just this once, you know, treat yourself!

Your nature has been replaced with capitalism.

You’ve been renting an apartment in another city in another country on another continent, far from your home.

You speak a language that nature doesn’t know, now. Your home doesn’t speak your language, and you have forgotten how to listen to the words it uses. They’re not literal words — the home you left long ago speaks in a language of signs and symbols, able to be divined only roughly, and only learned through some intuitive form of semiotics.

Your home speaks a language of chirps, and barks, and rustles, and wind, and dampness, and sharpness, and roughness, and dirtiness, and growth, and decay, and heat, and cold, and fangs, and beauty, and fear.It’s a language you would need to know if you wanted to stop or reverse climate change — it’s how we didn’t notice a problem until recently. We didn’t hear the words our home was using to tell us about it, and now that it’s screaming, we’ve finally taken notice. It’s too late.

Without knowing the language, you will never be able to be comfortable in a carbon-free home. You will never stay there willingly. You will never make the pilgrimage back home because you will not be welcome there. You may crash there for a weekend, but you will go back to your normal world immediately due to the discomfort of not understanding the language. There will be nowhere for you to sleep comfortably, no food for you to eat, and no company to share.

There will be no one to talk to back home. You are a stranger to your family.

How to become welcome again

The religious know of a concept called revelation. As an atheist, I can’t say I have ever experienced religious revelation.

But I have experienced natural revelation before. The religious will try to attach their rhetoric to this somehow, but I know better. I received natural revelation when I started to remember the language, when I began to sense the dialect of our home.

I received a completely subjective form of knowledge that I couldn’t give anyone else — no attempt at translation could transmit it between you and I. It was knowledge only I could have. I could describe the steps to take to get there, but I couldn’t describe the knowledge sitting at the end of those steps.

And I could only describe my steps. I don’t know if your steps will be different. It brings to mind a quote I know, although it describes the inverse of this situation between us:

There is a false saying: “How can someone who can’t save himself save others?” Supposing I have the key to your chains, why should your lock and my lock be the same.

Friedrich Nietzsche

I know my lock and I have my key — but I don’t know your lock, and I do not have your key. You have to find those yourself for natural revelation.

It was easier for me to pick up the dialect of our home again than many others, I suppose. I spent most of my youth in the woods. I probably chopped down one hundred trees before I was twelve. I spent years in the military in the bitter cold of the arctic and the extreme heat of the desert. I’ve caught wild fish with my hands in a jungle pond. I’ve seined for bait fish to catch bigger fish to eat. I’ve seen cows, alienated from their natural world by human forces, get stuck in the mud of a ravine and die. They are not home just like you are not home.

Climate change may very well be your mud.

So, I have always been able to intuitively understand bits and pieces of the language of our home. My alienation was not as complete as most of us today — it’s harder for me to get stuck in the mud than many. I could tell there was a language being spoken, even if I couldn’t speak it, much like how I know when someone is speaking German and I understand the general idea of what they are saying, while I can only speak English fluently.

But, you? It’s very likely you’re reading this somewhere in a city, on a floor of a building not at ground level, or on a train scrolling through articles displayed on a phone that has a million times the processing power needed to get to the moon and back.

You likely speak a language completely foreign to your home. You need to go back — the door has always been open, and your family has been waiting for you. They’ve missed you, even if they don’t know what to make of you any more.

When you start to speak their language — when you have a naturalrevelation after some time spent at home — you will be welcomed again. Just like we always were, until only very recently in our history.

It’s not too late for you. It’s never too late to go back home — your real, ancestral home. You will only be judged there if you do not speak the language. That can be overcome.

When you can speak their language, you are what your family calls an apex predator. They respect you greatly. Only humans will ever debate whether you are one or not — a luxurious argument that only another apex predator could make.

The first painful steps

The first steps are the hardest in any journey. You know the road ahead will be long and difficult and maybe even dangerous.

The first step in going home is to go home. There is no way out of the process but through the process. It is natural and personal.In the language of humans, this means… Put your shoes on. Put on a hoodie or a jacket if it’s cool outside. Take a backpack or a bag you can walk with comfortably. Throw some bottles of water in there. Skip the snacks — you’re going hungry today. Trust me, food will only slow you down.

And now, just go walk somewhere that humans aren’t. That’s it. That’s how you go home.

And I don’t mean go to an abandoned strip mall, either. I mean go to where the woods and forests are. Go out into the desert. Go up into the mountains. Go down into the swamps and jungles. Go out into the grasslands. Go far down the beach, way past the parking lot where all the tourists are. Step off of a path and keep walking. Keep walking for hours in your home. And keep walking still, until you are exhausted. And then, sit there for a while. Regain your strength. Look around. Poke stuff with your fingers. Listen.

Maybe don’t eat anything just yet. You don’t know the language. Yes, I know you’re hungry. Let the feeling pass through you. It doesn’t have the power over you that you think it does.

Then, turn around and come back to your apartment in the human world, far from home.

You won’t speak the language at first, or even hear it. You will be startled by wild animals. You will be feasted upon by mosquitos or ticks or leeches or flies or all of the above. You will be tired and thirsty and hungry and sore and uncomfortable. You will feel not welcome.

But if you do this enough — if you practice this immersive form of learning the language of your home over days, weeks, months — you will understand what nature is saying when it’s trying to communicate with you. You will understand what your distant relatives are saying again, like you used to before the concrete and steel.

It will be that form of natural revelation that you are alienated from now that you will feel, the subjective knowledge that I cannot give to you. A form of knowledge only gained by experience. No words can suffice. No translation is possible. Your key is not my key.

Why you must go home

You have to go home if you ever want to reverse climate change. Capitalism has alienated you from a fossil-fuel-free life. Even if we stopped all use of fossil fuels — and thereby saved the climate and the world’s ecosystems from collapse, if we were lucky enough to have done it thirty years ago — you would be screaming and crying for fossil fuels to return within the next day.

That first night at home would be unbearable to you. It would be a Pyrrhic climate victory. You do not know that which you wish for.

This alienation is complete as long as we do not recognize it. We only do not recognize it because we do not feel the discomfort of going home and trying to speak to our family. The discomfort is unbearable and slaps you in the face with the alienation you have succumbed to unknowingly. A passive alienation you couldn’t detect, because it was made so easy for you.

The more you are home, though, the more you will be immersed in the language of your family. You will become comfortable around them. They’ll stop running away from you when you show up — not always, and not all of them, hell… some of them don’t even have legs — but you will be speaking their language and know what not to say to them that would cause offense.

They’ll share their culture with you freely. It costs nothing but your time and discomfort.

Have you ever wondered how wildlife photographers can take photos of lions and bears and poisonous snakes up close? They’ve spent a lot of time at home and they speak the language fluently.

If you want to save the climate — if you want to fix the world — you have to go home first. That’s the first step.

They miss you. You’ve been avoiding their calls. Stop sending them to voicemail just because you no longer speak the language fluently. It can be learned again. It’s natural for you.