“It is, I promise, worse than you think.”

I just read an article about climate change in New York Magazine by David Wallace-Wells. He begins like this; “It is, I promise, worse than you think.” And then he goes on for what must be pages of dire predictions and doesn’t let up, not even for a second. I got about a third of the way through the piece, hyperventilating in my chair until I couldn’t stand to read one more devastating scenario. I quickly scrolled to the bottom, hoping for a light, a ray of sunshine, a rainbow. Something. Anything. But Wallace-Wells did not deliver one iota of hope. Instead each succeeding paragraph became bleaker, grimmer and darker.

I sat there, staring at the computer screen for a few minutes. I could hear the beans boiling on the stove in the kitchen, but I didn’t move to turn them off. Maybe I’ll take a nap, I thought, or read my email. Still I didn’t move. Am I in shock? What a dupe I’ve been, thinking I could actually slow this lumbering beast.

Breathe, I commanded myself. Breathe.

We all have our ways of coping. Some ignore and deny. Some throw up their hands and say, oh well, it is what it is. Some go shopping. And some try to fix. Not one better than any of the others. Just different.

I fall into the fix category. (Big surprise, right!)

I am a baby boomer, first child, white, upper middle class, arrogant American—steeped in the belief that in the end, everything turns out for the best, where all problems can be solved, where there are no shadows, only light.

Even if David What’s His Name Wallace-Wells is right, even if it is one hundred times bleaker than I could ever imagine, I can’t stop believing we can turn this thing around. It is not in my nature to throw in the towel, go to the beach, send up the white flag in surrender. It is not in my nature to turn my head. Not now anyway. Not yet.

I don’t know, it may come to that. It may become so obvious that we’ve lost this one, that there’s nothing to do but sit on the deck of the ship and listen to the violins play, to watch one last sunset, to say we gave it our best shot.

But until that day comes, it is, I promise, worth the fight.

10 comments on ““It is, I promise, worse than you think.”

  1. Hi Davia,

    I think David Wallace-Wells intended to write about what *could* happen, in a worst case scenario, not what will happen. A couple million people read the piece and were stirred to action.

    As always, I love your blog.


    • Thanks Sue, for another perspective. I read it as a litany, a foregone conclusion, a sit back and watch the end of the world. If I weren’t already in action, this is not the kind of piece that would inspire me to take action. But then, that’s me!

  2. Thanks for your perspective, Davia. I love your passion and I share it. These past couple of weeks have been pretty bad and now we have a category 5 storm moving across the Caribbean. More heat=more energy=more water. It helped me to hear of your continued commitment. I hope that we can lessen the severity of future damage by enacting sensible carbon fee and dividend policy. We’re way behind where we need to be, but will be ahead of the scenario if we did nothing.

  3. I guess we’re related. I agree. I would rather keep moving forward towards the light — otherwise, gosh, what’s the point? Thank you for putting your voice out there week after week — talking to everyone through your delightful writings.

    I just read that if you put solar on your roof, your neighbor will be more inclined to put it on his or her roof, and that it then becomes contagious throughout the neighborhood. Maybe the same is true when talking about climate change. You keep speaking the truth in your blog, I’ll keep talking to my neighbors and my neighbor’s friends — liberals, conservatives, and people who don’t identify with any labels — and hopefully it will become contagious.

    • Thanks Anne! I find that when I’m in action with others it minimizes my sense of hopelessness and powerlessness. A friend once said, ‘action is the antidote to despair.’ That I could give you hope, that I could give you power.

  4. Yes, Davia, thanks. I think there is meaning in what we are doing regardless of the outcome. It is fellowship, it is community, and, it is “living in the crack in the middle where people on both sides absolutely refuse to see the other as evil” (Krista Tippett). In my opinion, it is clearly our best shot at healing.

  5. Davia,
    After reading Wallace’s piece and having experienced what happened in Houston, I was devastated. Fear has taken over me. I have started doubting if there might ever be a solution. But I know there must be light at the end of the tunnel. CCL is working hard and together must make this day to brake. Thank you for your insightful writings.

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