Garbage Collection



The other day, there was a news story about how a group went out to a beach somewhere and gathered up a literal tonne of plastic and garbage from the shores.

It was the quintessential climate-emergency “feel-good” story.

“Look what we can do if we only try!”

But I had some questions.

Mainly, I wanted to know what precise good this was going to do, overall, because the garbage still *existed*. Picking up didn’t make the garbage go away – it didn’t magically disappear. It still exists, as garbage, and, I suppose, would go on to a landfill, still polluting the earth, but just not where anyone could see it.

A lot of people complained that it was still a Good Thing to have done, because at least it wasn’t polluting the ocean, and I guess that’s true enough.

But today I had an idea about where people could put that garbage, and all the other garbage they collect in this effort to clean up (finally!) after ourselves.

We could arrange to deliver it to the appropriate governmental offices.

Here in Alberta, we could dump it on the lawn of the Alberta Legislature buildings.

In Ottawa, it would go best on the green expanse in front of Parliament.

US people could maybe look at 101 Independence Avenue SE, in D.C.

All around the world, we could drop that tonnage, so lovingly collected, in a place where those who are blithely ignoring the problem can see it, and maybe we could leave a note, advising them that it is their problem, for real now, and we are eager to see what they do about it.

Because playing three-card Monty with our rubbish isn’t working that well so far.


Apocalypse now…



The trouble with the impending collapse of the current way in which we live, regardless of political creeds, and the almost-certain descent into environmental oblivion, most of us westerners think we’ll survive.

We think it will be like the movies: a plucky little band of everyday heroes, winning out and remaking civilization.

And it might well turn out that way. It might well be that a few thousand widely scattered groups of humans will live on and slowly repopulate the species.

It isn’t terribly likely, but it is possible.

But the problem is, it is 99.9% probable that you won’t be one of those few thousand.

Every white western male is the hero of their own mind, but the bare fact is that you’re going to die, and very likely, in the first wave of collapse.

People in other, less well-developed countries might be more likely to squeak through, simply because they are accustomed to living on the edge and will recognize the need to move themselves, even perpetually, in order to find safety.

Our mindset, on the other hand, will be first to try bullying and battling our way through – we will almost certainly drop some bombs and contribute even further to the problem.

By the time it occurs to most of us that where we live is no longer livable, well, where will we go?

What countries will have us, after all the screaming about “illegal immigrants” and so on?

They’ll have their own people to see to, after all.

You, personally, will not be defending the homestead with nothing more than a 12-gauge shotgun and your iron nerves, not for long. There will always be someone else more sociopathic and violent out there, who will kill you, and then someone else will kill them, ad infinitum – always assuming you don’t just expire from septicemia from a paper cut because you refused to vaccinate, and all the doctors are dead.

You, personally, won’t be feeding your family with the backyard garden, regardless of how great you are at rearing hybrid tea roses, because the very definition of human- induced climate changes are first and foremost that the weather will be different and extreme, the soil will be contaminated, and the air will be foul. (Also, even if it worked for the first few seasons, you do know that soil, when intensively farmed, becomes exhausted, and won’t grow stuff, right?)

You will not be out there re-opening shut-in oil wells and selling fuel to bands of bondage-fetishists roaming the desolation on ornate dune-buggies. You will not emerge from your underground bunker after a year or three, to establish a Brave New World based on what your sensei taught you in karate class when you were twelve.

You. Will. Be. Dead.

Your. Children. Will. Be. Dead.

These are the facts.

It’s time to stop treating all of this as some kind of autobiographical cinematic caper, and actually do something about it.

Food Chains



Edit Feb. 9/19: There are SOLUTIONS

Food is political.

It is. You know it is.

Food acquisition can be manipulated to penalize whole groups.

Why do you think some neighbourhoods are “food deserts”? No supermarkets mean that the people in those areas will have to travel long distances, expending time, energy and money they cannot afford, just to get food, or to stigmatize groups (think “Food Stamps” and how they are policed by the well-fed: Poor people mustn’t eat “junk food” but at the same time are criticized for buying anything healthy like, oh, I don’t know, actual meat, or fruit, or non-sugar-laden cereal…)

Food availability and affordability can be manipulated to keep a population obedient: governments who routinely claim that things like education and health care are “too expensive” to be funded by taxpayers will, if necessary, have no problem subsidizing farmers who might not vote for them if they go broke. (see: subsidies for farming in the USA. It’s stopped now, but for 70 years, the US government made sure that a lot of these farmers stayed in business, even to the point of paying them not to farm at all.)

The USSR made sure that no matter what, there were things like cheap bread and potatoes, because they knew that the civil unrest generated by starvation would topple their regimes. No matter how tight the budget might have been, that was a priority for them.

But currently, the politics of food are going to get very tricky.

Food prices worldwide are going to rise, because of what we are doing to the climate and to the ecological balance.

It doesn’t matter if you believe in this or not. It’s a fact. There won’t be a different price list for climate-change deniers. Your food prices will rise alongside mine. There are no exceptions and no mercy here.

Look at the floods, and the fires burning worldwide, and tell me that we’ll have the same amount of usable farmland next year. Think about what happens when millions of people (some of whom used to grow that food for you) are displaced.

We in North America have actually been here before, and not all that long ago.

We’ve ignored the reality, the science of that time. We’ve pretended it was just some isolated, causeless act of deity. We’ve mythologized both the cause and effect of our own myopia.

But the fact is that we collectively caused the Dustbowl of the 1930s by using short-term farming practices that created an ecological disaster across the Midwestern USA and Canada: what the farmers had done to the land made it impossible to cope when the weather decided to not be exactly like it had been for each preceding year in our farming memories.

And for USA citizens especially: right now, you are getting all hysterical about immigrants from “other countries” coming to your borders in search of simple survival.

Wait until it is you. Wait until it is your neighbor. Wait until it is US citizens who need to relocate from state to state, in droves, coming with virtually nothing, because their livelihood has been stripped from them by drought, by fire, by flood.

Because, if you were to ask, you’d find that half of the native Californians you might know have grandparents or great-grandparents who were stigmatized as “Okies”, and who were exploited and vilified, herded into “camps” and left to sink or swim without resources, simply because they sought refuge from disaster.

Farmers without farms, because the banks simply gave no fucks: they will not now, either.

People willing to work for food were starving to death along the roadsides of America. They may yet be doing so again.

Meanwhile…your food prices will rise. Worldwide, shortages are already making some things increasingly unaffordable. At some point, unless you are a billionaire, some things you think of as necessities will become luxuries you won’t be buying anymore.

Oranges. Avocados. Meat. Cheerios. Coffee.

And if you’ve been pretending that politics is boring, or that everything is A-OK because it hasn’t happened to you…wait till you look into your child’s eyes and know that you cannot feed them supper because there just isn’t any food at all.

I’m betting politics won’t seem so remote to your life anymore.


#GrapesofWrath #Dustbowl #DirtyThirties


Apocalypse Nigh



When I was about ten years old, my friends and I tumbled to the fact that time marches on, and that there was going to be a whole new century in our lifetimes.

We did the arithmetic, and realized we would be forty-five years old when that happened.

Forty-five! We’d be ancient.

I know. You’re all laughing at the naïve innocence. To a ten-year-old, the idea that we would ever be forty-five seemed outlandish, ridiculous, impossible – or at least, so far away that it did not need to be imagined on any level.

But here’s the thing: all those politicians ignoring or denying the facts of climate change are doing the same thing.

Recently, scientists tried to point out that 2040 is pretty much the year this species of ours will be irrevocably doomed. The effects will show up a lot sooner, of course, but 2040 seems to be the watershed year – the year we will see the final devastation of our lives.

That’s only 22 years away.

A lot of our elected representatives are in their forties and fifties, and given good medical treatment, they have every expectation of surviving into their late seventies.

Given that, you would think that those two-plus-a-bit decades would feel more imminent – that they would grasp that this is going to impact quite a few of them.

But like our ten-year-old selves, they don’t appear to have understood this.

They are operating as if those years were double, or even triple, in length.

They seem to have ignored the numbers and decided that they would be long dead (or succumbing to the last stages of dementia) by the time 2040 rolls around.

And an awful lot of voters seem to be doing the same thing.

Count it out. If you are fifty this year, you will only be seventy-two when this world becomes unable to sustain human life.

If you are forty, you won’t even be qualifying for your pension.

If you are thirty, you will almost certainly be watching your spouse and your children die of thirst or starvation.

People like to claim that the current education system is failing, and that kids today are not learning basic skills.

I think the evidence is clear: people under thirty get it. They can do the math. They can read the writing on the wall.

It’s us older folks who seem to have been sold some pretty shoddy goods in the education department.