There is a sad, humbling peace beneath the soft pain of realizing I am as helpless as the trees to prevent the age old forests from being torn down in one day for the filth stained greed that most others foolishly believe is a benefit to my species but we are not the same breed I am just another animal left homeless in the wreckage forced to watch the endless rape of our most holy mother earth as I tremble with the reeds bearing witness to the pain pulsating through all of nature is the only gesture I can offer to lie down alongside my fellow woodland creatures beneath the brutal, blood-soaked wheels of industry as we watch the death of beauty the end of everything
Coping with the End
Total disassociation, fully out your mind. Googling derealization, hating what you find. That unapparent summer air in early fall. The quiet comprehending of the ending of it all.Funny Feeling – Bo Burnham
The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. Over the past six or seven years I’ve gone through all of these stages. Now it feels like I teeter back and forth between depression and acceptance. Seven years may seem like a rather long time to grieve, but it’ll sound more appropriate when I explain that I am not grieving the death of a loved one or a romantic relationship. No, I am grieving the earth, my own life, all life. I am grieving the slow, steady death of our planet and all that it holds.
When I first discovered just how close we already were to the end of everything, I was furious. How could those in power and those that came before me ignore this, and even worse, continue contributing to it? The bitter hatred for humanity I already harbored sharpened like a knife’s edge, cutting me deeper than it ever had before. Then I felt passionately compelled to stop our frenzied descent toward destruction. In desperation, I implored people to share my concern about what leading environmental scientists were saying, to do all that they could in a personal capacity to make a difference, even if it was hard, even if it still might already be too late.
Naively in the beginning, I really thought the issue was that people did not know the information that I knew, and that if they did, they would understand and take action. Depression and despair quickly set in when I realized that wasn’t the case. It wasn’t only that people didn’t know. They refused to know. As I passed through the stages of grief alone, the rest of the world hangs idle in the “denial” phase. Even though I desperately want others to be by my side through this process, I’ve come to accept that they won’t be. I’ve even begun to feel it’s a mercy that they don’t believe the things I tell them. While I want my friends, family, and community to understand the dire situation we are in, I don’t want them to suffer with that knowledge like I have for all of these years. However, in case there are people out there that feel the weight of this impending doom like I do, I want to at least share a few of the ways in which I’ve been managing to cope.
One: Historical Perspective
One of the hardest parts of all this in the beginning was feeling robbed of the long life we are implicitly promised as children. It seemed so unfair to know that I would never experience old age, that I would live only half as long as I had anticipated. Sometimes I found myself wishing that I had been born in a different time so I wouldn’t have to see the world go up in smoke one day.
I soon realized that this isn’t really something I would want. For the vast majority of human history, my life would have been far worse and perhaps even shorter. As a woman I would have had no rights or freedom. I would have likely died by now in childbirth or from some horrible misunderstood disease. The average human life expectancy for a large portion of history was roughly 30 years.
I’ll still hopefully get to live for a decade or two more than that. Not to mention the quality of these 30-50 years of mine will be far superior to the quality of billions of peoples throughout history. I’ve experienced more novelty, luxury, comfort, and pleasure than the vast majority of humans that have lived. And that I am truly grateful for.
Two: Life Will Go On
It’s no secret that I don’t care much for humanity and it’s consistent habit of committing atrocities against other beings and each other. The idea of the human race ending, pretty much means nothing to me. We are a plague on this earth and all her other creatures. But the idea that because of our stupidity, greed, and selfishness the rest of the life of earth would also perish with us was unbearable to me. I look out at the complexity, the diversity, the staggering beauty of the world around me, and I can’t cope with thinking it will all disappear with us.
Learning of the animals that are still thriving in the ghost town that is Chernobyl gave me some hope. Yes, a huge portion of the life we now know of on earth will surely be wiped out by the effects of manmade climate change and the resulting wars over the remaining resources. Yet, life in general, is more resilient than I once believed. All life will not end. Some creatures will survive even this. And in time they will grow and evolve and repopulate this decimated planet until it is vibrant and flourishing yet again. One day there will be a beautiful, new earth free from the tyranny of humans. That thought brings me some peace.
Three: Purpose is Relative
When the heavy thoughts of our fast approaching end cloud my mind, one of the main themes becomes: What’s the point? Why should I continue on knowing that the end will be suffering and annihilation? I might as well just give up. Nothing matters.
These thoughts, while poignantly felt, are puzzling to me. Why should the end being sooner rather than later effect the meaning I find in life? Whether I die at 40 or 80, there will be immense fear and suffering. That isn’t something that I would escape if the world weren’t dying with me. Besides, life is not a guarantee. I could have died in my sleep last night. I could die in a car accident tomorrow. I could have developed leukemia as a child and not lived past the age of 7.
Purpose and meaning are not dependent on the length or last sentence in this book called life. I get to decide my own purpose. I determine the meaning behind all of this. The significance of my life is not forfeited due to the sudden realization that it will be much shorter than anticipated. My life matters, my happiness matters, the love I have for others matters, regardless of when death finds me.
Contemplating and combating these discouraging, depressing thoughts is what I am tasked with now. My greatest lesson in life will be learning how to be present and grateful for where I am now, regardless of what may come in the following moment. I’ve fought and screamed. I’ve begged for the world to stop this. I’ve surrendered to my sadness and helplessness in the face of this calamity. Now all that’s left is acceptance. The severity of my fate is not what I had ever expected, but it isn’t something that can be changed or avoided. There is peace in accepting that. Through acceptance I will salvage the time that I do have. I still have time to fill with joy and love and awe, and the gratitude I feel for that fact is enough to get me through anything. It’s enough to carry me into the end.
The Absolute Absurdity of Living in Space
With the Earth, our environment and ecosystems, collapsing and crumbling away beneath our feet the obvious solutions and the urgency of implementing them have gone largely unacknowledged by the vast majority of the human race. No one seems interested in resolving the problem or undoing the damage that our species has caused. (Not that we have enough time now anyway.) No, instead people are entirely focused on the idiotic idea of moving society into space permanently.
It is absolutely surreal to see just how many people are giddy with excitement about the Elon Musks of the world burning up our extremely limited resources to jerk themselves off through space travel. Why the fuck was Jezz Bezos wearing a god damn cowboy hat for his purposeless rocket launch? It’s like I’m living in some kind of bizarre dream where I’m the only one with any concerns about the absurdity of all this.
It has never made sense to me why everyone seems to be obsessed with outer space and space travel. Sure it’s neat to wonder what might be out there. Surely somewhere, light years away, far past our current technology’s ability to travel, something is out there. However, the fact remains that we have no ability to know that and won’t for the foreseeable future. If we had matters handled on our own planet and were living in some kind of utopia, I think space travel would be an intriguing and worthwhile investment of our time and money.
I’m not arguing that it isn’t interesting to think about or that there isn’t a great potential for exploration and discovery in that final frontier. What I am saying is that at this moment, with the dire consequences of man-made climate change looming just beyond our doorsteps, who the hell cares about space? It’s utterly irrelevant. Our continued attempts to send out rockets and satellites is not only worthless, it is exacerbating our impending doom here on Earth, by burning obscene amounts of fossil fuels.
Some of you might already be thinking, “But we’ve got to do these things so that we can live in space or on Mars once our planet has become uninhabitable.” Guess what? That’s fucking stupid. And perhaps even more importantly, impossible. Sure, if we had unlimited time and resources, I’m positive humanity would be able to live in space or on other planets. The hard truth that no one seems to be aware of or able to accept is: WE DON’T HAVE THAT KIND OF TIME.
I get so frustrated when I hear people discuss climate disasters and societal collapse as if it is a distant possibility that their grandchildren might have to deal with one day. What the absolute fuck is anyone even talking about? WAKE UP. WE are going to be the ones facing these things in just a few decades, if that. We’re are beginning to face them even now. And it’s only going to continue to get worse and accelerate as we proceed to ignore/compound the problem.
The last thing I’ll say is this: Say I concede to these irrational and unbelievable ideas that the human species will be able to completely migrate into space or Mars or whatever before we all die here on the Earth we’ve destroyed. There we are, sending off the last pieces of humanity into the cosmos as our Earth burns behind us, do you really think we’d be able to mentally and emotionally cope? I for one, will lie down and die with this planet, before I abandon it on a rocket ship.
WE ARE PART OF THE EARTH. Our outright denial of this fact is what got us to the destruction of the natural world in the first place, and it is what continues to keep us from doing what needs to be done to save it. As much as our species likes to pretend that we are separate from or even above other life forms, the Earth, and nature, it’s simply not true. We are inextricably intertwined with this environment that has always been our home. We are already collectively suffering from the comparatively mild separation our modern technologies have resulted in. Does no one else notice the correlation between humanity’s rapid self-isolation from the natural world and the dramatic increase in mental illness and dissatisfaction/frustration with life?
Whether you believe in divine intention or natural selection, we were made for this planet. Our very essence has been meticulously woven to thrive in these environments over billions of years. Isn’t anyone even going to consider the long-term effects of living apart from the Earth??? Haven’t we already learned enough times how even something seemingly innocuous that is contrary to our natural lives becomes corrosive to us eventually? Forgetting the mental/emotional toll, we already know the serious physical ailments that result from relatively short amounts of time spend beyond the Earth’s atmosphere.
I don’t know. I guess I’m just inconsolable on this topic. It is unimaginably disheartening to see just how little most of the world cares about the Earth. To even consider leaving it seems horrific and unacceptable to me, let alone being excited about it as most people seem to be. Not to mention the absolute disregard we humans have for all the other forms of life we are willing to let perish in our wake. It’s disgusting. It’s obscene. It’s unconscionable. I have never been more ashamed to call myself a human being.
Juggling Gratitude and Fear
Lately I keep coming back to the realization that a lot of the luxuries I take for granted every day will soon be unavailable to me. Fresh produce from the store, peaceful morning drives to work, running water, hot showers, internet access, electricity, coffee, a healthy, pain-free body. Most of us have lots of precious moments like these every day that we don’t pay much attention to. Even if you don’t believe that the world is headed for catastrophe like me, it is still a shame that we don’t take the time to be grateful for the small moments of joy in our lives.
My issue is not so much that I don’t realize I need to be grateful for these things, it’s rather that it’s hard for me to avoid the fear that comes along with realizing that they are in fact luxuries I may not always have. My heart swells with panic instead of gratitude when I acknowledge that in a few short years I may be going to sleep hungry. I may be fighting just to stay alive, to keep my loved ones alive and safe. My mind tends to fixate on the negative, preventing me from enjoying where I am and what I have right now.
I don’t quite know how to reconcile the two sides of this coin. How can I remind myself that I am so privileged without dwelling on the fearful vision I have of the future without these comforts? As soon as I try to feel gratitude for the little things, I feel terror and dread instead. But I don’t want to continue sleepwalking through these “mundane” moments either. It is a constant struggle to try to balance the simple pleasures of my day to day life now with the nightmarish future to come. I’m afraid that my efforts to be more mindful are only resulting in me practicing fear and anxiety instead.
I am genuinely at a loss as how to address this issue. I’m not sure if trying to hold this in my awareness is actually worse for my mental health than continuing to take my many blessings for granted. It’s hard to feel grateful that you are not in physical or emotional pain without also contemplating the day that pain will come. If anyone else has experienced this dilemma, I would love to know your thoughts. Is there anything you have found helpful in handling these contradictory emotions? I would greatly appreciate any advice offered.
The Beginning of the End
It has been a truly bizarre year. I’m sure we could all agree to that. It seems like everyone is anxious for things to “get back to normal.” To be honest, I don’t have much hope that that will ever happen. When this pandemic first started, I didn’t really think much of it. I was just pleased to have an excuse to stay home. Now I’ve begun to think this is just the first phase in a long downward spiral for our species and our planet. This has been a long time coming.
I used to get flustered and frantic about my opinions on the state of the world. I felt I desperately needed to spread a message, to inspire change, to educate people so that we could all start to work towards a healthier, sustainable society. After years of exasperation and futile efforts, I have finally lost hope. Humanity will not change, therefore we will not survive much longer. Humanity has no interest in changing, we have no time left for the change that is needed, and to be honest, at this point, I don’t think we are capable of changing. It is a shame, but I have resigned myself to our fate. I have accepted the demise that is to come. Not 200 years in the future, not to the generation after me, but to me, to my generation, to everyone I know.
Cowspiracy was the tipping point for me. After watching that documentary and absorbing all of the scientific facts about our crumbling environment and the projections of how much time we have left before utter catastrophe if we continue at this rate (which we will), I realized that I will not be living out the extent of my natural lifespan. I have no idea how I will eventually die, but I feel pretty confident in ruling out old age. Perhaps it will be starvation, civil unrest, natural disasters, having no clean water, or even from a pandemic. It could be this very one, or the inevitably worse ones to come. To be honest, I’m surprised this is all due to a Corona virus and not one of the many strains of anti-biotic resistant bacteria we are breeding in our animal agriculture industry every day.
If I had even a shred of hope left that we would somehow overcome the self-imposed threats facing us, the public response to this pandemic has obliterated it. My fellow humans are incapable of even making the most miniscule, temporary changes to their daily lives, let alone the massive, permanent changes we need to make to survive as a species. Even though the pandemic rages on and is even getting worse in some areas, people have seemingly decided to just go back to normal. As if it’s been a year, so fuck it, it must be over.
If humans are incapable of simply wearing a mask when they are in the grocery store for 30 minutes, there is no way they’ll be capable of eliminating meat and dairy from their diets entirely. Perhaps if we had already implemented a strategy to move society that way and we also had a couple hundred years to get there, but we aren’t doing anything and we don’t have anywhere close to that amount of time. Scientists predict we only have a few decades and the US government is still subsidizing the industries that are killing us.
Not only has the majority of the population not accepted one of if not THE root cause of our impending demise (animal agriculture), but we can’t even all agree that we are even facing a real problem! Climate change is still up for fucking debate in America. And I don’t even expect those of you reading this to understand or agree with me on any of this. I’m mostly just having a good ol’ scream into the void. It’s the only thing I can really do at this point, sadly.
I won’t waste my time listing all of the statistics, facts, and figures about how animal agriculture is the leading cause of climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, desertification, and species extinction. How it wastes massive amounts of food, water, and land. How everyone shouts “save the rainforest!” while ignoring the fact that the reason it’s being cut down is to make room for livestock. All of this information is readily available for anyone willing to look into it. Cowspiracy’s website has most of it laid out with citations. Although, in my experience, facts have never been enough to make anyone change. What I will point out, is that this pandemic is also just a symptom of the ways eating animals will eventually be our undoing.
Whenever a pandemic emerges, it is almost always related to some animal. And not just any animal. An animal that humans have been using as food. We end up keeping this “food” in filthy cramped spaces, crowded in with other animals and covered in piss and shit. Then we eat those same animals. It’s no wonder we are constantly facing disease. Bird flu, swine flu, mad cow disease. Starting to see a pattern yet? If we didn’t eat animals, none of these things would be a problem. To be honest, it’s almost karmic justice for these innocent beings. I wouldn’t even mind if humans were wiping themselves out due to our own greed and stupidity. But unfortunately we are taking down the whole planet with us and that breaks my heart.
A Frightening Future
It seems blatantly obvious to me at this point that humanity and possibly all life on earth as we know it is coming swiftly to a close. I fully expect to see the end in my lifetime. There are just so many different ways that we are absolutely fucked.
It is so bizarre to me that I seem to be the only one anticipating the worst. Well, besides scientists. Even they probably believe that if people can just make some changes we can still get better. But when I look at the science and the projections of where we will be in just a few more decades if we continue at the rate we are now, it seems impossible that even a complete 180 by the entire world tomorrow wouldn’t be enough to change things fast enough.
I learned once in my college psychology classes that humans have a natural tendency to overestimate the likelihood of positive outcomes and underestimate the negative. This has possibly helped us move forward evolutionarily. However, it seems to be a hindrance in this situation. Everyone has seen the climate crisis coming for a long time now. Yet we rested on our laurels for far too long, assuming one day somehow it would magically be fixed. Well it hasn’t been fixed. And now we’re out of time.
I first began to feel this way after watching Cowspiracy and learning just how significant animal agriculture is when it comes to the decimation of our planet. I felt things could be changed if only the human race would transition to a vegan lifestyle. That would be a lengthy process though. It’s just moving too slowly.
Yet even other vegans underestimate the severe urgency and certain demise of this world. To be honest, I really hope that I’m wrong. As you can imagine, it’s very distressing to think this way. I have immense anxiety whenever I think about what the future holds for me. I’m terrified society will inevitably collapse and my loved ones and I will all suffer greatly. However, I have no one to talk to about these feelings and fears.
Everyone just tries to convince me it’ll be fine and I shouldn’t worry. I wish I could have a discussion about what I should do with someone who believes the same. Should I prepare? Should I just live my life as best I can and try to be happy in the meantime?
I’d love to talk to a therapist about this and hear their thoughts, but not if they are only going to think I’m a crazy conspiracy theorist who is overreacting. I’m truly at a loss about what to do. For now I just try not to think about it at all. It’s just too terrifying and overwhelming.
Does anyone else think this way? How do you cope with it if so? I’d love to find some people I am able to talk seriously about this dark future with.