We can see it not just in the data, but we’ve seen it play out this season in the form of unprecedented storms.
I trekked with nomads. Their attitude about possessions presages a new age of traveling light.
Mack’s results indicate that many households, largely concentrated in the South, are at risk of just that: The states of Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Kentucky and Arkansas led the nation in percentage of census tracts determined to be at “high risk” of water poverty. In addition, water poverty clusters were identified in downtown areas of urban settings including Detroit, Phoenix and Philadelphia.
U.S. life expectancy is declining, new calculations show.
Pollution blamed for 9 million deaths annually, more than for AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.
Today we know beyond doubt, and with scientific statistics rather than just anecdote, that this is true, and the question immediately arises: what caused it?
It seems indisputable: it is us. It is human activity – more specifically, three generations of industrialised farming with a vast tide of poisons pouring over the land year after year after year, since the end of the second world war. This is the true price of pesticide-based agriculture, which society has for so long blithely accepted.
So what is the future for 21st-century insects? It will be worse still, as we struggle to feed the nine billion people expected to be inhabiting the world by 2050, and the possible 12 billion by 2100, and agriculture intensifies even further to let us do so. You think there will be fewer insecticides sprayed on farmlands around the globe in the years to come? Think again. It is the most uncomfortable of truths, but one which stares us in the face: that even the most successful organisms that have ever existed on earth are now being overwhelmed by the titanic scale of the human enterprise, as indeed, is the whole natural world.
In animism, however, this interior exists nowhere – all things are outside, or more properly, in the relationship between things in the outside. In Amerindian belief bodies “are not thought as given but rather as made.” The primordial stuff in which the body and its soul – of which there is zero division – is the stuff of the world itself, limited not only to the physicality of matter but also to the substance of the spiritual. Here too we find zero lines demarcating the division of matter from spirit, as all things are forever being made – the body, culture, nature, all are perfomative and unfolding in a process of worlding. Neither subject nor object, but entanglement and unfolding.
“Imagine the problem is not physical. Imagine the problem has never been physical, that it is not biodiversity, it is not the ozone layer, it is not the greenhouse effect, the whales, the old-growth forest, the loss of jobs, the crack in the ghetto, the abortions, the tongue in the mouth, the diseases stalking everywhere as love goes on unconcerned. Imagine the problem is not some syndrome of our society that can be solved by commissions or laws or a redistribution of what we call wealth. Imagine that it goes deeper, right to the core of what we call our civilization and that no one outside of ourselves can affect real change, that our civilization, our governments are sick and that we are mentally ill and spiritually dead and that all our issues and crises are symptoms of this deeper sickness… then what are we to do?”
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What that means is that we have not, at all, arrived at a new normal. It is more like we’ve taken one step out on the plank off a pirate ship. Perhaps because of the exhausting false debate about whether climate change is “real,” too many of us have developed a misleading impression that its effects are binary. But global warming is not “yes” or “no,” it is a function that gets worse over time as long as we continue to produce greenhouse gas. And so the experience of life in a climate transformed by human activity is not just a matter of stepping from one stable environment into another, somewhat worse one, no matter how degraded or destructive the transformed climate is. The effects will grow and build as the planet continues to warm: from one degree to one-point-five to almost certainly two degrees and beyond. The last few months of climate disasters may look like about as much as the planet can take. But things are only going to get worse.