Inevitable collapse, probable catastrophe, and possible extinction

I know you care- about your children. About polar bears. And bees. You know that what we’re doing the planet is bad.  You know.

The unbelievable has become mundane.

I know how you loathe the greed and power that’s running the world. And I know how hard it is to face the news these days. Cops killing black and brown people without consequence. Women’s rights being stripped from our bodies. Children in cages.  War.

You turn away from the day’s barrage of grief, rage, and pain. I know. I’ve spent the first three years of this administration avoiding the news that stresses me out and burns my soul. It’s self-preservation. Except when it’s not.

People's Climate March 2017 in Washington DC 69

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

I have been in hiding.

Hiding behind my geography and environmental science degree.  Behind my work in education for sustainability.  Behind fear of pain and grief and powerlessness.

I know. I know how bad it is.  I just can’t deal with the pain of it. 

So instead I tell myself the work I’m doing is enough. It has to be.  What else can I do?  And I go about my life in much the same way I always have. Asleep.

Awake in the nightmare

May 2, 2019 I woke up to the fucking house on fire. I need to save my babies.

I had been going about my usual business.  Clicking & sharing articles on Facebook that reflect my fears, comfortable that I was doing something.  Then I shared a climate emergency post about how we have 5 years left to save ourselves, and a friend posted in response.

“Not to be a downer, but this article has really shifted my thinking…”

He shared with me a Vice article, that on-ramped me to a paper by University of Cambria Sustainability Leadership Professor Jem Bendell, titled Deep Adaptation: A Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy.

And I read it.  And it took me like 2 fucking hours because it’s an academic paper and those are dense.

In sum, Bendell concludes that we’re facing ” inevitable collapse, probable catastrophe, and possible extinction.”  In the near term. Like 5 to maybe 10 years.*

Just sit with that for a minute.

And then I had to get on a plane for a work trip, for a training on trauma. Which was quite ironic, since I sat through that weekend in full-on trauma. Gut-liquifying fear. Panic. Unbearable grief.

It’s a terminal diagnosis

I mean yes, life is a terminal diagnosis.  It’s always been. We’re all going to die and we always have been going to die.  And someday the sun will burn out.

But in the moment of hearing the news of your own impending death, it all becomes more real somehow.  Loved ones have received terminal medical diagnoses.  This feels the same.

Except worse.  Because everyone I love, and everything we know could cease to exist in my lifetime.

It is already happening.

Evidence is all around us.  Things aren’t happening quite like we expect. In Vermont, it rained pretty much every day in May.  In the midwest, farmers haven’t been able to plant ~58% of the corn & soybeans that fuel our industrial food machine due to flooding.  Wildfires are ragings across millions of acres.

And we’re just getting started.

We have to stop this machine NOW.


Fucking extinction of the human race.

If we don’t make an abrupt 180 humans may go extinct (along with practically everything else) in the NEAR FUTURE: perhaps in the time of my future grandchildren. Maybe sooner, maybe later, but that is the trajectory we are on. Now. With no evidence of a change in direction.

And even if we are able to halt emissions now, WE ARE STILL FACING DEVASTATING CONSEQUENCES. They are LOCKED IN.

It’s going to get really fucking bad.

Sooner than we can imagine. I want to tell my children did everything I could. I am learning more every day about what I can do.

Yes, it feels futile. But waiting for the government to save us is just the same as waiting to die, and condemning my children to a terrible future.

Are you with me?

Let’s talk. Message me. Come have tea with me. Call me.


Everything depends on us.


*Maybe you want to dispute the science, like I did?  Go ahead and try.  There are some interpretations that put the timeline out a little further. But really we just don’t know. There is, however,  a clear general consensus that this is the path we’re on. (I’ll try to synthesize the science in a future post.)   And what if he is right?  What then?


  1. We have known for many years that the path we are on will lead to catastrophic consequences. It’s good to hear someone on the same page, even though it is excruciating to acknowledge that we are really going to let this happen. It’s already happening. We need to adapt to the changes. I believe in the resiliency of life. Look where life first emerged, in volcanos of sulphuric acid at the bottom of the sea. Earth needs to heal and this is how ecosystems return to homeostasis. What we must do is face the future head on and learn to be the change ourselves and teach that to our children. Our economic systems will fail in time. We will need to feed ourselves, and we can’t do it alone. It takes a community effort to feed everyone in the community. Remember those morals and ethics that have gone by the wayside these days, like the Golden Rule.? We are going to need to take care of each other. The alternative is giving up. We can’t wait for THEM to do anything. There is no “them”, no Calvary coming. We are going to Have to stick together. Take care of each other. Have a plan. Don’t slack. Do it. Be prepared, but continue to live and enjoy being alive.


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