Note — Oct 18, 2020

The Great Unravelling: ‘I Never Thought I’d Live to See the Horror of Planetary Collapse’

Is there need for a trigger warning for this piece? Australian climate scientist and writer Dr Joëlle Gergis (who was also a lead author on the sixth IPCC report) starts from her country’s black summer, the immense loss of animal life, the parallel mass bleaching event recorded on the Great Barrier Reef, the intense heat, and goes on to explain how we are careening into the “great unravelling,” the horror of planetary collapse she never expected to live through. We know all the facts but reading the despair in Gergis’ words is one of those jarring reads we sometimes try to dodge, yet need to contemplate.

There is so much heat already baked into the climate system that a certain level of destruction is now inevitable. What concerns me is that we may have already pushed the planetary system past the point of no return. That we’ve unleashed a cascade of irreversible changes that have built such momentum that we can only watch as it unfolds. […]

Unfortunately, we live in a culture where we actively avoid talking about hard realities; darker parts of our psyche are considered dysfunctional or intolerable. But trying to be relentlessly cheerful or stoic in the face of serious loss just buries more authentic emotions that must eventually come up for air. […]

[T]here is great power and wisdom in our emotional response to our world. Until we are prepared to be moved by the profoundly tragic ways we treat the planet and each other, our behaviour will never change.