Thursday, 7 July 2011

Anatomy of a Climate Depression - Part 1

I had my first kid in 2005. Now, back then, the general public had already known about global warming and the greenhouse effect for at least 15 years. And awareness of it was growing, but the world wasn't anywhere as alarmed as they would be, just the next year. Dante was born in August of 2005, and just as he was turning a month old or so, Hurricane Katrina hit the US along the Gulf coast. All of a sudden, global warming was being connected with a real life disaster in a Western country. Natural disasters have always been taking place, flooding, droughts, wildfires, in the West as well as everywhere else. But somehow, in our little comforting consumer cocoons, we've just assumed it was the natural order of things, as it certainly can be.

But Katrina planted that first real seed of awareness, and connection between mankind's actions and the repurcussions it could have on our lives. Not a moment too soon.

In 2006, when Dante was a year, we moved into a friend's garden cottage for what we thought was a a month and a half of simple living, while our apartment in the eastern part of Copenhagen was being renovated. I recall even more awareness yet. More and more articles were appearing in the paper about climate change, experts were starting to point out the warning signs, not just in natural calamities, but also in the receding ice sheets, melting glaciers, etc.. 2006 was truly "the" year when common awareness of climate change grew from a small article in a respectable newspaper into a frontpage story. Again, not a moment too soon.

Our stay at our friend's summer cottage was prolonged, as anyone who's renovated their home before knows. September flew by, October came, it got cooler, but nothing the portable radiator and furnace couldn't handle. But there was no insulation in the cottage whatsoever, and since we had a baby with us, I jokingly thanked global warming for the Indian summer. Our apartment wasn't completely finished, but we had to move in, since no matter how hard we tried to warm the place, on Nov. 1st, when we woke up in the morning, fully clothed in our over-bundled beds, there was a layer of frost on the covers. Time to go home!

I always thought I was the environmentally aware type. Back in Texas, where I grew up, my mom and I would drive 3 miles out of our way to recycle newspapers, glass and plastic. The irony. I grew up a place where most food save beef came from another state or country. Where I had a driver's license at age 16, needing it to get to school. Going shopping would have been a daylong affair if you had to walk to and fro, and bicycling was suicide. The place I grew up was built around the car, and as unsustainable as one of the steel monsters is, it's a necessity that everyone practically takes for granted just like they do electricity. In high-school, I remember when the price of a gallon of gas shot up over 1$, 1.07$ I think it was. There was an outcry. Nevermind that gas cost, and still costs, about 4 times as much in Europe. So, recycling was about as environmentally aware as I could be. My life was provided for by a well-oiled machine, where all my parents needed was an income doing what they'd been trained to do, and everything else was bought at the cash register. I could even have an after school job so I could bow to peer pressure and buy t-shirts with the "right" band on it, or maybe the "perfect" shade of lipstick. The disconnect was complete.

I do though remember reading Newsweek in what I'll estimate was 1988. The Greenhouse Effect was the front page story. I was alarmed, as much as a 10 year old can be (though not as alarmed as when the first Gulf War started a few years after that), but the matter dissipated into the ether, and I didn't think much about it again until years later.

So, in 2006, after Katrina, after climate change had hit mainstream media again, this time for good, I started to feel the burn, so to speak. Becoming a parent had of course heightened my awareness of the world around me even more. The world didn't just have to provide for me, it had to provide for my kid too, hopefully also long after I'd be gone. I was beginning to see that there might be a slight glitch in this scenario.


  1. As so many other things the climate and human coursed climate changes is also branded, and the crucial point - and a very unresearched matter as well - is what psychological effects this specific brand has. In between us - the reader of the reports - and the climate stand the journalists and scholars. Until now there has been a lot of discussion about what external scenario we could expect but not much about what internal scenario we actually experienced by recieving all these apocalyptical messages. I think it's very important what you're dealing with in this blog.

  2. The problem is always

    Climate vs. Hunger

    Which is more important? While the developed countries can spend money on climate improvement related things, the developing ones can only try to scrape money to feed their citizens.

    Just like when they start using all the corn produced in South America to produce ethanol for the eco-friendly fuel, thousands of children in the area go hungry. Which one to choose? Climate or hunger? We all have priorities in life.

    But I agree with you that something needs to be done, I just don't like the way the developed countries pointing fingers at the developing ones forcing them to take all the blame when all the factories built there were financed by the rich countries and they're the ones who encouraged the locals to break the (environmental) laws. Just like the Newmont mining firm in Indonesia, and many other examples around the Southeast Asia, I suppose.

    Oops sorry I'm rambling

  3. Blogstorff - Thank you so much for your support! I'm glad I've finally taken the time to write my recollections on this, I hope it heightens awareness, and other people feel less alone with similar fears.

    Indonesian - Agreed! It's absolutely disheartening to see how many times removed food sources are from the actual people who need that food. Be it bioethanol for cars, or soy crops grown to feed cow and chickens to feed the West. So wrong. I'm starting to be with Bill Gates on this, people should grow their own food!

  4. Jennie, I am deeply appreciating reading this. Thank you for writing this blog. I want you to know that your concern and constant dialogue over the years has made a huge impression on me and has absolutely influenced my viewpoint, so talking (writing) about this does make a difference.

    I want to add--Indonesian--I completely agree. One of the things that makes me so angry I could scream is our agricultural subsidy in this country (the United States). It supports huge agribusiness (Mansanto needs to die a slow death) and subsidizes mostly corn and soy--neither of which go to feeding the population. It is maddening. Hamburgers are cheaper than healthy vegetables here because these subsidies pay for cattle's' feed. INSANITY. The USDA recommends five servings of fruits and vegetables a day but the US does not actually grow enough fruits and vegetables to supply this amount to the population therefor a lot of fruits and veggies are imported. And please don't get me started on GMO! GRRRRRRRR! I totally want to live some place where I can grow most of my own food.

  5. We're on the same page regarding so much Elijah! xxx