You join me in the middle of another climate anxiety freakout, the beginning having begun several years ago and the end expected roughly forty minutes after my death. As deadly heatwaves clobber half of Europe, deadly wildfires clobber half the world, and global temperatures reach record highs every other day, I’ve relocated my climate panic from background hum to front, centre and screaming in my face.

I’m not containing it well. It’s leaking out. People talk about their summer holidays, I grimace. People dig into a steak, I wince. A couple of weeks ago I truth-bombed a family Facetime, casually accusing my loved ones of genocide because they suggested flying up for a visit. It’s not a popular approach. The problem is, there’s a lot of truth in that there truth bomb.

My favourite people in the world are among the billions pitching in to genocide. Most of my friends, family, co-workers, associates and nemeses are still driving, still flying, still eating industrial meat and dairy. Still doing everything the apocalypse needs to wipe us out. It’ll take more than just individual efforts to save us, more than just painting capitalism green, more than ‘every little helps’ gestures. We need systemic change from way beyond my karass but, God damn, they don’t have to help the genocidal bastards driving this thing.

Failure’s no success at all
What’s really punched my gut, alongside my routine existential crisis, is realising how thoroughly I’ve failed. As hard and as long as I’ve been Chicken Littling about this, the people closest to me have been ignoring me. I don’t know how to reach them. Having failed to reach them, I don’t know how to look at them.

And it’s not just climate breakdown. In all my years of attempted activism – and we’re closing on two decades since I first found a fuck to give – I don’t know if I’ve talked round a single person. I look around me, I realise I’ve not turned anyone veggie or vegan. I’ve not talked anyone out of flying or driving. There’s no one buying more Fairtrade than they used to. No one giving more to charity. No one volunteering who didn’t already. No one planting trees. I look around me, I see maybe one person boycotting Nestlé as the grand total of my achievements. I have, in the course of almost 20 years of digging into this stuff, stopped the world’s richest food company from selling an extra handful of Shreddies. There begins and ends my legacy.

Like ice, like fire
When I first set out on this world class mope I thought of myself as a failed climate activist. But as the scale of my failure sinks in I realise actually I’m the perfect climate activist. Because we’re all failing. Al Gore’s been knocking about with his Powerpoint for decades; still, emissions are rising. Greta knackered the back half of her education; still, we’re on track for a four degree rise in global temperature. Petitions have failed. Marches have failed. People have glued themselves to stuff, flung orange paint around, covered museums in soup and, still, most people appear to give no shits.

I don’t know how to be motivated by failure any more. I don’t know what to do with this anger. With this panic that’s overwhelming me. This week, Greenpeace emailed about workshops it’s running for this kind of thing, a place for people to talk through their fears and frustrations and freakouts. A place to share their worries, talk through ways of coping, ways to reconcile what they know with how people around them are living. They sound perfect. Unfortunately they called them ‘Listening circles’ so, naturally, I deleted the email immediately. I can only cringe so hard.

I need to do something. I need to fucking do something.

Photo credit: The Zero