I’ve been crying myself to sleep a lot lately. And crying at random times too. It’s not as though I watch a video about climate change, and I cry during it. I mean sometimes that happens. It’s more like, something little happens, like my toast burns, and I have an existential breakdown because I think it’s a metaphor for how the world is burning because we aren’t paying attention.
I found myself dry retching in the shower for over an hour one evening. The contractions of my stomach muscles, sense of my throat exploding, and my whole body convulsing, felt like I was trying to spew up some kind of demon, a wretchedness, a loneliness and desperation, a sense of loss for all that could have been but probably won’t, for that which is but will no longer be.
I feel bitter towards individuals and systems and fail to understand why people are not being charged for climate crimes.
It [climate] is a constant reminder that the Earth is f****d.
The future, for me, is dark, cloudy, a black hole of uncertainty. I don’t know how it will play out.
Our knowledges and ignorances about climate change will impact who will live and who will die.
# I am constantly butting heads with sceptics and non-believers (particularly my father-in-law) regarding climate change. It is so frustrating that fellow inhabitants don’t understand the magnitude of the situation, and worse still, they don’t care to learn more about it.
It’s like, on warm, sunny winter and early spring days, with the light glistening through young green leaves. Everyone is happy due to the nice weather. But knowing about climate change, you know it means someone somewhere is not getting the rain they need. [Actually warming promotes rain, check with Prof. Andy Pitman at UNSW]. So it’s sort of, you can’t enjoy it, it’s an uneasiness amongst the glory that everyone else seems to be celebrating.
I was thinking of the dark, foreboding nature of climate change, its creeping horror masked by invisibility in the here-and-now of hyperconsumptive capitalism. Sometimes I see climate change as a chasm opening up before me, and I stand on a precipice overlooking the deep ravine, teetering on the edge.
My totally cynical view is that non-fossil-fuel-based energy production will only become the norm once the renewable-energy corporations can provide more money than fossil fuel corporations in bribes to political interests.
Against these morbid undertows, others of Verlie’s students were uplifted.
I’m so glad I changed into this class – it’s more of a climate change therapy group than a university subject.
This class has given me hope as … I feel everyone is so smart, powerful and brilliant
One day after class, I felt like I was floating on the way home. Maybe I was delirious because this subject matter is so exhausting. But I really felt buoyed by the energy everyone brings to class.
I have been overwhelmed by joy, fear, and passion.
But it’s [climate apathy] disheartening. You look around, and it’s like, where’d everyone go? And they’re running away…It’s like, (sigh), Jesus guys!
I really valued the ferocious intensity of information that was shared with us.
No student expresses the least scepticism about the horrow-show material: ‘I remember a unanimous feeling of frustration shared by the whole class.’ The groupthink sadly reflects today’s “monoversity” culture. The class also needed a renewables-powered spa retreat after class. Verlie writes:
As students and I discuss the systems that expose society’s most marginalised to lethal heat stress, our bodily reactions such as sweaty armpits, flushed cheeks and croaky voices belie the ‘thermal monotony’ of our air-conditioned comfort.
Outside the universities, climate derangement has been spreading like COVID Delta, as Verlie’s examples suggest:
A marine biologist vomits because of her distress about coral bleaching, mimicking her beloved polyps who purge themselves of their symbiotic algae in warming water. [Hey marine biologist! Barrier Reef coral cover is actually at record heights].
Gender expert Rebecca Huntley, a frequent guest luvvie on the ABC, recounts a sensation that ‘actually felt physical, as if vital organs had moved inside my body’ when watching youth climate activists implore adults to ‘do something.’