Thanks to all who responded with such sacred rage and support for last week’s post, in which we amplified the voice of Amazonian indigenous leader Nemonte Nenquimo; this week we bend an ear to another voice that echoes Nenquimo in its urgency, yet from a different location in the Global South: Australia, following the horrific 2019-2020 burn season, known as “Black Summer”.
Now comes Joëlle Gergis, writing from the front lines of the deepening Climate Emergency in a recent essay, excerpted below. Images are relayed from the site of artist Giuseppe Licari, documenting an installation dating from 2016, titled Contrappunto.
About his work, Licari writes:
My work explores the socio-economical, cultural and political practices that intervene on, and alter the form of contemporary natural landscapes around us. Subject both of science and art, the landscape functions both as a mirror and as a lens: in it we see the space we occupy and ourselves as we occupy it. With my work I abstract and re-interpret landscapes engaging in an open-ended investigation of transferring the physical experience of a territory away from the locus of its original existence via discrete or bold interventions.
My aim is to confront the public with nature’s omnipresence, creating new spaces of sensorial and social experiences. Intending to provide the audience with an active role in my work I use a variety of techniques and media, such as installations, performances, workshops and public art, to better address the needs of each idea. The heterotopic landscapes I create constitute places of memories in which the emotions of single individuals become inevitably part of a collective experience.
As wildfires continue their hungry devastation across California and Oregon, we have been re-reading Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, a spare yet powerful novel that we have always thought of as an anticipatory documentary narrative, describing a near future now in the process of presenting itself.
A favorite passage:
And the closing passage:
Now comes faithful DP correspondent Jon Swan with a few Chekhovian thoughts on life in the pyrocene. Captions to widely circulating images added by DP.
California wildfires once again remind us that the Climate Emergency is not something that happens in 2030 or 2050: the Climate Emergency is happening right now, and we are in the midst of its varied modes of contagion.
We turn to fire historian Stephen Pyne whose recently updated Fire: A Brief History is highly recommended to those who wish to understand how we arrived into an era he suggests we name the “pyrocene”.
Excerpts from an essay published during last year’s Season of Fire Siege below; images are from news accounts, with captions added by DP.
Now comes Charles Homans with perceptive comments about the ever-expanding archive of online wildfire videos. The entire essay is worth close consideration. Brief excerpts below, with images from the remarkable video at the heart of his observations.
From Pliny’s second letter to Tacitus, we read:
“Ashes were already falling, not as yet very thickly. I looked round: a dense black cloud was coming up behind us, spreading over the earth like a flood.’Let us leave the road while we can still see,’I said,’or we shall be knocked down and trampled underfoot in the dark by the crowd behind.’We had scarcely sat down to rest when darkness fell, not the dark of a moonless or cloudy night, but as if the lamp had been put out in a closed room.
You could hear the shrieks of women, the wailing of infants, and the shouting of men; some were calling their parents, others their children or their wives, trying to recognize them by their voices. People bewailed their own fate or that of their relatives, and there were some who prayed for death in their terror of dying. Many besought the aid of the gods, but still more imagined there were no gods left, and that the universe was plunged into eternal darkness for evermore.
There were people, too, who added to the real perils by inventing fictitious dangers: some reported that part of Misenum had collapsed or another part was on fire, and though their tales were false they found others to believe them. A gleam of light returned, but we took this to be a warning of the approaching flames rather than daylight. However, the flames remained some distance off; then darkness came on once more and ashes began to fall again, this time in heavy showers. We rose from time to time and shook them off, otherwise we should have been buried and crushed beneath their weight. I could boast that not a groan or cry of fear escaped me in these perils, but I admit that I derived some poor consolation in my mortal lot from the belief that the whole world was dying with me and I with it.”
Onwards we sail into a new decade, during which many members of the species homo sapiens will be obliged to learn all over again that reality consists of that which does not go away when you stop believing in it.
Wildfire has a way of burning through even the most compelling alternative facts.
Yet another COP. Yet another chance for global leaders to take meaningful action. Yet another chance to dither and fiddle.
More promising: yet another Global Climate Strike. More voices than ever in the mix. A rising wave of global youth that will bring change whether the thoroughly discredited and delusional global “elites” want that change or not.
This week, in the midst of the compromised COP and the rising wave, we simply relay two statements from 350.org, the first from Executive Director May Boeve:
Next, from Latin American director Nicole Oliveira:
This week, we simply relay select images from around the globe in strong support for the ongoing Extinction Rebellion:
No, this week’s title does not refer back to last week’s snapshot of hubris and delusion; rather, we relay the most recent assessment of the Greenland ice sheet from a keen observer of climate collapse in the Arctic, Jason Box. Below, excerpts from today’s interview with Amy Goodman:
Now please consider a simple graphic depiction of the number of passengers conveyed via air travel between the years 1970 and 2019, charting an increase from four hundred thousand to four billion. That’s a ten thousandfold increase, well within a single lifetime!
We no longer fly here at DP; anyone who thinks that we can address the climate emergency without dramatic and immediate changes in human behaviors is not honestly confronting the implications of the data.