13 January 2015

. . . contemplate how human beings a century from now will view those of us who lived in the era when climate change was recognized, and yet there was so much more that we could have done. They may feel utter contempt for us. They may regard us as the crew who squandered their inheritance, like drunkards gambling away a family fortune that, in this case, is everyone’s everywhere and everything. I’m talking, of course, about the natural world itself when it was in good working order. They will see us as people who fiddled while everything burned.

Many people believe that personal acts in private life are what matters in this crisis. They are good things, but not the key thing. It’s great to bicycle rather than drive, eat plants instead of animals, and put solar panels on your roof, but such gestures can also offer a false sense that you’re not part of the problem.
You are not just a consumer. You are a citizen of this Earth and your responsibility is not private but public, not individual but social. If you are a resident of a country that is a major carbon emitter, as is nearly everyone in the English-speaking world, you are part of the system, and nothing less than systemic change will save us.

Rebecca Solnit


  1. Well. That is utterly true.

  2. Thank you for this today. Once again, Rebecca Solnit brings light as she writes about the darkness and light we share. Intriguing to learn from your link that she grew up reading Ursula K. Le Guin's books. Reading A Wizard of Earthsea when I was 21 years old was transformative. Come to think of it, reading Rebecca Solnit in recent years has been transformative. Solitary Walker's blog is where I first heard of her, and that was in connection with Wanderlust: A History of Walking. Most recently I read The Faraway Nearby.

    You inspired me to listen to this again:


    "... we will need writers who can remember freedom ..."

    "... but the name of our beautiful reward is not profit, its name is freedom."

    (Ursula K. Le Guin, from acceptance speech at the 2014 National Book Awards)

  3. I just read a headline in an online newspaper that said, "Senate to Vote On Whether Climate Change Is Happening." This is the senate in my country and I hang my head in shame.