End Times for Humanity, With the West Fully Committed to Israel’s Genocide of the Palestinians and to Complete Climate Collapse

A poignant message on the massive March for Palestine in London on November 11, 2023 (Photo: Andy Worthington).

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Over the last few weeks, I’ve been suffering from a state of exhaustion that made me wonder if I had some undiagnosed terminal illness. I’ve been unable to concentrate, and, as soon as I woke up, I was wondering when I could go back to bed again.

Yesterday, the fog finally lifted, and I realized that my exhaustion was almost certainly a result of the dire state of the world right now — primarily related to Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza (still, after the murder of over 37,000 civilians, largely supported by western politicians and the mainstream media), but also to the cascading climate collapse that these same politicians and media outlets don’t want to talk about.

On Gaza, I suspect that my exhaustion was primarily related to an overwhelming sense of futility and powerlessness regarding any hope that the relentless genocide might be stopped. For those, like myself, who have been watching this grotesque live-streamed genocide unfold for over six months — ever since Hamas militants and other Gaza-based militants broke out of the “open-air prison” of the Gaza Strip on October 7 and killed 695 Israeli civilians, 373 members of the military and the police, and 71 foreign nationals — there have only been a few moments when hope appeared to be in the ascendant, and on each occasion the aftermath, when that hope was crushed, has been difficult to negotiate.

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Trying to Stay Sane in a World of Rapidly Accelerating Climate Collapse

Watching a wildfire: how do we deal with the reality of climate collapse and the failure of our governments to take the necessary action to ensure that the planet remains habitable?

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Some days are better than others. Some days, the dread, the anger, the sadness don’t begin until some time after I’ve woken up, but it never takes long, to be honest, until I remember that I’m living in a dying world.

If you think I’m exaggerating, I can only suggest that you’re not really paying attention to what’s happening. For at least 35 years, climate scientists have been warning, based on a forensic analysis of observable reality, that our obsession with burning fossil fuels (oil, gas and coal) has been supercharging the atmosphere with greenhouses gases (carbon dioxide, methane and others) that are increasing temperatures worldwide to an alarming degree.

In 1992, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), established in 1988 by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), drawing on the expertise of climate scientists worldwide, first began warning about the danger of ever-increasing greenhouse gas production, but it wasn’t until 2015, in Paris, that they were able to secure a commitment from most of the world’s governments to hold “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels”, and to pursue efforts “to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.”

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As the Planet Burns, Why Is the Media Still Downplaying the Severity of Climate Collapse?

A speculative, but not far-fetched image of the reality of climate collapse.

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The world is on fire, like never before. As the author Gaia Vince explained in the Guardian on July 18, “This June was the hottest ever recorded on Earth. July led with the hottest ever day, swiftly followed by a hotter hottest ever day, then the hottest week — and, possibly, the hottest month. A few years hence, during the ceaseless climate catastrophes of the 2030s, as my kids’ generation reaches adulthood, they might ask about that terrifying summer of 2023 when 120,000-year-old heat records were smashed day after day: how did everyone react?”

For the ever-growing number of people who are aware of the scale of the crisis, in which catastrophic climate collapse is happening much quicker than even the most pessimistic climate scientists predicted, our options, sadly, are severely limited.

While brave protestors take to the streets, and interrupt significant events to try and raise the alarm, they face arrest, often through draconian new laws introduced specifically to try to prevent them from raising the alarm, and often face hostility, from mildly inconvenienced drivers, for example, whose disproportionate rage is often genuinely alarming, or from a wide array of ‘commentators’ — some ‘professional’, some not — who seem to regard interrupting a major sporting event for a few minutes, to highlight the suicidal nature of our collective inaction — as some sort of unforgivable crime.

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Have We Already Forgotten About New York’s Apocalyptic Orange Skies, and What It Told Us About the Climate Crisis?

The Empire State Building and New York City’s orange sky in June 7, 2023.

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For a few days, from June 7 onwards, when toxic, apocalyptic orange skies engulfed New York City and Washington, D.C., caused by wildfires in Canada burning on an unprecedented scale, it seemed that the reality of the climate crisis had finally struck home in two of the places that counted most in terms of sounding alarms in the Global North, where so much of the world’s economic and political power still resides, and where people, in general, are largely oblivious to the disasters regularly afflicting the Global South, via unprecedented heat, droughts and flooding.

For the Global North to wake up to reality, climate change, it seemed, needed to arrive on their doorstep, and for a few days the media coverage was suitably sombre, although, even then, as the worst of the pollution passed, the relentless churn of the news cycle returned to its typical dreary pattern of distraction.

Few dwelt on the irony that, as the veteran environmental activist Bill McKibben explained for the New Yorker, the arrival the toxic skies coincided with Joe Biden’s approval — to save the Inflation Reduction Act, “the first truly serious climate bill our government has ever passed” — of “the MVP pipeline, which will carry fracked gas across West Virginia and Virginia”, and which “is precisely the kind of new fossil-fuel infrastructure that climate scientists have repeatedly said we must stop building”, and of “plans for an enormous new oil-drilling complex in Alaska (and liquefied-natural-gas exports), and huge new offshore-drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico.”

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The Evil Empire Isn’t Russia; It’s Fossil Fuel-Based Capitalism, Waging Apocalyptic War on the Planet and the Whole of Humanity

The US military and some of their phenomenal fossil fuel-based pollution, in a photo made available by the US Department of Veterans Affairs, and previously used to accompany a Counterfire article, ‘Why stopping wars is essential for stopping climate change,’ in March 2019.

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Since Russia invaded Ukraine 15 months ago, the West has been subjected to a pro-war propaganda campaign, on Ukraine’s behalf, on a scale not seen since the run-up to the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003.

I don’t mean to suggest in any way that we shouldn’t feel sympathy for the people of Ukraine, but the relentless reporting of their suffering, which dominated the news, to the exclusion of almost everything else, for several months after the war began, was so all-pervasive that it was difficult to recognize — or to remember — that, as is powerfully explained in ‘Why Are We in Ukraine?’, a major new article for Harper’s Magazine by Benjamin Schwarz and Christopher Layne, the war didn’t happen because Vladimir Putin is a figure of pure evil, but because of over 30 years of provocation by the US.

Since the fragmentation of the Soviet Union, between 1989 and 1991, the US has sought to erase the reality that its relationship with Russia is, necessarily, one of two vast and different political entities, each bristling with nuclear weapons, and has, instead, increasingly regarded itself as the world’s sole superpower, entitled to use NATO to encroach further and further on Russian territory, despite Secretary of State James Baker, in February 1990, convincing Mikhail Gorbachev to give up East Germany by telling him that, if he did so, NATO would “not shift one inch eastward from its present position.”

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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