What I learned about climate crisis perceptions while knocking on doors – Spoiler alert: we’re fucked

Extrapolating information from the current climate crisis predictions—which seem to worsen every other week, but we’ll work with the current snapshot of abject doom—it’s conceivable that some or all of the following will occur in our lifetimes:

  • A decade from now (A.K.A. 2029 – how old will you be then? And your kids?) insurance companies will start eliminating many types of home owner’s insurance coverage when it becomes clear they can no longer profit on policies for the most common types of claims, namely those caused by climate crisis extreme weather events.
  • As such, in the ensuing years, much of our dwindling income will go to keeping our homes repaired and standing after each weather event, as we will be paying out-of-pocket for these repairs. Or we will let our home fall into disrepair. Or we will have to raze them after each major weather event and build new, simple shelters lashed together with whatever we can afford or scavenge. After three or four extreme weather events, formerly well-tended neighborhoods will look a lot like the shantytowns of Brazil.
  • About the same time, a global human migration the likes of which our species has never seen will begin in order to outrun rising seas, punishing heat and food and water shortages. We’re talking tens of millions of climate refugees just for starters, abandoning places ranging from Southeast Asia to Florida and clambering to get a new foothold anyplace fit for year-round human habitation. It should go without saying that the people already living in these habitable regions will have… issues.
  • Millennials will be at retirement age right about the time clean water becomes the most valuable substance on Earth. Indulgences like coffee, chocolate and avocados will already be gone or so expensive that only the Richard Bransons of the world can afford an occasional taste.
  • Generation Z will be left holding the bag as countries like the U.S. and China fall apart, resulting in dozens of new nation- and city-states, kingdoms or feudal clans—that is, if they aren’t summarily conquered and enslaved by a warlord with a name like “Skull Fucker.” (Dibs.)

South Minneapolis, circa 2053.

Why so morbid and fatalistic, Leif? Do you need a hug?

Of course, I need a hug. Shut up. But the reason I’m particularly sensitive to our collective fate comes from my current day job.

My local electric utility started a state-mandated community solar program a few years ago. Not only does this program make solar power available to people without having to lift a finger or spend a dime more than they currently pay for electricity, but the utility is incentivizing enrollment by literally giving away money in the form of annual rebates starting at 10 percent and rising annually.

I have been working with a third party that has been handling enrollment on the utility’s behalf for nearly a year. We have booths at co-ops, farmers markets, super liberal events and, to fill the event gaps, we do the pride-swallowing knocking on doors. This means, in addition to the weekly, escalating climate change news reporting, I also have a daily, in-my-face finger on the pulse of the urgency ordinary people feel about the climate crisis.

While out knocking, I am waved off, ignored, lectured and have doors shut in my face by nine out of 10 people, some of them with soon-to-be-figuratively-fucked small children clinging to their legs, as I attempt to convince them that getting off fossil fuels immediately is in everyone’s best interest. The following, in my estimation, are the reasons why a heartbreaking majority of people are behaving like self-defeating, descendant-defeating asshats.

Climate scientists have unintentionally sucked at raising the alarm

These scientists’ press releases over the past 30-odd years have diligently reported how utterly screwed we are, but in careful, scientist-y tones, predicting the more and more likely downfall of modern civilization measured in comfortably distant decades.

After so much practiced apathy, the public isn’t going to suddenly start taking these reports seriously unless scientists start using eye-watering, R-rated language in their reports, especially the titles. I’m talking something like “You’re going to witness your whole family shit themselves to death” and “You’re fucked, Scott.”

Since repetition of concepts is key to getting people to (eventually) act, these colorfully specific reports about all the ways we’re going to hate life after 2050 will need to be analyzed daily, CNN-panel-style on the “Dear God, I’m So Thirsty” YouTube channel.

Self-starting appears to be a shockingly rare character trait

In June, we received yet another frightening update on the rapidly shrinking timeline before most of us are living an approximation of “The Hunger Games.” It vividly described a “near- to mid-term existential threat to human civilization,” and then went on to confidently predict a complete breakdown of society by 2050.

With these new, asshole-puckering warnings, despite being phrased in (albeit slightly more urgent) nerd lingo, one would think that most people would have perked up at the news that we may experience mob rule in our lifetimes. Nope. Most people barely blinked, probably because the news wasn’t delivered in a hit, eight-part podcast series.

I’d love to be a fly on a nearby piece of rubble when the starving, disease-ravaged grandchildren of these zero-contributors wonder aloud why the hell meme and peepaw were still using fossil fuels for electricity in 2019. This will no doubt make evenings around the family oil drum fire tense, while everyone is making their underwear out of home-processed hemp and keeping on the lookout for raids by gangs of heavily armed cannibals.

People think they’re too busy to take even 20 minutes to make a difference in their fossil fuel consumption

The excuses for ending their conversations with me as fast as possible range from being too busy at work, taking the kids to extracurricular activities and sports, getting coffee, heading out for golf, leaving for the mall, washing their car, and other hollow “everything is just so crazy right now” justifications.

Well, here’s the thing: Among the long list of activities that will be drastically affected, scarce or just plain eliminated in the next 30 years includes many professions, taking kids to extracurricular activities and sports (we’ll be lucky if most schools are even functioning), getting coffee (in the unlikely event it’s still even available), heading out for golf (ROTFL), going to the mall (third world flea and barter market), washing your car (what car—and with what water?), and pretty much anything else that doesn’t involve basic survival activities.

And if you think you’re busy now, wait till your daily schedule includes two hours of crawling around the periphery of a fetid bog, catching enough beetles to provide your family with one square meal that day.

While almost everyone acknowledges that climate change is an issue, they are operating under the assumption that someone else will fix it for them

No one is going to fix climate change for you—certainly not the jackass government we currently have that’s gleefully sabotaging our futures. You need to personally act.

Best I can tell, the bumper sticker climate activists are living in a delusion that a magical solution will be cinematically invented in the nick of time by some Tony Stark-type character, then, impossibly, put into mass production and commercial use in only a couple years, saving us all.

As the UN reported last year, our only chance to avert global devastation is to start battling climate change “akin in scale to the World War II emergency mobilization.” After nine months of near-zero movement in that direction, I think we can safely assume that is not going to happen in time to save us. Make concerted efforts now or be prepared to subsist on cockroach salads during your twilight years. There’ll be grilled rat-on-a-stick on Sundays, obviously.

People won’t get off fossil fuels because of FOMO on the next renewable energy breakthrough

It took almost 40 years for solar panels to go from dazzling innovation to being available and affordable for at-home installation. Even if someone invents a dramatic renewable energy alternative today, you won’t be able to buy it, never mind afford it, for decades. And it most certainly won’t be operating at an effective, planet-wide capacity before pooping in our backyards is the new normal.

Similarly, I also frequently hear people fret about how renewable energy prices may somehow spike, becoming more expensive than some unnamed alternative, and they don’t want to risk paying more for power. At this stage, that is objectively and mathematically impossible. Even if it was a possibility, isn’t paying a little more for power now worth knowing your kids and grandkids will have a chance at living past 50?

The last word: Make changes to your lifestyle now, or you and/or your descendants will probably die horribly

We need to internalize and start behaving like climate change is life or death; not in a couple generations, not even in 10 years. Yesterday.

This is not alarmist. These are clearer and clearer forecasts for our near futures as the effects of climate change become more apparent and accurately predictable.

Prioritize climate change now. Get off fossil fuels, adjust your lifestyle and start preparing for a sharp decline in your quality of life. It’s coming. You can do these things on your own terms right now or have them done to you in unpleasant or even terrifying ways later.