Wednesday, December 26

notes from lincoln nebraska in the rain on december the 26th

I’m waiting for the train. It’s raining out, it’s been raining all day. You can’t of course definitively say this is because the planet is warmer, just like you couldn’t definitively say that global warming is a big fakeout if it happened to be a world-beating apocalyptic blizzard outside. But it’s raining on December the 26th, and it’s doing the same thing 120 odd miles north of here where I grew up, and you can have thoughts. Much like you could have thoughts a couple of years back when it was 70° on Christmas Day and there were severe thunderstorm warnings. How many points on the graph define a trend? What the fuck happened to winter?

I talked with an older relative a couple of days ago. He brought it up; he always brings it up. He wants to talk about it: Nothing is wrong, the Ogallala aquifer is recharging naturally, it doesn’t really matter if some little stickleback minnow goes extinct, ecological concerns are a pure scam, these environmentalists are just lining their pockets by colluding with malevolent bureaucrats, etc.

This is precisely why we’re fucked. For him, it’s not an unfortunate side effect that humans are killing everything so much as it’s the entire point and purpose of human life. It’s not generally put so nakedly, but the killing is how you’re supposed to live and anyone who stands in your way is deluded at best and probably a kind of criminal. The failure to destroy everything you can is the purest folly imaginable; the idea that anyone might know a better way is pure hubris.

Of course in this view the world is made for human use, and is in some important sense illimitable. It doesn’t matter that in practice the world has limits. The understanding won’t change. No new data will affect the model. He loves his grandkids and would go to nearly any length to ensure their happiness, but nothing that happens in his remaining years will ever make him grasp that we’re all burning the world they’re going to inhabit.

I’m drinking a Pabst Blue Ribbon. “16 FLUID OUNCES”. The 16oz tallboy is, let’s be clear about this, a bad idea. Beer of this quality and temperament is meant to be consumed cold, and cannot possibly stay cold at this rate of consumption (the rate dictated by “I’m nursing this series of shitty beers so I have something better to do than sit around the train station”) for more than 7 or 8 of the 16 available ounces.

I used to work in one of the buildings around here. Back in the before time, when it still snowed in the winter. Since then I have moved to another state and the baleful gaze of the serious development money has fallen on this section of town. It was, as per usual, better as a half-developed post-industrial former warehouse zone with much of the real estate barely occupied at all. Not that it was good, exactly, just that it was less of a glaring polished nullity full of gastropubs.