A wind-battered walk

Written on Orkney, 10 January 2017.

Reading John Vidal’s valedictory letter and it is today impossible to feel anything but despair.

Sometimes I feel this breed of panic, a fraying at the edges, a sinkhole opening — too much has been done, and too many insurmountable things must be surmounted.

Vidal writes what I feel. The nightmare of the Great Acceleration. An unrestrainable whirlwind of impacts: population boom, technological frontiers, ever-expanding GDP, and cultural annihilation.

Steadily linear problems, unfathomably interlinked, are now exponential.

All of this boundless beauty is no longer bounded. Planet Earth II showed us the majesty, made us weep with the individual tragedies. But no sense of the scale of the pressure that beauty is under. They fly drones above the rolling hills with forests rich and green, unending to the horizon. But please zoom further out — put this vista on a planetary scale — show us the smoking deserts where monocultures squat, where bulldozers roar.

And then put it into a time series. Spool it on for us, because we can’t think at the right level of abstraction from our anxious and impotent little lives.

I must take this state of mind onto a wind-battered walk. My own Planet Earth, my own wilderness.

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