The sunflower
It bows down to the Sun
The image of resilience.

Sunday, August 6, 2023

We are Losing the Planet. And Nobody Wants to Admit That


The front page of an Italian news site. It says: "High prices push tourists away. Up to 30% fewer people on beaches."

In Italy (and not just in Italy) we had the hottest July ever recorded in history. It was a disaster for the seaside tourism industry. Some sites report 30% less attendance on the beaches, some say it was 40%. Officially, it was because of high prices. It is clearly an excuse: prices do adapt to demand, and we are asked to believe that tourism operators were so dumb to chase away their customers in this way. 

In part, the low attendance to beaches is due to the contraction of the Italian economic system, badly hit by the high prices of energy and commodities. But not just that. I heard friends and acquaintances saying that it was just too hot to stay on the beach. And it makes plenty of sense. I am writing this post from a nice little town in the mountains of Tuscany, where I am spending my summer. July was hot here, too, but nothing comparable to how it was in the towns and on the beaches. This little town is chock-full of tourists. The local fair has seen more people than ever attending; prices are not lower than before, but people are coming anyway.  It has a certain logic: people listen to their sweat glands. And they move to higher grounds if they can. 

The weird thing is that most people nevertheless refuse to admit that there is a climate problem. This hot July is officially a "non-news," and you see that from how careful they are with attributing the loss of attendance on beaches not to the torrid temperatures but to a bad price policy of beach owners. Even at the fair in the town where I am, I casually mentioned climate change during conversations, and the result was, typically, "It is summer, it is normal that it is hot," and, sometimes, "It is a hoax. They are trying to scare us." 

It is weirder than anything I could have imagined, but it is the way it is. And not just in Italy. This July was a special moment that could have placed climate at the center of people's attention worldwide, but it just didn't happen. August may still change the perspective, but I doubt that. People will wait to be boiled alive before admitting that there is a problem with climate. 

At this point, it seems to me that we have to rethink all we have been doing so far about climate change. Maybe it was unavoidable that we were to arrive at this point. Maybe it is unavoidable that we are losing the planet forever, at least for what matters to the human species. But maybe there is still some way to steer things in the right direction. I don't know; I am mulling things over in my head. I'll see to explain what I have in mind in a future post. 

For the time being, here is a photo of where I am now. There are still places with healthy forests around, although nobody can say for how long. 


  1. Así, en Chile pasa lo mismo que en Italia (e imagino que en otros países también). Nadie quiere creer lo que está sucediendo en el mundo con el clima, o hablar de ello, y con todo lo demás. Es impresionante.

  2. I'd prefer someone saying. Yes the climate is changing, but I am only one person. What can I do about it? Perhaps the shame of not being able to do anything about it makes a few people lie. I hope so.

    It is hard to believe folks think it is a hoax.

    What do they say about the Permian Extinction?

    I hope some of the 'hoaxers' have a Carnian Pluvial Event in their shorts.

  3. Consider this, written to Reverend Billy Talen:

    Dear Reverend Billy,

    I’m a big fan of yours and appreciate all that you do. As far as climate change goes, do you think we’ve missed our chance to stop it over the past 20-30 years with all the dithering and inaction by our leaders? At this point, It seems like it’s easier to go numb and try to ignore what’s happening as best as one can.

    — Doug

    The response:
    Dear Doug,

    The middle class of the USA is locked up in passivity, locked up in a prison of “isms.” Religious fundamentalism, capitalism, racism, sexism, consumerism — we got isms to the wall. There is only one force that can free us from this bondage: The Earth, the planet Earth.

    In autocracy, it’s simple to keep control. The dictator has one party, lots of guns and a controlled media, and a lot of fear. In a commercial democracy, the ruler is the investor class, and they need to keep those isms growing around us like dazzling walls that simulate life. The Ism Prison…

    What the Earth is doing right now, especially in the last month of extreme heat and a world of natural disasters is pull us from that virtual reality. We have noticed in our work a basic change in the usual passivity. Many of us no longer consider the climate cataclysm merely a three-minute news item, in other words…. consumable information. A critical mass has been reached, and it’s a shock.

    It is well known that JPMorgan Chase is the dirtiest bank because of all the funding it provides to fossil fuel projects around the world. The Earth Church invades the Rockefeller Center JPMorgan Chase a lot, 15 times in the last two years. We do this at lunch-time so that the singers who have jobs can use their lunch break for our “Radical Lunch.” The managers inside the bank often grimace when they see us parade through the door with anthems about the Earth. (In the last days, researchers from and indigenous groups revealed that Chase has been financing Amazon rainforest killing projects in Peru, Colombia, Brazil and Ecuador.) JPMorgan Chase tops the list of forest killers, with Citibank in second.

    This of course is featured in our chanting and preaching, and the managers sit there in their plush chairs, our audience until the police arrive. But last week they didn’t call the police. Our reception seems changed. We sense a new thoughtfulness in some of them. The heatwaves on three continents might be impacting them. Of course there is the laughter and moaning and swearing, but in our action last week we found some of them sitting there like they had heatwaves in their air-conditioning, stuck in their moral quandary.

    We urged them to hack into that computerized money flow. Detour the millions meant for the TransCanada pipeline. Route the money away from the Wet’suwet’en and Mohawk lands. Protect the Amazon. Starve out the ranchers and miners and dams. Hack, strike, practice hidden labor slow-downs. Be a whistleblower in the dirtiest fossil bank. Radical whispers at the water cooler. Work undercover for the Earth.

    Doug, I’m using this as an example. All of us need to turn against this fossil economy. This is what each of us needs to do in our own lives. Our work for the Earth will be scary, and probably illegal if it is to have any impact at all. We will help each other break out of our “Ism Prison”.


    *help make denial an endangered species. Make people (denialists!) think that NOT DEALING with change is what what FOOLS do. Let the obstacle become the way.

  4. prof, io invece ho notato una grossa contrazione di presenze nelle mie montagne. A occhio e croce anche qui del 30-40%.