In his new book, The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption, journalist Dahr Jamail laments that the planet most likely "is in a hospice situation." The premise fits: Jamail, who's covered the subject for years at Truthout, has been among the most grimly realistic of climate reporters. I recently spoke with him about the false dichotomy of hope versus hopelessness, and why inaction is not an option.
Q: The End of Ice conveys the thought that society cannot start grieving about climate change without trying to make it better for indigenous peoples in the time we have left.
Dahr Jamail: One of the Native American elders I include in the last chapter, Stan Rushworth, believes the erasure, denial, and willing ignorance by the U.S. government and the majority of the population of this country of the genocide and eradication of the indigenous population here after first contact is the moral wound from which all the ailments besetting this country stem.
The horrendous disparity of wealth, lack of health care, racism, violence, wars, sexism, and of course, human-caused climate disruption are all symptoms of this break from reality. These symptoms are literally annihilating the very biosphere upon which our lives depend.
Native peoples here lived in communion with the Earth, understanding that we are part of this planet, and it is part of us. For the dominant European mindset of exploitation, ownership, and domination to obtain a foothold here, it had to annihilate the people here who lived with an ontology of oneness with Earth.
Q: Can you talk about hopelessness over climate change from the different generational viewpoints?
Jamail: I believe the question of hope versus hopelessness is a false choice at this time. We have already failed, as a species. The oceans have absorbed 93 percent of the heat we've added to the planet. There is no more future tense about these things--they are happening now. The future is guaranteed to be catastrophic. This means we must grieve. We must feel, in full, the despair, sadness, rage, numbness that comes with accepting what has happened, is happening, and will continue to happen.
I live in a solar-powered home, grow most of my own food, and work toward annually reducing my already quite small carbon footprint. I work to inform people about what is happening to the...