Administrivia note: Time to heal and reassess

Beginning today, I am taking a sabbatical from this blog and my involvement with climate change for a currently undetermined period.

After wrestling for months (years, my wife might say) with the Big Question of what I can or should do in the climate change fight, I’ve decided that the best next step for me is to step back, let the frustration and anger subside, attend to some personal matters and interests[1], and then reassess said Big Question.

If this sounds like Dave Roberts’ famous Goodbye for now, a.k.a. the “I am burnt the fuck out” post, then you get bonus points for being observant. I’ve been totally immersed in energy and climate research, writing, campaigning, etc. for just over 135 months, during which I worked far more weekends than I took off and accomplished far less than I wish I had.

I desperately tried to find a way to keep at this without a break. Write a book, leverage my computer-related writing and editing background to find some sort of writing gig (that didn’t require me to sell my soul by becoming one of the absurd deniers, even though I’ve always wanted to try my hand at writing comedy), etc. In fact, I’ve developed an outline for what I’ve half-jokingly called “the book that needs to be written”, but it’s such a huge task to begin when you’re running on the last whisper of electrons in your battery and there’s such a dismal track record of climate change-themed books actually making a difference that even I can’t talk myself into attempting to push that particular boulder up a muddy hill right now. And as my wife will attest, I can talk myself into damn near anything.

So, I was stuck. I couldn’t bring myself to walk away, given the importance of this topic to all the children of the world — and, as I’ve said repeatedly, they really are all our kids, regardless of whose DNA they carry — yet I was so thoroughly, deeply burnt the fuck out that I couldn’t do anything of use to anyone.

I decided to lean on some of my e-friends, including climate scientists, communicators, and campaigners, for ideas. Virtually every one said the same thing: Yes, the climate change mess is really bad; no one really knows how to fix it[2]; we have to keep doing whatever we can think of, just in case something strikes a spark. To say that the level of optimism among my contacts was low would be an almost laughable understatement.

My logjam-busting epiphany was triggered by a conversation with my friend Mark, who pointed out that it might be worthwhile to look at this like military service. You give it everything you have for a period of years, and then when your time is up, you hand the monumental and often unpleasant task over to others.

I am not at all ready to walk away, though. It’s simply too important a challenge, with almost incalculable consequences if we don’t get it right.

The answer, for me at this time, is to get some distance, do productive, non-climate change-related things, and when the batteries are recharged in a few weeks or months or a year, return to the Big Question and see how things shake out.


[1] Don’t read anything sinister between those lines. Neither I nor anyone in my life is sick; I’m simply going to experiment with restarting my woodworking business and finish the remodeling work on the house my wife and I bought recently, and, oh yeah, spend some more time gazing into the eyes of my college sweetheart.

[2] When I say “no one really knows how to fix it”, I’m not saying that no one thinks putting a price on carbon is a major part of the solution, or that vastly increasing the use of renewables and electric cars wouldn’t be excellent ideas, etc. Those things are trivially obvious. What’s elusive and maddeningly difficult is figuring out how we make those things happen in a country like the US where climate change denial still draws more votes than it loses in some places, and even many people who “are aware of climate change” think they can “fix it” by changing their light bulbs and driving a hybrid car. We are on the wrong end of ideological bias, information deficit, and plain old political corruption. But aside from that, everything is just peachy.