Disappearing Acts - An elegy on loss
December 8, 2018 3:19 PM   Subscribe

Disappearing Acts A crushingly sad article about the mass extinction we are all participating in, with photos from Nick Brandt and others.

More on why it's happening here: The Pangolin Hunter
posted by specialk420 (18 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
Pretty much everything about what is happening to the planet is crushingly sad if you stop to think about it for even the briefest moment. Even our parents lived in a much greener, richer, more beautiful world just one generation ago. The world that our children and grandchildren will inhabit is one I don't care to contemplate.

It is what it is.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 3:38 PM on December 8, 2018 [5 favorites]


Aww, now I'm all angry and sad and irritable. Fuck.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 3:39 PM on December 8, 2018 [3 favorites]


Buy hey, some of us bought reusable straws so problem solved I guess.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 3:42 PM on December 8, 2018 [4 favorites]


@anticipation - I know, I choked up when reading it.

Scatter, Adapt, and Remember by Anna Lee Newitz is somewhat helpful.
posted by specialk420 at 3:48 PM on December 8, 2018 [3 favorites]


I am starting to believe that not caring about the future may be normal for us.
posted by notreally at 4:15 PM on December 8, 2018 [2 favorites]


Anticipation: if your parents lived anywhere in the industrialized or industrializing world, it was a hugely more polluted and toxic world than the one we live in now (but for atmospheric carbon dioxide if you regard that as a pollutant). Rivers that we swim and fish in now were poisonous, energy and transportation emissions were sulphurous and (to the extent of leaded gas) neurotoxic. Read about the coal-dust fogs of London and the smog of Los Angeles, for example. If they lived in the non-industrialized world, they were at risk of famines and plagues of the sort that we haven't seen in many years.
posted by MattD at 5:33 PM on December 8, 2018 [19 favorites]


There were also many species that have since declined precipitously with little hope of recovery (trees especially), fewer invasives, more forest, and less sprawl. California wasn't constantly on fire. Moose weren't dying out due to climate change and CWD. There were still fish in the oceans.

Yes some things have improved. Those things are like the little swirls of backwards-flowing water that you get at the edge of a great river.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:15 PM on December 8, 2018 [11 favorites]


I'm not at all an expert on this, but I've followed some news items of related interest:

Brooke Jarvis (The New York Times Magazine, 11/27/2018), "The Insect Apocalypse is Here"
Patrick Barkham (The Guardian, 4/22/2018), "One in Eight Bird Species Threatened with Extinction, Global Study Finds" (links to this study [PDF], evidently addressed in part in congressional testimony by an official from the US Fish and Wildlife Service)
Elizabeth Anne Brown (National Geographic, 11/1/2018), "Widely Misinterpreted Report Still Shows Catastrophic Animal Decline"
posted by Wobbuffet at 6:30 PM on December 8, 2018 [1 favorite]


Behind every glowing cleanup story in North America or Europe is a story about the transfer of economic activities that created the pollution to some other place, multiplied a thousandfold. Of course there's no industrial pollution in American cities anymore because nobody makes anything in American cities anymore. And yeah, it'd be great if we could clean up the water while there's something left to swim in it.

The success stories are fine and good. Some are due to economic and technological evolution or scarcity, and some have been won by hard political and social activism. Ironically, the feel-good stories* are usually trotted out by opponents of such activism in order to discourage it. Present company included.

* We used to call that a red herring but they all have lead poisoning now, so be careful!
posted by klanawa at 8:05 PM on December 8, 2018 [21 favorites]


Of course there's no industrial pollution in American cities anymore because nobody makes anything in American cities anymore.

The lead in the soil in my DC backyard exceeds 550 ppm - it's still very much here, just now legacy and largely invisible.
posted by ryanshepard at 9:01 PM on December 8, 2018 [11 favorites]


I hope it was clear that that was snark. Of course we're awash in toxicity. You can't even sculpt sea shells without dying anymore.
posted by klanawa at 9:40 PM on December 8, 2018 [3 favorites]


Anticipation: if your parents lived anywhere in the industrialized or industrializing world, it was a hugely more polluted and toxic world than the one we live in now (but for atmospheric carbon dioxide if you regard that as a pollutant). Rivers that we swim and fish in now were poisonous, energy and transportation emissions were sulphurous and (to the extent of leaded gas) neurotoxic. Read about the coal-dust fogs of London and the smog of Los Angeles, for example. If they lived in the non-industrialized world, they were at risk of famines and plagues of the sort that we haven't seen in many years.

If the current administration in the US, especially the EPA administrator, has their way, all of this could be back, on top of the additional modern effects of invasive species, habitat fragmentation, and climate change. And yes, all credible scientists do indeed view anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions as a pollutant.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:45 AM on December 9, 2018


crushingly sad Thanks for the warning; I'll pass. I feel so rotten about the mess my grandbabies are inheriting.
posted by theora55 at 8:26 AM on December 9, 2018


Since 2016 my philosophy has increasingly turned to Pessimism. Not Existentialism, not Nihilism (per se)... Pessimism. On an ontological level.
posted by symbioid at 9:08 AM on December 9, 2018


Enjoy yourself: it's later than you think.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 9:12 AM on December 9, 2018 [2 favorites]


I'm with theora55 in that I'll be giving it a miss, as I can't assimilate any more voids.

However, not wanting to be a massive dick, but knowing full well that this is exactly how it will make me sound, this sort of stuff:

The world that our children and grandchildren will inhabit is one I don't care to contemplate.

I feel so rotten about the mess my grandbabies are inheriting.

Is exactly part of the problem. Having children, especially in the "first" world, is the single worst thing you can do for the planet.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:59 PM on December 9, 2018 [1 favorite]


It is what it is.

And what it is, is defined by what is absent. It is what it is not.
posted by otherchaz at 10:03 PM on December 9, 2018




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