Because you’re going to need shelter — and people don’t give their homes away. They barricade themselves in.
So, sooner or later, exhausted and desperate, you may have to make the decision to give up and die — or, to make somebody else give up and die because they won’t accept you in their home voluntarily.
And what, in your comfortable urban life, has ever prepared you for that decision?
From episode 1 of James Burke’s 1978 TV series “Connections”, entitled: “The Trigger Effect“.
While it won’t help with my rent, I nonetheless have some very interesting work for the next few days.
I am doing a close read twice of Professor Peter Russell’s forthcoming memoirs, which has been a privelege because of the respect I have for him as a thinker and a person, and a joy because of their colour, humour, and personality.
I am also previewing a new series of James Burke’s TV show Connections, which previously ran in 1978, 1994, and 1997. I have seen those old shows many times, and I thought a lot about his book The Axemaker’s Gift back in high school. I have the chance to interview him from Monaco on Wednesday, so I am giving the new material a careful viewing and thinking through how to make the best use of the conversation. There is scarcely a person I can think of who has a more educated and wide-ranging understanding of the relationships between science, technology, and human society. Since human civilization is presently hurtling toward a brick wall which threatens to rather flatten us all, it may be invaluable to get Burke’s views on how a defensive strategy from here can be undertaken.
But then, somewhere between the UN’s 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that outlined the difference between a world at 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius of warming—which was etched into people’s minds as saying we only have twelve years to avert climate catastrophe—and the global youth climate strikes of the following year, reproductive anxiety due to the climate crisis had become mainstream.
Wray, Britt. Generation Dread: Finding Purpose in an Age of Climate Crisis. Alfred A. Knopf Canada; 2022. p. 8
I am still job-hunting, but life has given me a bit of a treat to work on between those efforts. I have two new books from professors I know at U of T to read.
Already published and available to everyone, there is Steve Easterbrook’s Computing the Climate: How We Know What We Know About Climate Change.
Still in the works, possibly for another year, are Peter Russell’s draft memoirs, which he has been kind enough to let me read.
I will be working on both before today’s Critical Mass bike ride, which I expect will be the last with decent weather before spring.
Back in 2015, during the Toronto350.org / UofT350.org fossil fuel divestment campaign, I set up UofTFacultyDivest.com as a copy of what the Harvard campaign had up at harvardfacultydivest.com/.
The purposes of the site were to collect the attestations we needed for the formal university divestment policy, to have a repository of campaign-related documents, and to provide information about the campaign to anyone looking for it online.
The site was built with free WordPress software and plugins which have ceased to be compatible with modern web hosting, so I will re-list the important content here for the benefit of anyone seeking to learn about the campus fossil fuel divestment movement in the future:
- The earliest public draft of the brief: September 2013 brief
- Final brief presented by Toronto350.org to the Office of the President
- Cover for the bound paper copies of the brief made for the members of the president’s ad hoc committee at the Toronto Reference Library’s Asquith Press (available in the Robarts catalog and the U of T Archives)
- Presentations to the ad hoc committee
- December 2015 recommendation from the president’s ad hoc committee to divest
- Toronto350.org / UofT350.org Community Response to the committee’s recommendations
- Campus-wide endorsements for the campaign
- University of Toronto Faculty Association (UTFA) endorsement
Of course, U of T announced in 2021 that they would divest. Since then, the Climate Justice U of T group which developed out of the Leap Manifesto group which organized the second fossil fuel divestment campaign at U of T (after Toronto350 / UofT350) has succeeded in pressuring the federated colleges of St. Michael’s, Trinity, and Victoria University to divest as well.
Yesterday I got my steel bedframe, futon, pillows, and bedding delivered by my cousin Oleksa and his partner. I had no space for them in my temporary student co-op digs, and my aunt offered to hang on to them until I had a new place.
That means that the move which began in March when I learned that I would be forced to leave my room on Marlee Street because the landlords illegally refused to add me to the lease has finally ended. It also means no more sleeping on the floor with a yellow foam sleeping bad, Thermarest collapsible pillow, and light-duty MEC sleeping bag.
If you have been sympathetic to my cause and my suffering, my PhD dissertation is my most sincere, detailed, highly scrutinized, and high-effort way of explaining the climate change crisis which we are enduring and how to work toward a course of action to save us all. Reading it is the best thing you can do in response to observing how much difficulty and pain has been involved in creating it.
Please don’t assume it is written for academics and not for you. It is written for everyone who cares about the future of the world, and more than anything I want people to engage with it. Please also do not assume it’s written in impenetrable or obscure language; I wrote it to be comprehensible to anyone with a substantial and educated interest in climate change: among policy-makers, activists, environmentalists, journalists, and those merely morbidly concerned about the future of this sphere of Nickel-Iron we call The Earth:
If reading the whole thing seems like too much, consider reading just the preface on positionality before chapter 1 for an explanation of how I am trying to engage with the climate change activist movement, along with section 5.5 (“Climate justice within the CFFD movement”, p. 190), section 5.6 (“Purity versus effectiveness”, p. 192), and section 5.7 (“Policy durability”, p. 201).
If you prefer a paper copy and will actually read it, contact me and I will send you one of the copies available at cost from Lulu.com.
Because the pay working as a food delivery cyclist is so dismal — and because ultimately I need a job with career advancement potential and the prospect of doing useful work on climate change — I am beginning another round of job research and applications tomorrow: job portals for all levels of government, universities, academic publishers, energy companies, environmental NGOs, and really anything plausible.
The search is a bit of a grim one largely because of the very specific experience requirements for nearly any position I look at. Employers mostly want to take on someone who has recently done a very similar job and can provide references to show their aptitude at it. When it comes to applicants without experience who have the potential to be good at the work, it would be risky and counter-intuitive to hire someone promising over someone proven. The kind of entry-level jobs where it is possible to get in without prior experience, and where it is also possible to advance, seem to be vanishingly rare.
The social dimensions and office politics of climate change work are also a confounding factor. Even people and organizations whose job it is to highlight the severity of the crisis don’t appreciate being reminded of that in person. The world is full of thousands of people working on one narrow aspect of the climate problem, but pulling back to consider the scale of the problem overall compared with the scale of our efforts to combat it is deeply upsetting and demoralizing: especially to the sort of mid-career professionals with young kids who occupy most of the professional positions related to climate change. Having kids makes it psychologically intolerable to recognize the depth of our catastrophe, and the natural response to someone bringing up such uncomfortable ideas is to wrap the worry-inducing person up in smooth layers like a pearl until they are silent and no longer an irritant to the normal course of business.