Serial Novel “The Sorrows” - March 7

‘I don’t speak to murderers!!’

Yes, that was the text my stepson sent to me. I think the double exclamation points hurt the most. Such unnecessary melodrama.

I can understand his grief of losing his mother to cancer. And I honestly don’t think he blames me for her death. On the other hand, the death of the planet is apparently completely my doing.

Such thinking - or rather blaming - from a rational and relatively intelligent man who lives in Fitzroy with his partner and young son. He works for an NGO, although I’m not sure which one. There are so many these days as governments of all stripes step away from their social responsibilities.

Fitzroy used to be a working-class suburb here in Melbourne, dotted with factories and warehouses and remnants of local industries that fell by the wayside as manufacturing moved offshore, taking the need for low-skilled local workers with them.

As the suburb fell apart, the artists and musicians and poets moved into rambling shared houses and broken-down squats. Then came the heroin overdoses and fashion outliers and white-walled art galleries and experimental restaurants and three-story murals and finally the adventurous property developers.

Like most inner city suburbs it’s now thoroughly gentrified by pinot grigio swilling quasi-socialists on $130,000+ salaries and low tax retirement funds. Fitzroy is like Shoreditch or Camden in London but with excellent cafes.

Do we have a working class anymore? I guess it’s the nurses, teachers and social workers. I wonder what they think of the coming climate catastrophe. I wonder if they hold us responsible?

Us? The PR giant that last tried to win them over with that ghastly campaign for BP three years ago. What was it called? Keep advancing? We see possibilities everywhere? First campaign in ten years after the largest marine oil spill in history.

It wasn’t our greatest work. Even schoolchildren called it deceptive and hypocritical. I thought it was well-meaning and inoffensive.

Rolled out in the UK, US and Germany with supporting print and digital advertising in the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal. Did wonders for our billings. And BP could certainly afford it.

Despite all the shots of solar farms and smiling babies, BP was producing 3.6 million barrels of oil per day and with record profits. Now they’re producing more oil than ever.

I wonder what the PR industry’s role will be in the impending breakdown of civilisation.

Is it me or is the US-spelling of civilisation as civilization simply uncivilised? Why do Americans spell so many words with a Z? Organize. Analyze. Realize. Apologize. Hypnotize. All invented by proud American lexicographer Noah Webster in the early 19th century to sell spelling books and dictionaries to newly literate Americans. How very American.

Imagine what America was like 200 years ago. A verdant, unspoiled wonderland of hope and majesty. Before industrialisation, before the cities congealed, before the cancer spread.

Environmental and societal collapse seems closer than ever. Is it really that bad, I can hear you ask? It’s worse than you think.

Uncontrolled proliferation of fungal infections as temperatures rise and the migratory patterns of birds, who carry fungi, change. Bringing respiratory illnesses caused by fungi like coccidioides or histoplasma. Hacking, spluttering as deadly fevers take hold.

Thawed permafrost - soil, gravel and sand which usually remain completely frozen - releases ancient bacteria and viruses to which we have lost immunity. Distant, forgotten plagues are reawakened. Viruses whose only purpose is to spread and kill everybody.

Mass extinction of all insect species causes a catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems, jeopardising our ability to produce food to feed ourselves.

All topped off with the spectre of rising fascism and totalitarianism and psychopaths who don’t even think climate change is happening, despite the turmoil swirling all around us, storming in front of their eyes.

Will it get any better? How can it? How can anything get better?

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