A ringside seat at the end of the world: Disaster fatigue



I’ve got it; you’ve got it: disaster fatigue. We are up to “here” with disasters — whether it’s the BP oil rig or the flood in Pakistan.

Of course, the line between natural and human-made is a tricky demarcation. After all, the floods in Pakistan are believed to be at least indirectly attributable to climate change. the World Meteorological Association said there’s no doubt that warmer temps in the Atlantic Ocean contributed to the ferocity of the rains that inundated Pakistan.

So if it’s global warming that’s contributing to this, then this Pakistan disaster is as people-perpetrated as the human- and technological- clusterfuck-up that led to the BP oil rig explosion.

Disasters are all around me here in the middle of Indiana, a spot otherwise supposedly spared at the moment from the vicissitudes of climate chaos. To the south, the aforementioned oil spill. To the north, the melting arctic. To the west, the now-famous great garbage patch of the Pacific. And to the east, the not-so-well-known sister garbage patch in the Atlantic.

Surrounded by disaster, I’d say. Not that the emerald ash borer chewing its way through Indiana is a walk in the park; though of course invasive species are in that grey area of human-vs.-natural disaster dispute.

I say what’s the diff? It’s all making me very tired. Here on the cusp of the Great Unraveling we are arguing about whether we should ban plastic bags (in California, plastic bags won), squabbling over what is killing the bees (neonicotinoid insecticides are the latest culprit for Colony Collapse Disorder) and nattering on about whether climate skeptic Bjorn Lomborg’s turn-about is a marketing ploy for his new book.

The disaster here is not knowing how to wake up to the true scale of our predicament. Some who have awakened have determined it’s too late already. Others believe human ingenuity will win out.

Whatever, the solution, or the beginning of the solution, is easy:

Do whatever you can to wake up. Don’t fall victim to disaster fatigue. Read the articles, see the photos, even watch the crappy television coverage. Then sympathize, empathize, wonder aloud what it would be like if it were you deluged by rain, oil, heat, cholera, neonicotinoid insecticides.

Because it will be you, sooner or later.

Pinch yourself, baby, it ain’t a dream.

Jim Poyser humors the horror of climate collapse every day at


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