Climate Corner: Trickle-up apocalypse

Aug 6, 2022

Aaron Dunbar

Unfettered climate chaos has ravaged the globe throughout July, as it is almost certainly guaranteed to do with increasing magnitude for the remainder of our days.

Heatwaves across the U.S. have placed over 100,000,000 under extreme heat warnings, with over a dozen raging wildfires resulting in potential blackouts. The U.K. recently hit its highest recorded temperature, with over 40 homes in London being destroyed by fires. Roads in China are buckling, droughts rage across Somalia, Malawi, Mexico, and Italy, and the Rio Grande ran dry for the first time in 40 years. Intensive flooding has led to the tragic loss of 37 lives in Kentucky.

Some scientists believe we’re facing down a “climate endgame,” in which human extinction may become inevitable.

It is against that backdrop U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recently made the statement humanity faces the risk of “collective suicide.”

I am not comfortably familiar with Guterres to comment on his actions as they relate to climate change. I have found he often speaks powerful and uncomfortable truths about the crisis at hand — though strong words are only that, and actions and policies are other things entirely. I wish neither to holistically endorse nor condemn him.

However, I do believe there is much to be discussed regarding the commonly held, though deeply flawed notion of the climate crisis as any kind of “collective suicide.”

A “suicide,” entails the taking of one’s own life by one’s own hand. “Genocide” might be a more apt term for the mass destruction of human life at the hands of the elite.

The likely swallowing of the island nation of Tuvalu by rising seas, for instance, can hardly be said to be the handiwork of its inhabitants. The tiny Pacific island was responsible for about 0.86 tons of CO2 emissions per capita in 2019, or a total of around 30 kt in greenhouse gas emissions. Contrast this with, say, the United States, whose per capita CO2 emissions sit around 13.68 tons, or around 6,001,209.96 kt in greenhouse gas emissions.

The U.S. is far and away the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, contributing around 20% of such emissions since 1850. We are inarguably and disproportionately responsible for the crisis at hand; while in far too many cases, the nations most at risk from the threat of a desecrated planet are also least culpable.

Which is not to say every person living within our country contributes equally to this global suffering. According to Oxfam, the richest 1% of humanity that infests this world today emits more than double the poorest half of our entire species.

Taylor Swift recently made headlines when it was reported her private jet was responsible for more than 8,293 metric tons of CO2 emissions since January of this year. To put this into perspective, the Swiss company building the world’s largest carbon direct air capture facility, Climeworks, is equipped to capture around two years’ worth of Swift’s annual emissions within about a year’s time. The world’s best climate capture technology is capable of reducing the emissions of around two ultra-wealthy American celebrities in one year.

It’s fashionable among the elite psychopaths who run the world to bandy about the term “trickle-down economics,” to bamboozle their slave laborers and indentured servants into believing the gold with which they line their owners’ pockets might slowly come falling back down to enrich them.

I would suggest just as the poor of this world remain sheltered from the fruits of their labors by the grotesque excesses of the elites, these same elites now shelter themselves from the literal storm of the climate crisis using the shattered bodies of the masses as a shield.

As the biosphere collapses around us, smarmy tech billionaires are launching themselves into space to avoid facing the hell on Earth they’ve created. A growing number of deranged companies are manufacturing “luxury doomsday shelters” underground for the ultrawealthy who’ve spent decades fighting against action on climate, and being lucratively rewarded for their heinous deceptions. And Faustian Senators, bought and paid for by the fossil fuel industry, are puttering off in their yachts, assured in the knowledge they’ll never face a day of reckoning.

We are truly living in the age of the trickle-up apocalypse. Only by rising up, and uniting against those who would use and abuse us as their human shield, can we have a hope of maintaining this crumbling ball of dust and fire we once assuredly called our home.


Aaron Dunbar is a member of Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action.