This is fine: Or the fire alarm for the climate catastrophe

You know that cartoon with the dog drinking coffee while his house in on fire. “This is fine,” says the title. Greta Thunberg used the same idea when she said that our house is on fire. While this is true almost literally in some parts of the worlds with fires spreading destruction all over the globe during the summer months, it’s also metaphorically true on a much deeper level.

For decades, scientists have warned political powers that this crisis is coming. For decades, profits were more important. Treaties were signed, promises were made, promises were quietly broken, and replaced by new promises. But little ever actually happens.

When I talk to people about my favorite documentaries, most of which are narrated by David Attenborough, they all share my marvel for the wonders of the globe but most of them follow it up by complaining about the parts of the episodes that show how humanity has destroyed or is endangering these pristine beautiful marvels. Some seem to think it’s not that bad, others just think nature documentaries are not the right place.

On Youtube, the story was similar: You seemed to have a choice between full-on doom-and-gloom drama or this-is-fine-style videos that talked about the beauty without the beast.

For months, I apologized for any mention of doom and gloom. One of my videos even had a doom-and-gloom timer to make sure people wouldn’t leave the rest of the video.

I long thought this was the right approach. I didn’t wanna lose people from the educational parts of my video because they didn’t want to listen to how fucked up the climate crisis is.

But that’s the thing: They might not want to hear it, but sometimes, there are things we just need to hear.

A climate activist group in German called Letzte Generation (German: Last Generation) took Greta’s “Our house is on fire” analogy and called themselves the fire alarm.

Without getting into the heated debate about the methods of the Last Generation, I still have to say their fire-alarm analogy really resonated with me.

We all hate the sound of the fire alarm. It’s shrill, loud, annoying. But if your fucking house is on fire, you’ll be grateful it woke you up.

And right now, we’re in a situation where most of the world is pulling pillows over their faces, trying to drone out the shrill noise, while their room is burning around them.

This is fine.

But it’s not fine. It hasn’t been fine in a long time. Capitalistic greed and a blind trust in neoliberal ideals such as free markets and that trickle-down bullshit keep us locked in our more-more-more mindsets.

And we’ve been stuck for so long that any attempt to wake us up is met by resistance from almost all levels of society.

I know this is not environmentally-related, but let’s use taxing the rich as an example. Whenever the idea of taxing wealth or increasing taxes on the highest earners is brought up, discussions break out on e.g. Reddit about people earning 100.000 euros or dollars. While the rich laugh, the poorest of the poor fight with the lowest of the middle-class about who has it worse.

The recent pandemic has only made this worse when governments assigned help to one group or another. The mentality of “if I can’t have it, no one should have it” and “if we can’t help everyone, we shouldn’t help some of us” seem to be the status quo. How the fuck did we get here?

How did we let ourselves get brainwashed by industry after industry until we went from community-driven social groups to me-me-me individuals that don’t give a shit about anything?

To anyone who has read Orwell’s Animal Farm or 1984, much of the current crisis reads like a dystopian nightmare.

We have lost our connection to each other, to nature, even to reality in many cases.

Thus, I will no longer apologize for being loud, for telling people what they don’t want to hear, for sharing reality. Because, this is not fucking fine.

We need to find our ways back to each other, to an appreciation of nature as the ecosystem we live in instead of a resource we feel entitled to, and most of all, to reality.