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Not Even Jonathan Franzen Can Top My Concern Over Climate Change


As I gaze over the parapets of my mansion atop Mount Winchester, I wonder, precisely, what will become of this planet. But I also already know. Calamity.

It’s been an unseasonably hot summer up here. Once one of the world’s most remote coniferous forests, now Mount Winchester, resembles both a high desert and a tropical sweatbox. In June, we had a thunderstorm that lasted six days and dropped 36 inches of rain. It hasn’t rained since.

One week in July, the temperature topped 115 degrees for 12 consecutive days. Then, on the first of August, it snowed two inches. The day after that, we had an earthquake. Worst of all, my beleaguered manservant Roger tells me, the local wild-game butcher has nearly run out of pheasant.

Kafka once wrote, “Where is my wallet? I have to pay this prostitute or she will cut me.” I think about this quote often as I ponder what appears to be irreversible climate change on planet Earth. The struggle to rein in global emissions is clearly the great drama of our time. If you’re younger than 60, or older than 70, you have a 42 percent chance of witnessing the destruction of all life on Earth and, possibly, the final season of the National Football League. Yet I have begun to realize in recent weeks that I don’t care.

God, as we all know, doesn’t play dice with cards. If the planet’s environment is collapsing, well, it’s not my fault, or yours. If you’re looking for advice from me, the only novelist worth listening to now that Toni Morrison is finally dead, it would be this: Do whatever you want. No one is watching.

When my one true love Wally Turnbull died in the surf at Guadalcanal so many years ago, I knew then, for certain, that life had no meaning and that humanity is doomed. I like to call that attitude “divine pessimism.” It has animated my work throughout my storied career, including in my 1972 National Book Award-winning book “We Are All Doomed: An Amateur Botanist’s Field Guide to the Apocalypse.”

For us to survive the coming environmental Armageddon that is surely already here, we should take my wise words into account: “Eat your vegetables, and grow them yourself, or, better yet, pay someone to grow them for you. Best of all, have someone on standby who will spoon them into your mouth while you work on your next book. That’s why I employ a manservant.”

Where I live in Mount Winchester County, there’s an organization called Feed The Homeless While Also Not Using Any Fossil Fuels And Concurrently Fighting Racism. I give them $100 a year so they don’t ring my doorbell or bother me when I’m on the way to play canasta at the club.

This organization doesn’t attempt to “solve” all of society’s ills, just most of them. They’re completely deluded, but I love that they exist because then I don’t have to worry about doing the work myself. It’s what the kids call a win-win situation, except nobody wins.

To sum, in recent days, it has become clear to me yet again that the world is ending next week, and so we should all think of Kafka often, as I usually do. There may come a time, sooner than you think, that I will have to quote Kafka again in this essay. That time is now.

Kafka once said, “In this infinite universe, we have infinite choices, and also I am forever haunted by the visage of my uncaring father which is why I take a nap after work and then frequent prostitutes on credit.”

Pot your plants, plant your pot, hug your Nana, and subscribe to Disney Plus while it’s cheap. The future will be hell, but it will be better than the past, and possibly might be a present. In the immortal words of Charles Darwin, never let ‘em see you sweat. And that is why I am now, and always will be, the Greatest Living American Writer.