What I’M Eating


Image by Elizabeth via Flickr (cc)

From The Nation:

Hi. I am a popular novelist, and these are my thoughts about global warming. I grew up in a major East Coast city or perhaps some lesser, sadder place that I’ve built a relatively successful career processing my feelings about in a semiautobiographical manner. Eventually I became very well ​educated—​educated enough, I’m afraid to say, that I have come to understand the science of climate change. Here are a handful of cherry-picked findings from academic papers I have read on the matter, translated for the layperson with all the boilerplate prose and expert precision of an MFA graduate. And let me tell you: Things are bleak. Bleaker than any of us could have imagined. But precisely the sort of bleak that lends itself to the grand literary soul-searching readers have come to love me for. Come along with me on my journey.

You see, as someone who has spent his career beautifully digesting the finer points of meaning and existence, the climate crisis—have I mentioned how horrible it is?—is a perfect foil. My fraught relationships with my father, my religious upbringing, and/or my ex-wife were the end of the world, metaphorically speaking, for me. But here it actually is! Human nature, I have deduced from my pained interactions with women and authority figures, is wretched and vile and lazy. Let’s also not forget how tortured I am about those interactions and (now) my own interactions with the planet. Statistically, I happen to be among the wealthiest 10 percent of the world’s population, which is responsible for over half of its greenhouse gas emissions. If I were capable of reckoning with macro forces like capitalism and racism, this might be an opportunity to reflect on the fact that global warming is perhaps not the product of a universally shared moral failing but of a political economy that has allowed a very small group of people to hoard incredible amounts of wealth and power, enabling them to wreck the world. But I’m mostly interested in how I fit in. I see no reason my self-​loathing cannot extend outward to the rest of the globe. If there is a way out of this epic mess, it certainly must have something to do with me.

“Things Are Bleak! Jonathan Safran Foer’s quest for planetary salvation”, Kate Aronoff, The Nation