Post-apocalypse entertainment and fears of nuclear war have conditioned us to envision the end of the world coming in a singular, catastrophic moment. Climate change is the real apocalypse, and it does not operate like that. It's a literal slow burn, something that has made it easier to ignore or put off, boiled frog style.
Things have deteriorated enough this summer, however, that the horror of our future is sinking in with far greater clarity. It started with the choking air from Canadian wildfires, and continued with a deadly heatwave. In my early childhood, we had hot summers, but we also had mild summers, too. Now every summer is worse than the one that came before with no end in sight. Every wretchedly hot summer turns out to be cooler than any others we will experience in our lifetimes.
For a long time it was easy to think of the consequences of climate change as part of the future, but now it is the present. We used to be able to think there was time to work with, now that time is up. Obviously we can still take action to prevent the very worst from happening, but at this point we know that even if we manage to make major changes, suffering will still come.
There's also the despair of knowing those major changes won't happen. Communities around the country fight against solar and wind farms, including liberal ones. Conservative politicians and their related media still deny climate change, as do the masses of conservative voters. They will likely continue making light of it as more people die of heat stroke and the coasts flood. Creating legislation to deal with climate change in this environment, where corporate lobbyists also maintain a stranglehold, is impossible. I simply do not see any political solution coming.
The ultimate cruelty of this summer is that right-thinking people are being forced to watch the world burn with no way of stopping it. Climate change is already drastically altering our physical environments, I think it also has the power to shatter our mental ones, too.