This Bitter Earth
The most turgid of radicals have ripped liberals for aestheticizing injustice at the expense of struggling against it. The dig — beating the Adornian plowshare into a fundamentalist sword not out of place in Palmyra — isn’t unconditionally untrue. But try laying that line on Boots Riley or Nina Simone.
Here the pop chanteuse Charlotte Church takes part in Greenpeace’s daily vigil outside Shell headquarters in London — a month-long ‘Requiem for Arctic Ice’. Church, presented here borderline White Lady Jesus, sings Dinah Washington’s adaptation of ‘This Bitter Earth/On the Nature of Daylight’.
And bitter it is. NASA reported earlier today it had revised its estimates of sea level change by century’s end: three feet, with ten feet in the century to follow a distinct possibility. As Caroline Reid frames it,
One of the contributors to sea level rise is the melting of ice sheets. The biggest is the Antarctic ice sheet, which covers an area of almost 14 million square kilometers (5.4 million square miles) and is larger than the United States and India combined. Over the last decade, it has shed an average of 118 gigatons of ice a year – no small amount of water. Smaller, but by no means less important, is the Greenland ice sheet. Covering a more modest 1.7 million square kilometers (660,000 square miles), it has actually shed almost three times as much ice over the last decade as the Antarctica sheet – 303 gigatons a year on average.
Appealing to the hearts of Shell executives is an utter waste of time, save as a feint for a different audience, but there is expanse enough in a resistance movement to mourn and organize. Might we still find honor in a revolutionary Sehnsucht?