We are close to the climate tipping point. Lots of people are talking about it. Others are ignoring the shit out of it. Do we hit it at 1.5C, and are we going to be there in 5 years, as the headline told me this morning? It sure does feel like it, with this ongoing wildfire smoke inhalation sore throat and my homeland of New England being devastated by flash flooding and everything else.
What is the tipping point, how irrevocable is it, and what’s the bottom of that curve? Not the end of all life on earth. That’s not on the table. Humans aren’t that important. We are the sixth mass extinction, not the last, and it’s hubris to think otherwise. The end of human life? I really doubt that’s on the table, either. But I begin to see a lot of treatments of those ideas, in Reckoning submissions and elsewhere. And the prospect of it is so horrific to me—the prospect of people contemplating it, even more than the actual prospect of the end of all life on earth, honestly, because the one is immediate and has immediate consequences for people and life on earth right now, whereas the other is a concept, abstract—that it begins to present something of a problem for me as publisher and nominal helmsperson aboard the ship Reckoning. What we do after the tipping point doesn’t interest me nearly as much as what we do now.
What does Reckoning do after the tipping point? Become a horror mag? That wouldn’t be such a bad thing, as far as the work of bringing new literature into the world is concerned. But the potential looms large for a Reckoning in such a world to become something I can no longer commit to, and which therefore must either leave my hands, become something different, or go the way of extinction. I don’t want to be a publisher of climate fatalism. I don’t want to speculate about burning this planet to the ground and abandoning it. I want to speculate about fucking saving it.
I can and do ask people—all the time—not to submit writing that subscribes to the idea of giving up. And we sure do reject a lot of it—more, lately? We also publish plenty of work that does engage with the idea that there could be a point of no return, and the emotions that proceed from it. It’s a fine line, and we will continue, as long as we’re able, to try to refine that line, to recognize and elucidate the ways human beings need to percieve and engage with the concept of our end in fire and flood and drought and pestilence because of the actions of an entrenched, omnicidal few, in order to go on struggling forward against them and in conjunction with all other life.
But it sure is hard, sometimes. And getting harder.