We have only 18 months.

Stories on my newsfeed say we have only 18 months as opposed to 12 years to reverse climate change. 

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MELTED ICE CREAM BY PETE SHELDON 34THPARALLEL MAG INSIDER

What’s my story on climate change? 

Well, I wanted to move to Minneapolis but then I heard about the flooding caused by the rapid snow melt. Then on NPR I heard the story that the melted snow has Midwestern ski lodges closing their doors.

Spain, a country I was in two years ago, is experiencing scorching,deadly heat. Residents are advised not to walk their pets. Paris just had its hottest heatwave ever and Paris apartments don’t have airconditioning because they never needed it before. DC, the spot I’m living at, put out a heat warning last weekend. 

Stories on my newsfeed say we have only 18 months as opposed to 12 years to reverse climate change. 

But I’m more concerned with landing my next gig, questioning and building friendships, and getting enough protein in my diet. 

I stuff as much as I can into recycling bins in cafes, airports, downtown etc.

At a party the host says, “Look we’re all environmentally conscious here, but for now bottles go in the trash!”

I thought once of climbing Mt Everest. Naively and foolishly, I imagined a classic, epic struggle: a man’s patience, skill, and fitness versus the snowy crags and thin oxygen. But now there’s a fast-food line of people to get their perfect peak selfie. Human urine and feces fermenting in the snow.

I’ve met people who reuse Ziploc bags, wear clothes they found in dumpsters, take their own grocery bags or use paper bags (which are later used for kindling). They’re our last hope. In Maryland, grocery stores charge you five to 50 cents for using plastic bags but they’re still plastic bags.

I’ve looked up from a neighborhood park and witnessed the dry beauty of the Sandias soaked in the sunset. Then I’ve looked down at the crushed beer cans, fast-food cups, and cigarette filters buried in the ground like beggars graves.

Do I see fatherhood in my future? Setting aside my emotional and social failings of course, I’m not sure if there will be much of a world left for a kid if I had one.

Over a glass of rosé my wizened mentor hit me with, “Y’know, I’ve thought about stepping back and just letting the world go, but then I see kids, and  I go, all right. I’ll try for them.”

The Appalachian town where I grew up is dying coal country. Despite the irreversible damage that’s stripped the mountains bare, you’ll still find rolling farmland and unspoiled forest. I wish I was at my folks 20-acre place right now watching fireflies. I’m getting off track.

In his WTF Podcast, Marc Maron jokingly says it’s over 200 degrees in St Louis.

Lil Dicky’s song Earth attempts to bring awareness through pop comedy. It’s stuck in my head as I’m writing this.

What is my story on climate change? It’s probably the same as most people’s, concerned but distracted and selfish.

We’re too rushed searching for existence in a cycle of booze and money to worry about the straw in our cup. Half of me wishes it would just end already just so that I can stop justifying my existence as a writer, actor, musician etc. 

I haven’t even contemplated unlearning my terrible habit of hoarding of plastic bags. Human waste is exactly what it is, waste. So I’ll take that extra minute sorting plastic. I’ll take the paper bags until they rip enough to force me to get the cloth ones. Will it help? I don’t know. 

At the same time, plastic wrappers and coffee cups will pile up in my car until I shove them in a gas station dumpster. 

Idleness will be spurred by busyness while the ground erodes beneath me.

PETE SHELDON

I’m a vagabond actor, writer, musician. I’ve run in Phoenix Park in the cold, Irish rain. I know how to make strong coffee. I’ve hung out with drunks, artists, NY bankers, and the remnants of the old south. 

I don’t feel entirely happy about what I have written in this story. Not in the perfectionist artistic sense. It’s cynical and selfish. It’s not a rallying cry to arms over an extremely desperate and relevant issue. There’s no number-crunching facts or hardlined environmentalism. I’m not the one to shout in all caps THE WORLD IS FUCKING MELTING, PEOPLE! But I would like to think this story mirrors the minds of some of us who’ve grown saturated, weary, and distracted. Cheers. 


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