This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.
I read an article the other week that said a three to five degree temperature rise in the Arctic is inevitable.
There is so much heat locked up in the ocean and so much methane in the rapidly-thawing permafrost that it doesn’t matter if we all start driving cars that run on lentils or free all the cows and let them start a bovine society that, thanks to their strong sense of empathy, will no doubt be far more equitable and egalitarian than our own—the great Arctic melt is locked in.
All we can do now is attempt to limit the damage and devastation. We are in the chugging-six-glasses-of-water-in-vain-before-I-pass-out stage of climate change. That hangover is coming, all we can hope is that it doesn’t last all day.
How long can all of this last? I wonder as I watch people go about their lives as if they don’t know they are doomed. We recommend podcasts, binge TV shows, and chase our dreams as if this wasn’t all one field of thawed permafrost away from oblivion.
We make jokes.
The other day I saw some friends with their new baby, and we joked about how they are going to have to train him to be a scout after the apocalypse. Too young to imagine our lives ending like our parents but too old to disengage from the trappings of consumer comfort, we practice this morbid irony as both a rebellion against and acceptance of our helplessness in the face of what’s to come.
Finding love, getting headshots. There’s no point to any of it, is there? Nothing to be learned or gained. No meaning whatsoever. When whatever is going to happen, happens, it won’t even be some karmic retribution from a scorned nature for our many transgressions. That’s just a myth we made it up to make this feel special. No, when it happens, it will just be the result of the classic human vices of greed, stupidity, and hubris. Dumb mistakes multiplied over thousands of years.
And so as climate models grow bleaker, as the meaningless and futility of all things I have cherished or held dear become clear, there is only one question left to answer: Should I get into advertising?
Why shouldn’t I? I’ve done enough. I’ve shared the links, I’ve marched. Lord how I marched, my feet ache just thinking about it. I’ve read Naomi Klein. I sat on the grass outside the Ontario Parliament sans blanket, just the grass and my pants! I’ve bored my girlfriend with many a recounting of long-form Guardian article and bum my friends out all the time talking about how we are all doomed—if that’s not activism, than what is?
I see the truant children marching and I want to scream out a window at them, “What would you have me do, you urchins? Am I not to live in the world?” On the first unseasonably warm day would you have me wrap my body in barbed wire and stagger onto a Jack Astor’s patio sputtering “The end is nigh,” before using my final breath to knock over a half-finished bucket of Coronas?
No. I will not listen to the children, let me be an Ad Man in peace. And what can I do? I would love to do more and go to meetings but historically I get depressed by collapsible tables. Plus, perhaps I can do more to help once I am within the machine. Nothing has ever been accomplished outside a machine. Better I burrow my way in; get a fun nickname like ‘Fois-dawg’ and use it to get closer to power. After all, “climate change” is ultimately bad branding. That’s the problem here. It’s a soft useless term, it sounds more like the name of body wash you would get in a Holiday Inn Express. Calling what is happening “climate change” is like clogging your partners toilet with a huge dump and calling it a “plumbing problem.” If I get into advertising, I can work toward changing the term from “climate change” to “The Big Bad Carbon Fiasco.”
What is art in a time like this anyways? The vain sputtering of the damned! Nothing more. Childish indulgences, narcissistic musings, I might as well just hop in the air and say “Look at me! Look at me!” Art is selfish now. Advertising is a truer act of generosity, it is a selfless act, really. Why rub people’s faces in my sorrow when I can draw them to what will make them happy in these final days? The simple joy of eating a President’s Choice shrimp ring with others; the way that driving a brand new Jeep with a window open can make your wife attracted to you again; the freedom you feel when you dance in a new pair of Levis; the whimsical acts, like setting up a waterslide on a busy street, that only Coke can inspire.
I look at my friends in advertising and, surely, they know this. They move like gods on this earth. Nice haircuts, trimmed beards, fat wallets. The have a vitality coursing through them that only relevancy can provide. They are connected to truth and surety, and—thanks to their money—undoubtedly will know WHERE TO GO WHEN IT HAPPENS. I’ve always assumed that when everything begins to fray and tumble, Liberty Village will be surrounded by a huge dome where the blessed and chosen can enjoy dawns of endless mimosas and evenings of dancing to Ariana Grande and I need to get under that dome.
They are strong because they know the truth: the only thing that can save me in this moment is serving something bigger than myself. And what could be bigger than brands? And so I offer myself up to these gleaming monopolies. Oh Booster Juice, I implore you, save me from this terror and my tiny insignificance. You are great and might and filled with nutrients and when all of this turns to dust I know that you will still keep Boostin.
Hey… “When all this turns to dust, keep Boostin” is kind of a good slogan. I may have actually have a knack for this.
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