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#72 One point two percent
I was looking for an end-of-year review of our planet like the ones GoodReads, Strava, and Spotify sent me the past week. “You read 6,699 pages, ran 417 kilometers, and listened to Latin pop while the world was boiling.”
The Flemish artist Dries Depoorter made a handy clock showing how much of your life has passed. I’m 2021, all the books and kilometers notwithstanding, I came 1.2% closer to my demise. The world has seen various such clocks for its demise; the Doomsday Clock is the most widely known. It is at 100 seconds before midnight — thus, humanity is at 99.999etc.% of its existence.
Blah blah. “Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted.”
Last year, global temperatures were 1.2 degrees above pre-industrial levels. 2021 was not better, with the hottest July on record. Climate change is, in the words of the IPCC, widespread, rapid, and intensifying. But we know that and knowing it has done not enough.
Six thousand six hundred ninety-nine pages say nothing about the books I read. As a number, it is meaningless, a vanity stat. Four hundred seventeen kilometers is far less than I would have wanted, yet neglects the hundreds of kilometers I’ve walked and cycled. 1.2 degrees tells me nothing. NYT’s postcards from a world on fire are a better metric.
In De Tegentijd (Time to turn), we invite participants to imagine the future.
“The sun is at about half of her lifespan. The fate of the earth and everything on it is inextricably connected with this. It means a follow-up to our story of yet another thousands of millions of years. There is so much time to live, to learn, to experiment, to grow; so much is possible that surpasses our imagination.”
Instead of rising temperatures, species going extinct, pages read, and kilometers ran, what would be something to focus on in the coming year? I suggest the times I lost my way and found a new and exciting trail (at least three times in 2021), books thrown away in disgust (alas, none last year), quality of life gained by buying veggies locally (innumerable). For the planet, kids given a fair chance without burdening the earth, spoiled westerners enlightened, new inclusive futures imagined and shared and started.
And of course, I’d a 230% growth in engagement with readers for this newsletter. 2021 has been a great year, with about 20,000 reads in total and innumerable interactions. I value each of them and never see them as a stat. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You rock!
Have a wonderful new year, and I hope all your dreams come true!