World-famous Italian novelist Elena Ferrante writes a weekly literary column in the Guardian newspaper in London now, translated each weekend by Anne Goldstein, and recently she turned her attention to, yes, man-made global warming. Runaway global warming. Global warming that threatens the very future of humankind on this Earth.
“I never worried about the weather — until now,” Ferrante confessed.
“I never worried about weather: heat, humidity, wind, rain, snow, cold — the more I was outside, the better,” she added. “The seasons were time running pleasantly in a circle, like a happy dog chasing its tail.”
But all that changed, she explained to Guardian readers worldwide, when a few decades ago she began to look into the various issues surrounding climate change.
Of her reading of numerous climate change news articles and books, she said it led her to start worrying, for the first time in her life, about the fate of our planet.
“At first [what I was reading] seemed to be a kind of reactionary pessimism: increase in the greenhouse effect, global warming, rising ocean temperatures, melting glaciers, the end of the world on the horizon.” she wrote. “I read in my usual way, wanting to understand and form an opinion, but also to fantasize. In fact I didn’t understand much, I didn’t fantasize much. Was it possible the ultimate devastation of the planet was among the many devastations caused by the human race? Was it possible the animal man, that infinitesimal piece of nature, in the course of our brief history had managed to irreversibly damage all the rest?”
As a young girl in Italy, Mrs Ferrante recalled that she learned that, while progress was unlimited, not everyone enjoyed its fruits. The rich, yes. But not the poor, the disenfranchised, the hopeless.
She confessed that she felt when she was younger that if only ”the means of production and consumption” could be straightened out, things would advance in a just manner for the rich and thee poor, for everyone. So as a teenager and a young adult, she calmed herself, by, she admits “embracing the idea that climate change had always been there and that humans had very little to do with its latest manifestations.
“[But it was] all very wrong,” she says now. “I kept reading, and I repented.”
And now, in 2019?
“I’ve become obsessive,”Ferrante says, adding a string of words that have been picked up on Twittter by climate activists and scientists around the world now: “I repeat to friends and relatives: the sea level is rising, the ice is melting, greenhouse gases are increasing, the atmosphere is warming, and it’s our fault, the fault of the way of life and production imposed on us. It has to be changed immediately.”
And the kicker hits hard: “Mainly, [I must confess that] my lighthearted pleasure in the seasons has disappeared. Now I hate these eternal summers, I’m afraid of the furious heat that starts early and won’t end. And the black skies with the rain cascading down terrify me, making streets into rivers, burying people and things under the mud.”
When Elena Ferrante speaks, the world listens.