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Excerpt from Endgame

Many Who Know (p. 319)

From chapter "Courage"

I go to the post office. Jim, my favorite clerk there, with whom I often chat as he processes the packages I’m mailing, comments on the heat. It’s eighty-five or eighty-six, he says, the second or third highest temperature on record here. I know, cry me a fricking river, but I live on the cool coast of northern California.

“It makes you think about global warming,” he says.

I nod, then reply, “Nineteen thousand people dead in Europe from the heat, and the damn newspapers don’t even mention global warming.” I don’t mention that this is more than six times the number killed in the attacks on the World Trade Center. Jim likes my politics, but polite discourse generally demands that we ignore many obvious things.

Now it’s his turn to nod. He says, “Did you see those pictures of glaciers melting in Europe?”

“The climate is changing, and those in power won’t do anything about it.”

“The culture has too much momentum,” he responds, “and those in charge have too much money and power for us to stop them.”

“That’s why my next book is about how to take down civilization.”

He looks at me for a moment. “You can write a book about it, but you can’t make it happen.”

“I can help push in the right direction at the right times, and I think that can make a difference.”

“It will come down all right, and pretty soon at that. But it won’t be your doing. It will be the system collapsing in on itself.”

This is the guy at the Post Office! There are many who know this, but few who speak it out loud. I say, “We can hurry it up.”

“It’s going to be nasty,” he responds.

“It already is.”

“That nastiness is exactly why I bought a gun. A thirty-eight.”

I’m about to say that’s also exactly why I bought a gun a few years ago, but he carries my packages to the big bins in back.

When he returns he says, “It’s for myself.”

I don’t know what he means.

He says, “I don’t want to live like that.”

“I don’t want to live like this.”

“I don’t want to live like an animal.”

“I’ve got news for you, Jim. You already are an animal.”

“I need my electricity. I can’t live without it.”

I don’t say anything. I think, Is it worth it to you?

He looks me straight in the eyes, and says, “I’m going to retire in January. Don’t do this right now. Give me a few years to enjoy my retirement.”