“Going South” by Lorde


Ella Yelich-O’Connor, better known as Lorde and one of my favorite singer-songwriter artists, recently published an essay about her experience traveling to Antarctica. I really enjoyed reading it. She talks about her fascination with the place, the experience of traveling there, and the sense of fragility associated with a warming planet.


I especially liked this part:

Throughout the week, I’ve been reminded of an obvious fact, over and over — that witnessing the natural world is the most important reason to be alive, that its wellbeing matters above all else. Being in Antarctica has clarified how deeply vulnerable, how in need of protection, it is. But it took coming here for that knowledge to galvanise — and in coming here, I have also been a small part of its deterioration. How could people possibly be expected to protect a place like Antarctica without ever seeing it for themselves?

Saving the planet often feels like the most oblique of undertakings; we attempt to pay off our predecessors’ environmental debts in the hazy hope that our descendants will thrive. We are required to see without really seeing, to protect without possessing. This disconnect can sometimes feel like viewing an impossibly bright light from thousands of miles away — we know that it’s blinding up close, but that quality dissipates so many times removed from the source. Protecting things that are not for us — things we cannot enjoy or consume and nevertheless may lose — is a lot to ask of a species hungry for faster and brighter gratification, less and less distance. It requires both a kind of primal foresight and the emotional bandwidth to tune into it, the privilege of taking space from the stress and pain and clutter of modern life to focus on a searing southern star. It’s the most that has ever or will ever be asked of us, and we have to believe that people will respond in kind in order to keep on living.