The Arctic dissolves, quicker and quicker, in the human heatwave, hotter and hotter. This is a catastrophe for Arctic animals before it is one for humans, the last of the animals, the most animal animal of them all. As a result, an Arctic walrus, hu-named Wally, loses its bearings, and turns up in West Cork, where the sea has never frozen, on a tour of inlets and beaches, occassionally and photogenically taking a rest upon a boat, such novelty drawing crowds of onlookers out to sea.
Speaking of bearings though, it isn’t really that Wally’s have been lost, but that they have been hu-nihilated and there simply are no bearings left to lose. The catastrophe named humanity has taken most animals bearings away, it has catastrophically redrawn their age-old territories all over the globe, altering the very substance – from solid to liquid, from glacier to rock, from oakwood to blackened hellscape, from mountainside to toxic quarrypit, from tundra to sinkhole……
So Wally, despite how much he amuses our news media and its victims, despite how many clicks he baits for the sake of advertisers, despite the likes he harvests for the sake of influencers (advertisers of the self, the last commodity), belongs in the same parabolic category as polar bears floating away to their own famishment & vanishment on cell-sized rugs of ice, where once there was an entire white continent to roam across and feed at will.
Those snaps of Wally belong in the same set of world-ending iconography as the ones we all know by now of half-incinerated Koalas & Kangaroos, whose vast bush has turned to smoke, and who are now utterly doomed along with all others of their former habitat.
Those who ride out to perv on this dying animal, so obviously distressed, dying a lonely death far from a home and a habitat that no longer exists thanks to us, are the rubberneckers at-the-end-of-the-world. Compared to them, those who stop up to glory in the carnage of a multi-vehicle motorway pile-up are rank amateurs without ambition and without a true understanding of the art of rubbernecking – the last art for the last humans.
But perhaps it is us who are being rubbernecked by Wally – it is after all our pile-up, our apocalypse and it is coming for us too. Among the inevitable consequences of our destruction of the Arctic is the upcoming end of AMOC, the ocean current which regulates our weather in Ireland, ensuring our mild, temperate climate now so conducive to comfortable living and super-profits for beef barons. Although no-one knows exactly how the end of AMOC will destroy us, one oft-mentioned possibility is a sudden & total freezing to arctic conditions – on which no beef will be raised, nor organic parsnips either.
So perhaps that is why Wally is so sad, he is sad for us because he has already lived the apocalypse, while ours is still only on the way, still out of sight, still as unimaginable as a Walrus in West Cork was a few short years ago.