The news hits, like a wave, and we react, and then three days later, oh well.
That’s modern life. Speedy, depressed, helpless, uncaring. I see an influencer, today, talking about healthy travel tips–featuring plastic togo cup, plastic lid, plastic mask for facial rejuvenation.
Have we not heard about the mother who washed ashore, dead, pregnant, simultaneously starving and full of tons of compacted plastic it’d carried in its belly?
We know. We have the knowledge. We don’t care.
We don’t care enough to make changes. I’ve toiled away at this stuff for 16 years, without making any real difference. I’m playing small-town minor league baseball. I’m not getting any younger, and yet our carbon continues to rise.
Every time we decide not to care, the promise of history—that as we age and die, new generations take our place—screams in heartbreak and cries in frustration.
I enjoy my life, day-to-day. It’s so easy. It’s been full of challenges, sure—and I’m only here because of the sacrifices of others.
But, yesterday, I ate sweet potato fries. Today, I can eat wherever I want. I can breathe the air. The trees are still growing—except for the ash, 25% of our city’s big old trees, providing shade and sucking up carbon and breathing out clean air when we need it most—those are all getting cut down because of, well, basically, climate change. But life is easy, today.
Tomorrow, it’ll be easy too. This is privilege—sitting atop the landfill in a rickety mansion built by my own sweat, by public education, but also by inequality and wars and exploitation.
We shall reap what we sow. Let us sow peace, and caring. Peace is not passive, it gets up off the couch and devotes its life, joyfully, to being of benefit. But it is not aggressive, either—it is the middle path that is uncompromising and brave and transformative, not the extremes of prejudice or giving up.
The Good News about the Bad News about Climate Change.
There’s good news and there’s bad news.
Bad news first: climate change has already happened. Even if we all practiced regenerative agriculture, which literally reverses climate change, and went solar and wind and safe nuclear (if there is such a thing) and stopped getting our coffee to go and biked and walked and bussed more…the climate change we’ve created over the past 50 years will continue for 250 years. We’re looking at a future of violent change: no drinking water for billions, encroaching seas, flooding, drought (or is it draught), smokey air we can’t safely breathe, expanding pests killing our trees right when we need ’em most, economic and military instability the world over. And worst of all? Our oceans, birds, elephants, tigers, bees, chocolate, and coffee (etc.) are all mortally endangered by such rapid change.
The good news?
- Get real. There isn’t any. The future we have coaled and science-denied and greeded our way into will cause mass suffering.
- Sure, we’ll be forced (if we’d like to survive) to come together*, as we did in World War II—and rapidly mobilize, wake up, and get mindful and eco-responsible.
*If—and it’s a big if—we have leadership like Roosevelt’s, that can galvanize the business community, the international community, and partisanship around meaningful change.
But, more likely, the rich and powerful will selfishly focus on their survival, and it will be less about “let’s all come together” and more about “I got mine.” If that sounds like a Walking Dead episode minus the zombies, you aren’t far off.
There is Good News.
The Good News is in facing the Bad News. We’re addicted to oil, to exploiting our planet, to profits (short-term) over long-term harmony in our economy. The Good News—and there is some!—is that, in facing the Bad News, without excuses or falling for the banner of False Hope or False Optimism—we finally face the Man in the Mirror, and we deal with what we’ve done, and we create and innovate and regenerate our way to living in harmony. The joke is…we can do it!
But we’ll never do it through avoidance. Through false optimism, or solid pessimism, or depression about the very real suffering we’ve all created.
Avoidance, bypass, optimism, pessimism—they’re all cop outs that allow us and the Powers that Be to continue on with Business as Usual.
And Business as Usual is what got us here.
The only way to get there is to face the facts, to respect science, to remember that we’re allll in this together (including the folks on “the other side,” and the folks we don’t like) and to mobilize, together.
We can have a happy ending—a new beginning—but it starts with a willingness to drop the evasion and self-deception.
So: Happy Earth Day! The solution isn’t just lists of things we can do. We know what we can do. The solution is to find the will to do it. We find the will to do it in facing the reality of what is happening—right now. Then, reality gives birth to caring, to empathy—and to action.
To get empowered, see resources below.