02 June 2019

How Do We Cultivate the Courage We Need to Do What's Needed?

A friend sent that quote to me this past week ... a week during which I've been struggling to remain brave in the face of frustrating and nearly overwhelming personal circumstances and still so much nasty gawddamn denial of the climate crisis. Who *are* these deniers? Why are they *so* afraid to be working for a better world rather than the status quo? Because, make no mistake, denial of the climate change emergency is born out of cowardice ... and a shrivelled heart incapable of compassion.

Conformity to "everyone else" is killing us! Conforming to denialist beliefs. Jetting off to lie on some distant beach. Buy, buy, buying to fill some void. Building with steel and concrete rather than wood. Eating industrially raised meat and dairy. Using chemicals on their gardens.

Conformity is killing us.

Globally, crop yields have, on average, started declining. My worst fear (that food security would disappear while people are still arguing that "CO2 is good for plants") is coming true. I need to screw up my courage to a new level. Feel the fear and do it anyway.
"Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free."
― Jim Morrison
It's time for material and energy austerity, folks. All the bad things I've been talking about here for TEN YEARS (!!!) are not only happening but increasing, and increasing at accelerating rates.

WE have to get our carbon emissions into decline NOW. WE have to do that. We can't wait for governments anymore.

What if the Green New Deal was designed to be a giant distraction? What can WE be doing? I mean besides the stuff we've been half-assedly doing for 20 years.

We need to be buying nothing but food. We need to work with our neighbours and in our communities to get growing as much food as possible, in as many local places as possible.

Governments need to get their fingers out of their noses and build public transit that works for real people of all ages and abilities. We need to be using energy-dense nuclear power to smelt the metals to build this public transit infrastructure, as well as the renewable energy infrastructure. 

We need to be staying cool using fans and breezes and shade. No air conditioning. 

We need to be doing as little travel as possible by fossil fuel. Staycations instead. Walking and biking instead. Carpooling and public transit at the very least. WE NEED TO START INCONVENIENCING OURSELVES for the sake of the future. And for some crazy reason, in this most-comfortable-ever era in Western human history, it's going to take courage to do that. 

So screw up your courage, do your best to make whatever changes you can make (cancel a vacation, plant some food, stay home more often or walk/ride a bike), but don't be afraid to screw up or be a hypocrite sometimes (the zero-carbon systems just aren't in place yet!).

We all need good luck now (to be honest, we probably need an all-out miracle) but by being as brave as we can be and making these changes, perhaps we can create our luck, and our own miracle. Oh, and don't be afraid to reach out to others for help. There's more courage to be found in numbers.

(With apologies for a rather disjointed post — but we can't let perfect get in the way of good enough anymore. We just have to get stuff done. For encouragement, see my other posts about courage.)

26 May 2019

Compassion Tune-Up: An Oldie (But a Goodie), Like Me

Well, I've just celebrated another turn around the sun. I think I'm going to have to accept the fact that I'm not young anymore. ;-) And I think I feel a midlife crisis coming on. 

This new version of a wonderful Joni Mitchell oldie by Counting Crows is an excellent reminder that we don't have to throw out the old to make room for the new in the work we're doing. It's also a sad reminder of how much worse things have become in the last few decades. (This song was released in 1970, and Mitchell is 75 now!) Plus it has prompted me to examine my life, to be sure that I do know what I've got before it's gone.

Here, for your melancholic listening pleasure, is Big Yellow Taxi. Enjoy.


Big Yellow Taxi

by Joni Mitchell
They paved paradise 
And put up a parking lot 
With a pink hotel, a boutique 
And a swinging hot spot 

Don't it always seem to go 
That you don't know what you've got 
Till it's gone 
They paved paradise 
And put up a parking lot

They took all the trees 
Put 'em in a tree museum
And they charged the people 
A dollar and a half just to see 'em 

Don't it always seem to go 
That you don't know what you've got 
Till it's gone 
They paved paradise 
And put up a parking lot

Hey farmer farmer 
Put away that DDT now 
Give me spots on my apples 
But leave me the birds and the bees 
Please! 

Don't it always seem to go 
That you don't know what you've got 
Till it's gone 
They paved paradise 
And put up a parking lot

Late last night
I heard the screen door slam
And a big yellow taxi
Took away my old man

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
© Siquomb Publishing Company

19 May 2019

Faith Rather Than Hope

We "countryfolk" are housesitting for friends and getting an extended "city fix," which is always fascinating. City streets sure are lonelier, especially with everyone checking out their "screens" as they bustle along. But shopkeepers and restaurant servers have been quite friendly (perhaps reflecting back our small-town vibe?).

Hanging in our friends' kitchen is this little sign:


"And faith for the future" ... that's the part that struck me. You know how I feel about hope and hope mongering, where feeling hopeful about the climate crisis is more important than actually doing something about the climate crisis. (If what environmental education guru, David Orr, says is true — that hope is a verb with its sleeves rolled up — I figure it's only because it wants to get a tan on its arms.)

But faith. Faith. Doesn't that seem different somehow? The non-religious definition is "complete trust or confidence in someone or something." The moment I read that sign, I realized that I do my work on the climate change emergency with some sort of faith in my heart that ... well, that we humans will at last pull together. 

It could well be too late by the time we get our act together (indeed, it's maybe too late already, given all the warming we're already committed to due to the ocean heat lag ... and all the warming that will be added when we stop fossil fuel burning, since fossil fuel particulate pollution has been masking a certain percentage of the warming to date), but if nothing else, I'd like today's younger generations to know that we finally, after a huge collective forehead slap, "got it" and came together for their sake. 

Still waiting for our collective facepalm
The quote below isn't quite correct. The IPCC has told us that we only have until 2020 to get our carbon emissions into rapid decline if we want to be able to meet our 2030 and 2050 targets (50% reduction and virtually zero, respectively). 

But the sentiment is one that resonates for me. It speaks to the faith that arises when people — listening to the love in their heart, instead of the fear — start doing exciting, courageous work together.
It is true that the IPCC tells us that we have only 12 years to act ... but in the world there are thousands of projects. They do not start from pessimism or optimism, they start with people who choose to follow their heart, and do what they feel called to. Science tells us that it is possible.  — Diego Galli

21 April 2019

A New Anthem for Saving the World? From Lil Dicky?

ALERT: I am about to shamelessly show my age!


The other day, a young friend sent me this new music video by Lil Dicky (never heard of him). It's called Earth (not very original, but I'll take enviro songs wherever I can get 'em ;-). 

You know, we've been searching for an anthem for the climate change movement. Environmental activist extraordinaire Guy Dauncey explains the importance of finding a song for this movement.
"[An] Earth Anthem ... will inspire our hearts to sing. As soon as that song is written, we will know it — and from that moment on, victory will be that much more possible. We need to believe in the future. Earth's creatures and our own children and grandchildren ask nothing more."
I'm not sure we've found the anthem in this song though. But I do like the simple chorus (it's the rest of the song I'd have a problem singing while marching in a protest):
We love the Earth
It is our planet
We love the Earth
It is our home
My questions to you. (This is where I get to show my age.) Is this song edgy, or just offensive? Is it cool, or just stupid? Is it helpful (for a certain generation — not mine, that's for sure!), or just gratuitously over-the-top? It has 2 million likes (as of today) but also 51,000 dislikes (so I'm not the only one feeling torn about the usefulness of this song?) and several "reaction" videos (which I haven't watched). What do you think? How does the song make you feel?

This part at the end is cool: "Honestly, everybody, scientists are saying that we have about 12 years* to turn this environmental crisis around or we're screwed. Whaddya say? You guys wanna save the world? Of course you do!" 

You can visit this website "for more information on how to save the Earth": https://welovetheearth.org

* Actually, while many people seem to have latched on to the "we only have 12 years to save the world" meme (which gives people an out for the next 11 years or so), the IPCC has warned in several assessments over the last several years that emissions must be in decline by 2015-2020 to give us a chance at keeping global temperature increase to a survivable level — which gives us ONLY ONE YEAR to "save the world."

Lyrics are available here (but if you're my age, better to leave some lyrics unheard): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDNNGhsL9Oo&frags=wn



*******
Now, if that song kinda makes you feel a bit slimed (you know, cuz you're of my vintage) but you'd like to share it, here's a link to a cleaned up version: https://youtu.be/S2SMvfGe72U.

And then let me leave you with this lovely thought on this day before Earth Day 2019:
"What is the mark of a good life? Who should be considered a success? Easter offers a surprising and helpful answer: success is not about obvious worldly triumph, it’s about developing an ability to use one’s own suffering as a route to compassion for others…. May we transform individually, so we can truly transform collectively, building a better world, a better life. This Easter Sunday, let's think about the kind of world we’d like to create."
— Prof. Kamran Mofid, Founder, Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative (GCGI)