21 May 2017

Cassandras of the World, Unite and Be Heard!

I was never much interested in Greek mythology and didn't study it in school. In fact, I knew nothing about Cassandra until people starting calling me by that name. Suddenly Cassandra became a theme in my writings about climate change.

Today I want to say that it feels like the Cassandras of the world are starting to be heard — and believed. Which means, of course, that the deniers and Big Money and Big Oil are becoming more and more desperate and underhanded. But it also means that the Cassandras of the world aren't as lonely.

My husband stumbled upon this prescient ABBA song yesterday (video below). It's from 1982 and was the B-side (only oldsters will understand that reference!) to their song The Day Before You Came. "Pity, Cassandra, that no one believed you ... Some of us wanted but none of us would listen to words of warning."

To be clear, I'm not saying that I have Cassandra's gift (or curse) of prescience or clairvoyance. I merely make and take the time to keep up to date on the climate change science and then look around the world to see what's already happening. And I understand that what's befalling others will soon enough befall us. Then I make and take the time to write and teach about what I've learned. That's when I get called Cassandra.

Alas, there are more and more of us, and our collective voice is getting louder and louder. (It also helps that people are witnessing economic signs that the market is moving to renewable energy, even if our governments aren't switching fossil fuel subsidies over yet, which is deplorable and unforgivable.)

Enjoy this blast from the past, even if the message is a sad one. And hey, invite a Cassandra out for a tea or coffee this week!



Cassandra

(written by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus; sung by Anni-Frid (Frida) Lyngstad and Agnetha Fältskog)

Down in the street they're all singing and shouting
Staying alive though the city is dead
Hiding their shame behind hollow laughter

While you are crying alone on your bed

Pity, Cassandra, that no one believed you
But then again you were lost from the start
Now we must suffer and sell our secrets
Bargain, playing smart, aching in our hearts

Sorry, Cassandra, I misunderstood

Now the last day is dawning
Some of us wanted but none of us would

Listen to words of warning
But on the darkest of nights

Nobody knew how to fight
And we were caught in our sleep

Sorry, Cassandra, I didn't believe

You really had the power
I only saw it as dreams you would weave
Until the final hour

So in the morning your ship will be sailing
Now that your father and sister are gone

There is no reason for you linger
You're grieving deeply but still moving on
You know the future is casting a shadow
No one else sees it, but you know your fate
Packing your bags, being slow and thorough
Knowing though you're late that ship is sure to wait

Sorry, Cassandra, I misunderstood 

Now the last day is dawning
Some of us wanted but none of us would

Listen to words of warning
But on the darkest of nights
Nobody knew how to fight
And we were caught in out sleep
Sorry, Cassandra, I didn't believe you really had the power
I only saw it as dreams you would weave
Until the final hour

I watched her ship leaving harbor at sunrise,

Sails almost slack in the cool morning rain
She stood on deck, just a tiny figure
Rigid and restrained, blue eyes filled with pain

Sorry, Cassandra, I misunderstood

Now the last day is dawning
Some of us wanted but none of us would

Listen to words of warning
But on the darkest of nights
Nobody knew how to fight
And we were caught in our sleep
Sorry, Cassandra, I didn't believe you really had the power
I only saw it as dreams you would weave
Until the final hour

(I'm sorry, Cassandra)

14 May 2017

Something to Cry For

It's been a weepy week for me. Another few days in bed with the flu gave me lots of opportunity to watch lots of videos that had me alternating between crying, sobbing, whimpering, bawling and blubbering.

As usual for me, most of the tears came when I was reminded of what we're taking away from all the children — of all species. But also what we're inflicting on those more vulnerable and less to blame. 

So this week, instead of blathering on, I'd just like to share two videos with you, both of which have had me weeping this week. After all, if we don't allow ourselves to feel the pain of what we're losing, we probably won't fight to save it.




TRAILER Raise A Paddle: A Journey from the Pacific to the Tar Sands



07 May 2017

New York Times Declares Climate Change Emergency (Nah, I Just Made That Up)

Credit: The New York Times (funnily enough, they don't see the irony)
Climate change has stripped me of all my sentimentality. And if you've known me since I was young, then you know how much of me that is.

It's a sad loss (not, in my view, a healthy shedding). Defined as "excessive tenderness, sadness, or nostalgia," my sentimentality is what connected me to the human condition. And yes, some might have seen my empathy and compassion as excessive because it did often make me feel sad. But I'm a people person and an extrovert — so my connections to others make me feel complete and worthwhile. (Yes, introverts of the world, we extroverts have our own existential demons.)

Oh, what am I trying to express today? I think it's that I'm finding it more and more exhausting and depressing to, on the one hand, recognize that the climate change emergency fight is pretty much lost already due to global apathy, while on the other hand still wanting to punch through that fatigue and depression to deal with the likes of T**** and the denier NGOs — and now The New York Times, as well?

Yes, I'm going to weigh in, briefly, on the NYT's hiring of an opinion columnist whose views diverge, shall we say, from the laws of physics.

1. Buddy, only you would call 0.85ºC, or about 1.5ºF of warming of the Earth (it's not "earth") since 1880 (most of it quite recently) "modest."

That modest warming unleashed natural disasters that killed hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people. And now that "modest warming" is up to 1.38ºC (March 2017), and all indicators are on the rise. This is observation, not projection. Which part of "it's happening and you can see it if you only look" don't you grasp? And then you have the gall to say something about "the possible severity of its consequences." How cavalier, inhumane and unfeeling of you. 



2. "[O]rdinary citizens also have a right to be skeptical of an overweening scientism. They know — as all environmentalists should — that history is littered with the human wreckage of scientific errors married to political power."

No, sir, ordinary, scientifically illiterate citizens do NOT have the right to question the science of climate change. Citizens who read and keep up to date on the research — especially the evidence of what's already happening — have the right to pose questions. But giving people who still think we were invented 6000 years ago the power to weigh in? No. If you need proof of human wreckage, turn on the nightly news — or better yet, a weather channel.



And "overweening scientism." What the hell is that, but the sound of a writer who likes his own voice?

C'mon, New York Times, you hired a skeptic (oh, no, this fellow doesn't "deny" climate change — he's a delayer, which is just as bad) as a fumbly, feeble attempt to make T**** supporters feel welcome? While campaigning on the importance of truth? Your opinionator is being irresponsible and dangerous, and his opinions and his writings are promoting progenycide. (If you think that's hyperbole, then know this: I WANT TO BE WRONG. But I don't want time to prove me wrong because by then, it will be too late.)

Please, if you want controversy, why not declare the emergency? That'll get people talking! And give the kids and their future a break.



And so, as my husband laments, not only is there no action on declaring this an emergency, but nor is there any sorrow, any sadness, any regret, any apology about what we're losing. There's just people like the NYT's opinion writer and his cleverness, while a whole lot of other people are snoring.

30 April 2017

What's the Right Word for "Emergency"?

Holy flying freak out! The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide hit over 412 parts per million (ppm) this past week! We're still setting temperature records, especially in the Arctic. Despite fossil fuel CO2 emissions being flat over the last few years, CO2 concentration is still increasing — and at an accelerating rate. Sea level is rising at an accelerating rate. The oceans are heating at an accelerating rate. Unprecedented ocean acidification is increasing at an accelerating rate. And ocean de-oxygenation is on the increase, as well.

If you understand global warming and climate change, you'll understand how distressing all of this is. But if you don't understand it, what can I say to explain that this is an emergency — even though you're not bleeding or in pain? Yet.

Look at this. It's a fuzzy version of what my hubby just presented at the European Geosciences Union (EGU) General Assembly. Just note how all the graphs are on the upswing.


All of these data trends point to a planetary emergency ... but still, amongst the public (and even amongst the vast majority of scientists, it seems), there's no sense of panic or urgency. No sense of impending calamity or danger. No sense of crisis or emergency.

What's a gal who cares about the biosphere — and all the children, of all species — to do? What WORD is going to help people grasp the plight we are in? What metaphor will help people get that we're in a doomsday scenario?

Please, I'm begging for help here. Can we put our heads (and hearts) together globally and come up with the right words to say? The right metaphors and analogies? The right graphs and graphics? Can the advertising agencies of the world do some pro bono work in order to help us safeguard the future? Can the artists and musicians come up with ways to wake up the public? 

We are so close to the point of no return (if not already past it) that my plea is a desperate one. 

Can you help solve this problem? Or do you know someone who might be able to?