24 December 2011
18 December 2011
There's weather, and then there's climate. Weather patterns come and go, but forecasting has become much more accurate through improved meteorological techniques. Climate change is harder to predict. But, as the CBC's Peter Kent shows in this 1984 documentary, it's happening. Carbon dioxide levels in the Earth's atmosphere have been steadily rising, and by the year 2050 the average global temperature may rise by five degrees Celsius due to the greenhouse effect.
Vaclav Havel: "Truth and love must prevail over lies and hatred."
11 December 2011
LEGAL ACTION: Coordinating an international mobilization of scientists, attorneys, and youth for legal action on the climate crisis.
COMMUNICATIONS: Creating ground-breaking documentaries examining the geographic, economic and societal impacts of climate change on our youth and their communities.
ADVOCACY: Giving a voice to youth.
I hope the federal court in the USA gives these youth their "day in court." (See more info on the case, including fascinating expert declarations, here.)
We're at a point in the climate change emergency where the only thing we can do is to keep on doing everything we can do. Climate activists are starting to realize that we've lost this fight — the ultimate battle for life on Earth; that the fight was too big and the enemies of life on Earth too many in number and too strong in influence. But each one of us can keep fighting because to not fight is not an option. I used to say "Hope is not an action verb; action is our only hope" but now I think it would be more honest to say "Fighting is our only salvation."
But all that is a long-winded way to share with you two comments from the original Grist article on this court case:
1. "So the Environmental Groups have resorted to using children to get their message across? There is just all kinds of things wrong with that." This comment (that's all they wrote; talk about not "getting it") reminds me of the time my husband suggested that an environmental group focus on children's environmental health. (Children, as a vulnerable sub-population, are like bellwethers ... canaries in the mineshaft.) His suggestion was shot down because it would be "using children." So we're allowed to injure children and ruin their future with our pollution, but we're not allowed to focus on their health and wellbeing. (This commenter missed the part in the article about young people being the ones "using children to get their message across.")
2. Another commenter said that "Conservative Republicans and their corporate multi-national masters are ABORTING the future of our nation's children." Now, I don't want to get into American politics today (after all, their Democratic president has done NOTHING to address the climate change emergency, a point the kids are pointing out!), but the terminology is correct.
I used to say we were foreclosing on our children's future, making their future a thing of the past, committing progenycide, but "aborting their future" is exactly what we're doing: halting, stopping, ending, axing it; calling it off; cutting it short; discontinuing, terminating, arresting, cancelling, scrubbing it ... pulling the plug on their future.
It breaks my heart to think that so many people care so little about the children, their own children, all the children. What kind of civilization have we become?
04 December 2011
Now, let's apply this as a metaphor. Your child (or your wife, in the case I witnessed) is stung on the neck by a wasp. You always carry an EpiPen, just in case. Well, this is the "case" you've been waiting for, but instead you decide to wait and see. Why use an EpiPen if you don't have to, right? I mean, heck, nobody wants to be given a medication they don't need. Right? And why waste the money?
Fast forward about 30 minutes. You carry your child (or your wife, in the case I witnessed) into the emergency ward. They're almost dead, but the doctor works feverishly, injecting this and that, setting up a drip, calling the helicopter ambulance, staying with your child (or wife) to monitor their condition until the moment the helicopter ambulance closes its door. Just before that door closes, eyelids flutter and open slightly, and a very weak voice says, "I was almost gone there, wasn't I?" Your child (or your wife, in this case) lives. The doctor is shaken for weeks. He knows how close he came to losing your child (or your wife). He's just happy he didn't have to perform a tracheotomy but keeps asking the same question, over and over. Why, if they had an EpiPen, did they not use it? (My husband was the doctor, I was his assistant. This incident took place many years ago. As you can tell, I am still shaken by this memory.)
(You think I'm being overly dramatic, perhaps for effect? No. Once we allow the summer Arctic sea ice to disappear, the northern hemisphere will lose the cooling "air conditioner" effect during our growing season. Remember Russia, 2010? It won't take too many widespread crop failures before we descend into global chaos.)
How many people deal with their bee sting allergy by just living life indoors all the time? Not many. Most choose to go outdoors — and carry an EpiPen. We've been carrying a metaphorical EpiPen around since at least 1988: the concept of living the same lifestyle but lowering our global greenhouse gas emissions, moving to renewable energy, being greener.
Now we've been stung, and we refuse to use our EpiPen. It's too expensive, we say. We can't afford it. It's too inconvenient. "I'd rather die comfortable than live uncomfortable." (Real quote, that one.) I'm not going to use my EpiPen unless China uses its Epipen! Blah blah blah.
So what are we going to do? It's an emergency situation! What are we going to do? We're actually facing down the prospect of extinction of our species! What are we going to do?
Folks, the tracheotomy is an emergency procedure for emergency situations. Our collective tracheotomy is geoengineering: "deliberate large-scale engineering and manipulation of the planetary environment to combat or counteract anthropogenic changes in atmospheric chemistry" (Wikipedia).
If we're already saying no to the possibility of geoengineering, then we either don't realize the emergency we're in, or we're choosing a future with no future for our children. The Canadian Youth Climate Coalition naively, in my view, calls geoengineering "a false solution."
Friends, geoengineering is not a false solution, it is our last resort — and soon to be our only solution. We have been stung. We are ignoring the allergic reaction. We are refusing to use our EpiPen. If we don't get some adrenalin into our system soon, we'd better be open to a tracheotomy (pardon the pun). Because otherwise, we are opting for death.