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14 October 2012

It's So Freaking Lonely!

I felt so alone yesterday, so lonely, so isolated and solitary. I attended a (very well attended) panel discussion put on by my island community's conservation association. The event's title included "climate change" and "apocalypse" in the same breath: Upland and Near-Shore Apocalypse: How Climate Change, Plunging Fish Stocks and Declining Orcas Will Affect All Our Futures. So you can imagine that I went with some expectations.

It was fairly interesting, I can't deny it. But by the time I reached my car (my car! sheesh) to come home, I was sobbing in lament that we never once talked about how bad things are getting, that we spent a whole morning together, so many of us, and talked about restoration of eelgrass beds and how to protect beachfront homes from storm surges post sea level rise, but never talked about the 400,000 people being killed every year due to climate chaos. Apart from some IPCC temperature and sea level graphs and an Arctic map of disappearing sea ice (with no "therefore" presented), we didn't even dance around the topic of what's really happening. 

What really stuck with me was a government ecologist's mention of "assisted migration" – meaning that plants and sessile (or immobile) animals (like barnacles) that can't move on their own to adapt to our changing climate might have to be helped. That broke my heart, not just to think of all the species we're threatening, but that we didn't once talk about assisting the migration of millions of people whose lives are being so impacted by the changing climate. 

And the other thing that struck me is that the panelists never talked about food. I'm a vegan and don't think of fish as food, but as our agriculture goes down the toilet due to droughts and heat waves and wildfires, more and more people will start relying on "hunting," gathering and foraging for food. 

That might have been a way to make an emotional connection for the audience between their foreshores and their futures. But no one bothered. 

Surely it's not because no one else cares. Is it because no one else knows? Is it only a few of us on the fringe – those who put it all together rather than studying climate change in fragmented bits – who see what's coming? Either way, it's very lonely holding that knowledge, that knowing. Life would be much nicer (and the burden, the secret would be shared) if others were willing to know it, too. 

Alas. 

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I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on compassion as a solution to the climate change emergency?