12 September 2009

85 Days - Knowing It's Going, Not Willing to Say Goodbye

We were out and about yesterday, my husband and I. Lunch with a fellow activist (a true eco-warrior and an inspiration to us both — thanks, Joan!), more tests at the hospital, a bit of shopping (Julie's Rule of Three: If you must drive, make sure you have at least three good reasons, and that doesn't mean soymilk, bread and carrots — grocery shopping only counts as one reason).

It was a quintessential September day ... sunny, warm, a light breeze, just right. Everything and everybody seemed happy, soaking in the last of summer.

And then Peter said it. "Isn't it sad to think that all this is going to disappear because we're not moving fast enough on climate change?"

As I live in a temperate zone, and not near the equator, I am always prone to a tinge of melancholy and nostalgia in autumn. It's probably natural for people who notice the days getting shorter and the leaves changing colour. So try to imagine my angst when he said that. I had never thought of it that way before.

I feel deeply what's happening to the children in Africa due to climate chaos. I can imagine what the Pacific Islanders who must abandon their homelands are feeling. I can picture what the Inuit are going through in a melting Arctic where their traditions are disappearing along with the ice.

But I had never looked around my own home area to try and picture what will happen here. If we continue to allow the burning of carbon-based fuels and the release of other greenhouse gases from other industrial (and industrialized agriculture) processes, practically everywhere on Earth will dry out (some areas will flood out). (According to the IPPC in 2007, areas of the world stricken with severe drying have doubled in the last 30 years.)
The problem is the rate of change. The rate of climate change determines our ability to adapt and survive. And the rate of change in the chemistry of our atmosphere and the oceans right now is unheard of in geological time. We are increasing atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations at an unprecedented rate — and living things cannot adapt that quickly.

Indeed, I remember the moment I "got" global warming and climate change. I was watching a recorded lecture given by a professor of ecology at the Harvard School of Public Health. When he explained that some insects will start to hatch earlier or later than usual because of changes in the climate, and their predators probably won't adapt in the same way, I knew what we were dealing with. They don't call it climate disruption for nothing.

So, if you love the idea of a habitable planet for future generations of all species, try this experiment: Go to your favourite place outdoors, a beautiful place that feeds your soul. Look around. Drink it all in. Then say to yourself, "All this is going to disappear."

If your spirit then cries out, "No, damn it! I'm not going to let it go without a fight," then welcome to the world of climate activism. Allowing yourself to know this truth and feel this angst is the first step.

1 comment:

  1. The problem is that most people don't care of the climate change impacts that are happening elsewhere, even it it killing people and animals. To get through to the people who think, so what if it gets a couple of degrees hotter, we need to start focusing on how people and their local communities will struggle to cope with the changing world. I don't think people in halifax and other coastal areas have begun to think of what it means that they may be under water in less then 90 years.


I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?