28 March 2010

Why Aren't We Talking in Big Graphic Terms?

Earth Hour got lots of coverage last night on the news. I think the television media love it because it's so graphic — offering great visual "bites" (akin to sound bites) of lights going out at famous landmarks around the world. I'm sure the execs of big corporations like Earth Hour, too, because they know we'll all be back to normal the next day.

And now we just have to worry about all the energy we use the other 8759 hours of each year!

Why are we still — after 40 to 50 years of knowing what we're doing to the planet — not talking about the grand gestures that could actually have a longlasting positive impact? Why are we still so afraid to say that what we've been creating over the last 50 years (a world economy based on greed and consumerism rather than generosity and community) has to crumble (aka be smashed) and fall like the Berlin Wall (note visual bite)?

And why are we still not saying that we need to build from that rubble (note graphic bite: Phoenix rising from the ashes of the Burning Age) something brand new — the Golden Age of Renewable and Perpetual Energy? No more fuels! Of any kind! No more burning!

It's like that scene from A Christmas Story (the BB gun movie), where the kids leave their friend outside at recess, his tongue frozen to the flagpole (nice visual bite, eh?). "Has anyone seen Flick?" the teacher asks upon noticing his desk empty. All the kids start their usual "Who, me? Nope, I haven't seen him" kind of denial, looking away, whistlin' a nonchalant tune. Nope, nope, I refuse to be involved. (Perhaps the best ever denial scene on film.)

Our denial is billions of times worse — deadly, in fact. "Who, me? Nope, I don't see any problem. Global warming? Are you nuts? We had snow this winter!" Yet still we (I mean we who understand the threat posed by the climate change emergency) don't ask for what we need, or paint great and wondrous images of what our new world could look like.

Try it though. Ask people not to turn out their lights for one hour, but to imagine a world of lights powered by the sun, by the wind, by the energy of the Earth's core. Ask them to picture of world where no one owns "energy" (ah, it's no coincidence that the word "power" has two different but certainly intertwined meanings) — no fossil fuels to fight over, no more wars (if we can get there before the wars over water and food begin). Ask them to see in their mind's eye how much safer, cleaner and healthier this new world will be. How much more peaceful and equitable.

Let's start painting the picture of the transformative changes we need. Until we start dreaming big, asking big, demanding big, we probably aren't going to get the big changes, the complete conversion, that we need.

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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 courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?