24 April 2011

It's Official ... I'm Climate Cranky

"Climate crank" is a new term used to describe "the corporate lobbyists and right-wing ideologues who for twenty years have done all in their power to keep [us], especially the government, from seriously addressing the problem [of climate change]," as explained by Mark Hertsgaard. (Read his Confronting the Climate Cranks.)

So, I'm definitely not a climate crank, but I am definitely becoming climate cranky (crabby, irritable, ill-tempered). The slang word "cranky" is thought to come from the Dutch and German word krank, meaning sick. And in a way, I am sick ... in my heart and soul.

I'm not even sure I should admit how climate cranky I am, but here goes. After organizing a fun but poorly attended Family Earth Day Dance and Celebration on April 22, I attended a concert the next night in which several of my students would be playing or dancing. In my imagination, it would be a cute little concert and I pictured that my presence would help bolster the audience. Well, was I wrong! Hundreds of people showed up to hear these kids play their fiddles. The place was packed! And they weren't all adoring grandparents either.

The music was sweet, but my heart was sad. I realized that we humans, at least in my part of the world, still are not connected to the Earth. So as the atmosphere heats up ... as we burn up our children's future ... we carry on with life as "normal" with nary a concern about the climate. I wouldn't want the kids to stop playing their music, but I would like to see "normal" tempered with some adult reaction to the climate change emergency.

The next thing that's made me even crankier is an online community discussion about local energy self-sufficiency, which is now going off on a "biomass burning" tangent, something that I find terrifying. People don't realize how close to tipping points we are, so adding any unnecessary greenhouse gases (GHGs that could be avoided by using perpetual energy sources) is dangerous. Any notion that biomass burning is carbon neutral because that vegetation would have released its carbon someday anyway is upsetting because of the timelines involved. Today's CO2 and other heat-forcing molecules from burning biomass do not pass go and do not collect $200. There is no special place in the atmosphere for greenhouse gases from burned vegetation. All GHG molecules start radiating heat once they're up there. And burning biomass means fewer nutrients are left in the soil. (For things like, oh, I don't know, food maybe? Future trees? Plants for fibre?)

Ah, we're a crazy society, eh? Ergo, I'm even crankier.

Canadian Living magazine offers 8 Quick Cures for Crankiness. Hmmm, things like sprinkle on some baby powder. Sit in a rocking chair. Wear pastels. Listen to your mom. Okay, think I'll phone home. My mom usually knows how to cheer me up!

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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?