In which I sniff my way to hope over Paris

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I did this back in the mid 1990s.

It came as no surprise, really, yet when I read earlier today that the President of the US has decided to get the United States out of the historic Paris Climate Accords, the news returned me to that same sense of incredulity, shock, dismay, and finally deep swamps of sorrow that I felt last November on election night.

But now I am meeting a second big struggle with a disease in my life, since my breast cancer diagnosis a couple of weeks back.  In considering today’s news about this withdrawal from shared international responsibility it feels as though those who would jump in to do their parts in working out solutions are being hindered by the cancer of ignorance.

I hope — believe — that the innate creativity and optimism shared by many people in the United States will find ways to navigate around the stones of ignorance now impeding the flow.

My hope is for the greater world, for the staunch hearts and minds of Americans whose love for their own country does not mean withdrawing into it in oblivion to what goes on around it, who are kind, generous, hard working, hopeful, creative, caring, responsible people.  Capable of seeing the shades of grey that define so much in lives  well lived.  Incapable of believing, among other things, that  neighboring countries are crammed with evil minded people intent on doing all sorts of nasty things in the US as soon as they can just sneak in.  That we ought to build a colossal great wall along a border to try to stop them.

underground gardens wall
Here is a wall that it is hard to go through — it is some feet underground, cut through solid rock.  Even so, somebody with the tools and experience can, indeed, pass through it. 

Never in life have I been a political animal, and I don’t intend on ever becoming one.  So this is not a partisan rant of any kind.  But I am a lover of and believer in science, plus a life time member of the Baha’i Faith with its profound emphasis of the interconnectedness of all human beings.

And the beauty and general awesomeness of Earth with its varied systems of life, its relation to other planets, the galaxy it is a wee part of, the billions of other galaxies — many so much larger and more impressive than ours — it’s been at the heart of me for as long as I can remember.

When I was going through the pain, the enormous changes in my physical capabilities that paralytic polio had left me with at the age of five, something that contributed hugely to my good recovery was thinking of the beautiful wooded areas, the little streams and ponds, the myriad colorful insects, birds and fish that we saw all around back home.  A few loving friends sent me such hospital-acceptable gifts as a small palm tree in which the exoskeleton of a cicada cleverly perched.  How many hours my twelve year old self, locked inside a body cast for long months as I had to lie in bed, spent extrapolating whole systems of life, glorious forests in tropical regions, summer choruses from the Massachusetts katydids I was familiar with, flights of amazingly colorful birds in tropical palms, from that little tree and empty bug husk.

Years later I was sufficiently impressed by the rather ghastly movie, Soylent Green, that I still haven’t forgotten it.  And I fervently hope things never come to such a pass that the closest people come to nature is to be allowed to watch films of long-gone scenes of forests, rivers and creatures as they are euthanized when old or sick.

Paris is directly linked to a process the US administration deplores.  Yet globalisation is a process that cannot be turned off.   Something to work with, rather than turn one’s back towards.  Humanity has evolved and invented technologies and systems which necessarily link together all sorts of countries and cultures.  No one is prepared to easily roll back the internet or medical breakthroughs, as examples.

With the advances of globalization come changes in economies that hurt some people for some time, yet offer opportunities to create and to work in new, emerging jobs and fields.

And then comes this “America First” rollback into old ways, possibly in the interest of extractive industries whose better days peaked decades ago, which were key to the climate damage addressed by the Paris Accords.

Despite nostalgic Christmas cards and love for Laura Ingalls Wilder stores, how many of us honestly would choose to live a century or two ago?

As the Industrial Revolution unfolded people had to make the same sorts of tough choices regarding their livelihoods that we do now — in pretty much every country, every culture, every epoch of history.  Adaptability is what slowly carried the human race away from cave dwelling.

It will continue to do so.  It’s a time to be creative, to see what we will make out of the challenges ahead.  I, for one, can’t wait to see.  I have faith in people’s ability to move forward when there is a big need.

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An ancient Hawaiian petroglyph.  Photo by my daughter, Jericha Rendon, on Oahu.  It reminds me of a similar Hopi symbol, which indicated the people going outward.

Change is the one constant in the universe.

So, to me, the whole idea of “America First” slogan is based on shifting sands.

Which brings me to the campaign cry that “maybe there is something true about the idea that humans may be affecting the climate somehow, perhaps, possibly, but we need more research — a lot more research — to know anything about that.”

Yet it is widely accepted that independent scientists around the world have firmly established the poisonous role fossil fuels play in Earth’s shallow atmosphere.  Poll after poll indicate that this is what the majority of Americans believe.

Resistance to the cancerous apparent ignorance of politicians can be swift and to the point.  Researchers just published a paper refuting, handily, the uninformed arguments of the current EPA director, who questions human-caused climate change.  Yet it has not swayed that individual’s opinion.

What can be the justification for withdrawing the country — a decision made, apparently, by a small cadre of people in the executive branch — from the Paris Accords?  Only two — TWO — other countries are not signed into those accords.  Syria was too busy with its internal vast war, and Nicaragua didn’t see that it had much to do with global warming one way or another.

So the bedraggled United States of America goes down a rabbit hole, averse to any leadership it could have had, leaving the other 195 — oops, 194 now — countries of the world working in an organized manner to create systems which can slow down and eventually halt the forces that contribute to planetary warming.

Much is to be learned from working with others, little in building great walls along our borders and slinking off the world stage, washed up leaders in the technology and creativity that will lift the world out of the atmospheric disaster threatening all of us.

It is a fine thing that there are talented people in other parts of the world who are ready to step up to take care of what the US won’t, now.  As a country, of course — there are innumerable businesses, organizations and individuals who will work all the harder to combat global warming now.

These are thoughts zinging through my mind as I write down these few, in my semi-measured  response to today’s Very Bad News.   Good that will eventually come of it.  Could be disasters, too.  I don’t expect to be around long enough to see how things play out in the long, long run. I do care, very much, about all the people, creatures and systems that are affected by what we do, or don’t do.  My own grandchildren and their descendants alongside everyone else’s.

At least let’s be scientific about it.

Of course the planet takes care of itself, in geological time.  It’s the human race that stands to learn or lose by this enormous common climate challenge that we have — some of us — brought on ourselves.

I respect the views of others.  There is so much  to gain through consulting objectively, listening carefully, thinking long before responding to unfamiliar ideas that come from people who look different, speak other languages, practice strange ways of living.

Those differences are what makes the process of change so exciting to be party to.

“The shining spark of truth cometh forth only after the clash of differing opinions.” 

“See ye no strangers; rather see all men as friends, for love and unity come hard when ye fix your gaze on otherness.

~Baha’i

Justice … Thoughts on Standing Rock

 

eagle-featherWe are a part of Creation; thus, if we break the Laws of Creation, we destroy ourselves…

We, the Original Caretakers of Mother Earth, have no choice but to follow and uphold the Original Instructions, which sustains the continuity of Life. We recognize our umbilical connection to Mother Earth and understand that she is the source of life, not a resource to be exploited. We speak on behalf of all Creation today, to communicate an urgent message that man has gone too far, placing us in the state of survival. Not heeding warnings from both Nature and the People of the Earth keeps us on the path of self-destruction. These self-destructive activities and development continue to cause the deterioration and destruction of sacred places and sacred waters that are vital for Life.

We respect and honor our spiritual relationship with the lifeblood of Mother Earth. One does not sell or contaminate their mother’s blood. These capitalistic actions must stop and we must recover our sacred relationship with the Spirit of Water

In a Sacred Hoop of Life, where there is no ending and no beginning!

Onipiktec’a (that we shall live).

Nac’a (Chief) Arvol Looking Horse, 19th Generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe Bundle

Today is the International Vigil for Standing Rock.  Just days after police from several states, together with the National Guard, arrested scores of Native Americans and other protestors who have been facing down DAPL (Dakota Access Pipeline) workers with their heavy construction equipment clearing the way for the almost 1200 mile long pipeline.  Plans call for it to deliver as many as 570,000 barrels of crude oil a day from North Dakota’s Bakken and Three Forks oil fields to a river port in Illinois.

Many, many Native (and some other) protestors found themselves shoved into dog kennels after they were taken off the buses from Sacred Stone Camp (site of the protest) and had their forearms inscribed with numbers.  Just like, some point out, in Nazi death camps.

For that reason alone this situation demands attention of justice minded human beings.

Instructions for the vigils, intended to be held at many locations around the world:

“Wherever you are, pray on this day for all water protectors who have been injured or imprisoned, and for the horse that was killed by police. The world joins in prayer for HEALING for those at Standing Rock who experienced such intense trauama (sic) on October 27th. We also join in prayer for the men and women police who brutally harmed the water protectors. We also pray for the pipeline workers and those who finance them. May they all be blessed and healed and reconnected with the earth. We pray for everyone as we know that in the end we are one, inseparable human family. In forgiveness, hard truth, courage and faith, we will arise from this hardship.”

Chief Arvol Looking Horse, a man who commands respect in his position as traditional leader of his people, as well as for his wisdom, has called on US President Barack Obama:

“You are ignoring our pleas to use your time as President to move us toward sustainable development as fast as possible, because of our Mother Earth – our Grandmother Earth, is sick and has a fever. We as people that want to do Creator’s work to create these changes and are stuck with using oil, because it is all you have allowed to invest in to transport this country.

It is time you stop this desecration of our sacred sites….”

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2016/10/28/chief-arvol-looking-horse-obama-keep-your-word-166266

Which all brings a boiling soup of conflicting thoughts to my mind.  As a very long time supporter of sustainable development as well as wise stewardship of our planet, I am a believer in the “keep it in the ground” view of fossil fuel extraction.  Peak oil is a thing of the past, I have read here and there in financial news, with a smile on my face.

The way the oil industry is going at extraction doesn’t necessarily indicate agreement with that view.  I’m not going into a lengthy comment about all this.

Recently I sat in my living room with a young Australian/Persian chemical engineer who had left his oil job in Texas in disgust at corporate practices.  This intelligent fellow has, nonetheless, a genuine belief that oil and gas can be sustainably extracted from the earth using carbon capture techniques.  This is an area where development is urgently needed, and there are jobs for those with appropriate skills.

He pointed out that the world is far from being ready to get along without oil.  That despite rapid progress in wind and solar alternatives, the one technology that rivals fossil fuels in the ability to adequately supply the world’s energy needs is nuclear — a very fraught alternative.  There is the somewhat safer thorium alternative to uranium, which is being used in some Chinese plants.  There are controversies with that, too.

My friend was only reminding me of facts that seem reasonable in other sources, but the timing was good in relation to what is going on right now in North Dakota.

I think that this is more an issue of human rights than of oil production.  Says Chief Looking Horse:

I am not a member of leadership under any political government, I stand in position as the center of our people, the voice of our traditional government, and so this communication is nation to nation, as indicated by our treaties. Additionally, we have over 300 flags of indigenous nations including other countries supporting our stand, because they are suffering as well. 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2016/10/28/chief-arvol-looking-horse-obama-keep-your-word-166266

As a lifelong Baha’i I have never been a member of a political party, other than for the day that it took once in the 1970s to vote in a particular primary, then immediately switch back to status as an Independent.  Also as a Baha’i I stand up for human rights, always.  Hence I sign petitions to move the pipeline.

My left brain persona understands that is isn’t necessarily racist for DAPL to have moved plans for the pipeline away from Bismark, a population center in the area — but it is very wrong for the thing to be placed where it is now supposed to go, right by the Standing Rock Reservation, where vital water as well as numerous sites held sacred to the People are located.  Given the centuries long genocide against the continent’s indigenous people and their cultures, this matter takes on urgency in today’s horrifyingly divided world.

Moving the pipeline elsewhere — and I do not know the problems with that would be facing planners and engineers — is utterly vital because of this country’s tendency to put unhealthy, polluting operations right up against minority homes, away from more “upscale” areas.

We are sorely tried to find agreement among ourselves in the US this political season.  Issues long simmering beneath the common surface are ready to blow up like a volcano.  Dakota Access is a situation with the potential to expand understanding of one another, as well as of the explosive questions regarding fossil fuels, global warming, jobs, the meaning of justice — and of humanity.

O SON OF SPIRIT! The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect it not that I may confide in thee. By its aid thou shalt see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbor. Ponder this in thy heart; how it behooveth thee to be. Verily justice is My gift to thee and the sign of My loving-kindness. Set it then before thine eyes.

The Hidden Words

Collective action on behalf of the planet

 

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Saskatchewan oil well.  Photo by the late Alex Barta

Recently the Baha’i International Community released a statement to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.  It’s quite down to earth and emphasizes the role of collective human thought and action, how this is to be found and focused.  Below I’ll share a few excerpts.   If you’ve been eager for something a little beyond science and geopolitical solutions, this is quite exciting!

The full text is available to read or for PDF download at:  BIC Statement on Climate Change for Paris

…A rich and deepening consciousness of the oneness of humankind is the only way that the obstacles inherent in dichotomies like rich/poor, north/south, developed/developing can be overcome. Designations of this kind are not without basis, for some countries do have more financial resources than others. But while such realities are not to be denied, neither should they be allowed to paralyze constructive action. Rather, they should be incorporated into the perspective that an integrated, sustainable and prosperous world will not be built by “us” working together with “them”, but by all of us working on behalf of everyone. …

…The principle of the oneness of humankind highlights the powerful connections found between raising the well-being of people and reversing environmental degradation. It is true that the ecological footprint of certain areas is far larger than that of others. This is a reality that will need to be addressed through both voluntary choice and governmental regulation. But equally important will be lifting billions out of poverty in ways that not only reduce harm to the environment, but actively improve it. Addressing social needs in the context of environmental ones responds to the pressing moral imperatives of climate change. But its rationale is highly pragmatic as well, for climate change calls for urgent action, and the dividends of such steps are greater the sooner they are taken.

Efforts of this kind also lay a foundation for valuing people and the planet as explicitly as profit has been. It is widely recognized today that the single-minded pursuit of financial gain has all too often led to the destruction of both natural systems and human lives. This legacy has left deep ambivalence about the role the corporate sector and market forces should play in sustainability efforts. Such questions are complex and not simply answered. But what seems imperative is that good faith efforts be integrated into a just global effort that avoids all forms of exclusion that breeds opposition, hostility, defensiveness, and distrust….

…What might this look like in practice? Consumption habits provide a helpful illustration. People might be open to recycling, for example, but live in areas without services such as drop-off centers or community composting. Without appropriate supports from government, then, possibilities for individual change are severely constrained. Institutional action to create an enabling environment is needed. Government has a vital role to enact the policies, laws, and regulations needed to support the desired actions and behaviors.

This framework, however, merely sets the stage. For ultimately it is individuals who take the initiative to adopt new patterns of action or continue with business as usual. Human behavior and personal decision-making are therefore critical to the success of sustainability efforts, particularly in the sphere of values, ethics, and morals. Such qualities might seem diffuse or somewhat “soft”, but changes in lifestyle will not be sustained if normative drivers of behaviors such as attitudes and beliefs do not shift as well. Consumption habits will not change if acquisition and the ongoing accumulation of luxury goods are seen as powerful symbols of success and importance. Building more sustainable patterns of life will therefore require continuing conversation about human nature and the prerequisites of well-being…

…Setting humanity on a more sustainable path to the future involves transformation in attitudes and actions. Reform of institutional structures will be critical …. Yet ultimately it is people, whatever their role or place in society, who implement the policies of a central administration or ignore them, who participate in well-conceived programs or continue patterns of life as before. We all have agency and none of our decisions are without consequence. Establishing sustainable patterns of individual and collective life will therefore require not only new technologies, but also a new consciousness in human beings, including a new conception of ourselves and our place in the world…

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Raven overlooking a scene at Chaco Canyon, New Mexico — a civilization which overstepped its available resources, and collapsed.

Enduring symbol. We Will Survive.

This past Saturday night’s activities included dealing with a busted rivet in one of my new leg braces.  Though pain free, this particular event is best explained to the normal-legged public as being rather like having the tibia and fibula removed from action in the lower leg.  You can’t walk.

So out of the closet came an old leg brace, and first thing Monday I made an appointment with the orthotist who had created these fine plastic leg braces early last summer.  He said to come this afternoon, and so there I was, rolling northward along I-25 while day-dreaming about recent changes in my life.

Small changes they may appear, but in my quiet little life tectonic plates have shifted the tiniest bit.  No earthquakes, just a little shaking here and there.

The mental shift felt to me to be well exemplified by a couple of highway signs one passes going in and out of the small city of Los Lunas, New Mexico:

Zero Visibility Possible

Strong Winds May Exist

How amusingly existential…   One wonders about the state of mind of highway engineers in creating these warnings.  Too much of New Mexico can do things to the mind.  For instance, my former neighbor, Leon Cooper, once worked with physicist Edward Teller at Los Alamos National Lab.  While the atomic bomb was in development.

One toasty summer day Leon walked into the office to discover Teller sitting his desk — with one of his legs standing beside him.    He took that as one of those things you expect from renowned  physicists without question…  In moments he understood that the … pedestrian … reason was that Teller had an artificial limb, and was more comfortable in hot weather with the thing off.

Teller is a hero of mine because back in the 1950s he was just about the first scientist on earth to make a fuss about the amount of carbon pouring into the atmosphere due to fossil fuel consumption since the Industrial Age began.  He announced that this was going to cause the planet’s atmosphere to change.

Back to the highway daydreams.

A month or two ago I came upon a autobiographical book by Dan O’Brien, Buffalo for the Broken Heart.  I like buffalo and the connection with heart breaking bemused me enough to read the book immediately.  Besides being a wildlife biologist and keen falconer — two of my own long standing interests — he was a Black Hills cattle rancher for a good long time before concluding that cattle are awfully bad for the Great Plains.  In a word, cows are exotic species and don’t belong there.  They tear things apart.

So, bit by bit, his researches into restoring a healthy ecosystem and providing food for people led him into a gradual move from cattle to buffalo.  Practically anybody who’s been within a hundred yards of a wild buffalo will be aware of how much this entails.

O’Brien the biologist understood the evils of treating buffalo like cattle, and wanted to market meat from animals that had never been near a feedlot, and who had been slaughtered in the manner of the Plains Indian tribes — right there, where they stood, without terror or much pain.  Little by little he created a system that allowed him to produce this particular product, in just the way he intended.

Back to the highway daydreamer, who has been a vegetarian for much of her life — with even a few years as a vegan.  Being aware that bison meat has very little fat in it, and liking O’Brien’s big vision of restoring health to the Great Plains through animals that had evolved there, I up and got some of his meat.

And ate it, and wanted more!  Yowzer for the vegetarian?  Not so much, because my reason for not eating meat was mainly consideration about raising beef, pork and chickens commercially.  Big Ag stuff.  This buffalo operation did away with that.

So there I am, roaring up the highway at some 80 mph in order to get rivets fixed in my own leg brace — happily just a brace, not a whole leg — and reflecting over the positive effects of the diet change when I topped a mesa and saw my favorite view of Isleta Pueblo spread out far below.  Fields and fields, neatly arranged and unfailingly well maintained against the backdrop of the blue and purple Sandia Mountains.  Black walls of a mesa surround these fields on the western side, where the highway runs.   In winter the ranchers sometimes have had cattle on the alfalfa stubble, sometimes horses, and often beehives.

But today the tiny dark shapes moving around below were odd…  Why do the cows have such humps…???  Lady, them thar critters are BUFFALO!!

And why shouldn’t they be?  Like various other tribes in New Mexico,  Isletans have been acquiring a herd of bison.  Usually one spots them close to their revenue generating casino along I-25.

So in approaching the casino turnoff I gazed over at tribal fields where I’ve often seen their buffs ….  And … amongst the huge, shaggy beasts with the prominent humps stood a genuine wonder, something holy.

A white buffalo.

This was such a deeply spiritual moment that despite the high speed whiz around a curve in company with numerous other low flying trucks and semis, tears ran down my face.

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Image from SalsolaStock

A white buffalo.  On Native land.  In New Mexico.  Here, at the very easternmost edge of the Colorado Plateau, where bison did once roam, though not in the numbers on the plains further east.  Nomadic Comanches and other  tribes hunted them.

A white buffalo, the sign of the White Buffalo Calf Woman, spiritual messenger to the Lakota/Dakota people of the northern Great Plains so long ago.  The symbol of renewal.

Unless I was hallucinating, the creature was there.  And I felt so very blessed, sailing by on the highway, daydreaming about my small life and its changes, about the grander scheme of caring for the earth and its creatures, about the tribes here and elsewhere making their changes.

This during the closing days of COP21 in Paris.  Somehow I had the vision that Edward Teller, climate change, the people who understand earth systems profoundly, like Teller, O’Brien and indigenous people from everywhere, are quietly leading recalcitrant ones towards a more balanced use of our shared home planet.

The message of the white buffalo endures.

In the middle of the ocean we have to keep swimming

Approaching COP21 … In Paris,  30 November – 11December 2015

I sit in the warm afternoon sun of the back yard this mid-November day, musing about the upcoming, awfully important Paris talks on climate change, in light of a recent scientific kerfuffle regarding mass extinctions on our pleasant little planet.  Evidently these catastrophic events — one of which many scientists tell us we are now in the midst of — occur roughly every 26 million years..  I note that the one that finished off those nobly enormous creatures, the dinosaurs, happened 66 million years ago.

Cyclical comet showers are named as a likely culprit.  The Atlantic has a full description about these events at http://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2015/11/the-next-mass-extinction/413884/

The magnitude of the time frame threatens to overwhelm my finite mind.  Here we perch at the beginning of what scientists are calling the Anthropocene Epoch. This goes down as the first time in geological history when humans became the drivers of vast alterations in life upon the planet, which, of course, also has its own grand cycles. None of the biological and some geological factors that allow the biological to live can entirely escape.  Human ancestors have existed for around 6 million years, but the ones we might recognize for a mere 200,000.  One fifth of one million years.

Musing occurs over the fact that dinosaurs roamed the planet for some 135 million years.  To this day we still know less about them than more.  In another 66+ million years what will the thinking life on Earth make of our fossils?  Should there be thinking life, of course.

I try to imagine my pleasant warm sunshine being blotted out by thick dust from a city-sized chunk of meteorite — six miles across — crashing into Earth’s crust.  Later a related series of volcanic eruptions that might go on for a few million years would continue to blot out sunlight, with catastrophic effects on agriculture, water, virtually all living things.  Dust that keeps temperatures cold, makes air hard to breathe, prevents much light from warming oceans, lakes, rivers, provides little for photosynthesis.

I cannot do this, not really.  If we were to foresee such an event perhaps some could survive in protected shelters that it would take a good while to create, considering that we might have to base ourselves in there for millennia.  When the time came that there was sun enough, and clean air enough, to make emerging comfortable for extended periods, would our surviving descendants resemble mole rats?

Just possibly more controllably, there is the fact staring me in the face that the current mass extinction is not caused by a big space rock, but by ourselves, pumping too much carbon, too many chemicals, into the Earth’s thin atmosphere.  Thin, at 300 miles, though most is concentrated within ten miles of the planet’s surface.  The familiar domino effect is tumbling along right now.

And then, as shadows deepen across the yard, a red-winged grasshopper rattles in flight to a clumsy landing ten feet from me.  Alas, while I reach for my iPhone camera Opus the Dog marches up to the hopper to hover his shiny nose over it. Off it goes, wings now deep orange in the sun, into a neighbor’s yard, where the resident dog probably eats it.

Grasshoppers are said to be rather good — there is a restaurant preparing to open someplace in the US featuring all manner of tasty insects.  In Japan sushi is made from insects ranging from mealworms to palm-sized beetles.

Grasshoppers and ants, children’s fables.  Off goes my mind to recent Republican presidential debates…

From the populous field of Republican aspirants to the US presidency come  absurd denials about the threats of climate change, while some steam in half baked awareness. Where are the moderates in all this?  It seems clear that these people prefer to pooh-pooh, dissemble and deny its existence before the very teeth of a beast too large for them to see right in front of them.  Extreme rightwing members of the Republican party have made it the only conservative party in the world that denies climate science.

If the big scary beast would just swallow the deniers on its way through, the way Roadrunners eat grasshoppers, things might not be so bad for the rest of the people.  But that’s the trouble with equal opportunity climate change, it affects every single person, from teachers through CEOs of fossil fuel outfits.

What is wrong in a country that takes so lightly the very real need to work hard to reduce the impact of this great threat?  Where gigantic fossil fuel conglomerates get away with manufacturing inaccurate, misleading and downright untrue evidence — for decades — in an attempt to show others what they know to be false — that there’s no such big threat looming over everybody, including their customers?  These giants of commerce have been fully aware of the risks of pumping so many tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere for a long, long time.  While telling us in advertisements how safely we can sleep in our gas or oil heated homes.

Perhaps we are a too-gullible nation, the USA.  Too ready to take as fact loud commentary blaring from radio and television shows, from websites that may or may not have a grip on all the facts.  From strangers and friends who just “look like they know what they’re talking about”.  Objectivity can be hard to come by.  Perhaps we need to learn this:  To love learning and thinking, each one for her/himself?

There are things we can change, alongside things we can’t.  Politics I  avoid, but I do vote.  As cooler and cooler shadows engulf my comfortable spot in the yard, I think of dinosaurs with no higher intelligent life around to make even minuscule efforts to spare some of them. As a small, civic act it is worth it to vote for people who are intelligently informed and committed to reducing the US’s carbon pollution, in sync with many other countries.  Vote about issues, not so much personality.

Assuming that there are such politicians.

It is worth it to pay attention to what occurs at the UN Paris climate talks (COP21) in early December.  Check out some issues in the link.

Why?  Because so many of Earth’s great civilizations of the past collapsed for one basic reason:  People were using their resources unsustainably.  One day there was nothing left to eat.  So, while you can’t be sure of deflecting meteors, you can be certain that doing something about human-caused deterioration of resources, such as the air we breathe, is the intelligent and loving thing to do for all of us, and for the planet.

This is the beauty of science.  It is based on the best known facts of the time, and when it gets scary we ought to take it seriously.  Skepticism is good, yet when hundreds of independent scientists come out with similar statements after long, painstaking, peer-reviewed research, it’s time to listen up.

“You may not see the ocean, but right now we are in the middle of the ocean, and we have to keep swimming.”  ~Tracy Kidder, journalist

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