It is nearly the middle of the year 2015. In fact, today’s number date, written in European style, is 15-05-15. An auspicious date. In a telling year, in the early years of the 21st century, planet Earth.
The news across the world is bad. There seems to be no other way to express it: the news is bad and getting worse by the day. For anyone who is even vaguely following the reports about the environment, things really seem to be going from one unbelievably bad idea to the next. Today I read this article, regarding plans for a giganticly huge coal mining operation to begin in Queensland, Australia in 2017. The article, which ran in the Guardian, states,
“Massive mining operations are looking to plunder a gigantic new coal frontier in the Galilee Basin. There are 247,000 sq km (95,400 sq miles) of coal: a land mass the size of Britain….if the complex is fully developed, greenhouse gas emissions from the burned coal would top 700m tonnes a year, bringing irreversible climate change ever closer.
Were the Galilee Basin a country, it would be the seventh largest contributor of carbon dioxide in the world, just behind Germany.
“”This level of mining would devastate this land beyond recognition. It would destroy any sense of connection to the land. We are afraid of being wiped out completely.” Adrian Burragubba (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/ng-interactive/2015/may/15/carbon-bomb-australia-the-new-coal-frontier)
And this story is just the latest in a huge series of connected stories from around the planet; connected in their common denominator of yet more, huger, uglier and more devastating environmental pillage. The Obama administration approved Shell Oil’s plans to drill for oil in the Arctic this summer, with utter disregard for the hundreds of thousands, if not millions of human beings’ absolute opposition to this atrocity. Tonight I barely have words to describe the degree of incredulousness I feel regarding what is happening to our precious home, Earth. It is inconceivable that human beings living here could be so very eager and willing to destroy our planet. Completely. The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, once these plans by the fossil fuel companies are in full swing, will simply destroy life on Earth, and probably sooner than later.
How can we, The People of Earth, allow this to happen? I ask myself this question frequently. And yet. Looking around me on any given day, anywhere that people are gathered, (say on the bus or at the botanic gardens or walking downtown, or sitting in a restaurant, or…) I get the distinct impression that the vast majority of humans in modern, urban society simply do not really even consider what is actually happening to their world, nor, sadly, do most of them care enough to do most anything to stop it. Many people more eloquent than me have written extensively on this subject, and the reasons why people seemingly do not care. This is from a short article from The Guardian, where the writer states,
“They seem to think there is some critical mass that, through the weight of belief alone, will get us where we want to go. As if when the numbers aren’t high enough, we can’t achieve anything. As if when the numbers are high enough, beautiful transformation will magically happen all by itself or people will vote for wonderful politicians who do the right thing. Too many of us seem far too fond of narratives of our powerlessness, maybe because powerlessness lets us off the hook. As we head into that most dismal of situations, another unbearably long electoral cycle, many who care about climate change will say that we need an elected official who will represent us or a great majority who agree with us. But we don’t need everyone on board; we don’t need one magic person in office; we need ourselves. To act.” –Rebecca Solnit, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/may/15/one-magical-politician-wont-stop-climate-change-its-up-us?CMP=share_btn_fb
I remember distinctly how I felt after I watched, with horror and fascination, Al Gore’s movie An Inconvenient Truth in the movie theatre years ago. The movie ended, and all of us in the audience filed out silently, in shock and awe at what we had just seen: Gore had essentially spelled out for all of us non-scientist citizens, what would be occuring during the years ahead if we stayed collectively asleep and did nothing to stop global warming. That was in 2007. Now it is eight years later, and it is coming to pass. Sadly, most of us are still doing very little or less to affect any positive change, i.e., raising our voices as often and loudly as possible to anyone and everyone who might hear.
Honestly, I just feel so incredibly SAD about the fact that the humans of the not-very-distant future (people like our children and their children) are going to have problems we cannot even fathom, to deal with on a daily basis. Right now we are shaking our heads at the crazy weather this spring, or feeling sorry for the people of Nepal….. then getting into our gasoline-burning cars and forgetting about it. People think they are just one little person, and their actions don’t matter so much to the whole…. but that is the whole point!!! Each little individual person, combined into a city, a region, a state, a country, adds up exponentially into a power, a HUGE power for good, positive change, or else for stagnation, decay, entropy and eventually destruction. The choice is ALWAYS ours, each one of us, every minute of every day. Not choosing to change or to speak up or to act is also a choice, it’s a choice to condemn the Earth to devastation.
Dear Readers, I know you are each just one small human in a huge ocean of billiions of humans. But you matter, your voice matters, what you think about in a day MATTERS, and especially who you talk to and what you talk about, matters. We can choose to deliberately and consciously think about what is actually going on in our world, learn as much as possible so we are educated on the issues, and then speak about these things with people we know and people we don’t yet know, thereby educating them. Sometimes I fantasize about standing up in the middle of the commuter bus in the morning, and just yelling, “Hey, Denver!! Wake Up!! Do you know that Shell Oil is about to ruin the most pristine and fragile place on Earth this summer? And here’s why you should care.” I would probably get carted off to the city jail if I were to become so bold. But the way things are going, that may not be such a bad thing in the long run.