Friday, October 23, 2015

Life in a boring time...

I was a voracious reader as a kid. I’d glom onto and devour anything – mythology, poetry, plays, anthropology, horror, sci fi, romance novels, adventure tales, classics, penny dreadfuls – but I really, REALLY loved history, tales of swashbuckling derring do, and amateur science.
As a result, by the time I was 9 I had come to the glum conclusion that I was living in the Most Boring Epoch of Human History.
A "ship of the line"
There was no place to explore except space – and I was a girl, which meant the fighter jock-to-astronaut life path was closed to me.  I wouldn't be able to discover the Northwest Passage, or the source of the Nile, either - someone had beat me to it.  As for a life of adventure in a tall ship on the high seas?  Nope.  Those days were over.
I read to my disgust that most major diseases were either conquered, or soon would be - and that medical science was progressing at such an incredible rate that there’d probably be no horrible maladies left for me to find the cure for when I grew up. We’d certainly never again experience something as gnarly and gruesome as the Black Death (yes, little kids are savages sometimes – I found the idea of such a horrific epidemic a tad exciting).

Science was a possible avenue for an amazing career, but since flying cars were touted as being just around the corner, and "the future" appeared to be hurtling toward us at a dizzying pace, I didn't hold out high hopes.

As for social causes, well - feminism was making great strides possible for women, poverty would soon be a thing of the past, and life in a post-Civil Rights era meant we'd soon have racism whacked once and for all.

The vision of a future where everything had been discovered and all our troubles had been banished spread before me in a sunny, futuristic hellscape of blandness, devoid of conflict and strife, and empty of the possibility of peril and turmoil.

To a weird little 9 year old craving purpose, thrills, and a mountain to climb, it seemed pitiably depressing. How could the adults have ruined everything for their kids?  Didn't they know we needed a cause?  Didn't they know we needed mysterious far off places to explore?  Didn't they know we needed evil and wrongdoing and danger to fight against?
Flying saucers for EVERYBODY!
It's funny to remember how dejected I felt.  It took me years to realize how spectacularly and hilariously wrong I was, and when I did, I instantly wished I could be back in my 9 year old skin, believing with passionate intensity that life was improving for everyone on the planet - that people were being lifted out of poverty and disease so rapidly that there might only be pockets of strife left for me to help with as an adult, and that all the adventure and mayhem and unpredictability was being sucked out of life and sanitized by the twin forces of science and technology.

I like to think that 9 year old me would have recoiled in terror and horror at the challenges, danger, strife, suffering, and unknown vistas unfurling before us as we watch the climate change.  But 9 year olds are still young enough to not realize the real consequences of peril and horror.  The 9 year old me would probably leap at a chance to live now, in a world with ever more monstrous typhoons, scorching heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and rising sea levels.  The 9 year old me would probably thrill at the idea of a people's revolution if governments can't halt their climate altering emissions in time to keep planetary warming under 2 degrees Celsius.  The 9 year old me would probably be excited.

The middle aged me?  I'm just angry, frightened, and increasingly frustrated. 

In the United States, only one single Republican running for president accepts the science of climate change.  In Congress, the Chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee flatly declares climate change to be "a hoax."    And while most Americans now"believe" in climate change - a majority are also not convinced that humans are causing it - or that it will affect them personally!

If the topic of climate change has reached a "break-out" point, I haven't noticed it.   We seem to be stuck in 2nd gear.  The great "click!" that so many of us have been waiting for hasn't happened yet, and the talks in Paris this November - if 100% successful -

"will result in a rapid and dramatic slowdown in the growth of carbon from the energy sector - but will not reverse that growth within the next 15 years (emphasis mine)."

It's time to up the ante.  It's time to do something drastic.  It's time to put the pedal to the metal - but how?  What can "we the people" do to accelerate change, heat up the debate, and force our leaders to take much more drastic action on climate change?

Here's something I can get behind - and it's an issue around which there is currently heat and light.  Let's get the fossil fuelcompanies out of the climate talks

I'm joining with the express purpose of pitching in on that effort.  Here's their website if you'd like to join up too.  

This is timely - and it may be too late - but if you haven't been involved yet, it would be a great place to start.

If you're in Seattle and haven't joined yet, there's a chapter!  I plan to join this weekend.  Ping me on Twitter at @KiraOnClimate if you want to join and would like some company.  I hope to see you on the barricades soon!

Friday, October 16, 2015

If you wait long enough, it doesn't matter any more...

I got married in January of 1991, and that summer R and I had our picture taken together. We were goofing around in the courtyard of Da’s new place on West 50th Street and a photographer friend captured a few lovely images of us as newlyweds.  (“You’re looking at him like he’s an ice cream cone!” she giggled when she saw the prints.)

Da loved those photos, and he hung the best one prominently in the living room, everywhere he lived after that. But of course time passes, and people change, and eventually, Da asked me if R and I would have another portrait done together, so he could have a more current picture of us, too.

My Da was secretly a tender man, but his default exterior persona was professorial and gruff. That he asked was all I needed to know about how much he wanted that new image. He lived in Manhattan and we were living in Seattle, and we didn’t see each other often enough.  My Da wanted another picture to remember us by, and I fucked it up.

For years I thought about getting that portrait done. I plotted cool locations – naked (but tasteful) in a hot tub!  in motor cycle leathers on the roof of a building on the lower east side! - and researched photographers. But I never did anything concrete.

For one thing, I hate having my picture taken. R is tall and lean and classically handsome (think a really, REALLY lovely Chiwetel Ejiofor) and I’m... not. I'm zaftig and florid and red in the face, with pale, bushy eyebrows. I have tiny teeth and small lips. I make lots of funny faces. Don't get me wrong - I'm pretty - but when your own mother says "you really aren't terribly photogenic dear," you know you're not photogenic. So between my natural bent for procrastination and my fear of the camera’s all-seeing gaze, I put it off.  And off.  And off. 

But I had time!  Da's mother lived to be 97, and his father to 83. His older sibs all died in their 90s. His Aunt Sis was 100 when she attended her little sister’s 90th birthday party. If the rest of the family was any indication, he wasn't going anywhere for a long time.

And then he died.  He was 76. 


The diagnosis of lung cancer came out of the blue.  Da was lucky. As an actor, his excellent union insurance got him screened frequently, so it was caught very early. That same excellent insurance got him whisked into surgery within a couple of days. The nodule came out. It hadn’t metastasized, so he wouldn't need radiation or chemo. He recovered fast, and went home.

It was just before the first Obama election (Da was over the moon about Obama and the election results were the first thing he asked about in the recovery room). R and I had our plane tickets for a Thanksgiving visit. Then one night the week before Thanksgiving Da was pulling on his robe after a shower and dropped down dead of a cerebral aneurism.

I was still thinking about getting that portrait done - maybe for Christmas that year? - when suddenly, I had waited long enough that it didn't matter anymore. Da was dead, and no one else was asking for a picture of R and me.

When I read this piece on Skeptical Science, I wondered if we’re at the same point with climate change.  If you're concerned about climate change you’ve probably read it by now, but if not, here’s a taste:

“In only three years there will be enough fossil fuel-burning stuff—cars, homes, factories, power plants, etc.—built to blow through our carbon budget for a 2 degrees Celsius temperature rise. Never mind staying below a safer, saner 1.5°C of global warming. The relentless laws of physics have given us a hard, non-negotiable deadline, making G7 statements about a fossil fuel-phase out by 2100 or a weak deal at the UN climate talks in Paris irrelevant.”

And then there’s James Hansen’s new paper.  Hansen has authored a lengthy study outlining a  

“...scenario of potentially rapid sea level rise combined with more intense storm systems. It’s an alarming picture of where the planet could be headed — and hard to ignore, given its author.  In the new study, Hansen and his colleagues suggest that the “doubling time” for ice loss from West Antarctica — the time period over which the amount of loss could double — could be as short as 10 years. In other words, a non-linear process could be at work, triggering major sea level rise in a time frame of 50 to 200 years. By contrast, Hansen and colleagues note, the IPCC assumed more of a linear process, suggesting only around 1 meter of sea level rise, at most, by 2100.”

And David Suzuki, of all soft spoken people, is calling the recent G-7 agreement a "horrifying joke."  Yes, he wrote that.  

So…. have we waited too long?  Are we at the point where no matter how fast we act, and how drastic the action we take, it’s no longer possible to avoid catastrophic warming? Have we waited so long that it doesn’t matter anymore?

Is it time to just fling up our hands, approve the Keystone pipeline, call off the #ShellNo kayakers and drill, baby, drill? Is it time to start work on our time capsules, so we can leave a message for whatever sentient species makes it through the nightmarish hellscape of the future? To start writing down our stories and recording our songs so we can bury them deep in an impregnable bunker, to be found by someone else after we are all gone?

Is it time to start preparing our children for the inevitable, and ourselves for the terrifying road ahead?  What do we do? Build sea walls? Build underground fortresses? Migrate north en masse? 

Or do we stay where we are and hunker down, buy better auto insurance for the next time a wildfire hops the freeway and sets our car on fire, then surf the web to learn more about the Kardashians, and watch trashy TV?

It's a serious question.  And I don't know the answer.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Willfully ignorant howler monkeys

Now that I have your attention... have you seen this 2015 Ford Edge ad

A gorgeous young woman drives an enormous red SUV through a gleaming, modern city.  Sweeping, pop-serious music swells behind her.  In voice over, the woman resolutely enumerates her personal odds in a city of "two million, four hundred and thirty-four thousand, three hundred and eleven people."  As we begin to hear the lyrics - "this is MY LIFE!" - and the music reaches a thundering crescendo, all I can help but think is - we are F***ED.

What does this ad - what does anything about this ad - have to do with the CAR they are flogging?  Yes, I obviously get the stretch they're making (car = powerful) but... really?  What does this striving young hottie in a business suit have to do with how the car is engineered, or how well made it is, or the features it has? 

Oh - and - since I care about the emissions that are causing our climate to change... what's the MPH?

The 2015 Ford Edge gets "up to 20 mpg city, 30 highway."  That's per Ford.  That's their mileage brag.

These big, bulging SUVs - all curvy lines and jellybean colors, replete with cup holders and mini computer screens and icy air conditioning and GPS - are rolling off the factory lines at a tremendous pace and selling like hotcakes.

They're being sold the same way everything is sold these days, via shameless appeals to the id and the limbic system.  Is mileage even mentioned in this ad?  Nope.  Is it mentioned in most ads these days?  Not that I have noticed.

Instead, we're buying gas guzzling cars at an amazing pace, because... personal ambition.  Love.  Sex.  Family.  Babies. 

They all do it, although the Subaru "Love.  It's what make a Subaru a Subaru." ads make me craziest.

And every industry advertises the same way, with powerful music and gauzy images of happy, sexy, vibrant people.  The ads make us long for the feelings promised by the images and the music, and make us greedy - nay, LUSTFUL - for more.

We have never been more marketed to, and we have never been hungrier for MORE.

Anyone who knows anything about climate change should know by now that we must SLASH CO2 (and other GHG) emissions by HUGE percentages immediately in order to have a hope of slowing climate change and keeping the total warming under 2 degrees Celsius. 

But we're buying SUVs and pick-ups like they're going out of style.  We're consuming like it doesn't matter what we buy.  We're addicted to enormous cars and air conditioners and riding lawn mowers and immense TVs and power tools and heated swimming pools and cities that blaze like brush fires at night with light after light after light after light...  and we're mostly ignoring an issue so immense that it boggles the mind.

If you haven't read Margaret Atwood's piece about "it's not climate change - it's everything change!" I encourage you to do so at your earliest convenience.  And then I challenge you to get a good night's sleep, or stay on the sidelines of the climate change fight. 

Into this apex consumption moment, President Obama has rolled out his new national Clean Power Plan, requiring that U.S. power plants reduce their emissions 32% below 2005 levels by 2030. 

No, the plan doesn't do anything about personal consumption, but bear with me.

Personally, the majority of Americans seem to prefer to keep the status quo.  They want their SUVs and their McMansions and their rooms full of flashy new appliances.

So maybe government can help?  Maybe government can implement sensible regulations, and work with private industry, to rapidly bring online cheap, renewable energy that will allow us to continue our lavish collective lifestyle without emissions?  Surely President Obama would like to include BOLD, effective action on climate change in his legacy, no?

Actually, yes.  He would - hence the plan.  The only problem is that, compared to the scale of the action that we need to take, this is an almost laughably meager effort.  No less an authority on climate change than James Hansen says the new policy is 
practically worthless.
Nevertheless, the usual troop of willfully ignorant howler monkeys are ENRAGED that our imperial muslin communist usurper president would DARE to make even the tiniest change to the relevant EPA regulations.  The GOP is prepared to fight with everything they've got to stop this new presidential action in its tracks.

And here we are, and that's why we're f***ed.

There's no personal will to learn about climate change and take sensible, immediate, personal action.  All the vast majority of us want to do is consume, consume, consume and damn the torpedoes.

There's no political will on the right to act with intellectually honesty and take immediate, urgent, "war effort" style action on climate change.  All the vast majority of politicians - left and right - want to do is get along to go along, appeal to their base, take Big Daddy Oil's money, and get reelected.

The president - our intelligent, caring, effective, fired up president - puts forth a demonstrably timid climate change plan that is doomed in the cradle.   

A national plan that would actually make a difference on emissions would be centralized and coordinated federally.  It would take enormous effort and enormous will and unprecedented amounts of cooperation and "reaching across the aisle," to use a tired old phrase.

It would require immediate government action and personal sacrifice from every single American.

And we're not there.  The people don't even care enough to worry about the mileage their new gas guzzling SUVs get.  The republicans pretend climate change isn't happening.  And our next president very well might be Donald Trump - the actual living embodiment of the MORE IS MORE personal credo of consumption.

Yep.  We're doomed.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Let's talk about insects

Let’s talk about insects

I live in Seattle now.  I consider myself a New Yorker despite not having lived there since right after 9/11 (it’s been a long, strange trip).  And my family farm is in Iowa. 

As a kid I spent weeks there every summer, peeling potatoes, hanging up laundry, picking beans, making pickles, husking corn, going fishing, “helping” Grandpa Channer milk the cows, exploring in the pasture beyond the apple orchard, and taking minute inventory of the astounding variety of insect life.

I was a mini-biologist back then, and the farm was paradise for someone so inclined.  Everywhere, there were insects.  If you couldn’t see them you could hear them, thrumming and whirring and scratching as they went about their business.  Bees crowded the garden, all industry and drive amongst the peonies and bachelor’s button.  Palm-sized garden spiders hung in wait in the long grass at the far side of the driveway, midriffs bright with orange and scarlet coats of arms.  An almost infinite variety of beetles were everywhere to discover – huge ferocious stag beetles, pretty ladybirds, longhorns, and loud, startling click beetles.

There were giant walking sticks and waterbugs to catch and release – katydids and praying mantises to observe – wasps to fear as they buzzed protectively about their immense, bulging nests – fireflies to catch and imprison in Mason jars – and giant red velvet mites astonishing in their tiny perfection.

Clouds of gnats hovered in the cool under the oak trees at the bottom of the lawn, and at the stone quarry in Chickasaw Park there were traffic jams of dragonflies – bright blue skimmers, heavy cruising darning needles, emeralds and petaltails.  In August, any tiny patch of moisture on bare ground attracted cabbage moths, yellow and white, fluttering delicately as they sipped and looking in their numbers as if, when they flew off, they could hoist the Earth with them.

And now?  Now, there isn’t nothing, but there’s not much left.  The full-throated chorus of droning, humming, throbbing insect song is a barely-heard ghost in the distance.  A handful of gnats bother late porch-sitters if the screen door isn’t closed.  The garden spiders are a greatly reduced army, and they are all much, much smaller than before.  A Monarch butterfly in the garden is cause for exclamation, and farmers are importing bees from Australia

A recent study published in Science and led by UCL, Stanford and UCSB found that invertebrate numbers have decreased by 45% on average over the last 40 years.

I can see the decline when I visit the farm each August.  I can hear the silence where once there was an omnipresent roar.  But I had no idea how drastic the change was – and when I saw it quantified, I was astonished.

You might ask, “So what?  I don’t like spiders.  Gnats are nasty and annoying, and butterflies are pretty, but who needs them?”

According to the study,

This decline matters because of the enormous benefits invertebrates such as insects, spiders, crustaceans, slugs and worms bring to our day-to-day lives, including pollination and pest control for crops, decomposition for nutrient cycling, water filtration and human health.

And Dr. Ben Collen, last author of the study, said,

We were shocked to find similar losses in invertebrates as with larger animals, as we previously thought invertebrates to be more resilient. While we don’t fully understand what the long-term impact of these declining numbers will be, currently we are in the potentially dangerous position of losing integral parts of ecosystems without knowing what roles they play within it.

And yes, climate change.  

It’s not the only reason, of course, that insect populations are in decline.  We don’t know what’s happening with the honey bees yet.  In Iowa I suspect that factory farming, so reliant on chemicals, is killing off populations of any number of species.  And monoculture agriculture can’t be conducive to biological diversity, even where insects aren’t bug-bombed into oblivion.

But climate change isn’t helping.  Sure, a species here or there is able to expand its range – but that comes at the expense of other, neighboring species, on whom it must encroach.

Most concerning, I think, is that WE DO NOT KNOW WHAT WE’RE DOING.  We don’t know what’s out there.  We don’t know precisely how these complex ecosystems work.  We don’t know which species can die off with no human repercussions, and which are lynchpins on which our very survival might depend.  We suspect – we think we know – we study feverishly, attempting to limn the outlines of the story before the players change – but we don’t know.  Not for certain.  Not enough.

The issue is not that we act as though insects are pests to be gotten rid of.  The issue is that we are heedless in every way.  Our lumbering, careless, devouring predation and annihilation of ecosystem after ecosystem does not strike us – or at least not many of us – as the amoral violence that it is.  We’re rushing toward the future and we think it’s bright.  We think of planetary prosperity and food for everyone, a never-ending upward rise and expansion, a glorious future of technology and pleasure.

The minatory finger of evidence, however, points in the exactly contrary direction.  The insects are telling the real story.

So listen, will you, when you step outside.  What do you hear?

The path in the dark toward mayhem...

As a Communications Manager at a large regional healthcare system, I deal with change a lot. In fact when I was hired, the working title for the position was Communications and Change Management Lead - and change management is still a big and important component of my job.

So I am intimately familiar with the sound of squealing stuck pigs. I am intimately familiar with the whining, denying, tantrum-throwing, conniption-fitting and desperate bargaining  that accompanies change. I deal with it every day. To say that I am "over it" after almost a decade of helping people navigate unwelcome change is to indulge in reckless understatement.  I hear you, people - you don't want to change.  You like the way things are.  Got it.

Now, while there's little direct comparison between learning how to navigate a set of new data entry screens in an electronic health record system and the fundamental lifestyle modifications that will likely be required if we are to adequately address climate change, the human reaction to both types of change is the same.

First fear. Next denial. Then highly motivated, panicked bargaining. Eventually, after much heartburn, foot dragging, and time wasting, acceptance.

Even many of us in the liberal activist community (Robert Kennedy Jr. is a case in point - check out this cringe-inducing video) who accept the science and are highly motivated to work on the issue of climate change are not thrilled with the idea that fundamental changes to how we live day to day may be required in the very near term.

Almost every American wants to continue to live the way they do now, or better.  In America, the average person already enjoys a sublimely lavish standard of living compared to people in the 2nd and 3rd world.  In America, the problem is that even many climate change "believers" want to change nothing about the way we live, while at the same time changing everything. Or rather, we want to change very little about the way we live, while making a major, major change to the way the world does business with respect to energy use and production.

Meanwhile, the people who do not live as lavishly as the average American are hoping, praying, striving, and working their fingers to the bone with the singular passionate goal of some day enjoying the comforts and conveniences of the first world. Asking people to continue to live with less - or to understand that it is no longer possible for everyone to dream of an ever-upward trajectory in their standard of living - is an almost impossible task.

But things as they are now are unsustainable and insupportable. And it is massively, desperately unfair that the first world has heedlessly consumed and emitted us to this dire point, while much of the rest of the world lives in grinding poverty and hunger and despair, without hope of ameliorating their life circumstances.

The fact of the matter appears, however, to be that this planet cannot support a population of seven, eight, nine, and more billion people at such a high level – at least not with our current technology.

Clearly, the status cannot remain quo. We must interrupt, disrupt, erupt. A revolution is coming. What form it takes is up to us.

If we take urgent, immediate, collective global action (hollow laugh) that will constitute a revolution, and in the right way. Immediate collective sustained global action on climate change would be a positive, hopeful revolution.

My fear is that instead we are plunging headlong down a path in the dark toward mayhem. All around I read and see and hear the signs that we are already experience disruptions and calamities caused (or worsened) by climate change - and I fear that we are hurtling toward what amounts to a global revolution based on mass migration, emptying flooded cities, the breakdown of food supply chains, unquenchable wildfires and punishing drought, food insecurity, the crumbling of governments and the rise of dictatorships.

Change is painful. No one likes it. That's the assumption going in.  Now let's take a deep breath and think together about how we can change productively and effectively in the immediate near-term - together as a nation - to fight climate change. I believe it will take the sort of mobilization that was required during the Second World War - although perhaps on a grander scale.

Recently in California excellent climate change legislation was watered down to accommodate fossil fuel interests, because people were afraid of the dreaded "R" word - that is, rationing.

But what, pray tell, is so dreadful about rationing?  We’ve done it before.

When talking about the generation of Americans who “won WWII,” it’s usual to exclaim effusively about their strength and fortitude and patriotism and sacrifice.  Tom Brokaw, who wrote a book about them and coined the phrase, writes variously:

...there on the beaches of Normandy I began to reflect on the wonders of these ordinary people whose lives were laced with the markings of greatness.

They stayed true to their values of personal responsibility, duty, honor, and faith.

A common lament of the World War II generation is the absence today of personal responsibility...

And this, despite the off-topic, off-putting, bit about marriage:

The WWII generation shares so many common values: duty, honor, country, personal responsibility and the marriage vow " For better or for worse--it was the last generation in which, broadly speaking, marriage was a commitment and divorce was not an option.

This is fulsome language, and it may in no small measure be true.  What it does not reveal is that the greatest generation didn't do all of that commendable sacrificing and acting selflessly in the best interests of their country without being required to do so.

For example, the greatest generation was required by their government to ration.

Gasoline was rationed during WWII, as were tires, sugar, meat, silk, shoes, nylon and other goods.  Can you imagine how we’d react to such restrictions today?  I leave it to your imagination.  Yet not that long ago – well within the memory of actual millions of living Americans - we dealt with it.  During WWII Americans made do in conditions of relative privation because they knew their sacrifice was for the greater good.  Of course people cheated, sold ration books on the black market, and tried to weasel out of doing the right thing.  But that’s exactly my point.

If you’re proud of your grandparents or great-grandparents for being part of that generation, be aware that they did not just rise up and act as individuals for the collective good of all Americans.  While it is true that many citizens signed up to go fight the war, here on the Home Front it was government programs –funded by tax dollars – that required folks to act.

If fossil fuel must be rationed while we are transitioning off it and if we can offset the personal inconvenience of driving less with creative solutions like carpooling, better public transportation, and job swapping, then why not ration?  It makes excellent, practical sense to me.  Obviously the legislation would need to be mindful of limits, of when such rationing might be lifted or re-imposed under changing circumstances, and set timelines and provide alternative transportation options where possible.  It wouldn’t be easy legislation to draft – but what legislation is easy?

And of course there's the dreaded "T" word - taxes. Everybody hates taxes.  But what if we must put additional taxes on carbon?  What if, in fact, we must put taxes not just on carbon itself, but on some consumer goods?  I can imagine the necessity for a tax on luxury products that produce insupportable levels of emissions during production and transport.

And what if it's necessary to tax the super rich to pay for a government program, based on the WPA, that produces good jobs working on infrastructure projects, planting trees, leading local Community Climate Corps, and cleaning up after the inevitable natural disasters that climate change is going to continue to bring?

Regulations are another “R” word.  Recently, the GOP has been up in arms about sensible EPA regulations imposed by President Obama.  But how do we move forward without regulating things like fossil fuel, coal production, power plant and car emissions, and more?

It is difficult to imagine a mechanism other than government intervention - regulations, taxes, rationing, new public works programs and the like - for limiting emissions, scaling back consumption, sharply reducing or eliminating our use of fossil fuels, developing modern, high-tech clean energy technologies and shoring up infrastructure to cope with the flooding, heat waves, and violent weather we can expect (and are already experiencing) as the world continues to warm.

However well-meaning, people and corporations aren’t going to all of a sudden begin moving on these things, all together, in the same direction, without the government stepping in.  IMHO, that is one of the fundamental things that government is FOR!  Simply put: We the People aren't going to #ActOnClimate effectively and quickly enough without being required to do so.

The alternative to asking our government to step in and enact sensible, climate change-focused legislation to help move us in the right direction is… what?  Even if the Paris talks in December this year are a resounding success, the agreements arrived at there are only the start.  Once the last limo has left for the airport, policies must be put in place to enact the decisions made there.  That means Big Gubmint, like it or not.

Are we a lesser generation than those who went through WWII?  Perhaps we are, if we can’t rise to this challenge.  Perhaps we are, if we continue as a nation to stick our fingers in our ears and sing “la la la la la – I can’t hear you!” to the voices calling for action.

And if that is the case, then do we - lesser current and future generations - deserve what we get?  Do we deserve to reap the whirlwind?  Are we on a path in the dark, hurtling toward mayhem?