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 350.org 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 350.org 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!