Living through this past week where the temperature hit ninety degrees nearly every day has made me think. I live in the mountains at 8000 feet. It's never been that hot here consistently in the twelve years I've lived here. Never mind the thirty years I vacationed in the Eastern Sierra before I moved. In fact, I don't think it's ever hit ninety before. When I look at the list of drought-ridden states that have applied for Federal assistance, I know I'm not alone in my knowledge that climate is changing—and rather quickly.Then I started thinking about growing up in the nineteen fifties and sixties in Seattle. One summer, the Public Health Department closed Lake Washington to swimming. Seems several people had come down with e coli infections. Unbeknownst to most Seattleites, the city had been dumping raw sewage into the lake for years. They quietly diverted it out into Puget Sound after the e coli crisis.
That's a good example of moving a problem on, rather than solving it. Sort of like has been happening with carbon emissions. We actually have a long history in this country of shunting problems "out of sight", slapping our palms together and moving on. How many of you remember when New York City used barges to haul their garbage out to sea? Worked fine for years until the ocean was so polluted that garbage washed up on New York's beaches.
In retrospect, the oceans support fish. Fish support life. One wonders just what NYC authorities were thinking when they came up with the bright idea to dump millions of tons of crud into the Atlantic.
The vast majority of the damage to Earth has really happened in the past two hundred fifty years or so. That's not very long, considering how many thousands of years people have been here. The technology that we're all so fond of is quite the two-edged sword.
We like our cars. And our planes. And our houses both heated and cooled to a temperate 72 degrees. A hundred years ago, if I'd wanted to go to Europe, I'd have gone by ship. Not surprisingly, most people stuck close to home. Even growing up—which wasn't a hundred years ago, it only feels that way—if I was cold, both parents advised me to put on a sweater. And if I was warm of a summer evening, I'd sit outside until I cooled off. We ate seasonal fruit and vegetables, not grapes flown in from Chile in the middle of December.
I won't be here when this story ends, but I'll have to admit I'm curious whether mankind will develop more of a group consciousness. In plain-speak, that's the ability to forego personal pleasures for the good of the planet and the rest of its population. Because that's what it will take.
When I was a practicing therapist, I'd frequently see clients with what I called the, "fix me, but don't make me change anything" syndrome. I see the same mentality applied to climate change. While most of us want to do something conceptually, we'd rather not be inconvenienced. After all, why not get on that airplane? The planes are flying anyway. Same with the Chilean produce. Gee, it's already in the store. If someone doesn't buy it, it will rot. True, it will. But if no one buys it, the major grocery chains will quit flying it in. Seems like a worthy goal to me.
Having just gotten back from the UK, I'm as guilty as the next person. Did I think about what I was doing before we left? Sure, but I went anyway, filled with a plethora of self-righteous excuses. Think I wrote a blog post about my ambivalence, but I didn't cancel my tickets.
How about the rest of you? What are you doing personally to ensure we have a planet to live on a hundred years from now? I'm writing fictional books to help raise awareness. Lare McInnis is a great protagonist, but I feel like I need to do a whole lot more.