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Summer of 2012: North Americans Begin to Harvest Climate Chaos They’ve Sown

2012/07/10

A friend and newly graduated family physician told us a story about a young man who came to his clinic for medical advice. The young man was having a hard time adjusting to being away from home for the first time, and to his first full-time job, and was considering quitting and returning home. Our friend’s advice to this young man was to take two “man-up” pills every morning, and hang in there for a while longer.

I’m not going to comment on the medical validity of this advice, but it does seem to me that it’s good advice for all of us in North America these days. We are starting to reap what we’ve sown, with our callous disregard of the ecosystem that gives us life. Human beings need clean water, clean air, and a stable climate to thrive, and we’ve put all of these in peril with our burning of fossil fuels and our political apathy. Our relentless search for harder and harder to access oil has led to mountain tops being blasted off for coal, the poisoning of our aqueducts to frack for natural gas, and the destruction of the Canadian boreal forests in search of bitumen from tar sands. It’s hard to accept responsibility for this – we all love our children and work tirelessly to keep them safe in the short-term. Yet it’s time for parents and grandparents to take two “man-up” pills each and every morning, and to actively work to salvage a livable climate and planet for future generations. It’s our inter-generational responsibility, our “Great Work”. Hopelessness, apathy and cynicism are luxuries our children cannot afford.

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Not sure how to respond? Check out Citizens Climate Lobby, The Transition Network, or  the Post Carbon Institute, or go to my Action not Apathy page.

More links:

Global Drought Monitor

Actions Speak Louder Than Words As Earth First! Shuts Down Gas Drilling in Western PA

11 Comments leave one →
  1. 2012/07/10 9:35 am

    Sometimes I get angry, sometimes sad, often just bemused, occasionally just emotionally overloaded with the madness of it all. Having good people such as yourself, and so many others, speaking out against this mass blindness in society is our only hope of change. Thanks Christine.

    • 2012/07/10 9:43 am

      I hear you, Paul. Sometimes it’s just a matter of “keeping on keeping on” as the saying goes. Sometimes if I feel in need of inspiration, I watch “Amazing Grace” about William Wilberforce’s long fight to abolish slavery in the British Empire, or any of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. This journey is not for the faint-hearted, but the rewards will be worth the effort (even if the reward is just knowing that we did everything we could).

  2. 2012/07/11 4:19 am

    If I was a religious man, I’d say that God is trying to tell us North Americans something! And although I hate to see anyone suffer under these weather extremes, maybe it will be the wake up call that we need to address the problem of climate change.

    • 2012/07/11 9:42 pm

      If not God, then certainly the planet!
      As Paul Gilding says, humans are slow but not stupid. He believes we will respond in time. I sure hope he’s right.

      • 2012/07/12 10:01 am

        What scares me about the idea that “we will respond in time” is the multi-decade delay between emissions and climate impact. If we stopped emitting today, we’d still have another (if I remember correctly) 0.6 degrees Celsius on the way. We need to better listen to our scientists if we want to respond in time. If we wait for the climate to be REALLY horrible, by then I fear it will be too late.

      • 2012/07/13 8:37 am

        Agreed, JP. The window is small indeed, but it is still open at this point. There are carbon sequestration methods (not the hi-tech expensive kind, but the using-agriculture-to-sequester-carbon kind) that can pull carbon out of the atmosphere. If these are deployed along with cutting carbon emissions and other relatively inexpensive responses (white roofs, for example), a drop in atmospheric carbon can happen quickly. But it needs to happen before the methane bomb has been detonated.

      • 2012/07/13 3:25 pm

        I wonder how much of a difference large-scale tree planting would have atmospheric CO2 over the long-haul…

  3. 2012/07/11 7:10 am

    Hi Christine: An excellent narrative and video link. I share your entreaty that we need to get off our comfortable butts and work hard for our kids, indeed all kids, which is the prime directive of all adults–see to the welfare of our collective children. All adults have to realize that showing our love and concern for the welfare for the next generation includes being politically and socially active to create the conditions for a safe future for the kids we say we love.

    • 2012/07/11 9:44 pm

      Thanks for those wise words, Barry. Sitting back and watching what happens just shouldn’t be an option for any one, young person, parent, or aunt/uncle/grandparent.

  4. Martin Lack permalink
    2012/07/12 11:16 am

    Christine, I wish my ex-Wife had thought like you. If she had, she might not have criticised everything I ever did; and I might not have ended up divorcing her. Oh well, so what, it was only 15 years of my life wasted… Now I know why a Baptist Pastor in Australia told me 25 years ago, “Do not dwell on the past…” God seems to have known I would marry the wrong person but, would it not have been easier to stop me making the mistake in the first place…? Ah but, of course, I would not have my 2 lovely children… Oh dear, I am doing it again… I must be insane… As you say, it is far more important that we all try to salvage a livable future… 🙂

    • 2012/07/13 8:44 am

      It’s difficult to be at the cutting edge of a movement (I’m sure Noah’s neighbour – and his wife – thought he was nuts until the rain started). I hope you have found kindred spirits, Martin. Is there a transition group close by? You are in the UK, and I understand they are popping up all over the place over there.
      And while it may be difficult, don’t think of it as 15 years wasted. I’m sure you learned many life lessons, and are wiser as well as older at this point because of your cumulative life experiences! And as you say, children are a blessing and something to be grateful for.

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