It’s been almost a year and a half since I’ve written a post mainly because I feel I’ve been operating on a plane where I’m just struggling to keep my faith alive. I feel overwhelmed by the ways the things I most deeply care about are being threatened. The issue I most care about is how the beauty, spirituality, and existence of nature are being assaulted. This issue has the furthest reaching impact and is the most urgent. Each day seems to bring more evidence about how climate change and humans’ willful carelessness have resulted in tragic consequences to our co-inhabitants of this planet. I’ll name a few: the disappearance of insects around the world; how humanity as been responsible for the loss of 60% of animals with a vertebrate since 1970; how climate changes are happening faster than previous forecasts; and how plastics are ending up everywhere, in the most remotest part of the ocean, to marine animals and the food we eat. This news paired with the news of how regulations against pesticides and polluters are being rolled back, and how politicians and their corporate allies endeavor to open up more of our public land to mining and drilling, and of course our abandonment of the climate change agreement enrage me. Over half a century past Rachel Carson’s Silent Springs, and we haven’t learned a thing. Thirty years ago (1989), NASA’s James Hansen testified about global warming before Congress and we’ve hardly done a thing about it, and he wasn’t the first.
What is wrong with us? If this were a movie, one would expect the hero to be fighting to find a way out of this self-induced dilemma, bringing all the good forces together to find ways to do things in a sustainable, non-harmful way. Instead, our dominant leaders are performing in the role of villainous characters that you might find in a Batman picture. They advocate for pesticides, and coal mines, and oil companies, and even nuclear plants and weapons so they and their cronies can fill their pockets while they imperil the future of not only the animals and plants that share the planet with us, but also current and future generations of humans.
I don’t find it comforting that this issue, which is the biggest and most urgent issue that humankind faces is not even finding a top mentioned place in the forerunners of presidential candidates’ agenda for our 2020 presidential race. In fact, I’ve only heard one possible and so far non-official presidential candidate mention it – Governor Jay Inslee of Washington State. I like a lot of the candidates, and they may have good voting records on environmental issues, but their lack of mentioning climate change and environmental issues is extremely disappointing. Of course there are a lot of hot topical issues (gun control, income inequity, the economy and the future place of workers in it), but at least bring the danger to our environment up as a major and compelling reason to run against Trump. TheUN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released October 8, 2018, “warned there is only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.” (The Guardian, US Edition, 10/8/2018) Does this sound urgent enough. By the 2020, election, that will be 10 years.
I appreciate it isn’t an easy subject to talk about. After all giving up our straws and water bottles, and changing the way we use our resources without having to think about the source, or the waste after we use it is not going to be popular with many. People will be inconvenienced. But instead of dealing with these topics, we seem to be heading in the opposite direction – rolling back emission standards on cars, manufacturers continuing to use plastic (like the stupid packaging for individual serving of coffee beans, less recycling (due to people being too lazy to sort between what is trash and what is recycled so that China now refuses most of our recyclables we shipped to them rather than dealing with it ourself), turning a blind eye to how food is produced, and bringing back pesticides that have already decimated our insect population and impacted birds, and by continuing to clear our forests here and abroad. Both trees and oceans (or the right type of phytoplankton in oceans), the two main oxygen producers are at risk. Now, think of the victims of the devastating recent floods, hurricanes, and fires – how inconvenienced do you think those people were/are? What happens when the newest disaster comes to our neighborhood? Will we finally start taking this seriously then?
I keep my despair at bay by also burying my head, but in nature. I continue to take pictures and share the beauty of animals and nature. I want more people to have images of what is at stake present in their consciousness especially when they make choices. Call your representatives, recycle what you can, think about what goods you are buying, and think about who you will elect to represent your values. Life and all that it entails is not a right but a privilege.