It’s almost summertime and the living isn’t so easy. Today, the third Climate Assessment has been released by the White House, and our general prognosis isn’t so good. We’re heating up the planet, severe storms are increasing and seas are rising. It’s like a set-up for a sci-fi horror movie with Tom Cruise, only it’s real. But we all know that. I have a friend who lives in town and sold her car. She’s happy walking most places and discovered Charlottesville’s excellent transit system. She gets an “A” in my book! For the rest of us, I’m afraid we’re failing miserably.
Living a green life isn’t so hard and it’s not so new. Back in the late 60s when I was in college, we learned about chemical dyes that didn’t degrade in sewers. We knew how to compost, and in fact we did back in the Berkshires. In Windsor in the 70s I had a solar clothes dryer – I hung my babies’ diapers on a clothesline.
We were all children at the dawn of the Age of Aquarius, and we felt an affinity for the land. The three Rs were real and we lived by them. I rescued my baby’s crib from the curbside, along with her rocking chair; we recycled all our friends’ baby clothes and toys. We planted a Victory Garden!
So what happened? The 80s happened. Right about the time we left the Berkshires, when the Rocker was just 2 and the Bride was 7, I noticed some distinct cultural differences. Maybe not as obvious as moving to the South, but strange just the same.
Moving back to suburban NJ from New England left me in super culture shock. Women thought I was odd because I mowed our lawn, with a push mower – was it because Bob didn’t do it or because we didn’t have a landscaping service? And I ground our coffee, with a coffee grinder… and I actually played with the kids on a field trip, instead of standing under a tree comparing nail polish. Reaganomics was the law of the land. If we didn’t eventually move closer to the beach, I might not have survived that transplant.
Ostentatious, obsequious wealth was flaunted by our neighbors with their MacMansions sitting nearly empty of furniture and their big SUVs in 3-car garages. I put up a clothesline even though one mom told me she didn’t think the town allowed them. We always believed in asking for forgiveness instead of permission. Then I got back to the business of reporting on town meetings and school budgets; interviewing interesting people and writing biographies.
And it didn’t much concern me when the town’s Annual Meeting on January 1st started with an Anglican minister and a prayer. He was a hospice preacher and an EMT who rode on the ambulance. His yearly prayer (they didn’t do this before every meeting) was pretty interfaith and profoundly peaceful.
But praying for this planet won’t stop our reliance on fossil fuels and the corrupt lobbying by corporations to keep the status quo.
The assessment warns that current efforts to implement emissions cuts and to adapt to changes are “insufficient to avoid increasingly negative social, environmental, and economic consequences”. According to the White House, climate and weather disasters cost the US more than $100bn in 2012, the country’s warmest year on record.http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-27296417
I’ve started following a Canadian climate scientist on Twitter, Katherine Hayoe @KHayhoe, along with Michael Mann the “hockey stick” scientist. She is sort of an anomaly since Hayoe is an Evangelical Christian, with a compelling world view. It would seem that religion and science CAN co-exist! Chris Mooney at Slate just wrote an excellent essay, “Why Should Evangelical Christians Care About Climate Change?”
Why indeed. Here’s one reason – our grandchildren.