It is the spring Equinox and I am again reminded how wonderful it feels to be even a tiny part of the web of Nature. I’m reminded how powerful, breathtakingly stunning and yet how fragile is our little planet. And how utterly ridiculous it was to ever dream up the Biblical misnomer ‘dominion’ over it when the only word that ever made sense was stewardship.
Yet paradoxically we seem to have an Equinoxical blindspot about our place in Nature’s web. We think, and certainly act, as if we stand apart from and above other species. Species that behave in a fully sustainable manner. Species that continue their longstanding connection to the biosphere that contains — and as yet — protects and preserves us all. We seem to have forgotten, if we had ever gotten, that no being or thing escapes the health or lack thereof our our biosphere. Not the corporations or the stock market, not concrete, and most certainly not anything that needs air to breathe and water to drink.
Which brings me to Phoenix. If you’re like all but 4.3 million people in the world and do not live in Phoenix, you may be tempted to pull a nenner, nenner, hands over ears about the bad news. Recently Phoenix pushed out Detroit for the unlucky 13 rank among the largest metro areas in the US. The number isn’t the bad news. The bad news is its unsustainably water-draining, scarily soaring hot climate. And a mouthful called ‘infrastructure failure interdependencies.’
But forget the sigh of relief. Phoenix may be the overheated canary in the coal mine. And that little birdie may well survive until the AC breaks down in a grid pushed beyond endurance. But the coal mine is us. It’s our future, yours and mine. And our children’s future. And their children’s children’s children’s. And beyond that, although our paltry imaginations’ eyes are long glazed over. We can’t go there — which is of course part of the reason we have created this mess. We are nothing more than unsupervised toddlers playing with leaky nuclear toys.
Like the impacts of our lleaky toys, Phoenix’s problem is not going away, it’s spreading. Or sprawling, to be more exact. Same with the other top metro areas. Where sprawl = everything that contributes to planetary overheating and permanent climate change. Where climate change = negative to us in as yet not fully imagined or understood ways. For us humans and other living, breathing things.
Maybe, unlike me, you don’t scare easy — not for yourself, future life on the planet, or boogie men in general. But I’m raising the ante on you alligator-skinned toughnuts. I’m sending Dave Roberts after you. If you really have nerves of steel, read his blog on a regular basis. Or at least this one here. Otherwise, read the quote below and let me know if it scares you. Key words to consider: CUMULATIVE and FOREVER.
“The damage we’re doing now is something the next 40 to 50 generations will have to cope with, even if we stop emitting CO2 tomorrow. And the CO2 we’ve already released has locked in another 50 or 100 years of damage (because of the slow draining). There is no “reversing” climate change. There is only reducing the amount we change the climate.
Both these facts about climate change (which you’d have to read the blog to get) set it apart from other environmental problems. They also, for what it’s worth, set it apart from social problems like poverty, crime, or poor health care. All of those problems are serious; they all have an impact on public health. But they can all be measurably affected by public policy within our lifetimes. They are bad but they are not cumulative. They are not becoming less solvable over time.
Climate change, on the other hand, is forever.”
Some game we toddlers are in — a losing one of truth and consequences. Even if you and I face the truth, our legacy to others is that they bear the consequences of our actions.
The one important question we will answer — through change or lack of it is this: Just how catastrophic will be make those consequences?