When it comes to climate change, we already know what needs to be done. Yet we don’t do anything of consequence; we resist positive action because climate change looms over us as a great, daunting beast, too menacing to actually deal with.
But maybe not. According to Naomi Klein in her book This Changes Everything, we have the green energy technology to run our nation on localized wind turbines, solar panels, and efficient mass transit; we (hypothetically) have the funds needed to make this transition if we implement an egalitarian economic reform; we have an unjust social system that would benefit from these reforms; and we have the dire need to make these changes now.
If you had been told you were in imminent danger of lung cancer if you didn’t quit smoking as soon as possible, why would you invest in a large order of extra-strength cigarettes? Boxes and boxes of them–stiff, stinky cardboard stacked high against the walls of your garage. Why would you put your money into something that would lead you to unfathomable pain? Yes, some damage has already been done, but the first step is preventing new poison from entering your system. Then resiliency will kick in, and healing. Then you will stop coughing so much, and your hair will lose its dullness. So, too, will waters polluted by fracking someday run clean again; so, too, will the soil regain its fertility, and so will Appalachian forests recolonize today’s ghostly mountaintop removal mines.
Despite the grave consensus of the scientific community that fossil fuels need to remain nestled in the earth, our president has permitted drilling in the arctic. Even if we burn only the known fossil fuel reserves (not including said arctic drilling), we are hurtling ourselves toward disastrous levels of global warming. We should be transitioning away from fossil fuels, not sniffing for oil in beautiful, treacherous places. This is not the will of you and I or even the president. Not really. This is the will of profit. Shell needs to expand to stay alive. Shell doesn’t care if the soil aches into dryness, or if the salmon shrivel in the sun, or if Mt. Hood grows gray without snow. Shell doesn’t care if the blue-white arctic is someday blistered with spilled oil. Nor do they care about the smell of ferns after it rains, or the startled honk of a raven.
But we do.
So let’s stand behind the bridge-hanging activists blocking Shell’s ship from returning to the arctic–not fine them. Let us add our voices to theirs; let us all, in our own way, take to the river. Let us fight for the Earth and the sky and the wind over the ocean. Let us fight for the microbes in the soil. Let us fight for the beauty around us, for the bobcats, for the spotted owls. Let us fight against mindless profit. For the future; for the past. Let us fight for our survival.