This is not how it was supposed to go. There’s been no basic training and I’m not ready. But it looks like Jenny has a quest for me and she won’t take no for an answer. I was hoping my first nemesis could be Clutterista. I knew The Usurer was too big a fish to fry without some experience and better secret weapons. But there’s Loop-O, the lord of indecision, who I was excited to do battle with, and Glossy (that terrifying vixen who stares at me in her different forms when I’m at the check-out counter in the grocery store, whispering that I’m not quite enough).
But no, I am a part of this world and I live in real time and real time has its own momentum and its own needs. So here we go…
My first “real” job out of college was working as an intern at Yes! Magazine. They happened to be putting together an issue about climate change, a topic that I had no interest in – at all. Yuck. But ok, I took the job and did some research on carbon footprints and renewables and dusted my hands of the whole thing. This was in the era of Y2K — maybe this climate stuff was overblown and would just go away, right?
Over time, along with significant personal aversion, everywhere I went it seemed like things started revolving around climate. My Masters research was on climate. That’s all anyone seemed to be talking about. Bor-ing. Eventually I started working on UN climate negotiations during my time at Conservation International. I even married someone who studies climate change. Truth is, I can’t stand talking about climate change or even thinking about it because it is a) boring and b)terrifying. TERRIFYING!!!
Can’t we just keep living like we are living here in America and everyone worldwide can eventually live this way and be happy and have more, more, more and God will fix the climate??
I have been looking – as hard as I can – for some (legitimate) reason to have hope that maybe climate change won’t be as bad as people say. I promise you, if there was any good evidence to discredit climate change I would tape it up to my mirror and look at it every morning. I want it to be untrue. But the truth is the reason I can’t get away from this dang climate change stuff is that none of us can and nothing we are working on can either until we do something about it (the Chinese did not pay me to say that).
But do I own a bike helmet? Is my house powered with renewable energy? Have I even invested in insulation? No. It costs money, it is never the priority, and it takes time to figure it out and change.
I need time to think. I feel like I understand why 22 senators wrote a letter urging Trump to get out of the Paris Agreement, there is a somewhat clear cause and effect in my mind to explain that. But what I want to understand is why my mom’s friend thinks climate change isn’t real, or doesn’t “believe” that if you take a terrarium and fill it with carbon dioxide the temperature inside the box will increase. That’s physics. You can do it yourself. And we know where carbon dioxide comes from. We can measure it, it has been measured.
Jenny Goodguts is a systems gal. She is not into politics or propaganda – on either side of the political spectrum. She knows there are people in every part of the world who are scared, disappointed, overwhelmed, angry, worried about their kids for lots of different reasons. And those same people love something and mostly work hard every day until they can’t anymore and then they play iPad games, watch more CSI, get drunk or [insert additional ways to escape].
Jenny likes to think about actions and reactions, about what an individual person can do to address root causes. Making people feel bad, or feel scared, is usually not so motivating and mostly divisive and helps us to build our defenses and further congeal into sides. Those of us who “believe” in climate change (do people “believe” in physics?) are circling around our despair, disappointment, pointing fingers and sharing statistics that we all already agree with. The “others” are not reading these articles. They don’t care what the MIT scientists said yesterday after the speech in the Rose Garden. 0.2 and 0.9 promise seriously different futures, but the only people paying attention to the difference in those numbers already care.
We care. But please see above. Bike helmet (uncheck). Renewable power in home (uncheck). Food miles. Food waste. Quarter-pounders. Investments. Old appliances. Driving son to school (less than half mile away). Not carpooling.
So the first quest is going to be a climate quest. Part of me wishes it were something else to take my mind off of the possible ramifications of what just happened. But this will be the crucible for beginning to forge my super powers – one of which has to be a method for not slipping into despair in the face of fear.
There is TONS of good news on the climate change front. There is so much happening in business, finance, government, communities, cities, research. It is solvable (unless we’ve already passed a tipping point but lets not worry about that here) and there is money to be made, there are jobs to be created, songs to be sung, coral to be saved. There are things I can do this very minute (Like, I just turned my thermostat up, for example. Just now.)
I’m going to spend a bit of time this weekend mapping out the quest and will return first thing next week with a plan of action. Until then, just try to eat less beef, dust off your bike, and turn up your thermostat. We’ll get more creative next week.