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Earth Day

The Road to Resilience

If you are a believer in climate change, you really don’t need to know who is in charge of the various federal agencies that deal with it.  You can pretty much assume that the person in charge of the agency in question is probably the worst possible choice for that position.  We are all walking about in a daze, having a hard time believing what is happening.  Shortsightedness and ignorance rule at a time that needs laser focus decision-making and action to preserve any semblance of the world we know today.  It could be that rubber boots will be de rigueur at Mar-A-Lago before the end of the Orange One’s term.

On the positive side, it almost seems that the ship of state may be a lot harder to redirect than the climate deniers had hoped.  The same lethargy and red tape that made addressing climate change so frustrating may be slowing down the deconstruction of what progress we may have actually made thus far.  Another positive note is that renewable energy has gone way beyond most expectations in not only becoming competitive with fossil fuels, but coming close to blowing them out of the water.  I have a feeling as well that a good portion of conservative voters are joining progressives in feeling a bit of anxiety about the rapidity of the changes we are seeing.  Courts, despite the claims of neutrality in interpreting the law, seem to sense a general consensus in society and rule accordingly.  Am I too optimistic to think that the pendulum seems to be slowly swinging from the priority of corporate profits to that of climate stability?  

Don’t get too comfortable: forestalling some retreat from an already seriously deficient climate-preserving agenda may keep our rate of decline from free fall, but the decline will continue without drastic reductions in carbon production.  Most of us still suffer from a serious lack of imagination.  We really can’t imagine how drastically a few degrees in temperature can change things.  It’s all about the straws that break the camel’s back.  A stable climate is a systemic, dynamic balance of huge forces.  The calm and placid day we experience is actually the result of those counterbalancing forces.  What makes weather so hard to predict is the fact that it takes so little to change the balance.  When the balance is lost, there is movement.  The greater the movement, the more momentum it has and the greater the force required to counterbalance it.  If pushed beyond a certain point, that systemic balance is lost and a new one starts to form. Once these powers gain momentum, there is little we can do to stop them.

Another factor we fail to understand is the complexity of life systems and their dependence on climate systems.  Here in the Northwest, we think that we may only have to give up our fir and cedar trees as they move north, and California flora will move into our neighborhood.  We don’t tend to understand that climate is everything we know about the Northwest.  Once destabilized, everything is chaos, including human organization and behavior.  If that happens, it is very likely that nothing much that you know as a normal life will remain.

When we started Transition Vashon many years ago, the goal was to make our community more resourceful and resilient in the face of local climate change, but also to be more self reliant as the larger political and economic systems destabilized as well.  Certainly, we weren’t the only ones bringing this message, and it is clear that there is much more awareness now than there was then.  Even so, we have a long way to go.  

What I have said here is frightening, as it should be, but my real purpose is to engage us in the exciting and epic challenge that this presents to us.  There is much that we as individuals around the world can do to turn this around, and there is every indication that people are rising to the challenge.  No single one of us can make the rest of us do anything, but all of us doing a little will build our efforts into a mighty force.  

In that frame of mind, I want to remind us that Earth Day is coming up on April 22, and this year, with Trump and his minions in charge, is a year that calls for some special effort on our part.  People all around the world will be doing the same thing.  On Sunday, August 23, 1pm – 5pm, there will be an Earth Day event at the High School brought to you by the VHS Green Team and Vashon Climate Action.  This will be your opportunity to see all your fellow community members, young and old, who have turned out because they are resolved to do something about the climate crisis.  All the groups on Vashon who are working hard to make us more sustainable will be there, and they will be offering you a place to plug in to the effort.  Being able to do something in the face of a crisis makes all the difference.  There will be music, food, speakers, and it’s free!

More information:  google vashonearthdaycelebration