The alarm just keeps ringing

Posted August 5th, 2008 in Blog Comments Off on The alarm just keeps ringing

Fostering Ecological Hope
Today from Margaret Swedish:

So, then, why don’t we wake up?

It’s like those alarm clocks that keep getting louder and louder the more they are ignored. When they annoy us, we hit the button, but a few minutes later, it starts all over again.

Our ecological crisis. Alarms going off all over the place.

Here in Wisconsin, we just received some very bad news — that the emerald ash borer has arrived. emerald-ash-borer-usfs.png An invasive species shipped in from Asia. Has already destroyed more than 40 million trees. Will kill millions more here in my home state. As this article states, we have some 725 million ash trees for this critter to feast on. All the best efforts to confine it thus far have failed.

So, you know, just another one of those indicators of our rapidly altering world.

Global warming. Okay, here’s the point I really wanted to make today. Just a few years ago, those of us talking about how life as we know it on this plant is dying, that a great extinction period is already underway, fueled by a warming atmosphere and the highly destructive patterns of human life on the planet — consumption and waste way beyond the ability of the Earth to handle — well, we were often greeted as chicken littles, especially from the global warming deniers.

Now this information is reported in the media on a nearly daily basis, often in words just as stark. Sometimes I just cannot believe this — that things could be so bad, and the word is out that it is so bad, and nothing changes, people don’t get very upset and demand leadership and real changes in the way we do business and how we go about our lives.

You’d think we’d look at our kids and grandkids and say, “Oh my God, I’ve overslept! Time to wake up! It’s getting very late! Time to get up and get ready to go to work!

Last Friday, the progressive economist Paul Krugman said it starkly in his op-ed, Can This Planet Be Saved? He quoted Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) explaining why she is blocking a vote on expanding off-shore oil and gas drilling, saying, “I’m trying to save the planet; I’m trying to save the planet” — as if this was urgent or something.

Did you see this on the news lately? I have unfortunately been saturated with film, over and over again, of Brett Favre’s private jet landing in Green Bay, but I have yet to see Pelosi’s urgent message on one news show. And then she would probably have been subject to a vast amount of ridicule by the pundits.

The politically centrist Speaker of the House says our planet is in need of saving and it makes not a dent in the public’s consciousness.

In my book and elsewhere, I have said that it is urgent that our leaders start saying these things, start the rallying cry. Will it make a difference, or just annoy people?

Thomas Friedman had an equally dire column in the NY Times on Sunday. greenland-ice-core-drilling-nasa-earth-observatory.png He describes a trip to a research site in Greenland, above the Arctic Circle, and reflects rather bleakly on how the study of ice core samples reveals that, in previous eras, climate has been known to flip very quickly. Knowing this, he writes of how reckless it is indeed to be conducting this vast experiment on the Earth’s atmosphere — warming it faster than ever, accelerating all the warming drivers, pushing it towards a tipping point where the changes could be irreversible, catastrophic, quickly ending this era of human civilization.

Yes, the NY Times can make for some sober reading. But the most sobering thing of all is the slumber that persists in this society.

But I don’t want to end on this bleak note today, so forgive me for going to the Times one more time. I truly enjoyed this story today, In the Hills of Nebraska, Change is on the Horizon. wind-farm-near-ainsworth-nebraska.png It is about the explosive growth of wind power in that state and the folks who are helping to bring it about.

You see, through the bad news, the cultural denial and all, there are these people everywhere trying to create the path that can lead us to a different scenario than the one in front of us now. These are the people who did not go back to sleep. They heard the alarm, got up, and started doing something about it — in this case, at a fairly large scale.

Go find them where you are, then ramp up the volume on the alarm clocks until they become an inescapable siren that simply won’t go away, a siren that will drive you crazy until the emergency is addressed.

[tags] emerald ash borer, Paul Krugman, Thomas Friedman, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, save the planet, wind power, Nebraska wind turbines[/tags]

Photo credits:

Emerald ash borer, US Forest Service
Greenland ice core drilling, NASA Earth Observatory
Wind farm in Ainsworth, NE – Nebraska Publc Power District

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