Because extinction shouldn't be an option!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Wake Up!

So, anyone who has been keeping up with my blog knows how I felt about the cap-and-trade bill that was being considered by Congress. I thought it was a sell-out bill, gorged on massive subsidies for the industries that helped mess up our climate in the first place.

The bill, like so many when they are first introduced into Congress, began with good intentions and had teeth to it. But living in the boderline corporatocracy that we do, the industry eventually got their claws into it and compromised the bill till it was nothing but a faint shadow of its former self. And yet, even with all of that compromising and pandering, even with all the watering down, Congress still couldn't even muster the balls to pass it.

If that sounds crude, then so be it. I am 31 years-old and I am furious that my future and that of younger generations is being decided by a bunch of impotent older men with dollar signs for eyes. That whether or not I will live in a world with a hospitable climate for my species, is being ruled by corporate whim and a kowtowing Congress. Most of all, I am angry at some of the mainstream environmental groups, for cheerleading this tepid bill in the first place, despite its contradiction of the basic science of climate change, despite it being against everything they themselves stand for.

Instructing environmental studies classes as a graduate student, the underclassmen I taught would come up to me after class, or email me. They would tell me how scared they are for their own future, how angry they are at older people for making this mess, how heavy weight on their backs. The sad part was, these were good kids making sound choices. Most of them didn't drive, many were vegetarians, a lot of them lived very low-waste lives.

There is a problem here, and both sides of the issue are to blame. The naysayers like to say that we who care about the world want to go back to the cave, clothed in animal hides. The other side acts as though we can hocus pocus the gloom away through some fuzzy promise of a green-collar workforce, and that we can keep up our current consumption, as long as we buy "green." Neither is true. If we want to truly rise to this challenge, we will have to make huge changes to our society, we have to stop growing and become a steady state. We have to rethink everything even down to what we eat. But no, we don't have to live in caves, unless we really want to catalyze catastrophic climate change. Then we might have to whether we want to or not.

Bill McKibben wrote a great op-ed in the Huffington Post last week. He said it's time to get angry and raise our voices about climate change. We've tried to play politely, but look: any major issue that has ever been addressed in history--civil rights, women's rights, the first environmental movements--was done so because of the sweat, tears, and even blood of those willing to put themselves out there to provoke the paradigm shift needed to host the change. Perhaps our computers have made us complacent, and we think we can Tweet or Facebook our way to a new tomorrow. These may be useful tools, but they can't replace live voices and hands demanding change. So, PLEASE, if you care about this issue (meaning, if you care about surviving or maintaining a planet for those who come after us, both human and animal)--DO SOMETHING SOLID. Write your Congress people, visit their office, write a handwritten letter, boycott certain corporations that are counterproductive to the effort, speak to others even if you worry you'll alienate them.

As a writer, I hate saying this, but words are not enough--unless there are voices attached to them, and bodies, and unless there are more than one. People who care about this issue are scared of coming across as fear-mongering, or angry, but I argue we need to be afraid and we need to be angry. Our futures are being usurped by us--if past generations had our attitude, we'd still have slaves, women would still be confined to the kitchen, and many, many species would have left this world long ago.

Mr. McKibben ended on this note: "We’re not going to get the Senate to act next week, or maybe even next year. It took a decade after the Montgomery bus boycott to get the Voting Rights Act. But if there hadn’t been a movement, then the Voting Rights Act would have passed in… never. We may need to get arrested. We definitely need art, and music, and disciplined, nonviolent, but very real anger".

So, again, I challenge my fellow artists to come out of the woodworks, to make music and compose poetry that resonates with this issue. Otherwise, we may in fact be bringing on a bleak future deprived of the very things we live for...do it as much to fight for the survival of art, as for the survival of our own living, breathing bodies. Do it so that art, as well as wildlife and humanity itself, can endure!

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