By Karen Perkins
It is impossible to ignore the historic, unprecedented wildfires, conflagrations now destroying the most beautiful places in our California environment. Nor can we ignore the physical effects we are being exposed to from their massive amounts of toxic smoke.
Even our governor is now angrily saying, “We are in a climate damn emergency.” Our governor has green-lighted oil permits and fracking wells. He has supported industrialized, fossil fuel-based agriculture. This summer, our governor said, “I have no patience for climate deniers.” Well, words are not actions, so we will see.
The Work Ahead
How fast will California transition to renewable energy, electric cars, and organic, non-industrialized, diversified agriculture? These are the main industries responsible for climate change. How fast will our politicians start to protect our forests from irresponsible logging? When will they institute recycling on a massive statewide level? When will they stop the proliferation of plastics in all their deadly forms?
How fast will they engage in restorative forestry to serve as carbon sinks, the proven method of reversing climate change. Will there be an end oil subsidies? How quickly will we phase out the refineries? Oil refineries release tons of greenhouse gases, poison our air and make us sick. People living closest to oil refineries are particularly at risk.
Can we find the will to transition those workers to good-paying jobs in renewable energy and so many other jobs that will be needed? Will they give zero-rate loans and subsidies (as they now do for Big Oil and Big Agriculture) to farmers who want to transition to organic, non fossil fuel-based agriculture? Will policy makers encourage new farmers to start these types of farms?
Why should we have two food systems when we need only one – a food system that is healthy for us and our environment and produces more nutrient-rich food without toxic chemicals and pesticides?
In other words, we need a world quite different, in a good way, from the one we have now. We need a world where the health of our planet, our beautiful state of California and our people, those of us who live here, can survive and thrive.
The title above comes from the first sentence of Robert Frost’s poem, “Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice.” In his poem, “Fire and Ice,” Frost ponders whether the world will end in fire or ice. He equates fire with desire and ice with hatred.
According to one source, it “highlights human beings’ talent for self-destruction.” People have described the recent orange sky from wildfire smoke as “apocalyptic.” The dictionary defines this word as referring to the complete and final destruction of the world. Raging fires, floods and droughts certainly would precede the “complete and final destruction of the world.”
We humans have a strong instinct to survive. And, arguably, we are intelligent and capable of love, empathy and compassion. We know of the rapid mobilization leading up to our involvement in World War II, where airplanes, ships, ammunition etc. were rapidly mass produced by our nation, for our own national security.
Will the World End in Fire? …or Will We Work Together?
Working together as one unified people, we were successful in this war e ff ort. We even sacrificed for the good of the country by participating in a food-rationing system.
Is not the climate crisis a national security emergency? Will we mobilize and work together to rapidly transition to clean energy and to sustainable agriculture and forests? Can we do this within the short window of time we have before climate change is irreversible?
Will we do this? Or have we lost too much of our ability to see each other as fellow human beings? Can we, with all our human frailties, admit we depend on one another and one fragile planet?
It will not be easy, but we can do this. We will need less competition and more cooperation. We’ll need less emphasis on “rugged” individualism and more focus on the common good. All people need to recognize the reality that we are all connected to one another and need one another.
We can do this in the time necessary if we act like our lives, our children’s and grandchildren’s lives depend on it – because they do!
Courtesy of the Rossmoor News, October 14, 2020. Email Karen Perkins at firstname.lastname@example.org.