Are you scared yet?
Human use, population, and technology have reached that certain stage where mother Earth no longer accepts our presence with silence.
Dalai Lama XIV
For a long time, just like most of you, oh beloveds, I read about climate change and I was disturbed. But then I looked around the verdant beauty of my Pacific Northwest surroundings and the small squirrel brain in charge of my foolhardy sense of safety said, “Nah.”
And then it was last summer and for the first time since I moved here on May 3, 1973, the world was obscured with smoke. Filled with it. Choking on it. The sun glared, red and angry from heavy skies, sucking the moisture from bodies and sending its warning that we were in serious trouble.
Last year, the squirrel brain didn’t say, “Nah.” It looked around suspiciously and was very quiet.
But the smoke cleared. The rains came. It got cold, and the squirrel went into its hibernation with a small, murmured, “Nah.”
It’s summer again and the world isn’t just filled with smoke. The world is on fire. From California to Greece and points in between, flames devour. On videos we hear the raging roar as trees become pyres, listen to the anguished words of the California grandfather who heard his family die, the young, Greek father who escaped to the sea as his wife was taken.
And from the orange horror in DC and his cronies?
It’s the only silent part of all of this.
I’m 62 years old as of this writing and I remember when we began to wake up to our power as humans to destroy the planet. I was alive when the term “big blue marble in space” began to be heard. (The Blue Marble) The crew of the Apollo 17 took the picture on December 7, 1972. I was 17 years old and everyone agreed that our planet looked just like that — and for the first time, mostly likely in all of human history, we began to grasp how small, how vulnerable — and how very alone — the earth actually was and is.
Now, for the first time, I am truly terrified. Not just the increasing disquiet as I heard that amphibians were disappearing. Not the fretfulness of reading that there are measurably fewer insects and birds. Not the knitted brow of watching people endure extreme weather. No. This is gut-clenching, hand-wringing, weeping terror. Not even the bliss of the other evening, gazing at the tranquil night sky, standing near someone dear, watching the elk graze on the preserve as light ebbed and the stars emerged served to reassure the squirrel brain that all is well.
The squirrel brain, seat of fear which is really survival instinct on high alert, is wailing her alarm.
The world is on fire.
Even when it isn’t aflame, the heat is searing the water from the surface, the ice from millenia-old glaciers, and the breath from bodies. Even as elsewhere, people are drowning.
And yet, the orange monster has decided to ignore it all and, pandering to his corporate masters, is gutting environmental protections right and left, to the shameless glee of his base.
Even as he remains silent as his citizenry suffers. Where is our Obama or even Bush, who went to the disasters, consoled the suffering — who fucking showed up? Can anyone even imagine that orange colostomy bag holding a sobbing victim and listening?
I didn’t think so. He’s probably playing golf or complaining that the won’t let him watch porn in the White House. (Get a room, Donny Babyhands.)
The irony is, his elite suffers from the delusion that somehow their wealth, their elite status — their je ne sais quois — will exempt them from the world’s fate — which is accelerating. Of course it is. We scale back our calculations, most of us, because to face the entropic nature of existence and thus the possibility that this rush to disaster is powered by jet fuel is to lose grip on sanity.
The world is now telling us it’s now or never. If things don’t essentially change now, the answer will be never.
Never again a blade of grass.
Never again a baby’s laugh.
Never again a shy doe sipping from pure mountain water.
Never again cetaceans singing in the oceans.
Never again a beating heart.
Do we want to be the people who see the last of all that is?
Well, do we?