In terms of climate, I’m a communist.
We have one planet. Nobody gets off, not even Elon. We all piss into each other’s water every single day. We have more genes in common than not.
Our wealth is merely doing each other’s laundry & selling each other rocks.
There is no exit. We’re here. Even those who believe in an afterlife believe that this life governs what happens in the next. We’re taught to be good stewards, across all faiths.
(I’m using Xtian language, but ahimsa in Hinduism, all of Tao, and Shinto, & I’m outta characters.) A steward was responsible for all of the aristocrat’s possessions. Including the roof of the castle and the cellar full of booze, the fields & forests & all of the livestock. If the steward let the roof rot, or drank it all? That steward wouldn’t be in the job for long.
If you’re Christian and expecting a rapture?
You better be lobbying for cleanup on the atmosphere aisle with every polluted breath you draw, because your Lord’s precious planet is filthy.
It’s your job, AS THE STEWARD, to clean it up. You can’t deny it. You must answer for it. Why would he take you into his house, knowing you will again disrespect it, make it a mess, break it down and burn it up? How can you expect forgiveness for destruction? Because you say you love him? You’re not children, yet you show nothing but contempt for his gifts.
If you expect to die before the climate gets bad? Well, if you hope for a good afterlife (Heaven, a next reincarnation), you better be cleaning up, too.
Because your next life depends on the condition you leave this life. If you’re not helping, you’re making the mess worse.
If you think it’s already too late & we’ll all die anyway, might as well just party it up until the end? Fine. That’s your right, for you alone. You may not take ANYONE with you. You can’t make that decision for anyone else.
If you insist on drinking, hand over your keys first. I’m one voice. I help people choose not to die when their prior life wounded them so badly they’d rather not live.
This is my statement: we have 12 years. It’s not too late. But it’s growing later, every day.
This is actually an existential terror. YOU SHOULD BE TERRIFIED. We have one chance.
We may not succeed in mitigating the climate.
But it’s the chance we have.
We cannot walk away.
We cannot pretend we don’t see the damage.
We cannot hope for a savior.
We either get busy living, or we get busy dying. I expect I’ve got another 50 years on this planet. It’s time to bring the Revolution to Omelas.
Fuck walking away.
Fuck pretending it’s not that bad.
We can all live here. We can all breathe. We just have to try. Not ignore it.
mccc.edu/pdf/eng102/Wee… Money? It’s paper. It’s digital. It’s portable abacus beads we hand each other for rocks and laundry. It’s imaginary. It won’t buy oxygen. It can’t make water. It’s a useful proxy for time, thought, and effort. We’re all there is. We’re all that will be, if we don’t do the work. Gotta try.
Well, we’ve wrecked economies before. Let’s talk to the Argand lamp manufacturers. Or the buggy makers.
I say this as a stats geek: it’s all models and theories and statistical noise to entertain us when we’ve got no laundry to wash or rocks to trade. It exists because we agree it exists. It has power because we agree to give it power. It represents our labor, and our intentions, and thoughts. And we can redirect them by our will.
We are alone. We are all we have.
Get Busy Living.
Or Get Busy Dying. Shorter: Don’t be afraid. Don’t freeze. Be pointedly angry. Make it your motivation. Focus on right action. Take the next baby step. There’s so MUCH HOPE in wanting to live.
It’s fierce & hot.
I want to find you, point you at the sky & say “Tomorrow, the sun rises. RIGHT THERE, it’ll break the horizon. We know this because of math. That’s how we know how planets work. we can fix this one. If we hope & work.” But if we waste the precious time arguing about how, we will destroy our civilization, most of the species currently trying to live around our messy asses, our nearest cousins & best friends. Bye bye, kitties.
Let’s be clear: the free market is WHY we’re in trouble. For 2 centuries, they’ve dumped waste into rivers, oceans, and air, because that was an invisible cost. It’s no longer invisible. It’s smog over every city, light pollution at night.
We didn’t know, then. We do now. The free market’s last chance was 25 years ago. It’s time to stop falling for their scam. Whenever they say they’ll do something, we find it undone, years later, shoved into rusting barrels, abandoned on some scrubby private property, leaking into the water table.
Honesty costs. It’s HOW THEY OPERATE. Always have, always will, because the cost to clean up their mess leaves them broke. Free market environmental protection never works, won’t work this time. Every government, from village up, will have to interfere.
Every government is made of us. So. Get busy living. Or get busy dying.
Practical steps, for this sol cycle: Here’s a few. Tested, workable, only depending on you. We’ll get to making governments listen next week, after the sun returns. The work is baby steps. (And USian, because that’s what I know.)
Start. So: Your energy company has a plan that lets you maximize your share of renewable energy. We went to 100%. I ran our audit for this year. It cost us an extra $11. For less than $1 a month, all of our electric is wind/solar. CO has managed days of 60% plus renewable recently. The car you have, if you have one? Keep it as long as you can. A clean, efficient post 2005 car is less carbon than a new one.
(If it’s a recalled VW, or gets less than 14 mpg, it’s time to trade in or give it up if you can. Can you do better than the $5-9K it costs per year?) No, seriously, cost it out: regional bus pass here is $320/month, 3840/yr. No insurance, no gas. 4 taxi/Lyfts a month? $80/960 Van rental, 2x a year: $50 each, if I go Uhaul.
Lots of employers give transit as a perk. Some cities/neighborhoods have major discounts. It doesn’t work for everyone, doesn’t work everywhere, but cars are only the cheapest, most convenient tranport when
a) they work cleanly, and
b) we don’t count of ALL the money we put into them. (Including carbon costs.) And go appropriate. Who is in your car 90% of the time? Just you? You need the smallest, most efficient car you can get. (Or a bus pass, so you’ve got time to read and knobdick on twitter.)
You + a kid? Same car.
You + 4 kids? Subie, crossover, small minivan. 27 mpg, min. Just you but hauling drywall EVERY WEEK: Okay, you need the truck/Cargo van.
But It’s cheaper for you & better for the planet to own a Fiat 500 or Prius and rent a Home Depot or Uhaul truck a couple times a year than to own something large because you occasionally need lumber. Less flying. There’s just no way to fly efficiently. If you must fly, buy the carbon offsets.
Truly, a teleconference is often better, because you can record it. A Slack chat is 1000% better, because you got it all in text, and nobody can weasel out of what they said they’d do. (I’d say trains & ships, but in the US? That’s ... hard. Better off with teleconference for almost everything. Same with telecommuting, whenever possible. Face time is highly over-rated for effectiveness.) Natural gas furnace/water heater? Eh... 97% efficient?Keep it serviced. The more efficient, the better. NatGas is the bridge fuel. It’s better than oil or coal.
When your furnace dies, its time for an electric heat pump; aim for geothermal. Tankless water heaters if you got gas. Keep the thermostat as low as you can handle it. Most people aren’t Freezy Babies like me (61 is perfect in winter) but wear sweaters, maybe a hat or headscarf (they look nice, feel GREAT). Get/make a canopy bed, because that canopy makes winter cozy. (Pets like them, too.) It’s more energy efficient to cool a building by 40 degrees, from 110 to 70 (F) than to heat it from 35 to 65 (30 degrees.) So... if you can stand warm climates, and can move to one... do it. The less climate control you use, the better off the planet will be. (Seriously. It’s partly the physics of heat. Warm air rises, so you lose it out your roof, windows. Cold air sinks. Also the physics of air movement & evaporation. Try this: iopscience.iop.org/article/10.108… ) (Caveat, though. Don’t take plants to a desert & put them outside. Skip backyard pools. Minimize concrete & make it HIGH albedo (white) so it reflects. Phoenix is HOTTER & cools off less now than it used to. A desert shouldn’t be a humid heat island. It should get cool at night. Just be XTRA water thrifty if you move from a wet climate to a dry one. Take advice about how to conserve water & accept the spare beauty of a mesquite tree instead of the full leaf of a maple. Tho you’ll thank me if you put all your landscape water on a citrus tree. I promise.) Next: Everyone needs stuff.
If you can’t walk to get the stuff you need, then having it come to you in Amazon Prime Pantry boxes/Jet boxes is actually more energy efficient than making short car trips. An Amazon box equals about 8-11 miles of driving. So fill boxes, wait to order, pretend you’re in the old days when you didn’t get free shipping until $50, and didn’t get free Prime Pantry unless you got your box to 95%. (eBay is a bit better for small stuff, since they mostly use USPS, who comes daily anyway.) If you can’t walk and/or Amazon? Try to do one long loop of trips, get your stuff in bulk and with as little waste as possible. Eat as locally as possible. (Kroger/Frys/Soops groceries are GREAT for this: they all use “I’m Local!” tagging for anything produced within the state.) If you live where we grow soy & corn? Consider becoming vegetarian/vegan. If you live where grass pasture is what the Native Americans used? Try to be an obnoxious beyond organic locavore whose only processed food is the grass in buffalo & dairy, with little rice/wheat/soy/corn. Basically, try to eat less of everything you can’t grow in your climate, especially if it requires supplemental water. As often as possible. Try it for 1/3-½ of meals to start. Anything, just make a start to live a little more lightly on your part of the planet as you can. Check your house. Do you need what you have? In some places, it’s hard to find a house that’s less than 3000 sq feet. And I know that having a roomie is tough for a lot of people. But if you can offer 6 months of room to a cousin to get out of your awful BIL’s orbit? Try it. Set some good boundaries, work out what you need from a roomie and what you offer, don’t be their parent, just be the person who offered them help.
Worst case? You never do that again, and you helped them bridge.
But the best case? You have a sitter sometimes. If you’re empty nest? Downsize now. Look, you’ll be happier without the maintenance & housework & stuff. It’ll cost less in energy and time, you’ll have more time to do what you want. Sick of mowing/shoveling? That’s fine. There are condo HOAs JUST FOR YOU. And still cheaper. If you don’t want to part with that house? Work out a swap with a kid/relative/friend. Work out a sale or rent. Use a service that specializes in family rental/mortgage to help mitigate arguments. (These exist. Often inexpensive. So much easier than setting up a distance sale.) Got a hoard? Ask for help. Next time you’re at a doctors office/hospital, ask for a social worker. Tell them you need help, and don’t know where else to go. Tell them you’re beyond your own capacity.
It’s okay to be overwhelmed. There is no fault in needing help. You have an estate? Start parting with it now. See your investment of labor and time in the hands of the people you care about, while you’re still here, and you can both enjoy it.
And don’t complain how other people use gifts. (Because you have also disposed of something...) You’re alone & not very wealthy? Start talking to other people in the same boat. (Senior centers and student centers are great for this.) Let’s rebuild the world of intentionally constructed families & residence halls & boarding houses.
Negotiating is easier than being alone. Shakespeare was the roomie in a London family for almost his entire career. If Shakespeare did his very best work while living amongst another family’s marriages and arguments and bickers over who didn’t pick up their wet towel... (Caveat of course: if you’re in a bad place, it’s best to get out. You might be better walking out with what fits in a suitcase, taking yourself to shelter, and finding that social worker. Risks are risks, and if you’re unsafe, it’s better to go than stay.) The way we live longer -as a species, a planet, as individuals – is to maximize the social side of our nature, not the solitary predator side.
When we think we can be rugged individualists, we tend to die early and in misery. When we are part of others’ worlds, we are happier. The way to get busy living is to get busy, living.
We are all telepathetic. We do not read each other’s minds. If you need help, you have to ask, but there is help. It can be hard to find, but it’s there. If parting with stuff terrifies you? Find one of my colleagues. Start talking. When we cling to our stuff -be it great gran’s china or Mom’s old towels or the junk mail – what we’re doing is making the thing take the place of our feelings. Stuff can be how we lie to ourselves.
Those walls of stuff lock us in cells of our own making. Because we see the pile of magazines and think we need a magazine file, and then a bookcase for it, then a bin for our odd socks, and... and then we’re back buying more, thinking less, consuming to insulate against fear. Thus my solstice prayer for us: May we never walk away. May we never pretend it’s all is fine. May we take our individual steps to conquer fear, for Earth.
May we live the Revolution in Omelas & tell the story to every child, so no child will ever again suffer for our whims.