On Sunday, September 21st, I attended the Climate Change March in New York City. I found it very heartwarming and uplifting. While I don’t think it will lead to any substantive change, I did get the chance to see and meet some really wonderful people. And that easily made it all worthwhile.
I had only found out about it a couple days beforehand, but decided to attend, since I saw it as a perfect opportunity to get the word out about this website. I brought along about 700 or more “business” cards [they only provide the website domain name, and this: “Could this be one of the most important websites you will ever see? Read it with an open mind and decide for yourself.”], and planned to hand out as many of them as I could. That was my plan, anyway. Instead, I was in sponge-mode, absorbing everything. I only spoke with about half a dozen people; and only gave out about half a dozen cards. The level of participation was indeed quite large. I left an hour after it was scheduled to have ended, but it was still going and going and going.
While I didn’t give out many cards, I did manage to find a way to publicize this website simply by being there. How? I got the bright idea the night before (as soon as I got into bed), to safety-pin lots of cards — I have conventional, rectangular cards, as well as circular ones — all over my T-shirt. And that is precisely what I did. I brought along an extra T-shirt and pinned them on while taking the train in and then switched T-shirts when I got there. One consideration I forgot to take into account, however, is that New York City is one of those rare places on earth where you can have three dozen cards pinned to your T-shirt and people hardly even notice. Oh, well.
Now, back to the deeper, more germane reality concerning what is happening to the earth, even as you read this sentence. On the very same day as the march, The New York Times published an opinion piece by Robert N. Stavins (“Climate Realities,” Sept. 21, 2014), in which he states that “The world is now on track to more than double current greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere by the end of the century. This would push up average global temperatures by three to eight degrees Celsius.” China, for instance, as Stavins points out, “is expected to add the equivalent of a new 500-megawatt coal-fired electric plant every 10 days for the next decade.”
One of the factors which makes this climate change issue one that is so difficult to rectify, is the fact that we don’t necessarily see it as its happening. As Stavins puts it, “climate change is unobservable by the public. On a daily basis, we observe the weather, not the climate. This makes it less likely that public opinion will force action.” Incidentally, this reminds me of a sentiment expressed by Tony Federer, in his self-published book Ecoshift: The Movement That Is Transforming the Relation of Humanity to Earth (which is accessible from his website, www.ecoshift.net [the following comes from the chapter titled “Ecopsychology: Human Need for Nature”]): “I wonder how things would be different if all the CO2 we produce by driving, heating, and air conditioning were purple instead of transparent.”
Two days after the march, The New York Times made its Tuesday ScienceTimes section a special issue. It focuses on climate change and opens with the heading “Nature in the Balance.” In this issue, an article by Nathaniel Rich (“Books: Feeling Our Rising Temperature,” Sept. 23, 2014), describes three new books that are out now. Pertaining to one of them — journalist Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything (Simon & Schuster, 576 pages) — here is what Rich writes: “Drawing on an impressive volume of research, Ms. Klein savages the idea that we will be saved by new technologies or by an incremental shift away from fossil fuels: Both approaches, she argues, are forms of denial. It will not surprise those familiar with her previous books … that her solution requires a radical reconfiguration of our economic system.”
Without having read the book, I can say this: Just as it would be wrongheaded to think that we can “be saved by new technologies or by an incremental shift away from fossil fuels,” it would be equally wrongheaded to think that “a radical reconfiguration of our economic system” can do the trick. Surely, that is one piece of the puzzle (radically reconfiguring our economic system, not necessarily Klein’s perception of what that should entail), but it’s not the whole of it. There’s much more to it than that. Not just concerning the climate change issue, but all of the other issues concerning how we are harming the biosphere, as well.
Solutionistically speaking, we must think holistically. We must think in terms of attacking all of the problems, simultaneously. But we don’t, we never approach it from that perspective, with that basic logic in tow, and with an intense laser-like focus; and worst of all, time is running out.
This reminds me of how I once read that veteran broadcast journalist Daniel Schorr, in describing our nation’s capital, proclaimed that it tends to be a “one-thing-at-a-time type of town,” because politicians have difficulty managing multiple problems all at once. But dealing with a whole array of multiple problems — innately complex and intractable problems — all at once, is exactly what we must do. There is no way around it. And we must wrap our minds around the fact that we need to think in terms of finding real solutions to these problems. Focusing so much of the time, as we do, on the singular issue of climate change, necessarily leaves out all of the other issues that we need to be dealing with. Climate change may indeed be the biggest issue; but even if that were the case, it is only one of the issues that we need to be grappling with.