It has been a rough week for professional climate change deniers, and it couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch of people! By professional, I mean those business interests whose deep pockets fund the status quo in all its forms, at the expense of the rest of us.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science—the world’s largest general science society—released a public information campaign called What We Know, to “present key messages for every American about climate change.” Then, The New York Times, which is increasing its coverage of the issue, weighed in, stark visuals of disappearing deltas and threatened islands included: Borrowed Time on Disappearing Land, Rising Seas and Worst is Yet to Come. If you donate to the Environmental Defense Fund or other environmental group, you’ve seen plenty of photos of endangered species. But how do you respond when it is our own kind in the cross-hairs? Example (albeit extreme): a Bangladeshi mother who loses her land and livelihood to rising seas, sells her son into indentured servitude.
“Climate change will soon be everyone’s problem,” is one comment to the Times reports. “It already is,” says a friend and Transition colleague who heads up an ecological arts nonprofit organization. She spends her time, much as I do, focused on ways to inspire and motivate community resilience in our vulnerable and deeply-in-denial adopted state of Florida. We are both grandmothers, informally members of the local chapter of Grandmothers Against BS.
Yet who, on a tennis-perfect day in Miami, watching Novak Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal for the championship, can be blamed for indulging in a little amnesia?Drive down to the recently opened Perez Museum and its neighbor, the under-construction science museum, check out a luxury, 154-unit condominium twin-tower with prices that start at more than a $1 million, all located on high-end Biscayne Bay. What data points are developers using that underpin such hubris?
Real estate is big business here, so I am riveted by some of the strangest examples of business-as-usual in full view, inspired by a real-estate craze on the California coast. You could be fooled into thinking this photo depicts the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy or an earthquake. In fact, it is a teardown, a way to keep a high-value location — waterfront property, this being Florida — to destroy in order to create. Is this any way to prepare for High Tide on Main Street? Is any attention being paid to information readily available at the touch of a keyboard, e.g. a report to Congress by David W. Titley, Read Admiral USN (Ret.), Ph.D.? “Today in Miami Beach at high tide,” Dr. Titley told the House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology, Subcommittee on the Environment, “storm sewers routinely back up and flood seawater onto the streets they are supposed to be draining.” Whatever you are building, doesn’t this sound like a good time to adapt to the risk of flooding, consider raising your structures on stilts, not to mention installing solar panels to capture all that free sunshine? Inside the business-as-usual bubble, no one is aware of risky behavior or motivated to consider a different set of possibilities for the future. I used to live in a similar bubble myself, albeit on a smaller scale.
Full disclosure: Once upon a time, we had a vacation home on the San Andreas Fault. Our kids thought we were nuts. But we got used to frequent tremors, made it through the Northridge Quake, and after things returned to ‘normal,’ went back to casual speculation about The Big One. It was a California thing.
Call it maturity or becoming an elder. I don’t feel quite so light-hearted about my current home in coastal Florida, or the prospects for my family, friends and neighbors here, or anywhere, for that matter. That’s why I do what I do, knowing that Transition is a social experiment with no guarantee of success. That’s why I keep Rob Hopkins’ Cheerful Disclaimer in my mind.
• if we wait for the governments, it’ll be too little, too late
• if we act as individuals, it’ll be too little
• but if we act as communities, it might just be enough, just in time.