Waking Up to Water

I’ve really been enjoying this bright November of golden leaves & comfy old scarves, but I can’t recall ever being so happy to hear the rain as I did upon waking up yesterday morning…not the usual drippy harbor fog kind (which I usually love too), but real run-off-in-the-streets sort of rain.

The day before, anticipation of rain was the main topic of casual conversation at the grocery store, in the doctor’s office, on my walk down the street: do you feel it coming? we really need it!  wow, this drought is scary, my trees are really drooping.  what’s going to happen with the desalination proposal? yes, yes! yes mine too, I don’t know.

I’m a member of the Santa Cruz City Water Commission in the one seat reserved for a representative of non-City residents who are Water District customers.  Ergo, I’m probably thinking about rain more than most.  As things warm up on the home planet, I think more of us are finally waking up to water. There’s nothing more fundamental to how life happens on earth than the big W – salinated or not, too much or too little. 

After over 20 years of intensely studying our regional water supply situation, the proposed joint City & next-door Soquel Creek Water District regional seawater desalination project was progressing as a long-term approach to future demand & anticipated drought.  Three months ago however, sensing mounting opposition from parts of our so-called environmentalist sector, the Mayor & City Manger turned off the desal spigot; coincidentally or not, the Water Department director of 27 years retired a month later.  We’re now embarking on a new community water discussion which will no doubt demonstrate the virtues & foibles of how folks in this small but passionate burgh on California’s (dry) central coast debate what we envision for our future.

A year ago I posted here about water & desalination.  It seems to me that in this part of the world, humans are pretty clueless about the luxury of having fresh water on demand. What I’m learning in this new W commissioner role is that similar to most challenges on our ever-changing planet, there’s no cheap, easy answer.  As far as I know, no one disagrees that here in geographically-isolated Santa Cruz County we’ll continue to experience both severe surface water shortages & severe overdraft of groundwater resources into the future…& we can’t fall back on importing water from Sierra Nevada mountains like our San Francisco friends to the north.  It’s what to do about it that gets us riled up.

One thing I learned from my transportation work (which is a drastically simpler problem in many respects) & also from being a parent (which isn’t), is that it makes sense to have a variety of tools in the toolbox: if one approach isn’t reliable or breaks down too often, there’s another one (or more) available to fill in.  A word we used a lot in the transportation arena is ‘robust’, & it’s a good word to keep in mind in this upcoming W conversation.

In the meantime, although Santa Cruz County has nearly the lowest per-capita water use in California, I’ll keep switching our kitchen faucet to the lower water spray setting, I’m replacing a quaint but not-very-efficient toilet, & I’m hoping for a washer rebate program in the upcoming round of new water conservation measures.  I get annoyed when I see farmers watering their fields mid-day or a dysfunctional hydrant gushing for (seemingly) hours – it just doesn’t seem fair.  But we really are all in this together, & imho, our proposed solutions need to reflect serious pragmatism as well as the rampant idealism for which we are famous.

Here’s hoping that we’ll actually have mud to slosh around in as we muddle along with this community process.

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Burn5: Fired Up About Art

I’m an artist.  Yep, you heard that right. I suspect ‘artist’ isn’t your primary association with this particular primate, but I’ve decided it’s time to paint a fuller picture of what makes us human. Because we all started out as artists.

Many scientists say human nature started with art. Although they haven’t yet agreed how creativity, language & increasingly complex cognition meshed over the past 500,000 thousand years to hasten human differentiation from our ancestor primates, we do know that our (relatively) recent compulsion toward body adornment, song & dance, narrative, pattern-making, ritual, & eventually, de novo art forms was intimately IMG_1429interwoven with the development & success (in evolutionary terms) of human primates & human social communities.

And that’s still the case.

One of my favorite things to do artwise is collage cards in the company of other female primates. It’s social. It stretches me. I (usually) stay in the present moment, & even though firing up the glue gun is (usually) as hot as it gets, I love working with color & texture, scissors & paste. It’s therapeutic. It’s play. I can write a few words of love inside the art card & drop it in the mail to family & friends – remember that old-fashioned gesture??  & I can allow my artist alter ego to take over for a few hours – some of you may even recognize her: the beloved puppet Moon Ma created by one of my (many) incredible family-member artists, sister-in-law Paula.

B0002775Moon Ma fires up my muse & she’s in it for the fun. Ergo, my claim of ‘artist’ should not be construed as ‘working artist’. On the few occasions when I’ve really had to work at art, I could understand, for a few moments, the satisfaction of making art into work, but it doesn’t light my fire. It was admittedly satisfying to once be paid for my art (random worldbead bracelets compulsively strung during one of those early grieving holiday seasons – my friends were so sweet to come by & buy them up) & once* I was paid to solicit payment for art created by another. I’ve often & happily paid for works of art created by others & paid others for working (playing) myself at creating art.

There’s a hot community (& broader) discussion going on about what’s going on at our local Museum of Art & History. The MAH is embracing the participatory model of artistic engagement with a broad range of artforms & collaborators. I’m on the board of trustees of this fiercely experimental small city museum; when I was asked to join the board, I initially said no – my experience of this museum was reminiscent of (imho) sterile art on the wall, deadly quiet hallways, & a lackluster community presence. But I was behind the curve – under new leadership, this museum is now on the cutting edge of an international movement to bring art back to the people within whom it has too long been quiescent. I changed my mind & said ‘yes’.

A hot community debate about art?! How cool – bring it on.  A few in our lovely burgh pine for the highbrow museum days. Not me. Hearing the lively music & chatter as I climb the Front Street steps, First Fridays at the MAH puts a grin on my face that seems to linger for days. I revel in the abundantly creative buzz of activity & increasing diversity of a lively & churning crowd.

This museum is helping bring out the best in our little community with its mission to ‘ignite shared experiences & unexpected connections’. Being artists together is our human primate heritage, & it’s one (fun) way we’ll survive the (somewhat scary) future.


*  At the Regional Transportation Commission, we were early advocates for public art as part of rebuilding the Highway 1/Bay Avenue Interchange in Santa Cruz County. The wonderful Susana Arias & her rendering of ‘Finding Our Past’ along the freeway underpass received a California Environs Enhancement Award in 1997.

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I know, artisan beers are all the rage these days, & for good reason.  You can make beer anytime anywhere, it accepts a wide variety of flavorings, & it’s one of the most popular beverages in the world: only water & tea are consumed more often.  Beer is the people’s drink, the heart of pub culture, crafted & beloved by humanity everywhere.

There are a good number of us, however, who incline toward the fruit of the vine. Humans have been drinking intentionally fermented grape juice about as long as we’ve been tilling the soil – around 10,000 years.  Before that, I’ve no doubt that when our ancestors trekked out of Africa & happened uponB0000406_2-1 those ancient grapes oozing sugar on Near Eastern autumnal vines, returning to those vines became an annual migration ritual for the tribes.

B0002825_2-1My most favorite thing about wine is making it; right now it’s ‘crush’ season for winemakers everywhere.  We don’t crush grapes with our feet too often any more…although I do recall us resorting to that very key part of our anatomy a few years back when our human-powered destemmer/ crusher was too wimpy for some hardy local chardonnay grapes.

I also of course, now & then (more then than now…still in recuperation mode…) deeply enjoy my share of delectable sips of artfully fermented fruit juice.  There’s truly nothing more satisfying than sharing a bottle of good wine that you first tasted as a nubile grape & eventually hand-corked in the backyard of an oak-shaded garage ‘winery’ in the San Lorenzo Valley.

There are dozens of local wine co-ops in our area, each with it’s own volunteer Winemaker:  Mike is ours & he’s a marvel.  We’re not commercial wineries: while some grow their own grapes, most local wine-making co-ops purchase grapes from central coast as well as northern & central CA vineyards.  Our 35+ year old co-op usually pays cash for 1/2 ton+ of each grape varietal – enough for one barrel – & we make about 4 barrels of wine/year – roughly 100 cases which we share among the group with a cost of about $8/bottle.  (A few admittedly debatable favorites: Alexander Valley Cabernet, Carneros Tempranillo, Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir, Arroyo Seco Viognier, & Mesa del Sol Syrah.)

Recently though, discord disturbed the tribe.  For a number of reasons (many of which I’m sure you can surmise), it was no longer appropriate to use our long-time co-op name, Ohlone.  To the generally younger &/or newer members of the group, this was kind-of a no-brainer…whatever, no problem.  But to some of the older, original members, it was tantamount to heresy.  It’s taken us the better part of a year to work through this, but after many meetings & email exchanges we have, and thankfully no one deserted the group because of it.  We don’t yet have a new name, but our perseverance has confirmed that what we all still love to do together is produce ‘a wine made among friends’.

This year, to my great disappointment, I’ve had to miss most of the crush season due to that icky illness.  But there are still two bins of fermenting grapes to press, & I plan to be there if only to hold the babies, chat with the little boys, & gossip with the elders.


Secretly, though, I’ll be there to inhale the seductive aroma of the future.         

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The Day After Turning 64

I just want to thank the Fab Four (again, as always, for their timeless brilliance, &) for making yesterday’s birthday by far the least dreaded of this current post-middle-age era.

For 46 years, I’ve heard & sang this song, never thinking it applied to me…well, until the past few years anyway.  But somewhere deep inside that music brain of mine, this benign vision of old age, coupled with its bouncy clarinet tune, burrowed in…way in. I believed it.  Turning 64 wasn’t going to be that bad.

& it wasn’t.  Of course, there may have been mitigating factors.  Such as being in the early stages of recuperating from pneumonia (nasty nasty!) & having minimal expectations about a happy happy happy birthday.  Such as only wanting to feel a little bit better than the day before yesterday – that would be good enough for 64.  Such as being very satisfied with a short sweet visit from the daughter & grandson, & a wonderful foot massage from husband R of 41 years who, by the way, did actually try to feed me during this ordeal.  & that BLT I was craving yesterday: thank you to Elizabeth for my first out-of-the house adventure in days, even though it felt silly to drive to the Harbor Cafe right around the corner.  & we rediscovered straws!…what a great invention.

So omg, how did I get pneumonia??  I wish I knew.  I have some theories – mostly stuff I know can contribute to reduced resistance to all those little viruses & bacteria that are always floating within us & without us.  Stress.  Yeah, that probably most of all.  I know from experience that I’m susceptible to wanting to overanalyze the past, the what-ifs, the head-shaking at myself in the rear view mirror.  But maybe it will be useful in this case    (…yeah that’s what they always say).  Maybe I can change some of my bad habits, & form some healthier ones as a result of this experience.  What the heck – I’m gonna try.

Not that I recommend the Fever & Delirium Weight Loss Plan, but, for example, I’m determined to not gain back those 10 lbs. I lost (& that I really needed to lose!) over the past two weeks.  My friend E is skeptical but I have a plan (…yeah that’s what they always say).  I also spent a lot of time on the sofa staring out the window at the changing light in the trees out front…I know it sounds sappy, but it was kinda like a forced stop-&-smell-the-roses time, & I did.  I am.

So, we’ll see what comes of it all.  In the meantime, I’m happy to be 64, I’m happy to have access to antibiotics, & I’m happy to feel the love & caring of my friends & family.  & that feels like a pretty good outcome at the moment.

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Burn4: Cooking with Fire

Can you imagine camping without campfires & grilled meat?  No, me neither.  Like, what’s the point of packing the tent & all the gear if there’s no flickering in the firepit as that lovely star of ours sinks flaming into the Pacific? (or, often rather, sinks obscured by a cool blanket of coastal fog)… Well, either way, camping = campfire for this girl scout.

Over Labor Day weekend in Los Padres National Forest @ our fav campground Plaskett Creek – Plan B after the Strawberry Music Festival was cancelled due to the Rim Fire – there was no potable water because the well was dry (drought), the bathrooms were closed so we had to use porta-potties (drought, but hey, I can manage), &, as lamented, no fires were allowed, not even grills (yeah you guess it: drought).  This lifelong camper can survive without roasted sugar puffs & flush toilets, but I was totally disoriented without those cherished late evening flames.

These days its all electricity & natural gas…light & heat & even human communication. But it wasn’t so long ago that the campfire was all we had. To warm us up.  To tell tales by.  To keep the predators away.  To cook with & render meat more edible, which fed our bigger brains.  Human primate life evolved around the homefire.  I agree, it’s a plausible, warm & cuddly scenario.

The camper in me really loves this story.  The complicated thing about fire though is that it’s hard to find the evidence. For good reason, scientists love evidence – the more indisputable, the better.  Even then, they love to argue about what the evidence means.  This is one of those hot topics: when did hominins start using fire?  Accepted evidence now points to about 800 kya, but others say it was much earlier, maybe even a million years earlier.

Part of the evidence problem is ashes…they melt away into the soil without a trace. Another problem is sea level change…for the past 3 or so million years (a key period in human evolution), sea levels have been lower than current levels for about 95% of the time Ergo, since there’s ample evidence that our ancestors frequently lived & migrated along coastlines, evidence of fire (& lot of other stuff) is probably underwater.

Also, ‘cooking’ food doesn’t necessarily mean using fire.  It’s not implausible that methods for changing the physical & chemical composition of food – thereby increasing its digestibility, another key aspect of human evolution – arose due to an intent to hang onto some of it to eat later.  Before the modern day luxury of refrigerators, there’s evidence that for a long time food was preserved by drying; fermenting & pickling via salt &/or sugar, acids, & oil; pounding & grinding; & burial in the ground.

& finally, just sayin’ it again: the protein (& carbs) that our ancestors arguably needed to power their expanding brain could have been derived in good measure from seafood (& tubers), not only animals.  We have ample evidence of scavenging meat on the savanna because that evidence is not (yet) underwater.  Recent discoveries of seashell middens offer new evidence of the seafood theory, along with evidence that it was shells that first adorned our big-brained bodies.

I’m a coastal gal at heart, so for now I’m sticking with the coastal theory.  Similar to all good scientists, I’ve no doubt others will eventually agree, once sea levels drop again & we find the evidence that was there all along.  It will be colder then (I know, hard to imagine at the moment), & we humans may not still be around, but if we are, you might remember that I told you about this once, long ago, around that crackling, online campfire.

edited 8/15/15.

Posted in Burn Series, Humans Love Food!, Our Primate Nature | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

My Sore Tongue

I’ve spent a lifetime biting my tongue – I realize this may come as a surprise to some of you.  Well, maybe not a lifetime…I was a kid once, long ago it seems.  I’ve been observing this socialization process with grandson D:  it’s normal to have feelings – let’s figure out what’s going on – but no, it’s not OK to say that…it hurts her feelings, it hurts my feelings… let’s try another way.

Keeping it zipped up is what we humans do to get along: we self-censor (as opposed to being censored by others, which is a whole different story).  Self-censoring is of course a mixed bag, but sometimes, I know my tongue isn’t as sore as it should be (- at least I think I maintain some awareness of that).  Less tongue-biting is a verifiable consequence of getting older – older folks have less interest in censoring, & eventually, less ability to do so no matter what the situation.  Well, I’m not in that latter boat yet (am I??), but it’s not hard to imagine the skiff of indiscretion sailing in over the not-too-distant horizon.

Most of us spend a lot of time chomping on that amazingly versatile human primate organ. I’ve noticed that the tongues of teenagers & NIMBY’s are more intact.  Others with intact tongues are probably older (as noted) &/or have some kind of brain, drug or personality disorder – whether or not we’re able to recognize/acknowledge it at the time.  Sometimes it seems that we of northern european heritage are especially adept at living with sore tongues.

I’ve had a lot of experience with zipping it up – even though it clearly goes against my nature.  20 years as director of a transportation agency in an actively anti-tongue-biting community; 30+ years as a mother of daughters ; 40+ years as a partner & wife of a kind but introverted workaholic …well, it’s a miracle I can still talk.  I suspect that others however (you know who you are!) occasionally aren’t too pleased at this miracle.

Social media majorly tweaks these tongue habits.  An objective of social media is to be provocative (& self-promoting, & sometimes even genuinely supportive & newsy & useful, etc.).  I have mixed feelings about this aspect of our tech lives:  I enjoy the validation of folks telling it like it is (especially when I agree & when it’s not being directed at a certain person, although some certain persons seem to intentionally make themselves fair game & I’m not naming names); on the other hand, I cringe at making validating comments myself about these validations.  Even so, at times even I unzip online…& then I hit delete.  Well, most of the time.

For me, blogging itself demonstrates the challenge of balancing voice with discretion: how to be relevant & open (as well as scientifically accurate) while also treading that fine line of not revealing too much of the everyday junk of our deeply emotional human primate nature.

So…hey – thanks for reading in spite of sore (or perhaps not-sore-enough) tongues.   Mine – most definitely – & probably yours too.  I’m game to keep walking this fine line as long as you’re willing to help me get back in line when I lean in too far.

Posted in Cackling Crone, Just an Everyday Life, Our Primate Nature | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Burn3: Smoke in the Trees

Prickly burnt-orange redwood needles have been raining onto the back deck for a few weeks now.  I remember the first time this happened a couple of years after our move to Live Oak Avenue in the mid-80’s – it took a call to a trusted arborist to reassure me that the tree was only drying, not dying.  Now I know it’s truly a drought when I’m sweeping the deck every other day in August.

Two weeks ago there was a wildfire down the street in Schwan Lake [State] Park.  Lots of smoke & sirens – we’re lucky to live in an urban area with highly responsive (& highly paid) IMG_0282firefighters.  It ended up being just a small grass fire.  The trees, animals, & other folks near Yosemite aren’t as fortunate.

Wildfires are traumatic for humans & seriously damage animal habitats.  We’ve had some bad fires here in Santa Cruz County over the past few years.  The coast range is heavily forested, & includes large stands of non-native & less-than-beloved eucalyptus, which can pose extra fire danger.

There’s no disputing the wildfire risk of drought & the Big Warming.

On the other hand, wildfires have been a part of earth’s life cycle for millions of years, & many plants are adapted to them.  We saw tiny leaves of regrowth today in the burned area of the park.  Giant Sequoias, one of the oldest living organisms on earth, actually need fire to be able to drop their seeds (- firefighters are right now trying to save these ancient trees near Yosemite, & no doubt they’re doing it in a way that will help future propagation). Wildfires, like any burn, create huge amounts of carbon dioxide, however, & reduce the number of plants & trees available afterward to produce oxygen.  We live with the good & the bad of Fire.

Moving beyond Burning Man, daughter Z, grandson D & I were planning for the first time to go to the Strawberry Music Festival near Hetch Hetchy this coming Labor Day weekend. I’d already gotten out my old guitar (& I mean old…definitely antique at this point) to practice Gone for Good by the Shins (have no idea where I first heard this but love the tune, if not the words so much).  We found out a couple days ago that the festival was cancelled due to the Rim Fire, & that Camp Mather, where it’s held, is either within or immediately adjacent to the fire line.  Obviously, our small disappointment pales in comparison with the significant trauma of this disaster.  But it’s a lesson in how our future with rapid climate change will transpire:  trauma, lack of oxygen, stress, contaminated resources, disrupted energy, desolated landscapes.

Disappointment will be the least of it.

So (..always the question..), what can one do?  What can 7 billion do?  My latest (admittedly small & pathetic) effort is to carpool more often.  My friend Sue & I chatted the whole way to the Land Trust party Saturday evening (carpool to this?..uh, duh..) & it was totally fun; so: positive mental & emotional reinforcement for teeny tiny habit changes.  No, it won’t be enough to counter the inevitable tides of the Big Warming, but spending car time with friends & family is one way human primates will be able to survive these upheavals…at least, while we still blithely drive cars.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll support continued science-based management of our national forests.  And thank you firefighters near & far.


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Burn2: Burning the Fence

We humans lead complicated lives.  It’s the way we like it.  It’s what our large primate brain has been honed for.  It’s just that, well – it’s just that sometimes it’s so exhausting.

I can grasp (& I’m sure you can too) how this big brain thing happened over the 7 million or so years of our struggle for survival on the shifting forests & plains & lakesides & coasts of Africa (& later Eurasia)…I can grasp how over hundreds of thousands of human primate generations, random mutations enhanced our survival-based ability to obsess about complex relationships & build up our tech toolbox.

I can also grasp how our ancestors found it advantageous to more often waddle out of dwindling forests on two hind legs: all the better to find food on drier grasslands; all the better to smell & see other animals waiting to eat us; all the better to eat & carry fruit (& youngsters & eventually scavenged meat) along the way; & wow! -> less energy spent moving around meant more energy available for that growing brain of ours.  I can grasp all of this with this big brain of mine.  Together with an admittedly meagre ability to grasp how long a few million years is, I (as you know) unashamedly promote this fantastic account of our early stroll on the path to becoming brainiacs.

I marvel though at the youth of the human primate: life itself is way older than we are – about 3.5 billion years older, at least on this planet.  Ergo, I ponder that maybe our youth is why our brains don’t yet adequately appreciate the art of being realistic.

Being realistic is not a highly regarded value in human culture.  During our recent history (over the past 500,000 years or so), being realistic probably meant no meat for dinner – bummer!  & even though we mostly survived on snails & sedges & snakes & shellfish (most likely gathered by females with babies & grandkids nestled in those handy forelimbs), our human disregard for boundaries helped us get to where we are today… plentiful & ubiquitous, delusional & hopeful, anxious & realistic.

& even though I’m one of those latter types, there’s a feeling of immense relief when this one-in-7-billion can manage to climb out of a deeply familiar but deeply unsatisfying neural groove in that messy brain of mine & burn down one of those boundaries.  It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I can almost feel the rest of my brain happily scrambling toward new, shinier pathways…the fruit trees just over the next hill!  the newfound friend just waiting for a walking-date invitation!  a new contract for the perfect project!  Our unrealistic nature helps us keep moving on…& that’s (usually) a good thing.

So, here’s to burning the fence once in a while…


…& to zephyrs tickling music from weathered bamboo.

Posted in Burn Series, Just an Everyday Life, Our Primate Nature | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Window that Opens

Am I the only one noticing all those old Volvo 850’s out there in the hood?  Nevermind they’ve got a few dents & peeling paint, & they’re not as sleek as the newer class of 21st century cars…like a favorite chair, my old 850 with the engine-that-never-dies has molded itself over the years to its companion driver.  It’s hard to let it go.

A broken air conditioner, broken odometer (years ago at 149K), disintegrating seats, & broken driver-side window have led to near-fatal 850 dysfunction.  & this was after repairing the broken-in-the-open-position sunroof.  It was time for a newer car – I’d held on as long as I could.

IMG_5943I know…its slightly embarrassing for a climate change freak to have such warm feelings for a funky, dusty old car.  That old 850 has been a part of our family since 2001…life was definitely different a decade ago.  We’ve been through a lot together.  I’ve even tenderly washed it myself recently – its deep teal blue really attracts that useless highway construction detritus.  & hey, I’ve noticed (have you too?) that I have old-car company out there!…at least here in our hometown of Santa Cruz.  Housing costs are so high that many of us need to skimp on transportation, & really, that’s OK – who needs a new car anyhow?  Some say it may be better greenwise to hang onto those old favorites until they really bite the dust…manufacturing a new car can rack up energy & GHG costs.

But the sealed window sealed the Volvo’s fate – we recently bought a 2009 Jetta TDI.  It gets great mileage & husband R can offer it without embarrassment for carpools on frequent out-of-town trips.  It’s a safe & sane & silver & all the mechanics work.  But, sigh, it just doesn’t have that comfy 850 feeling.

So I decided to get that old glove-of-a-car functional again (now that we’re not dependent on it for serious driving).  I decided, for now, that I can live with no odometer & no air conditioner, but even as a back up car, I can’t live without the wind in my face.  I decided to revive the 850 with a salvaged door from one of it’s permanently-off-road sisters.

A window that opens!  The lovely cooling effect of a breeze!  Maybe I’ll even invest in new seat covers.  I’ll resist fixing the air conditioner, at least until the inevitable accelerating global warming feedback loop shifts into high gear, & really, who needs an odomoter anyway?

These 850’s are going to be a classic some day – maybe as representative of a past way of life.  Maybe by then I’ll be ready to let that old car go…as a gift to the Museum of Past Extravagances.

For now, every once in a while, you’ll still see me 850 cruising…as long as that window keeps rolling up & down.

ps. did you see that full moon last night??  omg, love that sister orb of ours.

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Burn1: As the Bed Burns

Way back (!) in 2006, I started collecting news articles about melting glaciers, acid oceans, scary wildfires, & devastating floods.  I (& of course a few others) felt that we (humans, collectively) weren’t paying enough attention to the ever-increasing evidence of rapid climate change.  My favorite from that year: “If Only Gay Sex Caused Global Warming”; favorite quote from the article:

Global warming is a deadly threat precisely because it fails to trip the [human] brain’s alarm, leaving us soundly asleep in a burning bed.

Now, seven years later, we’re finally waking up to the Threat. Or are we??

Some say human lives are lived in seven year cycles.  So maybe we’re entering one in which we (all 7 billion of us) actually (collectively) try to do something concrete (excuse the word…) to put the brakes (good heavens…another driving metaphor!) on rapid climate change.  I admit I’m not hopeful (yeah, curmudgeon that I am)… I only have to look in the rear-view mirror to see why this is a challenging proposition.

I’m also not enthusiastic about the ‘fighting’ words being popularized right now in talk of climate change.  As in World War C (- for Carbon, not Car, which I might find more appealing-) or the war on warming or the fight against climate change.  On the other hand, wrestling with the enemy often gets those human juices flowing.  It’s just that the Bad Guy in this case is a little hard to pin down.

& of course, climate change isn’t a bad guy at all…it’s just our home planet, doing the only thing it can do to adjust to what’s going on with it’s smoggy atmosphere, it’s salty oceans, it’s shifting continents, & it’s struggling lifeforms, mostly in response to the excesses of it’s multitudinous human primate party animal.  In the end (well hopefully not really The End), we’re the ones who will have to do the adjusting, along with whatever other plant & animal (etc) life manages to survive the Big Warming & it’s sibling, the Sixth Extinction.

I’m glad there are changes afoot.  Don’t get me wrong – imho, they won’t be enough to forestall these already seriously advanced BW & 6E trends.  But like I said, at least we’re now paying attention.  & I do believe in incrementalism.  A walk here, a carpool there, more-fuel efficient vehicles, making sure there’s enough water for C-loving plants (not to mention more trees & bees), empowered women with access to free & easy-to-use birth control, turning the thermostat down (or up, as will most likely be the case), green buildings which go up-not-out, etc.  We know we have to change how we do things, but most of us don’t yet have the tools or the will or the resources to make our human lives fit with what we know.  & like that smart-guy Einstein said: the significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.

The coming century will be interesting.  I have hope in human ingenuity & adaptability, &, also, I worry that our grandchildren will really wonder what we were thinking.

Or not thinking.

No doubt there will be some serious eye-rolling at our human ability to dream our lives away as the bed burned.

Posted in A Warming Planet, Burn Series, Our Primate Nature | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments