California Fires and Apathy

Note from Ed Fallon, Bold Iowa: The denial of the forest fire-climate change link is incredible, not just by Trump but by the mainstream press. Discussing it on my program today, FYI. 11:00 on my website: http://www.fallonforum.com


There aren’t words to describe the ongoing tragedy of yet another cycle of fierce fires in the western United States.  I don’t know how to deal with the rage I feel,  knowing this could have been avoided if we had been responsible about caring for our environment decades ago. Yes, we have learned much more about factors that affect our environment and climate. But even as a high school student in the 1960’s it was easy to see the environmental damage that was occurring from automobile emissions.

Simply designing walkable cities with mass transportation systems would have gone a long way to have significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions that have occurred since then.

Why didn’t we stop doing so many things we knew were destroying our environment? Why do we continue to do them today? Will we ever stop?

The best answer I’ve found is from environmentalist Gus Speth:

“I used to think that top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought that thirty years of good science could address these problems. I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy, and to deal with these we need a cultural and spiritual transformation. And we scientists don’t know how to do that.

To have any chance of even beginning to deal with our evolving environmental chaos, we have to identify the causative factors, “selfishness, greed and apathy.”

It feels like selfishness, greed, and apathy are on the rise. And unfortunately, when we look for help by spiritual transformation, we instead find certain church organizations have chosen to embrace political tribalism instead.

But the fires burning in California now are making it more difficult to be apathetic. Thousands of homes have been burned. Hundreds of thousands of people have, at least temporarily, become climate refugees, adding to those from storms in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. How much of these devastated communities will ever be rebuilt? These violent storms and fires are not one time events, but will increasingly occur as environmental conditions continue to deteriorate.

Often the thing that causes change to begin is when we are personally affected. Even if you haven’t experienced these storms or fires, as increasing numbers of people do, their families and friends are impacted, too. I’ve heard from family and friends who have had these experiences, and I would guess many of you have as well.

The choice is clear now. From now on, do we live lives of selfishness, greed and apathy, or do we embrace loving our neighbors as ourselves? There are a number of practical things that can be done. But the first thing we each need to do is take off our cultural blinders, really look beyond the status quo and make the choice of how we will live from this point on.

“The eyes of the future are looking back at us and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time. They are kneeling with hands clasped that we might act with restraint, that we might leave room for the life that is destined to come. To protect what is wild is to protect what is gentle. Perhaps the wilderness we fear is the pause between our own heartbeats, the silent space that says we live only by grace. Wilderness lives by this same grace. Wild mercy is in our hands.”  Terry Tempest Williams, Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place.

 

 

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6 Responses to California Fires and Apathy

  1. Ed Fallon says:

    The denial of the forest fire-climate change link is incredible, not just by Trump up by the mainstream press. Discussing it on my program today, FYI. 11:00 on my website: http://www.fallonforum.com.

    On Mon, Nov 12, 2018 at 10:27 AM Quakers, social justice and revolution wrote:

    > jakisling posted: “There aren’t words to describe the ongoing tragedy of > yet another cycle of fierce fires in the western United States. I don’t > know how to deal with the rage I feel, knowing this could have been > avoided if we had been responsible about caring for our env” >

  2. Rebekah J says:

    I agree with this thoughtful post. I love the quote at the end too.

  3. Kathleen J. Hall says:

    Good post – well said. Don’t forget that Iowa is suffering floods that are bigger and more frequent than ever before. We could be really testing the waters, and regulate what lands should never again be plowed and what, if any, kind of fertilizer can be used safely. Besides our own immediate safety, acres of soil float from the smallest stream right down the Mississippi..

    • jakisling says:

      Good points, Kathy. One of the many good things about the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March were the evening forums that focused on changing and improving agricultural practices. Lee Tesdell told about the bio-reactor he installed that removed significant amounts of nitrates from the water draining from his fields. Christine Nobiss talked about Native agricultural practices.

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