The human race is awesome! Look at the way we rose to the challenge of a global threat to the health of ourselves and community members! Honestly, I have never been more proud. (Oh yes, of course, there are those who are so lost in the miasma of their own fear-based misery that they are currently incapable of responding wisely to this challenge. May they be well, may they be safe, may they recover from fear.) But overall, yay team!
Today is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, and I can’t help thinking that if we can come together to meet the threat of COVID-19, changing our habits in such major ways almost instantaneously, then certainly we can meet the much greater threat of climate crisis, which asks so much less of us.
Maybe the sudden threat of disease that spreads rapidly through populations is easier to see than the unfolding of climate catastrophe. But that unfolding has picked up at an alarming rate with major destruction from fire and flooding directly related to climate change. And yet there are those who still see it as just one of many items on the progressive political to do list, rather than something that calls for immediate and massive action.
Now that we have seen how quickly and skillfully we can respond to a threat, let’s use that same muscle to address the causes of climate change. The actions required are easy compared to the almost draconian ones we’re dealing with right now. And the results of inaction in response to climate change are far worse!
With COVID-19, if we took no actions, it’s estimated that hundreds of thousands of people would die, and, because it can be a miserable disease, millions would suffer.
The actions we have taken demand more of every individual human on the planet than anything we have known in our lifetime. The ultimate outcome is still unknown, and many lives have been and will be lost. But we can also see many effects we might not have expected: For all those sheltering in place, many families are bonding and finding that their relationships are enriched, both with those in their homes and with distant relatives and old friends through online communication. Most of us are slowing down and having the chance to take care of ourselves, to think, to feel, to relax, to discover new interests, to take comfort and find solace in all the gifts of life. Of course, again, there are those for whom this is intolerable and only exacerbates an already existing condition. And those who are on the front lines working harder than ever and putting their well being at risk, are having a very different experience. May they be well and safe.
On this 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the sky is bluer as the pollution has been greatly reduced, and waters are clearing as well. What a reminder of how much damage our rushing about mindlessly causes to ourselves and all beings!
I’m sure you can list all the amazing heart-warming and creative responses to sheltering in place. We can see how sacrificing, even at this high level, is something we can do with grace and even joy. We’ve proved it!
Now, it seems that most of the sacrifices required to slow down the rate of climate crisis are…hmmm, not even sacrifices at all!! They are just minor adjustments in how we get about, how we heat our homes, and reassessing how much we need to travel and how much shiny new stuff we need to live happy meaningful lives. This challenge doesn’t keep people apart! We can gather, and hug and put our heads together for work and play. And it doesn’t put people out of work, just shifts the way we work, developing life-affirming industries.
We don’t have all the answers yet, and we need to assess the impact of any changes made, and the motivations of those who are promoting green solutions that might not be healthful for the planet at all. But this is no different than the kind of healthy skepticism we need in all our market interactions. We question everything, don’t leap to assumptions, and live from our wholehearted intention of lovingkindness for all life.
So what’s stopping us? Well, we saw how at the beginning of the viral pandemic, there were those who stalled and said it wouldn’t happen here, and those who made it seem like a political issue, as if the virus would pick and choose based on party affiliation. That’s the same thinking that is rampant around the climate crisis. And because we are so adaptable we have gotten used to pollution and all the health consequences and planetary devastation. Our adaptability is one of our greatest strengths and greatest weaknesses! But the air has cleared and we can see the stars again at night! This is a big clue. Along with the difficulties and grief, we have been given a gift of insight and an opportunity to re-imagine a way of life that is more beneficial for all.
As for the consequences of inaction, the climate crisis as it unrolls without our making major changes will make this pandemic look like a cakewalk! Yes, we are stuck in our homes now, but both war and crime have been greatly reduced. Not so with the climate crisis which has already set worldwide massive migrations into motion. The US military says climate change is their biggest concern as a cause for civil unrest and conflicts. With COVID-19, we’ve had toilet paper hoarders, but the climate crisis brings water-hoarding, arable land disputes and potentially major wars.
So, let’s use this experience of seeing how adaptable we are, how able we are to meet a challenge with compassion, creativity, and grace; and remember that we face a much greater crisis requiring less sacrifice. We just need to see it! We just need to make sure our leaders see it! And we need to act now!
If this moves you, please share it widely!