The flooding in Minnesota and British Columbia, the out-of-control fires in Colorado, the intensifying drought in the U.S. Midwest, are just a few of the indications that our climate has gone awry, part of the hidden costs we pay for burning fossil fuels. Things will only get worse unless we end our addiction to coal, oil and gas and make the transition to clean energy. The thought of what humanity has unwittingly unleashed is paralyzing for most of us, which is why we either avoid this issue (as I did for many years) or join the denier crowd, who put a lot of time and effort into denying the scientific consensus and the evidence in the natural world. It’s time to “hug the climate change monster”, as journalist Bill Blakemore wrote on ABC recently. Continuing to ignore or deny the climate change threat isn’t going to work as a survival strategy for humanity.
The world needs your voice, your talents, to shape a better future. It’s not too late. In the short story entitled Reflections on a Life Lived Well and Wisely, published on thesolutionsjournal.com, author Joshua Farley envisions a future society in which right decisions have been made at this point in our history. An old man is dying in 2055, and reflecting back on his life:
“The old man’s son had been in the first wave of recruits for the new defense service, but his work had been here in the United States, first dealing with the aftermath of the crisis decade—a seemingly endless bout of droughts, floods, and hurricanes that had finally woken people up to the reality of climate chaos. Food production plunged, people starved, infrastructure was destroyed. Many thought that the end had come, but that decade’s events turned out to be unusual even for the new weather regime. Food prices increased tenfold in response to a 10 percent drop in supply. There would have been enough to go around, but the market economy allocated food to those willing to pay the most. The rich kept eating their steaks and fueling their cars with ethanol, while the poor suffered serious malnutrition.
It turned out that the crisis years had a silver lining. First, the weather events totally changed the prevailing paradigm—people around the world realized that continued economic growth on a finite planet was impossible and that the ecological costs of continued growth outweighed the economic benefits. Something had to be done. Second, the extreme inequality and ecological degradation changed his nation’s goals. People realized that maximizing monetary value, growing Gross National Product (GNP), was perverse. The contribution of agriculture to GNP had skyrocketed when food output plunged, which made no sense whatsoever—less food made society worse off, not better. Furthermore, converting corn to ethanol to run a limousine for a rich person while the penniless masses starved was unethical, even if markets deemed it efficient. People made it through the crisis by helping each other. Society realized that it had to prioritize community over the individual and ecological sustainability and social justice over consumption. The government redefined recession as increasing levels of misery, poverty, and unemployment.”