Monday, December 18, 2017

Just Fight It (Climate Breakdown)

Tonight the Thompson Fire, the third largest in California history [Dec. 22 Update -- now largest in California history] according to Reuters' reporter Caroline Anderson, continues to spread. Anderson wrote, "It has destroyed more than 1,000 structures and threatened 18,000 more [ . . . . and]  charred [ . . . ] 267,500 acres (108,253 hectares) [. . . ] fewer than 100 miles (160 km) northwest of downtown Los Angeles. [ . . . . ] Nearly 8,500 personnel [ . . . .]  970 fire engines and 34 helicopters [ . . . . have the fire] 45 percent contained. [ . . . . ] Bakersfield Fire Department Captain Tim Ortiz described the fire as 'like nothing I’ve ever been involved with before'."  This story is being updated, and so quotes are changing.

When I was a commercial salmon troller / charter captain, my deckhand Tattoo fought large fires and described the work as exhausting.

Now, students fairly ask me "We know you wrote books about climate change, but what else have you done about it?" I say to them, as I will say to my nephews' and nieces' children, short of violence against against corporate and political climate criminals, I did what I could.

I gave climate change science / poetry readings, and question / answer sessions, at colleges, and other places, in Washington, Oregon, and California; wrote letters and articles for newspapers, wrote "Manifesto from Poet on a Dying Planet,"; held a fundraiser for Houston Food Bank after Hurricane Harvey; marched with other climate activists, served as a member of SanDiego.350's coordinating committee for the Road Through Paris action; edited for SanDiego.350; taught a Climate Change Poetry Seminar with more scheduled; used climate breakdown themes 14 years in English 205 Critical Thinking courses; made a Website to inspire young people; invited a climate writer to Mesa College for a public and YouTube presentation; gave a public showing of Chasing Ice followed by question / answer / discussion session; answered climate questions from other anglers; posted climate videos by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Pope Francis, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the band Coldplay, and Morgan Freeman; participated in, and presented at, a UCSD Faculty Climate Change Curriculum Workshop and Networking Event; called TV news stations on behalf of San Diego area tribes in solidarity with water protectors near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, and later called former North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple's office and argued for rights of water protectors; made other phone calls; sent letters; attended other climate marches in Los Angeles and San Diego; held a sign to President Obama as he rode a few feet away on his way to a La Jolla fundraiser; sent climate change books to Governor Jerry Brown; gave radio, newspaper, phone, and email interviews in the U. S. and Australia; read to over 500 climate activists at a December 12, 2016, Rally for Climate Justice in San Diego’s Balboa Park; rescued wild salmon and steelhead smolts trapped in stone pools away from their drought-affected rivers in Oregon and Washington; researched San Diego Mesa College investments then unsuccessfully fought the College to divest from coal and/or oil sands industries as UCSD did along with many other colleges worldwide; deleted emails from people posing as relatives, childhood friends, and colleagues while attempting to crash my four computers; met with other writers and artists working to reduce climate change; in official meetings asked the college where I teach to convert the entire curriculum to climate breakdown preparation for students; and helped honors students publish a book of climate breakdown poems.

Speaking of climate breakdown, Abby Rabinowitz and Amanda Simson a week ago published a Wired article "The Dirty Secret of the World’s Plan to Avert Climate Disaster" in which they noted, "without emissions cuts, global temperatures are projected to rise by 4°C by the end of the century. Many scientists are reluctant to make predictions, but the apocalyptic litany of what a 4°C world could hold includes widespread drought, famine, climate refugees by the millions, civilization-threatening warfare, and a sea level rise that would permanently drown much of New York, Miami, Mumbai, Shanghai, and other coastal cities. [par] But here’s where things get weird. The UN report envisions 116 scenarios in which global temperatures are prevented from rising more than 2°C. In 101 of them, that goal is accomplished by [geoengineering also known as] sucking massive amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere—a concept called 'negative emissions'—chiefly via [ . . . . ] “bioenergy with carbon capture and storage” [also known as . . . . ] BECCS. And in these scenarios to prevent planetary disaster, this would need to happen by midcentury, or even as soon as 2020. Like a pharmaceutical warning label, one footnote warned that such 'methods may carry side effects and long-term consequences on a global scale.'"

Uh-huh. Three days ago I watched a YouTube of Stefan Rahmstorf, Potsdam University Professor of Physics of the Oceans, speaking at the 2017 Bonn Climate Conference. He said regarding carbon in the atmosphere, "We are now about 400 ppm. This increase is entirely caused by human activity. CO2 levels are now higher than at any time in at least three million years. [ . . . . ] Now, the diagnosis, though, is not very good. [ . . . ] We are filling the atmosphere with CO2 like you would fill a bathtub with water. [ . . . ]  If we wait [ . . .] until 2025 [to significantly reduce carbon] we are basically facing a cliff and we won't make the Paris goals [of 1.5 to 2.0 above pre-industrial levels to save some of Earth's coral reefs]. [Regarding avoiding climate disaster through aforementioned geoengineering, he said] "I'll believe it when I see it."

Given the reality of this situation, my advice is to rest your Twitter, Facebook, and iPhone. Next, ask parents, uncles, aunts, mayors, governors, senators, representatives, priests, pastors, other religious leaders, and elders what they have done to reduce carbon. Join a local group, or some other group such as Olympic Climate Action, working on solutions. You will meet great inspiring people.

Coleman Barks' translation below of "An Empty Garlic" by Rumi notes, "You miss the garden,/[. . . .]  joking with an old crone./[. . . .] Death will open your eyes/to what her face is: Leather spine/of a black lizard." Replace "a black lizard" with "an oil industry" and you get the idea.

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