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Jul30

A Movie About Climate Change

BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD

… is one of the weirdest movies I have ever seen!  A remnant of Louisiana culture resists mandatory evacuation from the part of the state that is sinking back into the sea.  Our six-year old heroine, Hush Puppy, understands all too well that human beings are creatures subject to the same laws as animals, fish, crustaceans and insects, who all run wild, then die.  She has seen in a classroom video that the glaciers are melting.  And the water is coming the water is coming the water is coming—there is nothing that her family or hard-scrabble community can do to stop it.

This is not a pleasant show.  In addition to just about everything else we want to deny, it does take on climate change, though.  I am good at grim, so to comfort myself, I skipped from the particular to the even-more-alarming general picture, as presented by Bill McKibben’s recent article in the Rolling Stone.

Here are the figures that matter right now to McKibben.

In June alone, over two thousand records were set in the US for high temperatures.

The countries of the planet have managed to agree that we need a top limit of two degrees Celsius (about 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) for increased temperatures worldwide.

So far, humanity has increased the planet’s temperature by about .8 degrees Celsius.  The damage has been worse than the scientists expected.

At the most we can spare about 525 more gigatons of carbon emissions.

BUT the amount of carbon in proven coal, oil and gas finds is 2,795 gigatons.  Five times higher!

This represents $27 trillion in profits for the fossil fuel companies.

If you listened to the scientists and kept 80% of this in the ground, by working hard and fast on cleaner energy (Germany just managed to generate almost half its electricity on a sunny Saturday in May from solar–yay!), THEN THE FOSSIL FUEL COMPANIES WOULD LOSE $20 TRILLION IN ASSETS.  Guess what?  They do not want that to happen.

It’s the old story—capitalism run amok threatens the world’s safety.  This time, though, it’s not social science (dialectics), but actual science (and math).

How to cheer up, between the depressing movie and the even more depressing facts?  WHAT TO DO??

McKibben, citing the demise of apartheid as the most significant accomplishment of the twentieth century, says we have to disinvest the oil industry.  Not buy fuel-efficient cars and use fluorescent light bulbs, because there is no individual solution, no. TAKE AWAY THEIR MONEY.  BOYCOTT THEIR STOCK.  SHUN THEIR EXECUTIVES.  NO MORE TAX BREAKS.  STOP THE KEYSTONE PIPELINE.

Yikes, the list goes on and on.  The largest movement for social justice, aka survival, in the history of the world.   History teaches us that this can be done.  Not perfectly, not easily, but yes!

Hush Puppy—and all the other children of the world—it’s like your teacher told you.  We—the human species—does know how to survive.  It is just a matter of will.

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8 Comments

  1. Rev. Earl

    The jury is still out on whether we know how to survive. 350′s plan is great, but will probably not be sufficient. Consider other activism as well.

    1. barbararhine

      Hi Reverend Earl–what further ideas do you have for action on this issue that go beyond the program suggested by 350.org?

      1. Rev. Earl

        Glad to hear u r planning to attend 12/4. Look fwd to c’ing u there.

        1. barbararhine

          Will post a piece on my blog tomorrow that mentions the meeting on 12/4, so pass it on to folks. Maybe it will get a few more to attend. One never knows…

      2. Rev. Earl

        Wow. More than I can answer here. In California, protect AB 32 and help to implement SB 375. Nationally, find out what are the critical environmental and environmental (ecological) justice issues in your community, region, and state and join with other activists in addressing the needs. Thru this education process, you’ll find no shortage of activities. The challenge will be to determine which align best w/ your skills and interests.

        1. barbararhine

          Hi Rev. Earl,

          So, in part to respond to your comment that even McKibben’s program is not enough, I have written a ten-day climate change diary, which I plan to post tomorrow. Hope you will check it out and comment and pass it along and ask others to comment. Climate change is on my mind every single day, as I know it is on yours, but it is easy to become immobilized by the seeming impossibility of the task. That problem is what I try to address in my diary. Let me know what you think, okay?

  2. Catherine

    So true, Barbara. Our leader may all very well agree “that we need a top limit of two degrees Celsius” – if we don’t take massive concrete actions to walk our talk, we will continue on this self-destructive path. We need to make our voices heard to governments and corporations worldwide and demand radical changes.

    1. barbararhine

      Wow–I just feel a little better every time someone agrees with me on the urgency of all this. Planning to attend a meeting of the Bay Area 350.org for local update on December 4, 7-9, Ed Roberts Center, Ashby BART station. Wanna come?

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