CLIMATE VOTERS NEEDED NOW
A recent news feed brought the likelihood that summer sea ice in the Arctic will be gone in 15 years. Almost a lifetime ago I remember reading dramatic, sometimes horrific, stories of hardy explorers trying to find the legendary Northwest Passage and the North Pole. These were the stories of men like Franklin, Nansen, Peary and many more who wrestled with blinding snow, frigid winds and treacherous ice sometimes struggling to their achingly cold deaths.
Soon, I can almost see it now, someone will be the first to water ski the Arctic Ocean. What will be the weather consequences? Our children and grandchildren will know. I look across the warming tundra to see an Inuit elder staring back at me with Edvard Munch’s Scream contorting his face. I am haunted by his pain,
We watch California and our Northwest burn, smoke turning the life-giving air toxic. Record heat, dry winds and deepening drought conspire to drive good people away from homes in the flame’s hungry path.
Helicopters lift frightened campers to safety, their campsites burned and gone, a weekend getaway they had never imagined. And in the smoldering ashes Ishi stands, the last of his tribe, screaming silently, racked with disbelief and loss. First his people, now his hallowed land. I am haunted by his pain.
Around the world, in China, India, Sudan, Cameroon, Japan, Korea, Louisiana and Florida flood waters run fast and deep carrying people alive just moments ago into eternity. We see survivors wade thigh, waist deep in their streets, sorting through the soggy, muddy wreckage of their lives.
Faces, so many Edvard Munch faces warp in agony. We turn away and pretend to be unfazed but we are not completely unchanged. Sometimes we donate to Doctors Without Borders.
Diesel fuel spills in the pristine Siberian Arctic. An oil tanker founders on the ecologically sensitive coast of Mauritius spilling its death-dealing oil into shallow waters. The proud people of the island rush out desperate to save their beloved, life nurturing shores.
Munch’s paintbrush rearranges those beautiful, happy faces here too, twisting them, staining their lovely faces an oily black. A supertanker named New Diamond burns spilling oil twenty-five miles from anxious Sri Lanka. I see Munch rushing there already brush in hand.
The Scream, Munch’s iconic image of anguished disbelief, spreads around the world as our fossil fuel addiction unhinges our climate turning it into something weird and fearsome. Perhaps the most grotesque brushstroke on this worldwide human canvas is the one that highlights the fact that we have it in our hands to turn this raft in space around before we drift over the thundering waterfall.
To save ourselves we need all hands on the oars. The race to adopt solar and wind energy, batteries and green hydrogen instead of the oil, gas and coal the human world has relied on way too long is off at snail’s pace. The transition from the carbon spewing infernal combustion engine to smooth, clean, reliable electric cars is barely out of the gate.
We who were once the hopeful innovators of the world have turned our political backs on self-preservation. “Drill, baby, drill”! Do we really want Munch’s paintbrush on our children’s faces? That has to be our greatest fear, it certainly is mine.
An election is coming, leadership on climate change is needed now. This time we must be climate voters in every race. The future we hand off to our children and theirs is on the line. We need state and federal action on climate change now.