Moats: Climate

Sep 11, 2018

The record that sticks in my mind came the night when Burlington never fell below 80 degrees. That’s not what you call sleeping weather.

As author and activist Bill McKibben has said, we’re not approaching the rapids of climate change. We’re right in the middle of them.

The heat has become so extreme that people are wondering if places like Kolkata, India, will continue to be habitable, not to mention Phoenix or Las Vegas

Social upheavals related to climate change are already happening in the Middle East and Africa, and people have been dying of extreme heat all around the globe.

My son in Hawaii recently endured 40 inches of rain in 72 hours. Who knows when a new disaster will strike Vermont?

Vermont is well placed geographically, though that doesn’t mean the state hasn’t been, and won’t be, touched by climate change. Severe rain storms and high winds are becoming more common and dangerous.

The crisis is so huge, it can create a sense of hopelessness, and hopelessness, we’re learning, can be as serious a problem as denial.

As the arctic melts and hurricanes rage, denial is becoming ever more untenable. Hopelessness, on the other hand, causes people to dig in — to defend their own despair by resisting change, with ever increasing anger.

It’s not a recipe for a happy life.

Another option is to look toward the human capacity for creativity, inventiveness, and community spirit. These are old-fashioned values that fall into the category of what used to be called positive thinking, and amid the cynicism and narcissism of our times, they may seem naive.

And there’s plenty of cause for cynicism. The fossil fuel industry and the power of big money may seem unconquerable. But if we’re trying to come up with a recipe for a happy life — how much more satisfying it is to engage in the fight than to give up and cower in despair. We know the technology is there.

Meanwhile, the climate is making its point with stunning clarity.

Vermont will continue to feel the effects, but as we’ve done in the past, Vermonters will pull together. That’s what the world needs to do, and we can all help make it happen.