This I Believe
The woman who coordinates the adult education classes through our local high school sits across from me, asking, ‘What qualifies you to conduct classes in climate change? What makes you think someone will enroll?” Legitimate questions. I am not a scientist, teacher, engineer or a trained specialist. I have no formal expertise or credibility that would stand up on a professional resume.
Is ‘passion’ an answer?
This is an unprecedented offering to our community. But these are unprecedented times. Never before, that we know of, has human activity backed the planet into a corner from which it may not recover. The idea to hold classes to discuss global warming with others and educate ourselves grew out of a desire to address growing concerns I have over our planet’s capacity to withstand the unrelenting stresses thrust upon it. From the growing consensus of data and of planetary experts sounding an alarm of warning. It amazes me how much of Dr Seuss’s writings parallel life. It is like “Horton Hears A Who.” Many are making a wake up call to the masses, but not enough of us are listening. Whoville was saved in time, will we be?
I have lived the realm of the environmentalist; from radical leanings (I subscribed to ‘Earth First’ until it went too far) to cynicism (What’s the point of anything? There’s too much greed, corruption and political shenanigans, we’re doomed) to confusion (What is truth, hype, real, imagined, misleading, useless?) to fear (There’s nothing inconvenient about the truth, it is rather downright horrifically scary!!! ‘The Irreconcilable Truth’ is more like it. How about ‘The Unavoidable Truth’) to hope (For if we lose that, way smarter people than me have said, ‘All is then lost.’)
Fact is I have no idea who will come. I haven’t done surveys, polls, statistical data gathering or promoted this to determine the extent of interest that people in my community might participate. What, if anything, does attendance say about our willingness as the represented masses to become involved or informed? Will coming enlighten or change anyone who attends? Did watching ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ change anyone who attended? Doubtless those who sat through it were profoundly affected by it. But the risky thing about affecting humans is, like a glass of wine, the feel wears off. As days pass and life goes on in seemingly the same way it did before you watched the movie, you forget. Like any horror movie, the scare goes away as routine returns to your days.
I search my heart for an answer to her question. If we truly are flirting with disaster, I believe that people care and that we need to empower ourselves with the motivation and the will to divert it. That we need excellent information, strong, ethical leadership and a willingness to alter our lives in unprecedented ways, without the luxury of a lot of time to do so. This, I believe, should be a mandate on every threshold, in every community.
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