For nearly 20 years I have been experiencing absolutely mystical encounters, miracles if you will. The amazing wisdom of indigenous elders and of so many people in our beautiful community has opened my heart to ways I never experienced.
That other part of my brain also exists and it is the one that walks with practical feet. I became involved with an incredible group of people who want to keep our Mother thriving and capable of supporting humankind and all our relations.
A Time of Inspiration and Hope
I just returned from lobbying our members of Congress in Washington D.C. with Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL). This was my third year to do so but the first time in the history of CCL that we have legislation in Congress. The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, H.R.763 holds hope for our future in addressing climate change. This legislation has aspects that appeal to both sides of the aisle. It can reduce our carbon footprint by 40% in 12 years and is revenue neutral and market driven towards innovation.
The most exciting thing I witnessed during my time lobbying was the movement I saw in my representatives. People are indeed waking up to the crisis we all face. People with whom I was able to meet again for the third time were opening up to us with strategies to help us get the bill passed. These same people told us they didn’t believe the problem was urgent only one year ago.
In some instances, we met representatives of states that depend on coal for nearly all their economic success. We had conversations around how we help coal miners to adjust to a whole new scenario. Some suggestions centered around abundant severance to care for the older miners who may not easily have the power to be trained in new careers. We owe these people for their lifelong service and it is completely plausible to generate the funds needed to support them. Younger miners could be trained to work in the fields of renewables and other clean jobs. They will be able to avoid the devastations of black lung disease and their children will be living in a healthier environment. Our own children in Colorado Springs have extraordinarily high rates of asthma due to pollution from the Drake power plant.
I’ve had so many people ask me why I do this. I am a retired marine research scientist from the University of California. I am also a person who absolutely holds nature as sacred, beautiful and awe inspiring. The more I learned about the consequences of our addictions to fossil fuels, the more I felt despair. I started volunteering for CCL and discovered that they were non-partisan, exceptionally well directed and that they had one issue and one issue only, to create legislation that will reduce our carbon footprint. This strategy for moving Congress is so successful in developing relationships that I was convinced that we will succeed.
So many people say, “The Earth is always changing and climate change has been around for millions of years”. These people often tell me they don’t believe climate change is real or that it isn’t caused by human activity. There are many organizations around whose entire goal is to create a belief that climate change isn’t real and they are nearly all funded by the fossil fuel companies to the tune of billions of dollars. Even some of our news people are part of this movement.
The last time the earth warmed this much was 55 million years ago during the Paleocene-Eocene era. Scientists from the Smithsonian have determined that this warming spell happened slowly over a period of 20,000 years and mass extinctions happened even though plants and animals had thousands of years to adapt.
In today’s scenario, the use of fossil fuels has triggered rapid global warming in only 200 years since the industrial revolution. Scientists in the 1800’s discovered what gases can cause the greenhouse effect. The number one gas is water vapor and we now have more in the atmosphere because the effects of CO2, methane and other emissions have warmed the earth so much that more water vapor is also added to our air. As early as the mid-1800s scientists realized that our increase in carbon in our atmosphere due to industrialization was warming our earth and yet we didn’t act upon the facts.
“The planet's average surface temperature has risen about 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit (0.9 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere. Most of the warming occurred in the past 35 years, with the warmest years on record taking place since 2010.”
If you don’t believe climate change is human caused, I challenge you to become informed. Read the solid evidence of the truth, not opinions of people. Smithsonian, NASA, NOAA and thousands of climate scientists who helped to write both the international and our national climate assessment reports offer significant proof that you can access. If you believe this is only God’s will, I ask you to be reminded that God gave us free will and choice.
Galatians 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Jeremiah 2:7 And I brought you into a plentiful land to enjoy its fruits and its good things. But when you came in, you defiled my land and made my heritage an abomination.
We need to educate ourselves in this climate of crisis so that we may create an earth that can support life here. If we move quickly we still have a chance to avoid the worst scenarios. According to scientists from NASA and others we have only a few years (not 50) in which to make a big change if we want to see the temperatures begin to decline. If we don’t meet this challenge very soon the temperatures will continue to increase beyond a stopping point.
What will this mean to our planet and for our children? We will see a world where land becomes more and more scarce due to sea level rise far beyond what we are seeing today at the same time we are supporting a population nearing 8 billion. This number is up from 2.5 billion only 65 years ago.
We will experience even more destructive storms with flooding in some areas and a spread of desertification in others. Water and food supplies will diminish rapidly. Mass human migrations WILL reach our country and national security will be stressed beyond belief. Already our floods and fires have used all the funds for our Federal Emergency Management (FEMA). People who lost their homes in the Paradise Fire and in Florida’s hurricanes are still without homes today. Remember 9 million Floridians were temporary refugees following last year’s hurricane.
In central Africa 17,000 people are migrating weekly due to drought and starvation.
If we all overcome our differences, we can see a future of abundance, we can experience a time that some of us knew when water from our taps was safe to drink, the air clean, and people secure. We have the technology to move from our addictions to fossil fuels into an era of renewables. It is inevitable that we will move to renewables. The question is: will we do it in time? Let us begin today to create a world that is safer, cleaner and beautiful for our children’s heritage.
Our greatest challenge is to overcome our ignorance.
Patricia Turner is a retired marine research scientist and the founder of the Woodland Park Chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby. They are non-partisan and welcome everyone to join us the 2nd Saturday each month from 11-1 at Woodland Park Library. Or you can visit us at the Farmer’s Market the last Friday each month through Sept. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org