Climate Change: it isn’t me & it isn’t you…
We can evade reality but not the consequences of evading it. ~ Ayn Rand
Right off the bat…I’m paralyzed because I chose to be paralyzed by choosing to drive when I knew I was falling asleep. Dumb doesn’t get any dumber.
The above point is crucial because I’m totally guilty of the psychological quirk I’m about to relate…and I’ve suffered for it greatly and caused my wife to suffer.
The night before the Waldo Canyon Fire flared to life in Colorado, I sat in Manitou Springs with a respected friend discussing climate change—never guessing that the following night a computerized voice on 911 would order my wife and I to leave our home at 2 a.m., or that we’d spend the next forty-eight hours camped out in my friend’s living room.
My friend questions Man’s role in causing climate change. I believe we’re guilty as Hell for wrecking our climatic balance through carbon emissions. I believe this so strongly that I’ve spent years crafting a soft sci fi/paranormal thriller that weaves its plot around the psychology of climate change denial. (“The Sibyl Reborn,” a novel)
My friend accuses me of being obsessed with fighting climate change. He’s right. My pre-injury railroad career involved avoiding railway disasters. As a railroad dispatcher, I assumed I should do whatever it took to avoid derailments, hazmat spills, or railway crossing collisions. I feel the same about doing nothing as our live-for-today-denial devastates the future for our children and our children’s children.
I discovered firsthand what can happen when we deny realities we’d rather not face—whether due to ambition, convenience, worldview beliefs or pride. The consequences of rationalizing reality to fit wants or beliefs can prove catastrophic and permanent.
Consider the Waldo Canyon Fire
Forget for a moment that global warming contributed greatly toward turning our forests into powder-keg infernos just waiting for a match, a lightning bolt, or a carelessly discarded cigarette. Consider only those who fled their homes and possessions and those who stayed behind and died.
At one point in Colorado this week, 32,000 people abandoned their homes immediately despite knowing they could lose lifetimes of memories and work. And yet they left. I suggest the inseparable futures of our planet and species might be glimpsed by comparing our response to immediate perils—like a wildfire raging out of control—against our non-response to climate change, a far greater and more permanent danger that set the stage for the Waldo Inferno–a runaway blaze from which 32,000 Coloradans instinctively ran.
We abandoned our homes because we knew in the bedrock of our souls that a wildfire cares nothing about whether we believe it exists, whether we stay in its path, or whether we take too long to make up our minds.
I don’t know why an elderly couple failed to leave their upscale home in time to stay alive. I suspect their deaths were a tragic mistake. Perhaps they told themselves this disaster wouldn’t touch their lives. Perhaps the fear of losing their home paralyzed their ability to act. Possibly they believed they had more time for making up their minds or taking action. I don’t know why they died; I only wish they hadn’t—that whatever decisions led to their loss had been decided otherwise because the effects of some decisions—whether we make them or not—can never be undone.
Your common sense surely tells you why running from the above wildfire was the only rational course for those who stood in its path. Likewise, I’m sure you can see the difference between our response to wildfires and our non-response to climate change:
One reality is vast, certain, and merciless, inescapable through denial, and immediate. The other is vast, certain, and merciless, inescapable through denial, and immediate for some while only pending in the certain futures of others—a future they refuse to face, accept responsibility for causing, or take actions toward lessening for themselves or others.
Twice a surrogate stem cells spokesperson for the GW Bush White House, J. Perry Kelly—author of The Sibyl Reborn—ended his association with the political right over its distortion of global warming for short-sighted political gain and industry profits.