February 23, 2014

Climate Change, Snow, and Government

There was an article in the New York Times a couple of Sundays ago that said, “Nothing besides a national policy shift on how we create and consume energy will keep our mountains white in the winter — and slow global warming to a safe level.” The article then went on to mourn the loss of snow cover here and there around the planet and what this might mean for the author’s love of skiing in fresh, “waist-deep powder.” He also brought up how ski resorts are struggling to stay open, how many jobs the skiing industry provides, and points out the $66 billion that the winter sports industry contributes to the national economy. I am sympathetic, but only to a point. This article is a perfect example of the kind of thinking that has gotten us into trouble with governments, with each other, and with Mother Earth. First, the appeal to government to “do something” is an appeal I see often. It reminds me of a little kid who, recognizing that he doesn’t have enough size, strength, or power to beat the neighborhood bully, appeals to his dad to “do something.” It’s like running to tattle to a higher authority with the expectation – or hope, or secret demand – that they use their power to change the situation to what you think it should be. We run to the U.S. government because it’s supposed to be the biggest, bad-est, power in the land. It is our papa, our mama, our last resort when we feel powerless. And this is exactly how government began to overstep its bounds. We began asking it to do things that government should never be invited to do. Government exists, if at all, to determine the principles by which their people should be guided – not make a string of laws that are shallow reactions to a constantly changing landscape of competitors. Second... is job creation or job maintenance the spur we should be digging into the flanks of an ailing government, or is that just beating a dead horse? Shouldn’t that spur be digging at the flanks of business? When are we going to recognize that having a job is akin to having a babysitter? With a job, we don’t have to think about responsibility for the self or the world. We just show up in order to collect that paycheck. All the real problems are someone else’s headache. Third...to demand a national policy shift on how we create and consume energy in order to keep our mountains white and slow down global warming is to demand that government enact laws to benefit big business – and isn’t that the essence of fascism? The definition of fascism is the unholy and unrestricted alliance of government and business. At what point are we going to stop insisting that the cycles of Mother Earth stop inconveniencing us? She has things she must do for herself and her own health and healing. It is clear if you study the cycles of climate change that the earth has been much colder and much warmer in the past, and it had nothing to do with the amount of carbon-based fuel being consumed. Sea level has also been both much lower and much higher, and yes, living beings were forced to change. I’m sure these climate cycles were not designed just to stress humans. And personally, I think it is the height of human arrogance to think that we can or should interfere with these cycles. If there is any change that is needed badly right now, it is the need for humans to become more flexible, more willing to shift as the climate changes. The Earth is not here for us. We are here for the Earth.