I'm still waiting for the arrival of my copy of George Monbiot's widely praised book about global warming, _Heat: How to Stop The Planet from Burning_, but I don't expect it to contain too many things I disagree with. Here's a quote from a review that I think is particularly telling,
"We wish our governments to pretend to act," he writes. "We get the moral satisfaction of saying what we know to be right, without the discomfort of doing it. My fear is that the political parties in most rich nations have already recognized this. They know that we want tough targets, but that we also want those targets to be missed. They know that we will grumble about their failure to curb climate change, but that we will not take to the streets. They know that nobody ever rioted for austerity."
You can read the rest of the review here http://www.alternet.org/envirohealth/46318/, but if we're honest, it doesn't tell you much that we didn't already know. That is, the 60% reduction in emissions required to stabilize global warming before the planet turns into Venus really means 80 or more reductions in emissions for those of us in the western world, since it is not fair to screw people who use energy for running water and the occasional antibiotic out of their share, so that we can have our cars and vacations. That that means a bunch of hard, hard, serious choices, that are only even remotely possible because the alternative is to be dead - to have your children be dead, and your grandchildren. To have the coasts of the world be uninhabitable and people starving because of drought and flooding.
Dick Cheney said that the American way of life is non-negotiable. Well, we're about to find out - will we negotiate, or would we rather die, and kill our children and grandchildren than give up our airplane travel, our microbrews, our vacations, our private cars, our shopping habit?
Now I think Monbiot is right on the money about what most people, including most "environmentalists" really want - they want the perception of trying to change without actually doing anything hard. We don't want to admit that what we really need is a totally different way of life. But sometimes reality confronts us, whether we like it or not, and this is reality, unbearable or not.
COWARDS!!! Not just you, but me, and all of us are engaged in a "Mommy, can't I just have five more minutes and two more drinks of water" bit of whining with the blunt reality of what we have done to our world. We've partied, we've spent what we had and mortgaged our children's future and now we're desperately trying to bum a buck from someone because, as James Kunstler has eloquently put it,
"The signal failure of public debate in this country is embodied in our obsession with this particular theme -- how to keep the cars running by other means at all costs. Everybody from the greenest enviros to the hoariest neoliberal free market pimps believe that this is the only thing we need to worry about or talk about. The truth, of course, is that we have to make other arrangements for virtually all the major activities of everyday life -- farming, commerce, transport, settlement patterns -- but we are so over-invested in our suburban infrastructure that we cannot face this reality."
Well guess what, sometimes reality is reality, and it doesn't always negotiate with what we'd like it to be. I'm 34 years old, I have four kids under 7, and I'd love to believe that they can have long distance travel and vacations, private cars and the wealthy lifestyle I've enjoyed. But I'll settle for having them live, and if I am too damned big a coward to give up my luxuries for that, I deserve to pay the price in hell, if there is one.
Read Monbiot's book. Look at your life, and realize that every single thing you do has a carbon cost. Every book you buy, every toy, every drive, every plane flight, every meal, every shopping trip. Look at it and think "how can I, and everyone, do 80% less. And when you get to the point of answering, as I am "I have no freakin' idea, but I have to try" that's the beginning. And it is easier for all of us if a lot of us try at once. It is easier to get out and grow food if others are there to help. It is easier to give up flying to visit family members, to weddings, on vacation, if others are there to understand. It is easier to give up driving if there are thousands of other people committed to the same change. Heck, with enough of us, we can even ask the idiots who mostly run things to make it a little easier for us. But we can't wait for them.
It is time to stop being pathetic cowards and confront the dark reality we've created. Deal.