Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Handling the Emotions of a Rough August

August has been a hard environmental month. The start of September hasn't been any better with Hurricane Dorian rearing its ugly this past weekend, dumping copious amounts of water and destruction over the Bahamas, and now moving along the East Coast with its ultimate landing yet to be determined.

What makes it both maddening, saddening, and worse: all of the events of the last month have essentially come at human hands, emphasizing the perils we pose to the planet. A brief synopsis:

1. Iceland's Glacial Funeral
Funerals are always hard. No one likes seeing the passing of someone (or something) important. The same holds true when glaciers cease to exist, all because of a warming that should not be.

2.  The Wildfires of the Amazon
My son was highly perturbed by the lack of news about the fires in the Amazon rainforest. In fact, he brought it to my attention days before it came on the national news front (having seen it along social media). Sadly, the news cycles in a way to show our priorities, and sadly climate change and planetary problems often fall lower on the news hierarchy than a lot of other published pieces.

3. But wait, there's more!
These are the other climate events that have occurred this past summer. Ones that didn't get quite as much news coverage. I ran across them in the August 28th WGBH article "Flooding, Melting And On Fire: 6 Stories That Show The Dramatic Impact Of Climate Change Now" by Emily Judem. In it, along with mentioning the Amazon fires, Judem details 5 other news-worthy climate events this past August. Everyone of them ultimately came about at the hands of humans, over time. Listed here are the main stories Judem shared (but you should read her whole article linked above):
Judem also mentioned some other "minor," even less-publicized incidences such as home-destroying rains and floods in Freetown, Sierra Leone and destructive wildfires in Indonesia, the Canary Island, Greece, Turkey, and France.

All of this follows NOAA's announcement that July 2019 was the hottest month on record. Hottest. Month. Ever. It's still early in September, so time will tell where August 2019 falls in the record books. And just like the August events listed above, July also had its own climate anomalies.

*Sigh*  It's heavy. And disheartening. And a whole lot of bad news.

* * *

As I was pondering all of this, I was sharing my concerns with a very dear and equally die-hard environmental friend. While we were commiserating via email this past weekend about the weight of it all, I shared with her a text from my middle-school son. Last week he texted me at work asking me if it was true that we only have around 17 months to fix our planet before it's past fixable. That's a lot of weight for someone so young. I answered him as best as I could, but it left me wondering what to do with all of this weight, other than bury my head in the sand or curl up in the fetal position due to the fatigue of such fatalistic news.

Ironically, in the exchange with my friend, we both landed upon the same conclusion--simultaneously, while separate. When we continued our conversation, we discovered that we were (again) of like minds. She stated it so much more succinctly than I did:
"I saw a scientist on NPR last week who was giving all kinds of climate change information, but he was so optimistic. He didn't talk about 'we missed our chance' or 'if we don't do it by this amount of time...' or anything like that. So I got to thinking: why not be optimistic? Anything we do will help to make it less worse. What's the alternative? Why not be optimistic? Not ostrich optimistic. We have to travel through this life until we die. I don't want to spend my time being fearful, regretful, and defeated. We have to keep caring and pushing and doing. And voting."
Yes. I came to that same place of optimism as I was staring at my trees from the happy place of my pool this Labor Day, and again later as I was biking through a local park. We can't get consumed by the doom and gloom--as easy as it feels to land there. We have to embrace the hopeful variety of optimism, because truly, what other choice is there. We have to fight for it by doing everything we can. We need to get outdoors and encourage our loved ones (both our young ones and our older ones) to get outside, to appreciate the beauty and magnitude of our planet. By loving it, we will protect it. By becoming stewards and by building young stewards, we can make a positive benefit. We can create the next generation that may actually be able to show us all how change happens. Perhaps it's in feeling the potential loss that we can all actually reach out, grab it, and protect it like never before!

We owe it to ourselves, our future generations, and our planet itself!

Emily Judem's article which was heavily referenced here:;  Video from
Images from and and and

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