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Monday, November 11, 2013

Climate Chaos, the Lowdown in a 40 minute video

Guy's Climate Chaos Presentation
This is the full 40 min. presentation that Dr Guy McPherson has been giving the past several months around the country.  It does need to be constantly updated due to the constantly increasing self reinforcing feedbacks.   You will see subtitles indicating the updates.

What are self reinforcing feedbacks?
They are positive feedbacks in the climate.
Positive you say? That sounds great!
Nooooo, sorry.  Positive, in this case, means bad. Very, very, very bad.

:(

Yes, exactly.

But check out the trailer here to see what it's all about.  It's just a minute long.

Trailer


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Working on a Documentary

I'm going to make a documentary... Why?  Here's why.

When I first heard Guy McPherson's lecture on Near Term Human Extinction I was overwhelmed with a flood of emotions and thoughts.  Here I was, a mom, a teacher, an artist, and an activist trying to do the right thing, trying to turn the tides for all beings, being involved in numerous activities, protests, actions and organizations, especially lately in the Transition Town movement, and then discovering, to my deep chagrin, putting it lightly, than perhaps I should be spending more time playing with my family... Since our days are, most likely, numbered.  And soon. Like in maybe even seven years...

What does one do with such news? How does one process information that one is terminal?
I think of my mother who lost her battle with breast cancer 23 years ago.  I remember her fight and how many times I wished she could have spoken with me about death and dying.  I offered her my ear, my shoulder, my strength but she courageously refused to discuss the possibility that she might actually die. It wasn't an option for her.  Apparently the cancer gods thought otherwise and took away my best friend, who died with many secrets and stories untold.  She died without sharing her story, the good and the bad of it, because she refused to believe she was going to die.

It's been five months since hearing Guy's lecture and the first was the hardest for me and my friends who also heard Guy's lecture in Mt Kisco, NY. There were many tears and hugs and more tears, and discussions, and connecting and sharing, and more tears.  I can imagine the first month of knowing would be hard for any terminal patient, but then you shift and either accept the truth or live in denial, which I hear is not just a river in Egypt. (ba-da-boom, ching! roars of laughter and some hisses from comedy snobs)  We went though the K├╝bler Ross stages of grief and most of us came through the other side to acceptance. Acceptance isn't always an easy stage to be in, however, and it comes with its own variety of crises and emotional turmoil.  Also, we tend to shift back to bargaining and anger when we are feeling weak, or frustrated.

Yes, I know some came away with the reaction "That's all crap. No one knows what the future holds."
And even, "He shouldn't be allowed to share that information. It's too terrible and it could be wrong." However, for those of us who have been in the environmental trenches and fighting the good fight and are paying attention, we see the truth of the evidence that Guy displayed for us.  We see the connections and the lack of will in the leaders of this nation and the world at large to reverse the trajectory we are on.  We see the lost time, the missed opportunities and we see the growing crisis in the global climate, and in the quest for more energy at any cost, even the entire planet.

I keep hoping that a miracle will happen and something we haven't thought of will save us humans or some of the "us" of this beautiful planet, i.e. the billions of creatures that live here alongside us humans.  I keep hoping that there are gods, angels, saints or bodhisattvas to guide and protect us, but it seems they've all gone on vacation to another dimension and left us to wallow in our insanity.

There are those who have embraced the techno-miracle rescue-at-the-last-minute, because, well, you know, over the last 30 years of knowing we were burning up the planet no one bothered to come up with any techno-fantasy miracles.... So of course "they," whoever "they" are, will certainly come up with it now in the eleventh hour... Sadly, the only big techno-fantasy solution being bantered about now by the IPCC is Geo-engineering, a terrifying prospect that has obviously never been tried and has potentially more catastrophic results than just leaving everything alone... Because, from the little history I know as a history teacher, anytime humans tried to fix something, they only made it worse... It's wiser to follow Hippocrates' advice and first, do no harm, aka, slowly put it down, and step away from your techno-fantasy toys, boys...

Short of a miracle, what we do have left on our journey into the abyss is each other and what Dr Guy McPherson refers to as the opportunity to live lives of excellence and authenticity, compassion and empathy for all living things, not just us humans.  It is this path of excellence, authenticity, empathetic action and courageous acceptance of the mostly inevitable abyss that awaits us that I am keenly interested in and want to document to share with others.   Of the many hats that I wear as a human at her mid century age mark, one of them is as a photographer and TV producer. I hold a degree in Radio and TV production, worked for ABC for four years, and directed, produced and developed several Cable access shows here in NY.  I have re-donned this hat and have been closely (sort of) following Dr McPherson on his journeys to present this message of living a life of excellence in the face of catastrophe.  My journeys have taken me to his fabled Mud Hut in New Mexico, to Taos NM, To Mt Shasta CA where I met another documentarian, Michael Sosebee, who made a film about Guy, "Somewhere in New Mexico, Before the End of Time," and most recently De Pauw University in Indiana, where Guy's presentation that I am editing together, was held.

Thus far I have traveled and worked on my own dime, and singly without assistance, relying on my savings.  I use a Canon XA10 to film, and a Canon Rebel DSLR to photograph and shoot some video. These are light cameras, both with 1080dpi,  easy to cary into the field and easy on the pocketbook. I have a Rhode camera mic with shot gun capability, and a lavaliere mic which makes all the difference in sound quality.  The next journey I am contemplating on joining Dr McPherson on is to a workshop at an agroforestry center, Frutas del Mundo, in Guatemala at the  Next Step Seminar.
 Such a journey will require considerably more equipment and an assistant to help me. The flight alone for two people will cost approx $2000 round trip.  That's what I'm hoping to raise since it will mean time away from home, children, pets, jobs (if we have them), and will require support systems at home as well for both my assistant and me.


Any donation amount helps, no amount is too small.  Except for negative amounts.  ;)
Just click on the Donate button to the right of this blog to send love and positivity our way!

You can check out my Vimeo page where I have some videos of Guy posted from previous journeys.
And more to come soon.

Thank you for your support.

Pauline



Thursday, August 1, 2013

Guy McPherson's Blog, Nature Bats Last, is down


Guy's page at http://www.guymcpherson.com/ has been down since yesterday.
No explanation.  He's trying to fix it.  The theory is that it has purposely been brought down,
and that it is under attack.  It wouldn't be the first time our govt. trashed the constitution, and impinged on our right to free speech.  Here's Guy's most recent article at Transition Voice exposing the indiscriminate spying on American citizens and shredding of our Constitutional rights: Disobedience, The True Foundation of Democracy 

Here is one possible reason having this as public knowledge scares the crap out of our fascist govt: Pentagon Prepares for Unrest


Many of Guy's supporters, including Michael C. Ruppert, long familiar with govt interference in his free speech, have suggested mirroring to help Guy get out the truth he shares.  
Robin Westenra has done exactly that on his blog page.   

Here is all the truth you can handle, and that the PWTB don't want you to know about.




Thursday, June 27, 2013

Letter to my County Legislator, Peter Harckham



I just read a letter from my county legislator, Peter Harckham, a dear friend and excellent public servant.   In it he lambasted our  Westchester county executive Rob Astorino for not doing his job. You can read it Here.

Here is my reply to Peter:


Hi Peter,
hope you're doing well!
Sorry I won't be able to make your fundraiser, but I'm sending my best to you with my good friend Lisa Silver.

I read your Astorino critique in the local paper and I must agree with you 1000%.
The man is an outrage. 
And the people who swallow his fear mongering swill, function out of fear and ignorance.  

Affordable housing is for our adult children, our senior parents, our first responders, our teachers, and if he and his swillers can't see that, then it's up to you (sorry) to make that evident to the folks of Westchester, perhaps the most expensive county to live in,  in the USA. 
My ex and I subsidize our two adult children's living arrangements!  It's not fair to any of us!  At their age, my husband and I owned our own first home and were starting a small family.  They won't have that opportunity  for years to come! 

Here's the sad catch, however.  It won't matter if there are 700 units of 7000 affordable housing units if, as you  mention, we don't address waste water, land use, and energy. (Not to mention foreclosure rates!)

As long as we insist on building ANY new homes or apartments with outdated systems (like any house being built right now, for instance) and methods, and not Grey water systems, composting toilets and solar water heaters and pumps,  then we are just digging ourselves deeper into the mess of predicaments we are already  embedded in. 

If we are to make any kind of dent in our collective carbon footprints, and get on the path to some kind 
of sustainability (whatever that means anymore) it must come with any new construction. 
ALL new construction should be required at the very LEAST, to have grey water systems,
composting toilets, permaculture based grounds and gardens, and solar water heaters and pumps.
Not to mention construction materials should be sustainable and durable to last longer than a decade, and be cold and heat insulating, water resistant and hurricane resistant.  
It's just a no-brainer.   And I haven't heard PEEP about that from anyone! Not even the greenies!  
Surprisingly.  
NWEAC and SWEAC barely give lip service to these types of improvements. Everyone seems fixated on solar panels and renewable energy, talk a lot about hydrofracking,  but have forgotten our basic bodily functions. 
We are perpetual waste machines.  It's as simple as that and we need to address that reality… Now. 

But that's only if we want to get to the next decade without going extinct… 
(We are in the 6th great extinction & it's far more accelerated than the one the Dinosaurs experienced which took 30,000-80,000 years to complete…Some scientists expect ours to take a few hundred years or less!...)

It's that critical!  And you know it and I know it. 

And anyway, it's probably too late regardless of what we do, but it's worth a try to save SOMETHING of the planet for our girls.  Naturally, closing Indian Point before energy collapse happens, is a priority for many of us.  It takes energy to run the darn thing.  Anything could knock it out.  Anything!
EMP, solar flare, earthquake, hurricane, nut jobs, a boring old power outage, etc.  What happens when that power grid goes off?   Poof.  Tens of millions of people and their property gone. 
And Entergy owners living far away get to shake their heads at us sadly, "It was inconceivable that could happen!"  
Riiiiight.  Meanwhile, we subsidize their greed with our lives and our land.   Outrageous arrangement. 

But I digress..

The climate predictions are dire and the food system is in serious jeopardy. Which is why I say ANY new housing needs to incorporate a permaculture food system.  Fruit trees, not ornamental trees.
Berry bushes and diverse evergreen ground covers, not a monoculture of grass, though it should be included. 
Zoning to allow for chickens, bees, miniature goats and the like; rather than raking nice people like me over the coals for keeping four pathetic chickens on nearly half an acre.  
 (Seriously.   That was annoying.  And I'm still angry and hurt and I won't forget or forgive...)
 Perennial plantings that are edible super foods, like  Asparagus, Rhubarb, Elderberry,Honey berry, Hardy Kiwi, etc. etc. etc.  
And offering people the training to care for their new  living arrangements,  a truly sustainable living arrangement that bonds them to their community, to their homes and to the land. Actually being LOCAL, and not just tossing the words around. Like so many do.  

 The old outdated thinking that sees lawns as a sign of prestige, potable water good to waste on human waste,  septic tanks as practical, water as coming only from a tap (on site ponds and rain water barrels are alternate sources) &  fluoridated and chlorinated,  or garbage as something to be disappeared rather than composted, needs to be eviscerated from our minds and from our midst.   We need a new fresh start!  

But again, only if we want to make it to the next decade… Or maybe even the next year…

I noticed this spring a dearth of squirrels and no chipmunks in Katonah.  I saw my first two squirrels finally last week. 
Still no chipmunks however and I'm outside a lot. These are the small signs of bigger problems closing in. 
The canaries in the coal mine are dropping like flies… 

The West is about to hit the hottest temps in history and that won't be good for food crops that
we depend on as a nation. Last year farmers were feeding their cattle candy because they had NO corn or feed.  Many slaughtered their cattle prematurely so they would have enough feed for the surviving cattle. 
We are in a ten year drought cycle.   I remind you that the Dust Bowl drought was only seven years long… 
 Once the food prices spike, we won't be able to get anything done. 
No affordable housing, no composting toilets, no solar panels, no Hilltop Hanover Farm, no parks, no sewers, no deer maintenance, no highway funding, no nothing. 

And you know what will happen when oil spikes again…   
Great Recession?  Ha!  
You think we can bear another Great Depression on top of the one we are still in? Regardless of the claims that we have been out of it for a few years, my friends, family and I are just not seeing it.  Our many diverse attempts at devising new sources of income can attest to what we're actually seeing, compared to what we are being TOLD  we are seeing.   You can't fool all of the people all of the time. And I don't mean YOU, personally, I mean the Obama administration. 

I have just about run out of hope for our species and need something to hope for.   
Peter, my friend, how can we who are connected to the land and to our communities and practicing actual sustainable living methods and local economics help you?

Please let me know, because I can see you guys and gals "running" things need a heck of a lot of help right now… 

If nothing else, some need a whack on the back of the head.  I'm ready, willing and able for that job. 
I am a mom, after all, we get lots of practice whacking kids across the back of heads. Lovingly, of course. 




With warm regards

Pauline Schneider


The video embedded features Dr Guy McPherson, professor emeritus of University of Arizona giving a lecture on climate change and Near Term Human Extinction predicted to occur in the next decade or two. You read that right... You can find out more at his blog, Nature Bats Last


Sunday, June 9, 2013

Exeunt Stage Left, or 400 Reasons to Cry


Dr Guy R.McPherson and the author at
the Age of Limits Conference in May, 2013
May 2013, has moved me like no other month has ever in my life.
There was that day when I felt an ominous sense of grief overcome me, a deep sinking feeling for no reason at all and I stopped what I was doing to analyze it. I knew in the core of my soul that something was wrong, terribly wrong in the world and that soon the news would inform me of it. I mentioned this to a couple friends so they would remember later.
Barely a day went by when I heard that we had reached a global 400ppm CO2 level and it was then that I knew why my body had reacted with such instinctive sorrow.  We were doomed.
I'd had a similar reaction during the morning of 9/11 when the first tower fell.
I was in a Yoga class an hour away from the city and we knew that a plane had crashed into the towers, but we didn't know what kind of plane and we thought it was an accident so we decided to continue our class.  However at one point I felt my heart break and I gasped and told everyone in the room that I felt as though something terrible had just happened. It was my Obi Wan Kenobi moment.  Everyone stared at me as though I were nuts but when we left the class and turned our car radios on we heard the horrifying news.

I can't explain how I intuitively felt these two terrible events in the core of my being, except perhaps through the spiritual writing of John O'Donohue, in his book Anam Cara where he describes humans as the Earth that has sprouted legs, ears, eyes and arms to walk around and look back at herself and be a witness.  If we are Earth, and molecularly we are the Earth the Moon and the Stars, then perhaps there is some deep, emotional or unconscious connection to each other and to our planet and to all its living beings.  People wonder why there is so much depression, grief and suicide these days, however, one could ask the opposite, how come there isn't more? When faced with the geopolitical chaos, the climate chaos, the corporate fascist chaos, and the alarming rate of species extinction, one wonders why anyone sticks around for the final act.  Ironically, when people do take note of this chaos everywhere, they are often poo poohed and hushed as being nuts, told everything is going to work out,  told to be thankful for how lucky they are not to live in Darfur, Bangladesh, Rwanda, China, told there's not enough evidence (despite droughts, fires, floods, hurricanes, etc), and to go check out the ballgame. It's enough to drive a woman (or man) to drink.

If 400ppm CO2 wasn't enough to rock my world, new information I was going to get would be even more interesting; a la Chinese curse, as in, may you live in interesting times.

Just days after our planet got hotter at 400ppm CO2 (the least level it will remain at for 1000 years), I learned a new phrase, Near Term Extinction (NTE), and that we have as little as five (5), maybe ten, or even,  optimistically, 20 years of life left on Earth. Complete extinction for all life on Earth is not only a possibility, but more than likely to occur and that any humans left on Earth beyond 2030 would be hard to imagine. I heard this from Dr Guy R. McPherson, Professor Emeritus of Natural Resources and Ecology & Evolutionary Biology who sacrificed his career and a family to tell the truth that no one else will.  He's kind of the Jesus of Climate Chaos and often just as crucified for simply offering information that's not even from his own research. Don't shoot the messenger!
Here is a brief talk he gave in Westchester.

These next years will be harsh years, to put it mildly, filled with famine, climate chaos, disease and war,  most likely over water; not an ideal place to bring up a kid, or to drop off your enemy, no less. You can hear the full presentation Dr McPherson gave at the Age of Limits conference in PA here: Guy McPherson at Age of Limits   For such a serious and soul wrenching topic, he delivers it with wit, humor and compassion.  A climate scientist in the audience joins in to agree that NO ONE IS PAYING ATTENTION, certainly not the media.

Dr McPherson pointed out that the three ways of exiting this chaos will be; Predation, starvation, or suicide.  I would add going down swinging, but maybe that's included in the predation part...  None of these grand exits are what we expected for our children, or ourselves all those years ago when we were planning our lives, families, futures, retirements (better cash out that 401K).  The Dr. planned ahead more wisely and made a conscious decision to not have children.  However, as a college professor he probably had more children than the Old Woman who Lived in a Shoe, and he thinks of those students every day.

 My heart broke at this information, my head spun and I felt like nothing really mattered anymore, at least not anything inconsequential. Who cares if a glass breaks, or kids come over without telling me, or what some idiot on TV said.  The only thing that mattered were my kids. So I wrote about that, and my new friend, Dr Guy R. McPherson posted it on his blog.  Here it is:  When Faced with Apocalypse, What's a Mother to Do?

I now spend a part of my day crying, a part of it paralyzed and rooted to the ground where I stand wondering what to do next, and a part trying to function normally (remember to smile and shake hands).  Having a normal conversation with someone who doesn't know about NTE almost makes me want to scream; Because I can't really tell them about it unless they've had the years of ecological knowledge scaffolding to prep them. Most don't have that scaffolding, so don't get it.   I've tried. It's like trying to explain Nuclear fusion(fission?) to me.  I'm certainly not telling my kids about it, teenager or adult aged.  The worst part is talking to a beloved friend and feeling tears well up while chatting about the mundane.  They just are so beautiful, these people, to imagine them gone is heart-wrenching.

I found that music, dance and laughter is healing, and I take a break from the harsh reality to release the sorrow and the stress with some great music, dancing around the room, or hearing a comedian (all sources are welcome). I keep wondering if I should be running away somewhere? Fight or flight?  All my Peak Oil Collapse preparations seem childish and futile, and I find myself apologizing to the trees around my home, to the birds in them, to the flowers blooming at my feet. "I'm so, so sorry," I say, like Dr Who says to someone he cannot save...  Dr Who Saying Sorry     I am responsible for my species' bad behavior, and I am really damn sorry.

Many of us in my community are reeling at this information, wondering what to do next, why bother doing anything? Some even denying it, or rejecting the information certain of a techno-rescue of some sort. Some of us are plotting an escape, a clever way around Near Term Extinction. We are wading our ways through Elizabeth Kubler-Ross's stages of grief, but there is an addendum to this path of grief that never existed before;  When we are gone this time, there will be no one to remember us, to grieve us, to sing songs about how hard we fought and how bravely we tried to save the planet.  We will just be ashes on the bone of space, with only the stars, our creators, to stare coldly back at us.   That's quite a pill to swallow.
It takes a strong draught of malt to get it down...

So what the hell should we do?
I think each of us will have to wrestle with this personal question: How do we choose to exit?

Exeunt is a latin term for a theater direction indicating a group of actors to leave the stage in a particular direction, as in Exeunt Stage Left.
As we watch the trees dying, the oceans acidifying, hydrofracking, deep oil drilling, mountain top removal, and no leadership anywhere on the planet to put a stop to any of this destruction, our options are slim to none and it seems evident that we who accept the science and the horrifying scenario of NTE will need to make some personal plans.  We will need to write the final act of our lives, even while still fighting for it with every fibre of our beings.  Crafting this final act must include an exeunt at the end, and how that looks will be different for all of us.  Maybe thankfully it's highly likely that the planet will get the last direction for us and put us all to a gentle sleep as methane and CO2 levels spike above Oxygen levels.  I can think of a worse death.

In the meantime we also need to craft the scenes that get us to this grand exeunt: We can travel, visit friends and family, take an art lesson, make that movie you always wanted to make, go sky diving or bungee jumping, find a lost lover, make peace with your family, etc.

Guy McPherson always mentions at the end of his talk that the Boss, Bruce Springsteen, got it right when he said "What you don't let go of, the world strips away." Guy says to let go of our assumptions we've held onto and to live, as Nietzsche says, as though the day were here.  It's the only advice Guy gives and perhaps the only advice we need.  It's good advice even if it weren't the end of the world.
Oh, he also encourages resistance, saying "resistance is fertile" and directs people to support groups like Deep Green Resistance, but to give a wide berth to the hopium of 350.org, which perpetrates a lie that we can somehow lower global CO2 levels back to 350ppm in our lifetime.  I fell for that hopium.

As for escaping this dying planet?  Guy movingly says to that:  "I want to live on this planet, it's astonishing!"
He also says "Here we are standing on the shores of doom, at the Last Chance Saloon.  Brace for impact."
Which reminds me of this last scene from On The Beach which could easily be our last scene. Last Scene 

Let us hold our kids, our lovers, our friends close, for they are the most precious treasure now and let's make these last few years mean something like they never did before. We can Exeunt the stage with grace and love and compassion, whether there are gods or not watching us in the audience.
The stars will always be there.
And should a miracle happen that we are somehow saved, we will feel really good about ourselves.



For more reading:
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
Joanna Macy
http://www.extraenvironmentalist.com/2012/10/15/episode-51-culture-dying/
Guy McPherson's Latest Climate Update
Oliver Tickell
http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/weekly.html
http://www.latimes.com/news/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-carbon-dioxide-400-20130513,0,7196126.story
http://www.deepgreenresistance.org/faq-radical-feminism/#more-6987
https://igotsomethin.wordpress.com/2013/06/09/limiting-men/
http://witsendnj.blogspot.com/

Friday, June 7, 2013

Great Links to Fascinating Discussions and Ideas




http://guymcpherson.com/2013/01/climate-change-summary-and-update/

http://peakoil.com/generalideas/orlov-communities-that-abide-preamble/comment-page-1#comment-46846

http://witsendnj.blogspot.com/

https://igotsomethin.wordpress.com/2013/06/03/strangelove-lives/#comment-242

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indus_Valley_Civilization

http://www.amazon.com/The-Language-Goddess-Marija-Gimbutas/dp/0062512439

http://tamino.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/global-temperature-change-the-big-picture/

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

April Stars

May 1st, 2012


April is ended at last. I never thought I'd feel that way. At last! April is over!  Phew! Now I can move on to May...  April the loveliest and sweetest of months, the month of the birth of my two daughters, 8 years and 9 days apart, the month those alleged showers that bring May flowers (had quite a bit of a drought at first, it was a nail biter), and the month to celebrate Earth day, even though every day is Earth day.

Why the joy over the end of such a lovely month? Dear heavens! It was quite a busy and treacherous month for me! All those birthdays to celebrate and Transition events and Earth day events to plan and participate in and organize and lead and, and, and... And even during all that I managed to acquire a chicken tractor and four young hens.  I'm a new mommy!  Phew, am I pooped!

So, Sunday the 29th, I stayed in bed all day and did something only 12 year-olds usually do.
This 48 year-old mom played World of Warcraft (WoW)for the better part of the day.  For those unfamiliar with WoW, it is a virtual role playing video game on the internet where millions around the world get to interface with each other and battle it out in fantastic armor, magical robes and flying steeds. It's a terrific escape and I turned to it for some solace.  I ignored the doomsayers and the peak oil harbingers, the climate change mongers, the Nostradamusites and the 2012 Mayaners... I turned off the boob tube and the radio and ignored the phone (sorry folks).

 I was going away from it all for a little while and I was going to be a warrior and destroy all evil. I would be triumphant with any or all of my various  characters, with magic or steel.  Nothing could stop me from my quest to vanquish the cruel and base and help the weak.  And so, I played the Cataclysm patch on World of Warcraft and at one point during the play, when my character was really on a roll and I was all excited about getting to the next level where she would be able to do all kinds of new skills,  I entered a town called Menethil Harbor that was startlingly and completely flooded from recent cataclysmic storms... (Hence the name of the patch, Cataclysm)   There were even townsfolk filling sandbags to hold back the flood since the streets were completely under water.  People had to swim from one building to the other.   My jaw dropped as I stared at my lap top's screen and the rising waters and buildings sliding into the ocean, the people begging my character for help... My character stood with her two swords hanging limply in her hands... The waters rose.... Good grief!   Give me a break!

The last time I'd visited Menethil Harbor in the game it was a lovely harbor town where you could get some great clam chowder and crocolisk soup (A crocolisk, if you didn't deduce yet, is a crocodile-like creature), but that was a long time ago, before climate change hit the video game circuit...
I couldn't escape the dreaded reality even in a video game!   Oh irony of ironies! What's a 48 year old environmental activist mom need to do to get a break just for a day from it all?

Jesting aside. These are the "woes" of the comfortable and well situated, though I am certainly not unaware of the genuine plight of real people in the Maldives whose island is steadily sinking (or are the waters rising?), or of the drought conditions in Africa, or of the methane bubbling up in the Arctic Sea or the climate weirding all over the planet causing actual misery to actual people.  Everything I do, as I keep telling my youngest child, is for her and the other children of the planet. Unfortunately, everything I do is a pimple on the ass of a crocolisk, compared to the combined work that so many others' do to make a difference, to educate, to repair the damage or just to slow it down... Bill McKibben in his book, Eaarth, says that even if we all started riding bikes and slapped solar panels on our homes it would barely nudge the damage we've already done.  For the Earth to properly heal herself enough for our survival (remember the Earth is fine, it's us who are SOL), it will take all hands on deck as well as decades if not centuries to filter the CO2 that's acidifying the oceans and turning it into a cola drink.  Grab your straws! It's already bubbling!

The collective global agony that is taking place right now is hard to escape, if you're paying attention.  All the mini escapes work only for a short time; the video games, the music playing, the wine drinking, the dance flurries, the meditations, etc. are great to participate in and help keep our sanity.
Saturday  night I had a small group of friends over to play music and drum. We played and sang into the night to candlelight.  We warmed ourselves to the wood stove and celebrated friendship, food, laughter, life and hope and humanity.  For a little while we healed ourselves and salved our deep aches for the suffering world. We need to do more of that.

But back to being a powerless pimple.  
I couldn't even get some people to properly dispose of their napkins and cups at a showing of Journey of the Universe  that a group of my colleagues and I showed in our village's library.  I purposely brought cloth napkins and reusable cups and plates so we wouldn't have waste, and some people still chose the disposables first (I brought them in CASE we ran out of the reusables).  And then they threw the paper cups and napkins in the blue plastic and glass recycling bin.   Where's a crocolisk when you need one? Or a composting bin?  Sheesh...

If you haven't seen Journey of the Universe, you need to. This little film puts hope back in the picture, right where it belongs, with the main character to the rescue being us humans.  The film also brings into beautiful focus the deep, molecular relationship all living creatures and inanimate things have; from butterflies to stars, we are all connected in a universe of expanding beauty. Carl Sagan puts it most eloquently, I think, with That dot.  This film reveals how we, as stars, can choose to be stars that shine eternally or ones that just go out.  Think of Beethoven and Maria Callas, though gone their light still warms and inspires us.  We humans can choose to make a difference and shine forever, or step aside and be forgotten in the evolutionary record.

 We had a terrific turn out for the film which was followed by a facilitated discussion. We broke into several small groups and each of my colleagues and I sat with a different group as we discussed the film's meaning to our every day lives and what we could do as a community to address its concerns.   Then we shared our discussion in brief with the larger group. There were so many great ideas offered; community gardens, support groups, education, more movies, more talking face to face.  It was a terrific exercise in creating community and in building listening skills and that's why it made me so perplexed to find paper and food scraps in a plastic and glass recycling bin right after that terrific discussion.  I grumbled like a frustrated WoW goblin who can't get her flying trike to not explode on every single, darned takeoff!   As I scraped food slime and paper napkins out of the distinctly, and very deep, ocean blue, bag, traditionally indicating PUT RECYCLING HERE, I muttered to a friend who was watching me with a bemused look,  "WHAT was the movie we just watched about? Was that a waste of time?"  She smiled patiently at me and then said, "People just don't care."

And that, folks, sent me finally the next day to my bed and to a virtual world where video game designers apparently DID care so much that they even designed into a virtual world a terrible cataclysm, freakishly similar to climate change, that caused floods and fires and droughts and volcanic eruptions and storms all across that computerized world, depriving me of just a bit of escapism I so craved.   In that virtual world of destruction, of kids chatting, swearing and dueling, of adults flying and questing, of designers designing a virtual world vaguely yet comfortingly similar to our real world, I found hope for the real human race.
There was a sign!
As my character stood in the town of Menethil Harbor, the waters rising around her powerful, armored legs, she looked up at the sky and that's where I saw it.  Stars! Filling the virtual sky!
Millions of stars beginning to fill that virtual dusky sky as the virtual sun went down on the drowning village.  April Stars.   We both smiled. 

I know, even though sometimes I feel like it, that I'm not the only one learning and teaching how to grow food, or learning how to raise chickens, or how to reskill on a spinning wheel.  I know I'm not the only one keeping my lights off (I had a $17 electric bill last month), turning down the heat, getting an energy audit to see how much more CO2 I can prevent from spewing into the oceans. I know I'm not the only one who sees both of our potential futures as a fork in the road and lays in bed at night wondering which one we will go down, alternating between terror and joy. I know I'm not the only one who looks up at the stars and like the poet, wonders if they look back, if they love us, if they remember us.  We are, after all, related, at least for the past 14 billion years.  They are in our bones. Without them we don't exist.
I cared enough to look up the other night after tucking my new feathered children into bed, to gaze in awe up at the stars in the inky black sky shared with the crescent moon smiling her sideways smile.
I'll bet they cared enough to look down and wonder to each other: "Do you think they know they are our children?"




Post Script:
If you are considering getting chickens I recommend an electrified fence. Strongly!
Last night a fox came to my suburban home and screamed right outside my window, perhaps in frustration that he/she could not easily access my feathered ladies.  Thank you Nan and Peter Zander!
If you've never heard a fox scream at 2am through your partly opened window while you are in a deep slumber, I highly encourage it.   Get's the blood rushing!!