The Thing That Scares Me

March 15, 2015

Gardom Pond

(I've been mulling this since the New Year and have finally decided to get off my duff and post it. You may have noticed me being "louder" in my social feeds about this subject. This is why.)

I’m a pretty loud person. I can cheer and yell at sports events with the best of them. But one thing that’s been pretty constant since I was a kid is that the more frightened I get, the quieter I get. It’s like my throat closes up so I can’t emit a sound. On my first roller coaster ride at the age of seven, I didn’t emit a peep, because I was too terrified to scream. When I heard an intruder in the house once, I hid under the sheets and couldn’t articulate what was wrong to my partner. And I realized recently that I’ve almost completely stopped talking about climate change.

Because climate change is the thing that scares me the most.

An Inconvenient Truth came out in 2006. At the time, global warming was on everybody’s lips. It was an existential threat. The human race was running out of time. We needed solutions, and we needed them yesterday. It’s eight years later, and where are we? The problem itself hasn’t changed or gone away. My country’s planning the extraction of some of the dirtiest carbon-intensive fuels on the planet, and emissions are up, not down, worldwide. And the mainstream media has gone mostly silent on the issue.

Lots of people tell fiction writers not to get “political” on their blogs. That people get upset if you’re too controversial. Well, screw that. Climate change isn’t political. Granted, many of the solutions to it involve politics, but the issue itself, being one of species survival, is bigger than just politics. It's THE moral issue of our time. If we’re not talking about this, then what is worth talking about?

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no green angel. I own a guzzler of a car, heat my home with fossil fuels, use air travel, don’t particularly buy local food, the list goes on. But neither am I the biggest offender, and if we’re going to win this battle, we need to start calling the biggest offenders to account.

By some measures, we only have TWO YEARS to tackle emissions before it’s too late to keep us past the dangerous 2 degree warming target often bandied about.

It’s quite clear that our political leaders and the media have abandoned us on this issue. If that’s the case, the responsibility lies with the rest of us. So I’m not going to be quiet anymore. Because being quiet will get us all, in the near term, a lower quality of life. Quiet plays into the hands of the fossil fuel industry that wants everyone to think business as usual, and lower oil prices are a good thing. Quiet is what this lovely, loud, boisterous and exuberant planet will all too be if we keep going as we are now.

So I'll be talking about climate change more. Here, on my social media feeds, probably, for the first time ever, to my elected officials. If that costs me readers, at least I'll know I've got my priorities straight.

I do not want my silence to be interpreted as consent. To paraphrase a great poet: I will not go quietly into that good night. None of us should.

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