Yesterday a buyer for a local market told me the prices of bulk food items have gone up– way up. Some of them have doubled. “It’s scary!” he exclaimed.
High food prices are driven in part by rising gas prices, since we transport much of our food over substantial distances. But they are also driven by crop failures and shortages due to climate change. Freezes in the south. Floods there and elsewhere. The number of tornadoes in the Midwest is increasing exponentially each year.
Unlike the grocer, many who took a recent ABC poll are evidently concerned about the economy but not at all concerned about climate change. I suppose it’s an artifact of modern life to think of the land and its weather as separate from the economy– as did my student who recently worried we would not have enough to feed our current population if we “went back to farming”. I had to break it to him. The land still feeds us.
The land and its seasonal cycle of growth is the ultimate bottom line. And the weather counts as a trump card in this. Lately, it has been snowing in Eugene, Oregon. Not enough to stick much, but it has also been hailing a lot. Today it is still not warm or dry enough for pollinating insects to fly. Indeed, many of them may not even survive. The recent spate of freezing weather followed on the heels of unseasonably warm days, so that everything hatched and bloomed–and then got zapped.
I can guarantee food prices are going to go up more this year, and it has directly to do with unstable climate conditions.
Those in the ABC poll not only separated the economy from climate change. They also separated climate change from personal responsibility. They concurred with scientists that climate change exists and is caused by humans– but they asserted that that didn’t have anything to do with them.
This disconnection plays out in a little scenario on my street four times daily. Six blocks away is an alternative school. SUVs with a single child and driver in them line up bumper to bumper as parents take their kids to that school. I know these parents hope to ensure a solid future for their kids by placing them in a good school. But their way of transporting them thee undercuts that same future by contributing to global warming. Global warming disturbs the moderating ocean currents that give us the mild Pacific Northwest (and European) climates. There is a dusting of snow and torrents of hail as a backdrop as all those in SUVS single-mindedly drive on.
It used to be adventure that sold those SUVs. Now it is safety. SUVs are touted as smooth, comfortable and secure: insulated from everything on the outside. The psychology of the dangerous “out there’ sells gas guzzlers in spite of the high price of gas and environmental concerns. I understand there is ad for a Hummer (I haven’t seen it) that takes place on a playground. In it a mother backs down her son’s bullies though her choice of vehicle.
The myth of the dangerous other doesn’t only sell cars. It influences the way we live. These parents taking their children to school apparently don’t talk to one another enough to form carpools, even though they are all going to the same place. Thus they and others like them all over the US paradoxically contribute to global warming while attempting to secure their children’s futures.
The reality of our current environmental crises is scary, in the words of the grocer above. But acknowledging those crises–and each of our parts in them—gives us the power to assess and change our habits. That is the first step to actually protecting our children.
It is the first step in making sure that we pass on a world to them in which the quality of life is every bit as good as our own.
You are welcome to link to this post; note, however, it is copyright 2008, Madronna Holden. Feel free to email me if you wish to use it.
Filed under: Environmental ethics, Environmental psychology, Our Earth and Ourselves, Working for justice | Tagged: environmental philosophy, Environmental psychology, Ethics, global warming, Working for justice |