Five Years and Counting

We are changing our home.Our Home is changing – unnaturally and much too quickly. The Earth’s fragile, life-sustaining balance is shifting due to rapid and massive releases of carbon, dug up from beneath the surface and thrust into the atmosphere at an explosive rate. This “Sacred Balance,” as Professor David Suzuki so eloquently described it in his book by the same name, is what we depend on to survive and thrive. It is the essence of life as we know it. I suppose not everyone shares my sense of responsibility to future generations, but I can’t imagine feeling otherwise.

A recent headline really caught my attention: “Irreversible Climate Change Looms Within Five Years.” The story described a key aspect of the International Energy Agency’s newly released “2011 World Energy Outlook.” The article said that without bold and significant change, “the world will lock itself into an insecure, inefficient and high-carbon energy system” and that “there is still time to act, but despite steps in the right direction the door of opportunity is closing.”

What do you think of when you read those words? This is about the most serious issue I can imagine. My reaction is along the lines of, “Wow! What can I do to help prevent that from happening?” We’ve had other warnings. Several years ago, scientists said that we had about ten years to transition to a low-carbon economy. Now it’s five. In a few years, it will be zero. We will have permanently passed the point of no return! Will we be the generation who blew the only opportunity to save mankind?

Americans use more energy per capita than just about anyone on the planet. Are we going to get serious about our addiction and do something about it, or allow endless streams of meaningless Kardashian-esqe frivolity to distract us as we consume our way toward oblivion?

Green Living is all about honoring and respecting our one true home. It is about honesty and living as if we intend to stay. At this point, I believe that the most important thing each of us can do is to reduce our carbon footprint, deeply and immediately. I’m talking about THE most important thing. We must reevaluate everything we do and then CHANGE. From the food we eat, to the trips we take, to the homes we occupy, to the energy we take for granted most of the time – all of it must be carefully reconsidered and modified. It may be a challenge, but so what? Do you have a better alternative? There is no time left to debate or delay. It is time to act.

There are more and more of us who practice living lighter on the planet every day. I thank those who visited during the recent solar home tour and who are on the same path. We must quickly duplicate these actions a million-fold. I’m struggling here, trying to write something that will spur you to action, but my words seem so inadequate. It is frustrating. Sometimes I want to yell at the top of my lungs. Other times I wish we could simply stand face to face, two people with common interests and destiny, and share the understanding that it’s up to us to make the difference and that failure is not an option.

The government won’t do it. Corporations won’t do it. It’s up to us. You. And me. We are the ones who are changing the world. Doesn’t it make sense to change it for the good of all? The clock is ticking – five years and counting.


  1. In getting past denial and helplessness, getting past “why save it for the few” we need to get real. Without social justice and economic equity there is no “we”

    I am working with other artists from many disciplines to put on city wide pop up info ops– readings, art shows, theater -whatever to get past the rhetoric and the partisanship and into the hard facts. A few scientists are now stepping in to help us address the issues from first hand data. (This is so cool!!)

    Our focus is Seattle (West Coast) as in keeping it personal

    The underlying theme of Peoples Media Arts Uprising 2012 is to support local talent, a segue of buy local. I started PMAU 2012 because i find street up energy to be brilliant, cheeky, fun and either exploited or dissed and sometimes both.

    Now more than ever we need an informed, “in this together” mindset. Therefore, PMAU is about building trust, in a connected, flattened, interrelated socially informed work model. This model is better suited for enabling the human potential in all of us. That is the paradigm change, that is where we experience cooperation trumping competition.

    This is the beginning of a new kind of infrastructure that can aid lifestyles change.

    I believe that we can better understand the earth’s connected systems when we understand more about our own. From product life-cycles to human lifespans, from biotic to abiotic systems, there is beauty in the organic dance. We can go there.

    Micro to macro at the “what i can do now” level can pop up everywhere, we hope it will!

    Want to know more, let me know. First big meetings are Dec 7th at 7 and Dec 11th at 2 in the Ballard, Greenwood area.

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and for being so creatively involved in the solution Deborah. Although I’m well aware of our predicament, it is still shocking to see that some are predicting we have a short FIVE YEARS to turn this around before crossing the point of no return.

    Why is the media talking about *anything* except this? OWS is part of the solution and deserves attention. Demi does not. I just don’t get it (actually I do – it’s the corporatocracy we’ve created that values profit over life).

    On the solar home tour the other day, many people came through our home and some asked the inevitable question, “So what’s the payback?”

    I’m at the point now where I reply by asking, “What’s the payback in destroying our climate and oceans? What’s the payback in dumbing-down an entire generation of children with mercury emitted by burning coal? How cheap is natural gas from fracked wells that permanently poison our precious aquifers?” (As if any of those were ever viable, cost-effective options!)

    I am amazed at how many “environmentalists” (for some reason we think that is something only some people should engage in) still fly around as if it is no big deal, eat a meat-based diet or even drive SUVs! We are on the edge of creating our own extinction yet the focus is on Dancing with the Stars and serial idiots like Herman Cain and Rick Perry.

    There have been plenty of species who’ve gone extinct. I doubt there’s ever been one that’s done it knowingly, bumbling their way into oblivion by literally glorifying their own stupidity. Yes, we humans are unique – and on the fast track to becoming a remarkably brief flash in the biological pan.

    What a shame that so many other glorious species have and will suffer the same fate, guilty of nothing more than sharing the same planet with us.