Today is Earth Day 2012, a day filled with celebrations of the environment and all the things being done to try and improve it and make it more sustainable . You can go to events where you recycle your old paper tax records, your motor oil, your cellphone, computers and other electronics.
You can go to festivals and visit the booths of green nonprofits and solar energy companies, take part in composting workshops, learn about wildlife protectors and electric car companies. You might even get the chance to hug a person wearing a polar bear costume.
You can participate in beach cleanups, ride your bicycle with large groups in parades or march in protests against coal-fired power plants, polluters and planet-pummeling profiteers. You can even watch NBC-Universal TV and see how they turned their logo green and laugh at their funny PSAs about cutting your energy use or carbon footprint.
But what you cannot do at any Earth Day event – or any other day’s events – is change the sense of urgency of the U.S. government or the majority of our population about taking the immediate and dramatic steps necessary to avoid runaway climate change or the hell and high water that’s coming with it.
What you cannot do is have an ounce of impact on the coal, gas or oil industries and get them to stop pumping obscene amounts of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere or get them to stop lying about the consequences of their actions.
What you’ll have no chance to do is hear anyone running for President or Congress offer a plan to give your kids and grandkids a shot at enjoying a civilization like the one baby boomers have experienced since the day they were born.
We live in a world driven by denial and diversion in an era where the trivial trumps the truth.
When I became the Creative Greenius and started focusing my life on climate change and environmental issues five years ago scientists were talking about how bad things would be at the end of this century. Then they cut that forecast in half and told us the bad news was coming our way by the middle of this century. Now they’re talking about the shit starting to hit the fan around 2025. In case you’re hazy on the math that’s 12 and a half years away and it won’t be happening all at once on January 1, 2025.
And the reaction to all this by the general public, our government and industry has been one gigantic Annie Hall, “La Di Da.”
Nobody wants to talk about it and nobody wants to hear me talk about it.
I can’t even bring the subject up in my own home for risk of bumming my wife out. It is subjecta non grata.
I’ve tried writing about it, broadcasting about it, demonstrating, organizing, volunteering, lobbying and every other form of communicating, motivating and influencing and it’s all been as effective as a screen door on a submarine.
Even the environmentalists I know don’t want to talk about what they know is coming or acknowledge how close to due date we are. They seem content to focus on their personal area of interest, whether it’s solar power, electric cars, sustainable landscaping, water conservation, waste management or fighting the Redondo Beach Power Plant or the Keystone XL Pipeline while they speak about what “might happen in the future” if we don’t straighten up and fly right. They act like we can just file for an extension if we miss the tax deadline.
It. Is. Maddening.
When I can get people to talk about what they think is going to happen it’s obvious that those who aren’t in denial or flat out insane are all counting on a magic bullet, some deus ex machina that will somehow save the day in the final scene just before the credits roll. “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow” must be their theme song or maybe it’s “We’re Off To See The Wizard.”
Now I love me a good musical and I enjoy escapist entertainment as much as the average bear but I also know from personal experience that when your doctor says you have cancer and that you need to have major surgery right now to cut it out then you don’t have the option of telling him you’re sure someone will soon invent a pill you can take to make your cancer disappear and so you’re going to Coachella and then to Hawaii on vacation instead.
I have given up on any hopes I once had that we’ll respond to climate change in time to avoid seeing it metastasize during my lifetime. I now spend my days working to fund environmental, wellness and education projects that I believe are essential for communities to adapt to the changed reality bearing down upon us.
I’m not going to stop annoying people and talking about the apparently invisible elephant in the room or what needs to be done in response. But I don’t believe in magic bullets or Happy Potter’s magic wand and I cannot pretend that the best is still yet to come.
So what am I doing today for Earth Day 2012?
I’m going to the Los Angeles Lakers vs. Oklahoma Thunder game at the solar powered Big Fastener downtown to watch them play basketball and root for the home team.
La Di Da.