Huge swaths of forest are burning. Over the past few years, it seems like summer and autumn bring devastating fires to some region of the United States. This year it is the Great Smokey Mountains and Tennessee, in particular, who are experiencing hell on earth. (Kansas experienced its largest, most destructive fire season this year, as well.) Last year, it was California. The year before that, Washington state. The year before that…. Well, you catch my drift.
In 2011, I was living in Houston during the Bastrop County fire that consumed over 34,000 acres and more than 1,500 homes. Driving out towards the Hill Country after the highways were reopened was heartbreaking — nothing but charred tree trunks and ash covered hillsides for miles.
That same year, Texas experienced its worst single year drought ever and the hottest summer of any US state on record. Three individual fires were stoked by strong winds moving across Texas as a result of Tropical Storm Lee. It was a textbook demonstration of the perfectly catastrophic cocktail of climate change factors that are producing increasingly severe fire seasons across the country. Extreme summer heat, dire drought conditions, brittle forests, strong storms. And everything goes up in smoke.
A team of scientists and science writers developed a Climate Disruption Index for Weather.com that created a list of the 25 cities in the United State that will be most severely impacted by climate change in the years to come. Newark, NJ and Boston, MA will continue to experience increasingly “extreme precipitation,” to include snowfall equal to or worse than what we saw in January 2015. Large portions of Miami, FL will most likely become uninhabitable thanks to flooding. Lincoln, NE is on track to see accelerating “extreme drought” and Denver, CO will see average temperatures rise to almost twenty-three degrees above the surrounding rural areas as a result of the urban heat island effect.
Meanwhile, Alaska is warming twice as fast as the rest of the United States. Winter is arriving later and later and not lasting nearly as long. Rapidly rising ocean temperatures prevent normal coastal & offshore ice shelves from forming, which means that coastal settlements must bear the brunt of the autumn and winter storms without their usual buffer of ice. Coastal erosion in Alaska is accelerating at alarming rates as a result. A recent New York Times piece, profiling the village of Shaktoolik, estimates that at least 31 Alaskan towns and cities are “at imminent risk of destruction” and will be “uninhabitable” by 2050.
2050, people. That’s only roughly about 30 years away.
Forget for a moment the massive, heart wrenching refugee crises going on overseas, triggered by violent warfare. We’re on track to create our very own population of US refugees, fleeing their homes as a result of our very own rampant abuse of our homeland.
So, here’s what I wish people could wrap their heads around when talking smack about (or promoting, for that matter) hippie, liberal tree-huggers and our pain-in-the-behind, crunchy environmentalist agenda.
It’s actually not about saving the Earth.
If you climb a mountain, walk through a canyon, or dip your toes in the ocean and just look around, you’ll know that the Earth has been here long before humanity. And all its mountains, valleys, rivers, deserts, and oceans will be here long after. This planet will one day shake us off like a bad cold — like the virus we seem to insist through our actions, we are.
It’s actually not about saving the Earth. At all.
It’s about saving our own skins.
It’s about not accelerating our own extinction.
When NASA scientists tell us 50% of the planet’s current animal species are probably facing extinction by 2200, we need to remember we ARE an animal species. We just gave ourselves a 1 in 2 shot of making it through the next 200 years.
Composting, recycling, renewable energy development, water conservation, permaculture, sustainable organic agriculture, preservation of heirloom seed, reducing consumption levels, mindful procreation, regulating industrial pollution, etc. isn’t really “good for the Earth” per say. — It’s good for maintaining the current conditions on Earth that support & sustain human life.
Don’t talk about saving the Earth. It’s human arrogance that smacks of Imperialist Dominionism to think this planet needs us to rescue it.
Don’t save the Earth, save your own arse.
Otherwise, our grandchildren and their grandchildren will be dying long, slow, horrible, extinction-level deaths in the face of an Earth that is done with us.
Kate M. Brunner is a writer, healer, ritualist, & member of The Sisterhood of Avalon. She is also a current resident of Heartwood Cohousing in Colorado & a homeschooling mother of three. Kate hosts seasonal women’s gatherings, priestesses labyrinth rituals, and facilitates workshops on an assortment of women’s spirituality topics. During 2017, she will present at the SOA’s annual online conference, AvaCon, & at the second annual Ninefold Festival next autumn. Kate is a contributing writer at One World Herbal Community and is also published in Flower Face: A Devotional Anthology in Honor of Blodeuwedd and The Goddess in America: The Divine Feminine in Cultural Context.