Last week, we pulled over at a rest stop. Sheet lightning was flashing and the wind was so strong it shook the car. We sat in our shuddering car wondering what to do. A woman in a car beside us looked out her window anxiously.
We couldn’t save her, we regret.
No one could save us, either.
This is the way it’s going to be.
Storms come up suddenly. Furious storms, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes. We’ve never seen so many.
This week, it’s raining. Everybody has water in the basement. Everybody hopes it won’t flood, though there has been terrible flooding this spring in Nebraska and western Iowa.
After 2030, climate change will be irreversible. But it could be reversed now. Remember the hole in the ozone layer? NASA and other agencies around the world have fixed it by phasing out the industrial production of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). They signed an international agreement in 1987.
Now, we need to stop burning fossil fuels. We need to go VERY green. Yet there’s resistance to green energy like wind turbines (which spoil the landscape or kill the birds, according to rich men of different political parties, among them Trump (it spoils the view on his Scottish golf course), Robert Kennedy, Jr. (it spoils the view on Nantucket or wherever), and Jonathan Franzen (who worries about the birds, which will all be dead if we don’t change to green energy). There is similar resistance to the huge solar farms: rich people in a gated community in Virginia oppose them because the solar panels spoil their view.
HERE’S WHAT HUMAN BEINGS CAN DO: Every time you DON’T drive you help. Take the bus or bicycle. According to the EPA, motor vehicles cause 75 percent of carbon monoxide pollution in the U.S. And yet people cannot make the connection that driving is killing the planet. They blithely move to the ex-urbs, which means even MORE driving. And the next generation is being trained to do the same. The driving age here, if you can believe it, is 14.
We have all known for decades that walking, bicycling, and mass transit are good alternatives to driving. After a lifetime of NOT driving a car because of environmental concerns, I begin to wonder why I’ve done it. I despair over the stupidity and greed of human beings. But what about the plants and animals? Yes, they are worth saving.
Drivers do not want you to save the planet. Pedestrians and bicyclists are viewed not as role models but as eccentrics IN THE WAY. Drivers become more and more hostile: road rage. A car hit my husband last year (the driver veered suddenly left into the bike lane) and broke my spouse’s collarbone and punctured his lung. A car also hit the Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for governor last year (I voted for him) on his bicycle and he will not walk without a walker for six months.
In the Netherlands, drivers are trained to watch out for bicyclists. The New York Times said last October that they’re trained in a maneuver called the Dutch reach.:
When you are about to exit the car, you reach across your body for the door handle with your far or opposite hand. This action forces you to turn toward the side view mirror, out and then back over your shoulder to be sure a bicyclist is not coming from behind. Only then do you slowly open the door.
This is one of many things which should be stressed in the U.S.
So now we’ve almost killed the planet, you might as well read a dystopian novel. I strongly recommend John Brunner’s The Sheep Look Up, which I wrote about here at my old blog, Mirabile Dictu. In this terrifying post-modern SF classic, pollution has rendered the U.S. a wasteland. The poisoned air blows into Canada and sometimes across the ocean to Europe (sound familiar?); everyone is sick; antibiotics no longer work; fleas and rat infestations in houses and apartment house can no longer be controlled because they are immune to poison; the acid rain in NY is so bad that you need to wear plastic outside; the water is poisoned (there are frequent “no-drink water” days); intelligence levels are dropping (lead in the air and water); a virus causes spontaneous abortion; the oceans are so polluted that people vacation in Colorado rather than California; and big businesses are profiting by selling air filters, water filters, etc.
John Brunner was prescient.