Climate change makes for an amazing story. As a concept, climate change is so vast that it is perfectly suited to be an epic tale; there is huge potential for dramatic adventure in the imagined results of climate change; and below it all, the eternal current of Man v. Nature runs central to the subplots of pollution, overpopulation, energy waste, CO2 emission.
The scale of climate change rapidly oscillates between the individual and the global level. We are cogs in a machine, but we have also built the machine, but we have also found the machine on the shore somewhere and thought it looked like it would work. Even though my own interest in climate change has remained steady, the way I look at it shifts constantly.
What role can I play?
Climate change isn’t fiction, but the way we–and I mean we in a very broad sense, as ‘we people of the planet Earth’–think about it, talk about it, and write about it shapes the ongoing narrative that is developing over time. For centuries, some people have raised alarms about Nature being Lost (or Mankind Losing Touch With Nature). We’ve created public parks, set aside land to remain undeveloped, and even created forest kindergartens.
In Western culture, we have long seen our relationship with Nature as a dichotomy (see also Second Nature by Michael Pollan). “Nature” is not Man’s domain (yet, of course, it is). There is no clear red line; nature is so rarely untouched, and man is so rarely man-made.
This blog is, practically speaking, doing nothing to combat climate change. Trust me, I’m aware of that. In fact, as I plunk away at this post, I’m thinking about the energy involved: personal energy (currently fueled by a combination of coffee and the weird pseudo-adrenaline that comes with just enough sleep deprivation and hunger), electrical energy (though the laptop isn’t plugged in right now, I’ll have to charge it soon), heating energy (not sure what form of heating we have here, but since it’s only a few degrees above 0, it’s on), and more.
In a position of little power, I’m often tempted to think that the moral way out is the life of a hermit, living off-the grid and maybe even contributing a little by planting trees (carbon sequestration!) or building topsoil (have I mentioned that I love composting?). I’m extremely impatient to do something and sometimes I think doing nothing–causing no harm, in other words–would be the easiest way to do this.
I also think it might be something of a waste. A lot of time, money, and energy has gone into my growth and education, and I’m a healthy, hardy, 21-year old kid with a college education and something of a rural education alongside. How could I calculate the number of trees to plant to pay off the energy debt of being driven to piano lessons for ten years? The arithmetic is doable; the calculation is impossible.
So, right now, in the midst of my impatience, this blog is what I’ve got. Thinking about, talking about, and writing about climate change doesn’t feel like doing something to me, but our cultural framework seriously impacts the way we make decisions as individuals, as households, as communities, as cities, and as countries. And, as an individual, I’m increasingly convinced that one of our biggest roadblocks to making climate change progress is our persistent belief in Man being v. Nature. (Or Nature v. Man, for that matter.)
This is my 100th post on this blog.
Milestones (even meaningless ones like this) are an excellent opportunity to look back–and look forward. I’m not satisfied with my writing or with my post sequencing/progression. However, it is a testing ground as much as anything else. The more I try to write about climate change–and these posts are all just attempts–the more the issue both clarifies and spins out of control for me. It feels a little bit like learning how to sail, with moments of calm perfect balance and moments of absolute chaos.
For those of you who have been reading along since the beginning, I’d love to hear feedback. If you’re just ‘tuning in,’ I hope you’ll stay with me and challenge what I have to say. Going forward, I may be experimenting with a different posting schedule, but my main themes will remain more or less the same. When it comes to climate change, what do we do?