The Awakening

climate consciousness
Photo: Unsplash.com

Sooner or later, all good sleeps must come to an end. And so, although the hour is late, I’m waking up.

You know those mornings when you open your eyes and the sun is already in the sky? It’s on these mornings that I’m filled with a kind of dread. “I’ve already wasted half the day,” I think to myself, although it might only be 8 am. Scientifically speaking, the day isn’t halfway over, so I could probably cut myself some slack. But according to science—climate science, to be precise—the clock is ticking on irreversible anthropogenic climate change… and we’ve already wasted a lot of time.  In 2018, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that humanity has 12 years to limit the devastating consequences of climate change and keep temperatures from exceeding an additional 1.5 degrees Celsius. If you’ve missed the news stories covering the global panic, the universal divestment of fossil fuels, the mass boycotts of the beef industry, and all manner of urgent and immediate action inspired by this statement, that’s because there were no such responses, no united front against the onrushing catastrophe. In fact, the world, particularly the leaders and corporations of the so-called developed world, have been largely silent.

To an extent, children and young people have been speaking out on behalf of climate justice. A few politicians have advanced policy initiatives. An intimate circle of bloggers document their journeys toward achieving a zero waste life. Odd pop-ups and shops promise zero waste groceries and sundries. But these outspoken advocates are often regarded as fringe, austere, reactionary, bleeding-heart, or (perhaps most damning) crunchy.

And yet, as I have said, all good sleeps must come to an end. The troubling truth is that “certain biological realities present themselves when an organism negatively affects or exceeds the capacity of its ecosystem,” to quote a letter from a Baha’i institution. A segment of humanity has been sleeping on climate change for a long while, meantime consuming fossil fuels and resources, and perpetuating unsustainable business and lifestyle practices and economies that contribute to the emission of greenhouse gases and economic injustice. And another segment of humanity is disproportionately feeling the effects of these decisions in the form of drought, famine, wildfires, storms, flooding, war, mass migration, and other attendant sufferings. The fates of animals and plants, too, are bound to a segment of humanity’s insatiable appetite for goods and services and goals that negatively impact our environment.

So, as a woman living in the United States, I wonder: How to extricate oneself from the morass of consumerism that is fueling climate change? How to build up a new culture that reconceptualizes what it means to live a happy life? How to create communities that love and work for justice, that acknowledge the interconnectedness of our species and our planet, and that place stewardship and trustworthiness in their rightful place, at the heart of daily life?

I am trying to explore these questions. I am trying to learn. I am trying to bring my life into alignment with my values, and bring my values into alignment with the inconvenient scientific truth of our age: Climate change is real and its effects are already claiming the lives of humans, animals, and plants. I want to do better, to be better, and to build a better world. And so this blog is where I will write about what happens as I take this journey towards climate consciousness, through thought and action.

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