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Since my Sun interview with Kathleen Dean Moore on “The Moral Urgency of Climate Change” hit newsstands and the web, I’ve received passionate responses from both friends and strangers. Most applaud Kathy’s unflinching critique of Big Oil and the politicians they control. Many appreciate how she circles back, always, to love. But all, to varying degrees, grieve climate change itself. When the subject arose at my husband’s birthday dinner, some friends declared, “We are so screwed.”

“Not necessarily,” I countered. It’s true scientists predict that if humans continue spewing carbon at our current rate,  temperatures will rise 5-6 degrees by the end of this century, rendering the planet unfit for most life forms. Really bad news. However, they’ve also told us we can (probably) avoid the worst effects of climate change through immediately cleaning up our act–which means no more burning fossil fuels. Scooping out ice cream to our guests, I endorsed 350.org’s proposal for how we might accomplish just that.

Incredulous,  one parent nearly choked on the cake. “Divest from oil? Just leave it in the ground?”

“That or kiss Sarah and Justin’s future goodbye,” I replied.

“That’s ridiculous! All manufacturing would end. The world economy would collapse.”

People get a little…edgy. So do I, when I imagine wintry nights without  natural gas  in my stove. If someone proposed a planetary survival plan that would allow me to keep driving to the southwest for spring break, I’d gladly take it.

No one wants to be told they have an incurable disease. But along with the grim news, they’re usually given two choices:

1)  Do nothing. Die or experience diminished quality of life. When and how depends on various circumstances.

2)  Act immediately to try to cure, or at least manage, the affliction. Survive, possibly even thrive, though neither is guaranteed. Interventions include surgery, radical diet and lifestyle changes, chemo and/or radiation, and experimentation with new ideas and therapies. This path is painful, disruptive, and involves grief and the relinquishment of cherished habits. It also costs way too much, requiring an overhaul of priorities. After the invasive procedures are done, life-long vigilance is required (bye-bye Marlboros and doughnuts). Benefits may include deeper appreciation for life, loved ones, and blessings previously overlooked.
Important note: This path offers the only viable hope for life and (possible) wholeness.

Similarly, scientists tell us we’ve irrevocably altered Earth’s atmosphere. Done deal. The question is, now what? We —collectively—have two choices:

1)  Do nothing . Humanity (and most species) will probably die or experience diminished quality of life. When and how depends on various circumstances.

2)  Act immediately to try to solve, or at least manage, the crisis. Survive, possibly even thrive, though neither is guaranteed. Interventions include infrastructure changes, radical global diet and lifestyle changes, social confrontation, and experimentation with new ideas and solutions. This path is painful, disruptive, and involves grief and the relinquishment of tropical getaways. It also costs way too much, requiring an overhaul of humanity’s priorities. After the invasive procedures are done, life-long vigilance is required (endless wars and resource squandering are history). Benefits may include deeper appreciation for life, loved ones, and every cup of clean water.
Important note: This path offers the only viable hope for survival and (possible) wholeness for humanity. It may also offer relief, even joy, as humans recover connections to one another and all life on the planet.

I’m galloping down this second path with everything I’ve got. Please, will you come?