Many of us are not excited at the thought of heading into another winter that could be like last year’s seven months of snow. These days, the natural climate patterns are so unrecognizable it is hard to imagine a milder winter. As the Alberta tar sands (that blast furnace pumping out hundreds of millions of tonnes of climate-heating carbon – known world-wide as ‘Canada’s Mordor’) continues to heat up the Arctic and affect the jet stream, we will have short, cool summers and long winters. It might create jobs, but it is making the rest of us work harder to stay warm. B.C. is experiencing heat waves and droughts as air from the desert is pulled north, and the melting Arctic air reaches down to pelt Georgia with icicles. I actually know people who don’t ‘believe’ in climate change. It is not a spiritual doctrine that we can believe, or not believe: it is carbon fact. The arrogance of big manufacturers spreads like a bad smell covered up by sickly sweet-scented spin.
Oh dear, I am getting ‘all-november’. Here comes the dark and I am not ready to cocoon. I want to help change the world, not curl up next to a fire and wait until it is nice enough to get outside and participate in some collective social change. It feels like we are at least ten years behind where we should be, socially and environmentally. We have been seeing what needs to get done for decades, but 9/11 threw us into war and stimulated all the industries, and the fear that kind of focus can generate. Increasingly, more of us see how we have lost environmental ground, and we are committed to gaining speed through alternative means.
One bit of wonderful news this year is the Tesla car. This electric beauty runs 440 km before it needs a recharge. Right now it charges 80% in 20 minutes, but the manufacturers are close to having it charge 100% in 2 minutes (faster than filling up at the gas station). Normal use would let you drive all day and plug in to recharge at night. The cars are gorgeous, high-end vehicles at $50k; with a hatchback for $30k in the works. They are also extremely safe in an accident. The price will come down as we shift over to electric, and those who can afford it now can pave the way to a new, sustainable world.
Many more wonderful advancements are getting attention, and funding. Throughout the last decades, great ideas have been presented to the goliaths – the powerful automobile and oil industries – only to be knocked down. Now, companies like Tesla are being supported, and are getting through to the mainstream. All over the world, we are being given better choices through the dedicated efforts of people who care.
We still have a lot of work to do, but by shining our light on solutions we can pave a way out of the mess we have created. It can seem frustrating knowing there are still many people who build their lives around ‘not knowing’. They would rather take ‘selfies’ than point their camera at what is actually going on; rather drive around the block than walk, let alone think about their carbon footprint; rather tweet pics of their expensive gold and diamond bracelets than hear about the hidden cultural and human costs of gold and diamond mines. They do not connect the plastic they throw away to the islands of plastic floating in the ocean. As the ‘celebrity’ culture makes it ‘cool’ to shift to Tesla cars and clean gold, they too will shift. Meanwhile, those who imagine they are part of the change need to make sure they unplug from their little screens and get recharged with some live theatre, art, author readings, or maybe dance to some live music. The light gets brighter when we are shining together.
It is funny to observe how my mind, saddened by the shorter days, sees more shadow than light this time of year. I will get triggered by something, and then find some positive way to balance it out. Every time it happens, like it is happening right now as I write about this growing dark, another story comes to lighten the scene.
For example, I was so pleased with how we collectively responded to the awful shooting in Ottawa. The woman passerby who administered CPR, and was one of the group who attended to Cpl. Nathan Cirillo while he was breathing, kept telling him he was loved – by his family, by his fellow soldiers, by all of us. Help immediately surrounded him: selfless kindness, and loving support. That is who we truly are at our core.
I happened to be in Ottawa that week, and I walked to the monument on the evening of the day after the shooting. I stood with many people, including CNN host Anderson Coope, silently under the stars. We went for different reasons, but clearly we were not ‘reacting’ to fear; rather we were ‘responding’ to a tear in the fabric of our collective psyche. In the intimate darkness was a feeling that we were weaving our light into the tangled air, healing the wound so it would not fester. What better way to practise co-creating a new world, and experiencing ‘oneness’ than to share our love and our light in the darkness.
PS ~ Giving money to Médecins Sans Frontières (www.msf.ca) will send some light to ebola front-liners.