ABOUT “CLIMATE CHANGE,” WHAT DID YOU EXPECT? Marilyn Armstrong

Sunday is Earth Day. I remember the first Earth Day and every Earth Day since. Earth has changed and I’m pretty sure we’re the ones who have changed it.

Pogo – Walt Kelly

This isn’t a trick . It’s a genuine question based on a few premises with which you have to agree before we can begin:

1 – Climate change is real, based on science and facts. It isn’t a glitch in nature and if we ignore it, it won’t go away.

2 – We used to call it “global warming” – but obviously there’s quite a bit more to it.

3 – You are sure it is going to affect you … but exactly how?

4 – You are not a conspiracy theorist. You do not believe that climate change comes from an angry God or some weird technology.

5 – You’d like to know what you should be doing about climate change — and you are pretty sure that recycling bottles is probably not the ultimate answer.

Jan 9, 2018 – Montecito, Santa Barbara County, California, U.S. – KERRY MANN navigates the large boulders and mudflow that destroyed the home of her friend in Montecito. The woman who lives in the home has not been seen since the early hours of Tuesday. At least 15 people died and thousands fled their homes in Southern California as a powerful rainstorm triggered flash floods and mudslides on slopes where a series of intense wildfires had burned off protective vegetation last month. (Newscom TagID: zumaamericasnineteen760940.jpg) [Photo via Newscom]

These are questions for which I don’t have an answer. I have always believed that we were doing serious damage to the earth, even before it was officially proven. I thought it was pretty obvious. We still have pollution resulting from things we did in European river valleys a thousand years ago and these days, we simply make it worse. Even when we are trying to make it better.

The thing is, I know I had no idea what all of this meant on a personal level. I understood about rising sea levels. I got that part of the equation. I understood the increasing and probably endless loss of species — such as all of our large land mammals and probably all or most of our carnivores.

There will be no wolves, no tigers, lions, elephants, rhinoceros, giraffe. Whales will be gone. Slowly but surely because we are polluting the oceans and I don’t know if there is a way back from the mess we have made.

British storm – Ophelia 2018

The air will become more polluted and we will never figure out what to do with our radioactive wastes. We haven’t even figured out what to do with the filthy, polluted soil in this valley or for that matter, the Rhine valley or along the Yangtze or Ganges.

Off the coast of Massachusetts

Storms will be bigger, encompassing the size of entire oceans eventually. Right now, we have storms in North America so big they go literally from coast to coast. Super storms. Super tornadoes. We will have droughts and floods in sequence. Fires and mud slides in between and let’s not forget the occasional earthquake, just for fun.

It rained 30 inches in Hawaii over the past 24 hours and another monster storm is on the way. The concept of “monster storms” never crossed my mind.

Slowly rising sea water is pretty much what I saw in my head. I never imagined it would all be happening at the same time — and so fast. I thought it would take a lot longer for the water to rise. That the oceans would slowly edge up over the coasts. The rivers would rise and  we’d have flooding.

Snow? Maybe we’d have less with rising temperatures … but I didn’t think we’d have storm after storm with warm weather in between so it would fall, then melt, then fall again, and melt again. I didn’t expect the bizarre alterations of seasons, either.

What did you imagine would happen? Did  you imagine the mudslides in California? Or the fires? Or the floods in Puerto Rico and Texas? And now in Kauai?

Did we realize that the melting glaciers would mean that inland nations like Switzerland would have no viable water sources?

What did we think was going to happen? What do we think is going to happen next year and the year after? It won’t be nothing, that’s for sure. Something will happen and we will be in the middle of it. In the end, there will be few places left to hide.

Atlantic nor’easter

 I don’t think my imagination moved me much past a flooded basement. I never considered we might have an entirely flooded valley … or maybe a state under water. Or even finding myself turning up the thermostat in the middle of April.

Since the season is almost here, I implore you to not kill your early blooming dandelions. This is the food the bees need to keep alive until the rest of the flowers and plants bloom. Remember the bees because without them, we are dead, so skip that lovely Scott’s  lawn for now. Let’s try and preserve life on earth rather than the nicest lawn in the suburbs.

Bee in the dandelions

42 thoughts on “ABOUT “CLIMATE CHANGE,” WHAT DID YOU EXPECT? Marilyn Armstrong”

    1. We better learn something soon. The world is changing fast and the storms are growing. If you really look at the larger pictures, it’s pretty impressive. Some places will fare better than others … but others will be consumed.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. This prolonged winter of discontent– around the world — should be exhibit A for those who diss climate change.

        It’s been impressively horrible with encores for the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse.

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    1. Even when you care, what do you do when there’s no one in “power” (which in this town is a small clan on a very tiny stage) who cares? At all? Who have no grasp of science, no plans for the future — at all as far as I can tell. What then? I can save all my bottles, never use a plastic bag AND use only rechargeable everything … but then there’s nowhere to even TAKE the bottles because we have nothing and the neighboring towns won’t take our garbage. If you dont’ LIVE there, you’re just outta luck.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was equally horrified when my son in law and daughter went to the dump. We spent a fortune buying plastic bins, huge bins to separate our “garbage” only to find when it gets to the actual dump? they dump it all together in one pile. So yes, it’s frustrating to the enth degree. I can only calm myself by knowing I’ve done my part. Switzerland is actually looking for recyclables because they are so super efficient they can take care of theirs and surrounding countries. I think we should ship our recyclables there!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. We discovered the same thing. YOU can separate and recycle, but the trucks dump it all in one pile. It doesn’t matter whether you try or not. No resources mean it all goes to nothing and unless you have a lot of money, you aren’t going to be building your own recyclable factory.

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        2. @Covert Novelist: As a Swiss I know both sides of THAT medal; separation of any rubbish is so blxx<y efficient that they have not enough paper waste to keep the fires burning…. BUT on the other hand, a relative (around several corners) of us own thanks to their hard and consistent work one of the largest recycling centers in Switzerland and I’m constantly amazed by what (great things) they do…..
          So please do not sent it ‘there’…. 😉
          I also was told by some friends either here in France or in England that all our painstakingly separated rubbish gets thrown in one huge lot instead of being kept separate – – – what a terrible waste of money, energy, goodwill!

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          1. That’s what the mostly do here. They don’t have the plants to the kind of recycling that results in products people can use. Until they install the factories to do the work, it’s just a a waste of energy. No results, just extra work. Like a silly game.

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  1. Great article. So many sentiments I’m feeling too. One thing, though, your point 2, “we used to call it global warming,” actually, that may be a bit misleading. The terms “climate change” and “global warming” are not synonyms. Global warming is a type of climate change but there are other kinds too. All Impalas are Chevrolets, but not all Chevrolets are Impalas. The terms have been used non-interchangeably for decades. It may sound like a matter of semantics, but it’s important to distinguish between them because “They changed the name! It must be fake!” is sometimes used as a trope by deniers. None of whom are capable of appreciating the message you’ve given us here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that’s what I was trying to say. It’s obviously a LOT more than warming. It is a lot of things — and depending where you live, many of these are hitting you at the same time. Certainly New England has taken a massive hit this year, but nothing compared to Puerto Rico, Texas, and now Hawaii. What else are we looking at? What should we be doing.

      It’s all well and good to do a little bit here and there as we can, but surely there must be more to be done and many municipalities — mine being one of them — are doing NOTHING. We have no dumps, no recycling and no help, either. Nor anything planned. It’s a rural area, so it could be worse, but it will BE worse if no one deals with it. Meanwhile, I don’t see ANY future plans in the works nor anyone capable of making them.

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  2. I believe that this damage was done in small bits by masses of individual people (and bidnesses) over a period of 100+ years. That’s why I think that small bits done by individual people will help ameliorate it — but it has to be an effort by masses of individual people, so the person dealing with his/her plastic bottles is actually doing SOMETHING that needs to be done. I absolutely deplore the fact that our government and many of our leaders and businesses don’t get it. And I also think we need to look around and see what we’ve succeeded in turning around since the 1970s and build on that. Despair is useless.

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    1. I think you are being rather naive. I don’t think we’ve done nearly enough and we’ll see just how little in the very near future. Change is beginning to happen quickly and massively — AND internationally. Yes, clear up the bottles — but what about place like this one where there isn’t even a recycling area or any plans to create one? Or even a dump? Or even effective trash collection? We aren’t alone, either. The town has no money and with no money come no plans for now or the future. We aren’t going to be spared because we are poor.

      Also, I do NOT agree that the damage was done in small bits over a long period of time. It has been done in huge degree by large organization and cities without regard for what was going to be the result. The damage is less in more rural areas where there was less exploitation, but that wasn’t because someone cared — just because there was no substantial manufacturing.

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      1. You haven’t really understood what I meant, but that’s probably my fault. “Small bits” would be (for example) a city dump here, there, everywhere. People aren’t thinking about the cumulative effect of millions of city dumps, they think about taking out their own trash. In the same way that oil companies out here are wanting to drill in places they shouldn’t because there’s money in it for them. They’re not thinking of the future or the place in which they are drilling. They’re thinking of themselves and their bottom line. Those are “small bits.” The big picture eludes them.

        As for the result? Again, we think in terms of our own lives, our own lifespans. I think about how, when I was a kid, we had an incinerator in our backyard and one small trash can for what couldn’t be burned. Now I have a huge honking trash can but last year ONE company in my area started offering recycling. THAT can is as big as the trash can and fills faster but they only collect it every two weeks.

        Your area is a “small bit” that doesn’t offer recycling — link all those small bits together and there’s a big problem.

        I remember Lake Michigan being dead and most days in LA too polluted to see. We made changes for the better — unleaded gas for one, catalytic converters for another — but people fought against them the way people fight change.

        I believe that we can — as individuals — do a LOT to fight this but not if we think we can’t, that it’s too big for us to contend with so why bother?

        Right now — where I live — there’s a fight going on to prevent oil drilling 1 mile as the crow flies from the Great Sand Dunes. Just because the drilling is “on the other side of the mountains” makes some people think it’s all right. They aren’t thinking that as far as the land and air are concerned there is no “one mile” or “over the mountains.” I believe we need to combat the small-mindedness and the short-sightedness as well as the feeling of individual impotence.

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        1. On a state-wide scale, we fight. After the mills left the river valleys — remembering that Massachusetts was the first of the seriously polluted states in the U.S. — we went into full battle mode to try and restore our rivers and we’ve done a moderately good job. I’m not saying we aren’t trying, but it’s very patchwork and there are many things that so far, can’t be fixed.

          The AMOUNT of pollution in the Blackstone Valley — my valley — is truly mind-boggling. Behind each of those scenic dams lie mountains of soil so hazardous, they dare not even let the dams crumble because all that filth will pour back into the river and it’ll be 1974 all over again. That was when the Blackstone was THE most polluted river in the U.S.

          We aren’t clean yet because each little town along the river gets to say how much they do to fix the problem … and ALL that water pours out into the bay in Rhode Island — with all the excrement and nitrites — and thence to the ocean. It wasn’t such a little bit, either. The river was literally wall-to-wall pollution, top to bottom. From the Worcester hills to Rhode Island. Boston has done a yeoman’s job cleaning up the Charles, but Lowell has not done such a great job on the Merrimack and there are large pockets of serious pollution on the Concord and Nashua rivers, too.

          My boss at University of Jerusalem was the world expert on water reuse and management in areas of scarcity. He wrote a lot of books. I helped write one of them. None of them are in current production, but all of them are even MORE relevant than they were when he wrote them … 60 years ago. My favorite book that I think is still available is “Pollution in a Promised Land: An Environmental History of Israel” by Alon Tal based on his interview with Dr. Shuval. There’s so much more. Whatever you could do ecologically wrong in an arid land, Israel (with help from her even less knowledgeable neighbors) did it. Whatever they COULD have done to fix it, they didn’t do.

          Some things, it IS too late. They killed the aquifer and once dead, it’s gone forever. You cannot revive a poisoned aquifer. Not everything CAN be fixed which is one of the most worrying things about what’s happening. We think ‘Oh, we can fix that’ but not necessarily. I suppose that’s how we have to think or life will be too depressing.

          A little at a time. I guess if what you mean is “one relatively small area at a time.” But the areas that were MOST polluted were inevitably river valleys and in the hundreds (thousands?) of years of realizing that the water is undrinkable and dangerous, we haven’t fixed it. Factories are STILL pouring excrement and dyes and all kinds of “natural” and not-so-natural chemicals into the water. All those natural tanning products that went into the Blackstone are as impossible to fix as anything we make in a factory today.

          If every single person on earth started behaving — to the best of their ability — soundly ecological, I still don’t know if we could salvage our waterways and without water, there’s no life. Without bees, without water, without the ice at the poles and the fish and the birds … there’s nothing left. It’s not that I’m throwing up my hands in despair. It’s that there is almost nothing I can do except sign petitions that will be ignored. Applauded and ignored.

          I clean up messes when I can. You have NO idea how infuriated I get by people who toss their trash from car windows as they drive past my house. We are forever picking up wrappers from old chickens and paper cups and bags. What is WRONG with these people? What is wrong with PEOPLE?

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            1. Yes, absolutely. The question is — will they kill us doing it or will they wake up before it’s too late to fix it? I spend 6 years at the University of Jerusalem Environmental Health Laboratory and I learned way more than I wanted to know. The people working there were from all over the world. The boss was (is) American, but there were people literally from everywhere.

              One of the jobs of the lab was to go from kibbutz to kibbutz BEGGING them to stop using nitrous-rich fertilizer because in an arid rain area like Israel and Jordan, there’s not enough rainfall to wash the nitrites out of the soil. Hillel predicted we’d kill the aquifer by 1986. He was wrong. It was dead by 1983. The kibbutzniks weren’t stupid or illiterate, but hey, they needed bigger crops, fewer bugs — and no one could convince them that an aquifer is a real thing.

              There are not a lot of strong aquifers in this country. You live atop one of the huge ones – it’s actually called the Colorado aquifer and it spans from Colorado to Utah through Arizona and into California. And it is in terrible danger. If it dies, you in the southwest have no alternate water source except a few measly rivers. People say amazing things like ‘Oh, we’ll pipe it in from the Great lakes.” I always ask them how that’s going? How far along is the pipe? Corporations are VERY busy piping oil UNDER the water we need to live, but surprising unconcerned with making sure we HAVE any water.

              Oblivious. Stupid. And most of all INSANELY GREEDY.

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              1. We are not on the Colorado aquifer, but from living in Southern California I’ve seen a lot of damage from drought and the disbelief that people could run out of water. One aspect of the tension between northern and southern CA is water.

                This is where I live: https://www.hcn.org/articles/after-years-of-drought-and-overuse-a-water-basin-refills-in-the-san-luis-valley

                I think we understand very well what’s at stake in our little world. Many people (farmers and ranchers) have (beyond what’s explained in the article) returned to the old acequia system of irrigation which is very conservative of water and makes life good for wildlife. Most of the electricity used in the San Luis Valley is solar.

                No one fertilizes without testing their soil here as nitrates are not necessarily complementary to the soil. Most farms plow last years leavings back into the ground. Farmers have mostly stopped factory farming as well. The market they want to reach doesn’t want produce and meat grown that way.

                These are all hard-won lessons but impressive but obviously the only way people can sustain their lives here.

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                  1. The survival of the people in this valley depends on nature. There are not many people here, either, so people can solve problems by talking to each other. We just had a big AG meeting in my town with gubmint (Parks and Wildlife, BLM etc., the university in Fort Collins (AG university), farmers, Coors (which buys our barley and hops) to plan around this years drought. No one spins that news, either. The headline in the agricultural section of the paper is “San Luis Valley water outlook still abysmal.” People really need to know the facts and they depend on them.

                    I wish their politics were as enlightened as their lives. 😦

                    Our local independent bookstore closed. Immediately a group formed to re-open it using the co-op business model. They are going to reopen by summer. I think that’s awesome. I wish I felt up to being involved, but it’s not the time for me.

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                    1. For Garry, who had never paid a lot of attention to “matters of the earth,” the game changer was living with a well and not a city water system. The sudden realization that a drought meant WE don’t have water made all the lights go on. Living around here where almost everyone has a well, most people “get it.” But there are those who think that if the well is on their property, its “their water.” Try to explain to them that we ALL draw water from the same source and whether the well is on your property or not, we are sharing resources. You can’t use 500 gallons to fill you kids’ pool without the neighbors losing their water pressure … and sometimes, their water.

                      It ought to be an easy concept to explain, but it’s amazing how many people simply don’t get it.

                      Liked by 1 person

  3. If you remember the movie The Graduate, one fellow said the secret of the future was plastics. Unfortunately it was our demise. We have to get back to wrapping things in paper and glass.
    Leslie

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  4. I began recycling in 1982, long before it was popular. I got a lot of flack about it too, but I like to think that I’ve done my own small part. Is it enough? Not nearly. The tiny town in which I live just got on the recycling bandwagon last year. Before that? One had to haul their recyclables to bins at the edge of town. With my health issues, that became a problem quickly. My garage now looks like a cardboard and plastic hell, but I’m slowly eliminating the mess by putting in a little bit of the old stuff each time they pick up (which is only twice a month..again too little). You’re right. We’re too late. But some of us knew this was coming, but like you didn’t begin to imagine the scope nor the impact. Utah is due for a massive earthquake (they’ve been predicting the thing since I was 5 or even younger) and when (not IF) that happens, I hope I’m crushed to death. I really don’t like living in the world we’ve created.

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    1. We still have no place to take recyclables. Theoretically, our trash collect is supposed to come once a month and take away the recyclables, but he never shows up. Ever. So they just get dumped with all the rest of the trash and I have no idea where since Uxbridge has no dump.

      You see the calamity in the making and I see it too. Some of us do, most don’t. Everyone thinks this is a gradual thing and hey, we’ll all be gone before “it” hits. Looking around … I’m not seeing that. I’m seeing an annual huge enlargement of super storms and monster rains and a general sense of whatever can go wrong, IS going wrong. It’s going to be a very ugly world in which our grandchildren raise their children.

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  5. Oh come on, Marilyn. Stop being such a Chicken Little running around claiming that the sky is falling. President Trump has declared climate change to be a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. And you know how smart Trump is and how he always and only tells the truth.

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  6. My friends brother built and lives in an Earthship. He has an architecture and engineering degree so it was much easier for him to build it. It is beautiful and they grow their own food (he, his wife, and child are all vegan). They reuse water to grow their crops. Really, it sounds extreme but if the people in power were building in this manner, it would certainly help make the earth more sustainable.

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      1. I live in Canada, not the US. Granted, the situation is much worse there considering you have a President who doesn’t believe in climate change. BUT it is a worldwide problem. And while Canada is better (we do separate our recyclables and have regular pick up for them), we still have a Federal government hell bent on building a pipeline through our ocean and filling it with the most dirty oil in existence, rather than focusing on alternate energy sources. In addition, this has now caused so many issues that the premiere of Alberta has introduced legislation for their province to control where they send oil to … meaning they don’t want British Columbia getting any any longer because we don’t want the pipeline in our Ocean.
        So yes, can you imagine this? One country fighting tooth and nail amongst themselves (well 2 provinces really) on whether we move forward and try to make changes to save our planet, or just continue destroying it. Interestingly enough, the people of British. Plumbing trying to save it are being made to appear the bad guys. And what is Trudeau doing? Trying to get everyone to play nice.

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        1. None of the people in power are taking this more seriously than the need to keep their corporations busy making profits. Stupidity? Sure. But greed is the ultimate destroyer. They will NEVER stop polluting until suddenly, THEY can’t get clean water … at which time will it be too late for the rest of us?

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