I woke up too early this morning thinking about fires. Most of you report something similar, maybe not this morning but one morning in recent weeks. We post pictures and videos and ask each other to pray for the latest victims. It’s good. There is a lot of prayer and money and any good thing you can think to do for people displaced and harmed by rapid moving wildfires.
Fire investigators are trying to figure out how both the Boles and King fires in Northern California started. They’ve destroyed hundreds of homes and thousands of acres. Estimates are that it’s costing six million dollars to fight these fires–more I suspect when the tally is complete. One man has been arrested in the King fire which scorched dry forest near Sacramento and there is a ten thousand dollar reward for anyone who can help investigators track down how the Boles fire near Weed started.
But no matter how the fires started one thing is clear–the drought made them worse. Continuing rising temperatures in the Western US, predicted to continue going up by two to nine degrees by mid century is causing the following problems according to the National Wildlife Federation: drought from early Spring and warmer Fall which causes tremendous snow pack melt, dry conditions which make trees vulnerable to bark beetle infestation and disease and an increase in drier vegetation of all types which become fuel during a fire.
Add to that the troubling news last week that a glacier melted on Mount Shasta causing serious damage from a mudslide also attributed to warmer temperatures and we have a very serious wake up call.
Global warming is no longer some far off reality that may one day be a problem for our ancestors in one hundred years–it’s here now. Literally here, our region, the great Pacific Northwest and Northern California are bearing a big part of the brunt and it is happening now as fire seasons get progressively worse and glaciers melt. Like I said prayer is good but it’s not good enough. It’s like the story of a man sitting on the roof of his house in a flood waiting for God to rescue him. A boat comes and he waves it off, the same with a plane. He cries out to God asking when he will be saved and God asks him why he didn’t take the boat or plane he sent. We have a boat and a plane to stop this. It’s called us making better decisions and demanding the same from leadership.
Now here me out on this before wanting to get on with your morning of iced Mocha Cappuccino as you run your AC in the car on the way to work at 8 am–this shit is dire. I’m all in on living wages, social justice, equality for all and growing food in the dirt rather than a lab. But none of this matters if we have a dead planet.
Let’s try that again: None of it matters if we have a dead planet.
We are heating up now. We are burning up now. We have to change..now. Al Gore told us a long time ago about an “Inconvenient Truth.” Now we blame big oil, we hate the Koch Brothers, we demand sustainable practices (does anyone know how this looks beyond the slogan–quick– give me ten examples in your town right now)and we rail again Monsanto. Okay. I’m in. Sounds good. But it’s so much easier to blame those guys whom we’ve never met and never will. It’s so much simpler to march in a town square with your friends demanding change then drive home with a bag of burgers and fries with your buddies talking about how you did your bit than to change..say..your own habits.
Get ready right now to get really, really pissed at me. Ready, one, two, three–stop using so many animal based products–not tomorrow but today. Don’t bitch about being a “foodie” and how hard it is to get protein (heard of beans anyone?)and don’t call me hard core. Read the United Nations report released in 2010 about the biggest cause of global warming no one wants to look at. It says:
“As the global population surges towards a predicted 9.1 billion people by 2050, western tastes for diets rich in meat and dairy products are unsustainable, says the report from United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) international panel of sustainable resource management.
It says: “Impacts from agriculture are expected to increase substantially due to population growth increasing consumption of animal products. Unlike fossil fuels, it is difficult to look for alternatives: people have to eat. A substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products.”
Professor Edgar Hertwich, the lead author of the report, said: “Animal products cause more damage than [producing] construction minerals such as sand or cement, plastics or metals. Biomass and crops for animals are as damaging as [burning] fossil fuels.”
So I’m sorry to say if you’re not changing how you are in the world don’t bother praying or marching. God sent a boat and a plane with lots of information and you failed to be moved by it.
We here in the Western US are deeply affected. We need to deeply change. So here’s my proposal for all of you whom I know really, actually do intend to do good things in the world:
1) Don’t eat any meat or dairy products one day per week and ask everyone you know to do the same. If you are part of a cause or group make it part of your campaign. Meat out Monday, if everyone did it, would have a substantial impact. One day per week will actually positively affect your health too. You may want to drop the meat and dairy more often. But it’s one day per week to save the whole beautiful world–I know you can do it!
Agriculture, particularly meat and dairy products, accounts for 70% of global freshwater consumption, 38% of the total land use and 19% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, says that UN report I mentioned. Stop that from growing, get it to shrink and we can begin to turn this awful trend around.
There is no two, three or four. Just do that one thing and get everyone else to do it. That alone will make a huge difference quite rapidly. If no one used animal products on Mondays, if restaurants stopped serving it on Mondays, if stores stopped selling it the industry would shrink and our trees could breathe and so could we. March and pray if you want too–it can’t hurt. But don’t bother unless you’re willing to make a change in how you’re living.
Demand change and be change. It always begins the same place–with you.