Another Long Blog Post about Climate Change, Social Movements Led by Children, Situational Deafness and a Changing World

Throughout history there have been several social movements led by children. The two that come to my mind are the Children’s Crusade of the early 13th century, and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution0s of the mid 196, both of which were disasters for the very children involved.

Having forgotten the details of the Children’s Crusade, I had to look it up. Wikipedia has the most succinct explanation; The variants of the long-standing story of the Children’s Crusade have similar themes. A boy begins to preach in either France or Germany, claims that he had been visited by Jesus, who instructed him to lead a Crusade in order to peacefully convert Muslims to Christianity. Through a series of portents and miracles he gains a following of up to 30,000 children. He leads his followers south towards the Mediterranean Sea, in the belief that the sea would part on their arrival, which would allow him and his followers to walk to Jerusalem. This does not happen. The children are sold to two merchants (Hugh the Iron and William of Posqueres), who give free passage on boats to as many of the children as are willing. The pilgrims are then either taken to Tunisia, where they are sold into slavery by the merchants or else die in a shipwreck on San Pietro Island off Sardinia during a gale.

The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in the People’s Republic of China resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of educated Chinese (no one knows the exact number). Essentially, it was a movement led by Chairman Mao (ostensibly started by Chinese youth). It’s main goal was the overthrowing of the “four olds” — Old Customs, Old Culture, Old Habits, and Old Ideas.

Being led by children hasn’t worked out that well in history, though I understand the frustration that has led to children marching against climate change. I feel it too, all the time, every day. I’ve seen the effects in real life, the change in the climate in Southern California while I lived there, most pronounced during the time I lived in the Cuyamaca Mountains. When I moved there, September, 2003, the fields across from me were waist high green grass in which cows could hide. The field was filled with healthy oaks. That very year the second largest fire (the largest happened last year) came sweeping through those mountains. The field in subsequent years (though not destroyed by the fire) became incrementally dryer and dryer until the grass was green for only one or two months in a rainy winter. All the trees died. It was an observable shift in normal.

The temperatures rose, too, over that period. When I moved into my house, the hottest temperature during the hottest season of the year was 90 F/32 C. By the time I moved away in September of 2014, it was often 110 F/43 C by 10 am during the summer. That year there were new fires every day, most small and remote, but they were happening. All the rakes in the world won’t stop fires in those conditions.

So why does the marching of children yelling at us that “we” destroyed “their” world have such an impact? I really don’t know. No one listened to me when I yelled about this. Well, that’s not true. I was kind of a curiosity; a girl succeeding in a competitive speech event in which boys usually won. I got to give my speech to lots of civic groups in Colorado Springs.

I was 17 when I wrote this speech. That was 1969. The big issues in the world were the Viet Nam War and The Bomb. Those were not, to me, the biggest issues, but they were the most gruesome, the most scary (in the short term) the most accessible to most people, the most easily sensationalized by the news. Of course, I mistrusted the adults, too. After all, hadn’t they “allowed” all this to happen?

I was doing competitive speaking in an effort to overcome my terror of speaking in front of people (never completely succeeded in that but I never stopped trying). This speech (and my delivery of it) took second place in the state of Colorado. I lost to a speech about the Viet Nam war.

The speech begins with a little dialogue between a teacher and a student. A student has found an aster growing in a crack in the pavement and brought it to class. The teacher has an allergic reaction and doesn’t know what the flower is. (Youth is truth). Then…filled with youthful cynicism (faux sophistication):

Then, having gotten my audience’ attention, I got real (for 17)…

“The human race, that’s you, for one, and Americans in particular, are racing toward total annihilation with, at last, no exceptions made as to race, creed, gender or nationality. Man abuses the air he needs to breathe, the water he needs for sustaining his life, and he is brilliantly (as usual) devising technological advanced ways to destroy the delicate food cycle of which he is the ultimate beneficiary.

Adlai Stevenson compared Earth, our plant, to the several satellites that have, at certain intervals, circled our world. In these words he explains the necessity for preserving Earth the Beautiful (I got over love of country early):

We travel together, passengers on a little spaceship, dependent on its vulnerable reserves of air and soil, all committed for our safety to its security and peace; preserved from annihilation only but the care, the work, and the love we give our fragile craft. (Stevenson was born in 1900)

At that time, the population of the earth was beginning to be a concern. Paul Erlich was writing articles on this topic and they would soon appear in a book, The Population Bomb. I was very affected by his argument and it entered my speech, too. It’s still a problem, but…

“As any American will agree, empty space is wasted space. With the population of the world doubling every 5 years it is illogical that even the most radical conservationist would want to you a river for anything except a source of power or would want a hunk of forest to just sit there making trees. The words of the Scottish essayist, Thomas Carlyle, bring this idea close to home:

“You won’t have any trouble in your country as long as you have few people and much land, but when you have many people and little land your trials will begin. Thomas Carlyle (Carlyle was born in 1795)

So how did I end this bit of juvenile satire on the subject that has been closest to my heart since I was eight? With a call to action that was based on individual personal responsibility.

Back in 1969 many, many of our current problems had not come into existence. Soda was sold in bottles (cans were only starting to show up) that came in cardboard cartons. Until the early 80s, food came home in paper bags. Detergent came in a cardboard box. There was no recycling partly because there wasn’t a lot to recycle. In the 1950s (and before) we had backyard incinerators. Burning in the backyard was banned and that ended (though now we have fire pits???) leading to more trash going to landfills…

But there were gravely serious problems such as Lake Erie being dead and unbreathable — and dangerous — “air” in LA, NYC and Denver. A good article about the environmental crisis in the US at the late sixties is here.

Throughout my lifetime technological development has moved faster than our understanding of the consequences. The Dead Kennedy’s masterful album, Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death (1987) is well titled and descriptive of our lives.

So, should we be led by these children? Why not? We haven’t listened to anyone else so far.

From the musical, Hair, 1967
I gave it to my junior year English teacher, Roenna Cohen, to read — then the yearbook adviser. Her comments, my response.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/09/24/rdp-tuesday-error/

Burn, Baby, Burn…

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1061168803218948096

57% of California forest is under the “control” of the federal government: the rest is in the control of corporations and Native American tribes. So, the question is, is Trump copping to the reality that budget cuts, a reduction in EPA funding and regulation, a reduction in federal woodland employees and the persistent denial of the realities of climate change by the Republican Party have all contributed to California wildfires?

NO.
He tried passing the buck, only to learn that the buck stopped with him.

I lived in California for thirty+ years. The number and size of wildfires grew each decade I lived there. Between 2003 and 2014, when I moved back to Colorado, I lived in Descanso, a small town at the edge of North America’s southernmost rain forest. This forest covers the Cuyamaca Mountains in San Diego County and has America’s southernmost indigenous redwood trees.

In 2003, the largest wildfire in California history (until last year), the Cedar Fire, swept through those mountains burning hundreds of thousands of acres, destroying an entire town, and killing people. It is the third deadliest fire in California history. (The two most deadly happened in 2017 and 2018. Think about that.)

The Cedar Fire began as a signal fire set by an ignorant dumbass hunter who was lost in tinder-dry chaparral, and wanted his friend to find him. If you look at the featured image, behind the biggest mountain in the photo (Mt. San Miguel which isn’t actually very high) is the forest near where I lived. The forest where I lived is about 50,000 wilderness acres, all of which burned. The Cedar Fire also burned through parts of San Diego all the way to the ocean, a total of 273,246 acres burned. I was evacuated from home for more than a week.

California fires for the past two years have been worse but bad is bad, right?

“I think people have to see this really to understand it,” Trump said in his visit to the site of the recent Camp Fire.

I got news for you, sweet cheeks. MILLIONS of people in California HAVE seen it, and they understand it fine. Those of us who lived in fire-vulnerable towns on the edges of the forests (some towns were — as mine — more than a hundred years old and hadn’t burned) were scrupulous about controlling fuels on our property. Not just that, when a “normal” fire started (as happened twice while I lived in Descanso, California) people in the town and volunteer firefighters were able to extinguish the fires before they could become dangerous. These fires were a water heater explosion, random cigarette butt thrown by a tourist into a dry field. We were not stupid nor were we unprepared or inexperienced. Besides THAT the volunteer fire departments of these towns issues warnings and tickets for people who do NOT clear their property. 

Still, the clearest property in the world
will NOT stop a fire going 80 mph.

He went on to compare California to Nordic nations (hang on while my head explodes):

“Other countries do it differently, it’s a whole different story,” Trump said, citing purported comments from the president of Finland on how the Nordic nation deals with its forests.

He said they engage in “raking and cleaning things and they don’t have any problem.”

California has 33 million acres of forest, according to a University of California web page. Federal agencies overseen by the Trump administration own and manage about 19 million acres of that total.

“I perhaps wouldn’t compare Finland and California climate-wise…” tweeted Veli-Pekka Kivimäki, a Finnish defense researcher. “And besides, 80% of the country [Finland] is classified as forest land. We don’t exactly manicure all of it.”

https://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/ny-pol-trump-visits-california-wildfires-shooting-victims-20181117-story.html


Beyond that, Mr. “President,” fire JUMPS from tree-top to tree-top. Fire jumps freeways and lakes. A fire in motion does whatever it damned well pleases. 

Moving back to Colorado, I was shocked to see people actually stacking firewood BESIDE their houses! How much more reckless could they be, right?

“…when he was asked by Fox News in an interview set to air Sunday whether climate change played a role in the number of serious fires, he said: ‘Maybe it contributes a little bit. The big problem we have is management.’ He added that he was surprised to see images of firefighters removing dried brush near a fire. “This should have been all raked out.”

https://www.apnews.com/8f52ea34a9f3477e9dc76bd57ab30cad

By whom, dickwad?

How many BLM guys does it take to rake out 250,000 acres of forest — roughly the number of acres burned in two of California’s recent fires. Add to that the man power needed to clear out beetle kill oak and pine? What IF there had not been, essentially, decades of increasing drought?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Droughts_in_California#/media/File:Drought_area_in_California.svg

“We’ve never seen anything like this in California,” Trump said.

Yes, actually, California has. Year after year, worse every year. And not just California. Washington State, Oregon, Alaska, Montana, Colorado, the entire WEST is burning along with Greece, Spain, Italy, IRELAND (for Chrissakes), Australia, parts of Africa — it’s a pretty long list of tragedies just like this. 

In August 2017, the northern hemisphere firemaps looked like this:

https://www.popsci.com/global-wildfire-maps

I am sure that these fires have something to do with careless people, flying cigarette butts, a spark from an electric wire or a car passing by, they have more to do with climate change. Wet fuel isn’t fuel.

The data tell the story: Six of California’s ten most destructive wildfires on record have now struck in just the past three years

…scientific evidence clearly shows that climate change is exacerbating California’s wildfires in different ways:

1) Higher temperatures dry out vegetation and soil, creating more wildfire fuel.

2) Climate change is shortening the California rainy season, thus extending the fire season.

3) Climate change is also shifting the Santa Ana winds that fan particularly dangerous wildfires in Southern California.

4) The warming atmosphere is slowing the jet stream, leading to more California heat waves and high-pressure ridges in the Pacific. Those ridges deflect from the state some storms that would otherwise bring much-needed moisture to slow the spread of fires.

https://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2018/11/the-many-ways-climate-change-worsens-california-wildfires/



I am not a climate scientist, but I read. And I know how our lives are different now from fifty or sixty years ago, not just my life, but the lives of people all over the world. Economic development isn’t free and the costs are not just financial. China in its rush to become a developed nation (and it was /is/has been a rush) said straight up that it would be interested in environmentalism when all its people had the necessities for a comfortable and prosperous life. It has reached this goal and has taken steps to ameliorate some of the damage its development has caused, but it could be too little too late. But, in my personal opinion anything at any time practiced consistently can help. 

What doesn’t help is having a president of one of the largest, most influential nations and economies in the world deny the need for human beings to step up — or keep stepping up — to diminish the contribution of human beings to the destruction of our world through climate change.

2015 special report in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society found that “An increase in fire risk in California is attributable to human-induced climate change.” And a 2016 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that human-caused global warming doubled the area burned by wildfires in the western U.S. over just the past 30 years.

Ibid


I love this planet. It made me, it feeds me, it helps me continue living, my friends are all here, I find it beautiful.

I loved California. Part of my heart will always be there.

I’m grateful that where I live now, in the San Luis Valley of Colorado, alternative energy sources are not only available, but help the economy in one of the most economically depressed areas of the United States. I was recently given the choice by my electric company to choose where my electricity comes from and it is now all solar generated. 

San Luis Valley Solar Farm, Mosca CO

Opportunities like this are happening all over the world. I don’t think our government should drag its heels denying a reality that’s all too real to millions of people.