Saturday, March 03, 2012

I'm warm again

Today's snow

I'm still thinking about the art performance last night, enough so to request roasted red potatoes for dinner this evening. I keep ruminating about being at the center of that human conveyer belt. We were supposed to become a human machine, only rejoining community by turning to each other at the end. Meeting each other's eyes and returning to our humanity again. But the unexpected thing that happened was that we were all humans inside of the machine.

The whole night, I couldn't help but be connected to the people around me, every time my fingers brushed theirs. Every time my eyes sought the glove to my right, every time my movements slowed to allow for hers, or I noticed, in my peripheral vision, her motion shift and take off in an exquisite new direction, an elegant hand-flip as she arced her potato. We were human inside of the machine.

Climate change has been haunting me over the last several months, punctuated by the tornadoes last night, this time over Chattanooga where my parents live. I know climate scientists reject such neophyte associations, but no one's talking about the extreme weather patterns, and how they just keep getting more extreme. It was clear in the Bahamas, it's clear here in Maine, it's clear in Tennessee. It's clear everywhere, but we're all blindfolded, handing our dollars to the gas tank, as slow as the sunrise.

The problem is that no one believes in science. Nor does anyone understand how it works anymore, how even Newtonian physics, the bedrock of the Industrial Revolution, is nothing more than a theory, a theory that Einstein disproved. Gravity is just a theory, and this is because proof isn't something science does. Nevertheless, science works, perfectly, as a method of distinguishing between good theories and bad theories, as proven by the brushed-steel machine I'm typing on right now, by the cell phone in your pocket, by the television in your living room, all of which are based on quantum mechanics. Just a theory, but one that works really well.

What science does is establish correlation, collect evidence. And the correlation between carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and global warming is as clear as any. The evidence is irrefutable. By the time they have proof, we'll all be dead.

So what am I saying? It's the same as inside of that human conveyer belt. I'm a human inside of the machine of carbon emissions. I want to break free of the circle, to look at the people on either side of me and yell, scream—let's change things. Let's do something, anything. So why don't I? I'm too afraid, too poor, too lazy. As are the rest of you whose gloved fingers graze mine.


wfrenn said...

". . .this is because proof isn't something science does." I don't think this is quite right. Science demands proof in the form of evidence for its findings. It proceeds from hypothesis to theory, to law, then to principle.
Sometimes its laws--such as Newton's universal laws of gravitation and motion--may be superceded by a more encompassing Theory--Relativity--which undermined the assumptions of absolute time and space on which Newtonian Law was based. Thus, the laws are no longer universally applicable but, if I recall this correctly, work well enough for calculations within the finite universe of the solar system.
". . . global warming is as clear as any. The evidence is irrefutable. By the time they have proof, we'll all be dead." I think global warming is a theory. They have tons of evidence as proof, but none which other smart scientists and lawyers can't raise questions about with alternative explanations to "refute" their evidence. I am convinced of global warning, as are you, but the stakes are high. If the environmentalists turn out to be wrong, the greatest engine of productivity in history, industry, and the greatest marriage of machines to investments, financial capitalism, will be out trillions of dollars. I think you can appreciate that the moguls will not care to risk the big "oops" of losing it all on the basis of the probability that environmental science is right. On the other hand, if WE are right, indeed, we are all dead.
It reminds me of the tobacco industry wars. It took a disproportionate amount of effort and time just to get the producers to admit in their advertising that they made a product that had a real chance of shortening your life. I don't like it, but that's capitalism, which I don't much like either.
There is progress in this world, but it takes courage, work, and perseverance.
You let yourself off too easily when you conclude, "I'm too afraid, too poor, too lazy. As are the rest of you whose gloved fingers graze mine." This counsel to futility only suggests that you do not know how to attack this problems or you choose "not to die on this hillside." I do believe you have serious values you sacrifice for, notwithstanding your dooms.
I hope I have not hurt your feelings, but I don't know how else to be honest about this.
I like what a waitress said to me when I was in college: "We may give out, but we never give up." I have a feeling she never did.

The Cap'n

Rodger said...

Maybe living in a part of the country where the majority of my friends think the earth is 5,000 years old has warped my mind, but I agree with Melissa. If we are even willing to admit to the problem, we aren't willing to sacrifice for the solution.

Cheri P Murman said...

Hi sweetie, I hope the folks fared well. Several places around town took some hard hits.
Ahh the dilemma of giving up what we can, in the hopes of preserving what we have. I believe changes will come (eternal optimist that I am) but the age, in which we live now, those changes will be slow. And yes I know for certain my generation won’t live to them, yours might. But your generation (and perhaps your children) will have to suffer through them. And I think that’s what we Older folks aren’t getting. By not making the changes we need to right Now, we will leave quite the mess for you. But whats the solution. The movers and the shakers are all about the money. How do you get past that? Those of us making the changes we can, now, are so few that sometimes it hardly seems worth it. And yet I know it is. And I want to reach the end of this go around knowing I was more on the solution side of the fence than the problem side. It’s a pretty crowded fence these days.

Namaste & Love

Melissa said...

I seem to have struck a nerve. Maybe we're all nervy about this, what I believe is the greatest problem of our age. Most of us don't want to admit the problem because then we'd have to face the solution. Cap'n--I'm not giving up. I was saying, however poetically, that I believe that we are human beings inside of the engine of capitalism, and we do have the power to make our own choices, however powerless we feel.

As Rodger points out--we're not will to sacrifice much. I'd like to believe I'm sacrificing, and maybe I've cut back my car usage, or electricity usage marginally, but I've done nothing that I'd classify as a sacrifice. Cheryl, you're right. It's a matter of giving up what we can.

I keep thinking about the day of $100 a gallon gasoline, coming on fast. Maybe that'll finally force us to change our behavior.