Perspective is an amazing thing. This week's heatwave in the PNW killed two people, broke records, and all the scientists say we better get used to it. Summers will just keep getting hotter and the heatwaves will just keep lasting longer. Watching the temperature climb, all I could think was: it could be worse. The summer before last we had a murderheat wave called a heat dome. Many people fled to the coast and all the hotels in-town were booked. For three days the city essentially shut down while everyone who could, hid inside wherever there was air conditioning. 96 people died.
Two friends stayed with us because neither of their homes had air conditioning. We put up black-out curtains on all the windows, didn't turn on the stove or oven, and tried not to move too much. I covered my young tomato plants and watered my poor garden three times a day, careful not to get water droplets on any of the leaves. When the heat finally broke and the temperature began to drop it was like an entity had finally left the area. Our 30 year old air conditioner lasted until the next morning when it finally croaked. That brave little AC unit gave its life so we could make it through that weekend.
That heat dome was a once in a 1000 year event, even though we seem to be having a lot of those nowadays. Like the catastrophic wildfire that just scorched the island of Maui. Over 2,500 acres and almost 3,000 structures burned. 1,000 people still missing and over 100 confirmed dead. And before the ash has even settled, real estate developers began offering victims paltry sums for their fire-blackened land. As if their home burning to the ground wasn't devastating enough.
Fortunately that despicable, exploitative behavior didn't fly under the radar for long. People spoke out. People pushed back. It's been all over the news and social media. The Governor says his office is doing everything they can to protect the people from the predators. As ruinous and traumatizing as this disaster is, apparently it could be even worse.
As has happened many times, asshole capitalists are making an already untenable situation even worse. Just like climate change. There are so many ways every industry could function without destroying our one and only planet. That's just not how we have been doing things so far. Making those shifts will require investment in new infrastructure. Governments will have to tax billionaires (hopefully out of existence) and companies whose sole purpose is to produce profit will have to set a different Number One Priority.
Ironically, focusing on sustainability will ultimately generate greater profits. This is well known and has been discussed and documented many times by many experts in many areas. The problem is sustainability is a long-term strategy that doesn't always produce short-term gains and our current economic system demands short-term gains for investors. So, for a very long time we have extracted those gains without carefully planning to mitigate the harmful future consequences.
One of the reasons we're still doing it is because this is what we've been doing so far. Which is the very worst reason to keep doing something. Another reason we haven't switched to something else is a lack of creativity. I don't mean the people working on these kinds of issues are not capable of creativity, or that they're failing to exercise their creativity. I mean the people who are in charge are steeped in the current systems and there are not enough other people involved in crafting new ways to tackle the biggest challenges of our time.
Consider as an example the sequel "Avatar: The Way of Water." A key plot point of the first movie was when the military dude grew beyond his military mindset by experiencing a completely different way of being and then helped the native people fight off the invaders. This facilitated his becoming one of the native Na'vi. But in the second movie, the military mindset is back and at full volume. And the thing that makes the least sense is NO ONE SAYS ANYTHING ABOUT IT. The main character's Na'vi family is a character of a dysfunctional, patriarchal American military family.
This family are being chased by military dudes who want revenge for loosing in the first movie. So MainGuy decides all by himself that what makes the most sense is for the whole family to leave their tribe and seek refuge with another random tribe. Never mind that it would have made much more sense - given the kind of interconnected tribal community they live in - to consult the rest of the community for other creative solutions that might be on somebody else's mind. Never mind that the tribe was still in danger from the angry military revenge dudes, and once the family left there also went the one person who was an expert in those angry military revenge dude tactics. And never mind that showing up to some other random tribe and asking to blend-in also puts the new random tribe in the same kind of danger as long as the family is still being hunted.
This is why one person cannot actually solve community problems. This is why things that affect us all need to be addressed by all of us. That is the entire point of community: our whole is greater than the sum of our parts. It is also the only way humans can survive. A solitary human cannot make it very long in the wild, we need support from one other. There are billions of us on this planet right now, which means billions of potential creative solutions to the struggles we are facing. So why are we still letting only a few people steer the ship?
Overall, the average life experience of a human on Earth has improved over time thanks to science and technology. The benefits of these advancements just haven't been shared with everyone. Modern life could definitely be worse, and sometimes not as bad as it could be is as good as it gets. But it's time for some deliberate redistribution of resources and power. So let's all come together and figure out how to do things differently than how we have been. If Paraguay can figure out how to generate 100% of its power from renewable sources, then we can follow their example.
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Jaydra is a human in-process, working to make the world a better place. Sharing thoughts, feelings, and observations about the human experience.