Cassandra Weeps

When Scott Pruitt was approved as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, we knew that the Trump administration was seriously opposed to environmental protection.

We knew he was pro-oil long before he approved the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, or appointed Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson to be Secretary of State.

We knew that this is a man who gropes pussy and doesn’t apologize. Who doesn’t even love animals enough to have a dog at his side (yes, this is the same man who has just approved of shooting hibernating bears and wolf pups in their dens).

Grizzly Bear

It’s no surprise that this is a man who upholds and exalts the worst aspects of humanity: our greed, short-sightedness and cruelty; the abuse of the weak and manipulation of the gullible.

As soon as those tallies added up on November 8, we knew what we were dealing with, and we’ve had the intervening months to let it all sink in.

The executive order rolling back the US commitment to the Paris Climate Treaty is just the latest proof that yes, we are dealing with a fucking maniac.

Those of you who have been reading Transition Times for a while may note that this is the very first time that I have ever sunk to the level of a curse word.

Sometimes, there is just no substitute.


He is like Stalin or Hitler on steroids—not just out to annihilate a certain type of human, but bent on annihilating the entire Earth community, from the coral in the Great Barrier Reef to the bears in the Arctic to the humans in drought-prone areas and everything and everyone in-between.

Let us be honest with ourselves and admit that he and his henchmen may succeed.

There are a lot of indicators right now pointing to “game over” for the Anthropocene.

Sometimes I walk in the forest and feel in my gut that this moment couldn’t come too soon. Civilizational collapse for humanity, the sooner the better, would be the best possible outcome for every other living being on this planet.

Other times I am filled with compassion for my young sisters and brothers, for those who are yet to be born on this planet, and how sad it is that their chances of enjoying the marvelous benevolence of our Mother Earth will be cut short by the stupidity of current generations.


No one likes a Cassandra, and I don’t relish the role. But I cannot sit by and say nothing as the future of humans and all our relations, the other dear species of flora and fauna that we’ve evolved with in this long Holocene period—the birds, bees and bats, the deer, bears and cats; the mangroves, maples and mahoganies; the whales, salmon and octopus—all the familiar companions that make our Earth a home—are faced with the prospect of being swept away into the dark night of extinction.

There is no way to put a happy face on this, other than to remember the dinosaurs and remind ourselves that all things must pass; that our Earth is endlessly creative and will continue to evolve past the spectacular failure of humans.

Finger-pointing will not help. Trump’s fault? The oil barons’ fault? Our own fault for letting them gain so much power over our world? All of the above, and much more.

But there is nothing to be gained from casting blame.

We have passed the point of stopping the juggernaut of climate change. Now it falls to us to adapt, adapt, try to survive.

What will that look like? Reducing our dependence on fossil fuels; increasing local sources of renewable energy and food; hardening our defenses against storms, floods and droughts; remembering how our ancestors managed to survive without freezers, air conditioners, cars or computers.

All of these taken-for-granted aspects of modern life may soon become luxuries in the brave new world being ushered in by our politicians and the oil men.

I told you, no one likes a Cassandra.

But this is what I see coming to pass. All the auguries and omens are there. We have entered the Anthropocene and it looks like hell.

You will have to forgive me. This is the first post in which I have ever indulged in a curse word. And it’s also the first post in which I cannot seem to bring you to a hopeful conclusion.

The day I truly lose hope, you will not hear my voice.

But today my hope is at a low ebb, guttering.

Sometimes, you just have to accept the reality that the most you can hope for is a more hopeful tomorrow.


To Avert Climate Change Disaster, Connecting the Dots Must Go Viral

As of 8:30 a.m. EST this morning, 10,000 Facebook folks had already “liked” the new “Connect the Dots” campaign, which encourages people around the world to connect the dots between climate change and extreme weather.

That’s a good number of “likes.” But what we really need is for the concept to go viral, the way the Kony 2012 campaign did a few weeks back.

It will require the attention of millions of people, particularly those in the driver’s seat of climate change—that’s you and me, my fellow Americans—to turn this global heating juggernaut around.

Lately I can’t seem to stop asking myself why it is that so few people I know are willing to focus their attention on the crucial issues of our time: climate change, the chemical poisoning of our environment, the steadily accelerating wave towards what scientists call “the sixth great extinction event on Earth.”

I often feel like Cassandra of Troy, who was able to see disaster in the future of her beloved community, but was under a curse, imposed by the god Apollo, of never being believed or listened to.

It’s not so much that people don’t believe what’s coming (although we certainly have our share of climate change deniers in the U.S.)—it’s that they just don’t want to hear it.  They don’t want to know.

Maybe this is simply the animal in us coming out.  Like my peaceful dog, who sleeps by my side without any thought or concern for the future, we humans focus on the immediate tasks at hand—making a living, bringing up children, keeping the house clean, exercising, shopping, planning birthday parties, you name it—and we get so wrapped up in all that busyness that we are able to blot out the daily dying screams of millions of birds and animals, the rip and tear of millions of acres of forest going down before the chain saw and bulldozer, the sobbing of millions of children who go to bed hungry every night, the ever-increasing militarization of our world civilization, and the sinking knowledge that those in control of all those weapons and surveillance systems do not stand for good.

Sometimes I really envy my friends and neighbors who are able to cheerfully ignore what’s going on in the background, and focus on making the best of each day they’re given.

Sometimes I think that’s what I should be doing too.

Why torment myself with the constant awareness of spiraling crisis, especially if I can’t do anything about it anyway?

But there’s the rub.  I do have something to offer to the fight to connect the dots and raise the necessary momentum to push Americans, potentially the most powerfully innovative, can-do people on earth, off their couches and out into the trenches of turning this crisis around.

I have my voice, which thanks to the internet can be amplified around the world and swelled into a great chorus that cannot be ignored.

Over the last few years, I have made a study of change agents—otherwise known as activists.  I know full well that every single one began as I am beginning, just sitting with the burning knowledge that things are not right, and that change is possible.

The great Bill McKibben began his climate change work in his classroom, working with a group of tech-savvy college students who realized that the Web could be used to raise awareness about the necessity of keeping carbon emissions to under 350 ppm in order to head off extreme and irrevocable climate change.

In 2007, Bill and his students launched the first iteration of and were off and running, using the incredible tools of social media to connect people, places and events all over the world.

This is the thing.  We have the ability, as never before, to see the Earth as a whole system; to understand that every creature and community on the planet is vital to the functioning of the whole and has the right to a peaceful, prosperous life.

We as humans have the ability to distinguish between right and wrong, and we know full well that the damage we are causing with our reckless, destructive, indifferent ways is wrong.

We need people from all over the world, but especially Americans and Europeans, who have been responsible for so much of the damage, to come down on the side of right, on the side of life, on the side of justice.

Yes, it’s going to mean making lifestyle changes.

Yes, it’s going to take some focused attention on the local, national and international levels.

But if we do nothing—if we continue in our unconcerned merry ways, too busy and distracted to get involved—then we will wake up one morning facing some much more severe lifestyle changes.

One morning it will be us waking up to a howling tornado flattening our town, or a raging flood sweeping away our Main Street, or an oil slick blackening our local beach, or a spike in food prices that makes even the basics no longer affordable.

It’s time to connect the dots, people, and pay attention.  Add your voice to mine, and let’s go viral with a campaign for a sustainable planetary future that cannot be ignored.

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