“How can we dance when our Earth is turning? How do we sleep while our beds are burning?”
The lyrics above were penned in the late 1980s by the group, Midnight Oil, to illuminate the sociopolitical plight
of Australia’s Aboriginal people. But in both content and sentiment these words are strikingly contemporary,
underscoring a growing sense of urgency to stem and reverse the global impact of climate change.
Last week, the Pacific Northwest region of the United States (and B.C. Canada) experienced a historically
unprecedented triad of near, and over, 100-degree days, an event not previously recorded in 125 years of
meteorological data for the region. Beyond the impact on a population ill-equipped to manage daily life in these
temperatures, a section of interstate roadway near Seattle buckled from the heat; and Portland’s municipal transit
system was shut down when the record 115-degree temperature melted portions of the streetcar’s power cable
Though the investigation into the June 24 condominium collapse in Surfside, Florida is still on-going, early analyses by
structural engineers familiar with the building and area theorize a catastrophic failure of the building’s foundational
concrete slab as the cause of the collapse. Concrete erosion, due to salt water infiltration caused by recurrent storm
surge and rising sea levels, is a suspected culprit.
Nevada’s Lake Mead Reservoir, which supplies water to 25 million people in the southwestern U.S., is at its lowest
level in 90 years. Ranchers in North Dakota are trucking in water to maintain livestock. In 2020, nearly 10,000 wildfires
burned more than four million acres in California alone and destroyed more than 14,000 homes and other built
structures. Today, that state’s water reservoirs are only half as full as is historically typical and their wildfire season is
Scientific data tells us that climate change is not an abstraction: it is happening. The magnitude of our challenge to
mitigate and reverse its effects feels understandably overwhelming. Sociologists even have a term for that feeling:
climate grief. But rather than being overwhelmed to inaction and feelings of hopelessness, we can instead be
galvanized and inspired to take meaningful, consistent and immediate action.
Buy less and buy local. Reuse. Recycle. Drive less. Conserve energy and natural resources at home and at work. Eat
less meat or give it up altogether. Become a vocal climate advocate. Have the uncomfortable climate conversations
with colleagues, friends, family and neighbors. Instill in children and grandchildren planet-positive practices. Let your
environmental conscience guide decisions when choosing product vendors, goods and services. Direct your financial
investments to companies evidencing sound global stewardship policies and practices.
Support local legislative initiatives that seek to address climate change and vote against those that don’t. And cast your
vote, at the municipal, county, state and federal levels, for candidates who put forward policies and plans for sustainable
industry practices and renewable energy development.
Do what you can do, and if you’re not already, start doing it now, because time is a luxury we increasingly can’t afford.