Fire and Water…Musings on Climate and Governance

This post is a lightly-edited version of one that went out in my newsletter.  If you like it, please consider signing up.  I send out about ten newsletters a year.  They include posts like this, reading recommendations, and sometimes some of my writing.

My son just came home from fighting wildfires in Washington State. The smoke from those same fires gave us the worst air quality ever recorded in the Puget Sound this week. A local weatherman in our Seattle area, Cliff Maas, is calling this week a “smokestorm.”  The air is dangerous for all of us to breathe, not just the weak and young and old (not that that isn’t bad enough!). Someone I work with has family in Kerala, India where record rains have killed hundreds. So pick your element. Too much fire? Too much water?  Unsafe Air?

As my father and I were walking the dogs last night, we discussed how we might all benefit if things get bad quickly with the world economy, so we can establish planet-wide governance that can handle problems like climate. I’m not sure how how to make that happen or what that government looks like. I used to think that the American model could work worldwide, but at the moment the American model has been gamed and is deeply cracked, if not broken. If we were still leaders and still function well, we might have partnered with the world to fix this. But now I don’t see the leadership we need.

In the future world I create with Wilders and Keepers, a strong federal government rips people from land to save them from dangers and re-wild the land. But then they lose power as it spreads through cities. I can imagine that future, but it may not be one that humans survive in the long run.

It does appear that even clear and obvious climate change challenges that have been predicted for years are not enough to make us act. This year I have protested and collected signatures. I’ve written about justice. And yet I feel like I haven’t done enough. All around, there are signs that we all must do more.

There is a pod of Orcas in Alaska that has not had children since they were near the Valdez oil spill.  There is another pod of Orcas dying in the Puget Sound. A mother carried her dead calf for days, and most of us who live here cried for her. When I am out walking in our local forest, it feels like I am walking through a beautiful place that we have already doomed. I want that feeling to be wrong. But I expect us to spend this week choking on the ash of buirning trees, and to still act like everything is normal.

It may take a political break/fix to solve this. It will certainly take change.  We also need technology and science and engineerings. We need support for smart young companies who are creating new sources of power, new materials, and new business models. Most importantly, we need to get past ourselves and care more about the dying orcas and the burning trees and the drowning world than we do about our next moment. We need to become bigger and more empathic.

Cover of After the Orange taken on an old tableSorry to run a bit preachy, but its hard to breathe in Seattle this week, and our orcas are dying. We can solve for this, but longer we wait, the harder the job will be.

In other news, I have a new story out this month. All of the stories in After the Orange are about what the world might be like after the Trump presidency.  Mine is a precursor to the world in Wilders. It’s called “Maybe the Monarchs.”

I think it’s one of my better – if bleaker – short stories.  I hope you buy a copy of the book, and that you like the story.  There are a lot of good stories in the book. If the anthology makes money, a portion of the profit will be donated to the ACLU.

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