The worst thing about global warming is chocolate. When I was growing up, you could buy a small candy bar made with real chocolate for only a dollar or two. Now the same candy bars — the cheapest milk chocolate ones! — cost at least ten dollars. The good ones cost almost twenty. I miss cheap coffee too, but everybody complains about that. Most people don’t make a serious complaint about chocolate because it’s seen as a luxury. But for some of us, it’s a way of life. And now thanks to global warming, chocolate crops are really suffering. It will never be as cheap as it was when I was a kid.
¡Dios mío! That makes me feel so old. Is thirty two old? Anyway, I didn’t come on here to talk about chocolate. I have other news.
I met with three of Jess’ friends yesterday. They’re part of Southern Illinois 350, a coalition of local people and groups that take various actions in response to climate change. They were up at the Energy Fair in Wisconsin a couple of weeks ago and saw the keynote speech given by Hakima Althea from the Solutions Project.
As you’ve probably noticed, her speech went viral. If you haven’t seen it for some reason, go watch it now.
Solutions Project isn’t really a protest group, and Hakima Althea usually isn’t a protest speaker. I saw her talk in person once in Miami and watched a few of her videos online. She’s a very level-headed electrical engineer who speaks very calmly but very firmly about how important it is to switch to clean energy and how easy it is from a technological perspective. People like her because she makes it all seem so clear and reasonable and possible.
Nobody was expecting her to give the speech that she gave.
At the beginning, she spent about two minutes giving her usual speech about the technology. Renewables are ready. But then she went on this big, impassioned, visionary rant about how we need to deploy all of our psychological, social, economic, and political technologies to shut down the fossil fuel industry and replace it all with clean energy. She mentioned Miami and talked about how every city in the world is going to go through its own “Miami moment” within the next few decades. She emphasized that the remaining fossil fuel industry was only benefiting a “handful of people in a handful of countries” and that the rest of the world was “on the cusp of apocalyptic changes” as a result of their greed. She urged everyone to do what they can to prepare their communities and their countries for these disasters. But most of all, she said that people in the U.S. and a few other “hyper-emitters” had a “moral responsibility to shut down the fossil fuels industry by any means necessary”.
The response has been tremendous. The video is already on track to being one of the most viewed and liked videos on YouTube. It probably will be by the end of the month. Green Front militias have pledged their support for her call to action and Tea Party militias are calling her a terrorist and calling for her capture and execution as an enemy combatant. None of that really surprises me, though. What surprises me is the number of people in the middle who support her. People these days are afraid of getting harassed or arrested for reading the wrong books, visiting the wrong websites, talking to the wrong people. But they watch her video, they like it, they talk about it at work, and so on. Maybe it’s precisely because she was just a mild-mannered electrical engineer who was much more level-headed until her sister was displaced by Hurricane Florence.
I’ve watch that video about a dozen times by now. It’s amazing. I sometimes put it on in the morning and listen to it while I get ready to remind myself what I need to be doing with my life now.
So when Jess’ friends saw this speech in Wisconsin, they decided to do something local here in Illinois. They’re starting up the local branch of a statewide campaign to get the entire State of Illinois to use 100% clean renewable energy by 2040. It’s been tried before, back when the Solutions Project was just getting started and the goal was 100% by 2030. But they feel very optimistic about it this time. There are actually a few Greens and Climaters in the state assembly now, so they know they can at least get a few bills on the table. The problem will be applying pressure to force the more conservative politicians — the Democrats, the Republicans, maybe even the lone Libertarian — to vote in favor of clean energy policies.
I’ve decided to help them. They wanted someone from Miami who can talk about the situation there and how it relates to Illinois. They also just need more hands for things like canvassing, organizing events, and other things. Most of it won’t be paid work, but I might get paid for a few things, and I won’t let it interfere with my paid work. So it seems like a good idea to me. It’s funny, though, how I was a lot less political when I was living in a big city. Now I live in a small town in a rural area and everybody wants me to do some organizing!
I still have a few more things to do today, but tomorrow is going to be my day off. Which is good because they have these big free concerts in Carbondale every Thursday. The music is hit or miss but it’s fun to go to the park and meet all these people and listen to music in the background. Jess tends to get political and go around talking to people about her projects, but I tend to just relax and be social. Ermete and Alejandra actually sit and listen to the music. It’s a good time, but I wish it weren’t so hot and humid! There are always heat advisories, a few cooling tents, an ambulance on stand-by, and so on. I can mostly set aside politics when I’m out at a concert, but when I have to go to the cooling tent to cool off, I can’t help but think of global warming.
But I don’t let it get to me. I need some time to just relax with friends, otherwise I’ll go insane. So I just laugh, shake my head, and get back to the concert. I need to enjoy this life while it lasts.