If you follow Em-i-lis, you'll know that I am an enormous fan of Barbara Kingsolver, as a writer, woman and environmentalist. This excerpt comes from a forward she wrote for an anthology on global warming commissioned by the Union of Concerned Scientists. "We find ourselves in a chapter of history I would entitle "Isolation and Efficiency, and How They Came Around to Bite Us in the Backside." We're ravaged by disagreements, bizarrely globalized, with the extravagant excesses of one culture washing up as famine or flood on the shores of another....Twenty years ago, climate scientists first told Congress that carbon emissions were building towards a disastrous instability. Congress said, We need to think about that. Ten years later, the world's nations wrote the Kyoto Protocol, a set of legally binding controls on our carbon emissions. The United States said, We still need to think about it. Now we watch as glaciers disappear, the lights of biodiversity go out, the oceans reverse their ancient order. A few degrees look so small on the thermometer. We are so good at measuring things and declaring them under control. ...It's an emergency on a scale we've never known, and we've responded by following the rules we know: efficiency, isolation.
We must radically reconsider the power relationship between humans and our habitat. ...In the awful moment when someone demands at gunpoint, "Your money or your life," the answer is not supposed to be difficult. And in fact a lot of people are rethinking the money answer, looking behind the cash price to see what it costs us to mine and manufacture, to transport, to burn, to bury. ...
The arc of history is longer than human vision. It bends. We abolished slavery, we granted universal suffrage. We have done hard things before. Each time it took a terrible fight between people who could not imagine changing the rules and those who said, "We already did. We have made the world new." The hardest part will be to convince ourselves of the possibilities and hang on. If we run out of hope at the end of the day, we'll rise in the morning and put it on again with our shoes..."
Beautifully, powerfully, starkly written food for thought, especially in light of the famine in East Africa (due, in part, to the worst drought in 60 years), the recent storms that have ravaged parts of the U.S, the pathetic, selfish, myopic gridlock in Washington, and the scores of people across the Middle East who have shown incredible determination in their fight for respect, fairness and a voice.