“She’s naked under those clothes,” my husband said solemnly the other evening. He was referring to a good-looking woman sitting at Songbird Cafe.
I cracked up. “We’re all naked under our clothes! Your material is getting better, honey.” Thor has a lifelong campaign to make me laugh (and he knows I don’t feel threatened by good-looking women).
This morning, drinking coffee at Albina Press on Hawthorne, Thor shows me an article about retail stores in the Hamptons. (Stay with me here; this will all make sense in the end.) These stores are keeping their front doors open in the summer heat — while they run their air conditioners full blast.
I grind my teeth. This kind of thing drives me apeshit. Climate change is proceeding even faster, with more volatility, than the International Panel on Climate Change had originally thought it would. World civilization, at least as we know it, is at risk, both in the fairly near future, and certainly in the mid-term and long-term future. And people, presumably educated business owners, are squandering energy spectactularly, when it’s over-use of energy that’s causing climate change in the first place.
But then, on the other hand, I’m proceeding with my own life as normal. Sure, my home”s solar panels are putting us at net zero electricity, and we share a single hybrid car rather than driving two Hummers to hell and gone daily, and so forth. But I can’t pretend to be an activist, not like the people I respect at 350.org.
I imagine most people are not too different from me. Our lives are generally proceeding as normal. We’re thinking about what we’ll eat for dinner, and what we’ll drink before dinner. We try to do a good job at work, and to stay on top of our bills; we hope for a good vacation that won’t break our bank account; and we floss our teeth when we remember.
But all those things are just the clothes of our lives — the things we can see and touch. They’re the things on the surface, real enough, but just the beginning of the story. Climate change is heating the earth, underneath the surface of our lives, in the same way that our bodies are underneath the surface of our clothes.
What’s underneath the clothes is always what matters. Sex and climate change are no different in this respect. The way that we are burning fossil fuels in the developed world is not sustainable. Neither are the habits and lifestyles those fossil fuels make possible. Are we keeping our mental maps updated? Are we able and willing to change? Are we developing our resiliency? Are we growing our faith and becoming stronger?
What’s strange to me is that in 2008, most people I knew were talking about climate change, to one degree or another. Now, I almost never hear anybody talking about it. And this is in Portland, Oregon, supposedly an epicenter of sustainability. I think we’re running scared, and shutting down.
I’m not going to run scared. I’m not going to shut down. I’m going to keep weaving climate change into my writing here at Diamond-Cut Life, and into my conversations, both with colleagues in the transportation field, and in my personal life. I just signed an online letter to President Obama. You might consider signing it too. He needs encouragement in acting on climate change.
We all need encouragement. We’re all naked under these clothes we’re wearing. We share this in common: we’re all vulnerable to climate change, whether or not we acknowledge that it’s happening. What is the story that we’re living in response to it?