Here on Whidbey Island, Earth Day isn’t just a day event, nor just a week event. On Whidbey Island, the whole month of April is dedicated to the earth and ocean, which explains the plethora of “green” and “environmental” activities and events taking place all over the island. One special event was a film series on environmental issues and the movie playing tonight sparked a great deal of interest in me. It was called “Global Meltdown” starring Bill Nye, but it didn’t just discuss the issue of Climate Change, it delved into the issue of Climate Change Grief.
As we may be aware, there are five stages of grief as described by psychologists: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. With a little wit and candor, Bill Nye takes the viewer through the five stages of grief as it relates to Climate Change.
The first stage of denial is so hard for me to believe. But listening to frustration from friends in other areas of the country help me realize that denial about climate change is a real thing. In Florida, Governor Rick Scott has banned the term “climate change” from usage among the Florida Department of Environmental Protection! Are you JOKING?!?! I can understand that he may not want to comment on the subject since he was quoted as saying “I am not a scientist”, but why is he IGNORING the scientists, then? It is a hard pill to swallow that in America, where a recent poll showed that 70% of the public think climate change is real, and 99.9% of scientists say climate change is a real threat, that politicians can still turn a blind eye to the issue. It really boggles my mind.
Which will ultimately lead to the second stage- Anger. It boggles my mind and infuriates me that our elected leaders can have the audacity and gonads to deny what a large majority of their constituents believe. Don’t they WANT to be re-elected? But, if channeled correctly, anger can lead to action.
In the stages of grief, though, that action tends to be the next stage- Bargaining. The film discussed a little on the Cap and Trade system, and how it’s sort of a scam, but has potential to really work well, as demonstrated in California where garbage trucks are run on, can you believe this? GARBAGE! And there’s ONE Shell facility that takes carbon from the oil and sequesters it back into the soil. This is one facility, in Alberta, Canada. To really make a difference, though, we’d need approximately 33,000 facilities doing the same thing.
So all this talk of denial and failed bargaining can lead someone to the fourth stage of grief- Depression. I admit I often get very discouraged. Our time in Beaverton did not heighten my hope for humanity, either. And there are some scientists who think we may have passed the point of no return when it comes to climate change. My struggle comes from wanting to do so much to help so many problems, it becomes overwhelming. There’s habitat destruction, which leads to not just climate change, but extinction of animal species. The ice caps melting, the huge fracking patch of plastic garbage in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Wildlife trafficking, poaching, pollution, mindless exploitation of resources, non-sustainable food, big commercial agriculture, and the list goes on and on. It’s overwhelming and incredibly depressing.
But Bill Nye offered one last final stage, and with that stage comes a bit of hope. The last stage of grief is Acceptance. And with acceptance comes understanding that in order to turn the tide on climate change, we must band together. We must be creative, innovative, and bold. We must think outside the box. While it’s okay to believe that there are scientists that have come up with solutions to some of our climate problems, we must not rely on just them to change the world. We must be the change. With acceptance that climate change is real, and present problem, we are then empowered to make a stand and say “no more!”
Is EarthFit THE answer to climate change and other environmental issues? No. But it is A solution. It’s my small way of changing the world, and not just making the world a better place, but helping make people better and feel better too. I heard some fantastic projects being integrated on Whidbey Island that will also make progress to help change the world- from creating rotational farms for livestock that will help soak up more carbon and deposit it into the soil and will actually help the grass grow stronger and faster, so livestock can continue to graze. Local farms opening more and more (tis the season, I suppose, too) to encourage not just local eating, but seasonal eating as well. Restoration and preservation of forests, prairies, and watersheds around the island. As long as the list was for my despair, there came a list for reasons to hope.
We continue to go through these stages of grief when it comes to climate change. I believe I am at different points at different times. But I know I’m in the right place to establish healthier environmental habits. Whidbey Island continues to prove that while the Space Needle may be the Mother Ship that called me out to the Northwest, the people of Whidbey Island are my tribesmen, and I think I may have found my “village”.
I am inspired to continue to do all I can!