Of Spacemen and Climate Change

Blog Action Day

By Cheryl Mahoney

If you’ve been following past posts, you may have noticed that the environment is an important cause for me.  You probably haven’t noticed that I love science fiction movies–but more on that later.  On the subject of the environment, I was excited to find out that the Blog Action Day topic this year is Climate Change.  All across the blogosphere, bloggers are uniting today, October 15th, to write on this one topic, and I’m excited to join in.

The whole concept of Climate Change is one which, if I think about it too long, tends to freak me out a bit.  It’s so big, so overarching.  There are so many other causes and concerns and problems, and I would never downplay any of them, but climate change–it has a way of dwarfing other things.  You can’t deal with poverty or wipe out AIDS or fix the economy if you don’t have a planet to do all of that on.  But with a problem that big, where do you even begin?

Well.  Turn out the lights if you’re not in the room.  Buy local produce.  Recycle all your paper.  Use reusable water bottles.  Join 350.org or Repower America or both.  Write to someone on Capitol Hill who might be making decisions on this subject.  Protect the rainforestPlant a tree with a click.

But the big question: does it all make any difference?

I was actually having a conversation about this last week, about whether these small things really make a difference.  You know I believe that a million small actions make for a really, really big action.  And I do believe we’re moving forward.  We haven’t fixed things yet, but there’s definitely been a shift in awareness.

Let me give you an example, by going back to those science fiction movies.  Have you seen last year’s remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still?  No?  Good.  Don’t.  It’s frankly terrible, and if you feel an impulse to watch it, find the original instead.  However, there is one interesting point to be found in comparing the two.  In the original, Klaatu (the spaceman) came to Earth to warn us that we’d better shape up and stop fighting with each other because the galactic community wasn’t happy about all these nuclear weapons, and were starting to worry that we were going to cause problems on a multi-planet level–which they would take severe action to prevent.  In the new version, Klaatu is really displeased that we’re ruining the environment.  The original was made in 1951–Cold War era, and nuclear weapons were the hot-button issue that everyone was concerned about.  The remake is from 2008.  Nuclear weapons and war have not gone away as issues, but the fact that the filmmakers chose the environment as the issue to focus on says something huge about cultural perceptions on what important issues are.

Climate Change

I think it’s highly unlikely that Klaatu is going to land any time soon to give us the impetus to get things together, so we’d better get on that ourselves without him.  The heroine in the recent version keeps insisting “we can change, we can change” to the point where it’s almost annoying–but I do hope she’s right.  I would like to believe she’s right.

We need to change what we’re doing, so that the climate doesn’t.  The question is whether we’re going to change faster than the temperature goes up, than the rainforests die, than the sea levels rise, than the polar bears find out that their glaciers are disappearing.  So let’s do something.  Today.  Even if it’s small.  Better if it’s big, but even if it’s small, we can all do something.  And I don’t think you need me to tell you that doing something is becoming more vital every day.  Or pretty soon, it won’t be Klaatu we have to worry about destroying the Earth.

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