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Refusing to Accept Defeat

I overheard a conversation in the Juneau, Alaska airport while on a layover. It went like this, “It’s going to be 116 in Portland today. I think Seattle will be just as high and in Idaho too. Sometimes I think, maybe it’s too late to fix these problems.”

I wanted to turn around and say to her, “But aren’t we going to at least try?!!!” But I decided against it.

We all know what’s happening. We feel it in our own communities. There’s no denying it. Climate change is here. It’s not something to imagine off in a distant future. We are living it now.

I felt the temperatures changing for years in New York prior to my move to Portland four years ago. And to hear that Portland was boiling over with record high temperatures just as I was entering the Pacific Northwest again was distressing.

I have traveled across the Southwest this year and all of the named rivers were dried up. There is no water there. I thought, “How are the millions of people living in these communities getting access to water? How is this sustainable?”

I read yesterday that parts of Colorado are booming with people wanting to move there, but they are unable to approve many of the development projects because there just isn’t enough water available to support them.

I also read that in the Florida Keys, where I visited in April, they are planning to raise the roads due to sea level rise, but there isn’t enough money, so they are having to prioritize which roads they will raise and let residents know that they won’t be able to save their homes. See “Florida Keys’ Fate: ‘The Water Is Coming and We Can’t Stop it’, As seas rise and storms intensify, residents face a stark reality.” Mother Jones, June 25, 2021.

And then I visited Glacier National Park, where soon, all of the glaciers will be gone. They are melting quickly in Alaska too.

But are we going to be defeated by this? Are we not going to try our damnedest to fix this?

We have the solutions already. I have witnessed wind and solar farms in every state in the county I have visited since January. Every single state! Why not commit to rapidly scaling up these renewable sources immediately? Why not quickly shift to all electric vehicles? There are so many more things we can do, but these could give us a fighting chance.

Where is that American spirit of not accepting defeat? The spirit of World War II when we collectively worked together to defeat the Nazis, or the shared bond we felt as Americans after 9/11. Does there have to be a war for us to come together?

We have a common enemy now. Can’t we work together to try and defeat it?

We have never failed as a country to stare down a crisis. Never! Why start now with our planet on the line?

Are we going to look our kids in the eye and say, “Good luck with that?” They are counting on us. This isn’t just about us and our own children though. This is about ALL generations to come.

Are we going to lie down and be defeated? That is so un-American. This is not who we are.

Or are we going to come together and try with everything we have, for our own communities, for the collective good, for us as individuals, for our children, our children’s children and our neighbors to solve this problem?

We must act now on a large scale. Nothing else is more important than this. Nothing!

Without significantly scaled up action, we are looking at the collapse of all we know and love. Without fresh water, we will run out of food sources and people will have to relocate. With too much water as Antarctica and Greenland continue to melt and the sea levels rise, American coastal communities will permanently flood. No pumps like those already pumping the water out of Miami will be sufficient. There will be no place for the water to go.

After losing everything, people will have to move to higher ground. Americans will have to migrate away from coastal communities that will be under water. It’s that simple.

The earth will continue on without us. And some species and our beautiful landscapes, like those found in our protected wilderness areas, such as in our National Parks, will live on. But is this the future we’re willing to accept now? Will we go down in defeat without having tried everything we can?

There’s no denying it. We’re running out of time.

Let’s all get on board and push any envelopes we can to solve this, together!


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