A ‘State of Emergency’ in Traverse City. I was out of town when the storm hit. My house, which did not lose power, became a refuge for friends and family that were not as lucky. As I drove home yesterday, I was reminded of the Guy McPherson talk I attended recently. McPherson said we will need four things to survive in the wake of a “collapse” of our current system: “Food, water, the ability to control body temperature, and community.” As I walked home from that event, I contemplated McPherson’s futuristic scenario, and decided that my family would struggle most with a way to stay warm in winter, if we were unable to rely on the current food and energy systems. Yet, being without a way to heat my home seemed far away and fantastical.
It seems less so today.
I think we are all feeling a bit humbled by the events of the past few days. But, in every such event there is surely a lesson. For me, the lesson today is that global climate change is not a thing of the future, even in northern Michigan.
Make no mistake. This storm, which was a part of the system that caused high winds and power outages downstate, and unprecedented winter tornadoes from Indiana to Alabama, is exactly the kind of severe weather that climate scientists have predicted will result from too much carbon in the atmosphere. Our vulnerabilities in the face of such severe weather were quickly exposed.
This storm is a wake-up call.
So, if you don’t know much about the climate crisis, or doubt that humans have created it, let this storm be your wake-up call to get up to speed. Take a look at these quick facts, or take a few minutes to read this National Geographic Article.
If you get it, but have felt that you are powerless to change it, or that it is something to worry about in the future, think again.
Three things you can do now to to combat the Global Climate Crisis:
1. Calculate the amount of carbon that your lifestyle puts into the atmosphere, and find out how you can increase your energy efficiency, and decrease your reliance on burning fossil fuels. SEEDS has great tools on it’s website to show you what is possible, and what incentives are out there to make it affordable.. Encourage your friends and neighbors to do the same.
2. Get engaged. Use your political power to lobby for energy independence, and a renewable energy economy. Join an organization working on these issues, such as the Michigan Land Use Institute, 350.org, or the Citizens Climate Lobby.
3. Plug- in to efforts to create a sustainable community in northern Michigan, or wherever you live. We can create a strong local food system, by buying local food, a strong local economy by using local currency, and even make a local renewable energy system a reality by pressuring our local utilities to invest in renewable energy.
Whether you ate at an emergency shelter this weekend, or went to a friend’s to shower, or to get warm, this storm reminded us all that ‘community’ is the most important of Mr. McPherson’s ‘must haves.’
As the power comes back on, and the roads are cleared, let’s be thankful. But, let’s also heed mother nature’s lesson, and consider this storm our wake-up call.