In honor of Woody Guthrie’s 100th birthday today, I’d like to take a minute to remind everyone – no matter where you are — that this land, is indeed, your land.
In Guthrie’s time the North American Dust Bowl, the result of a drought and heat wave, compounded by our own mismanagement of the land, devastated the American and Canadian prairies. The disaster destroyed one hundred million acres of land. Hundreds of thousands of people lost their farms, homesteads, and jobs and more than half a million people were left homeless. The disaster took its toll on human life as well, with over 6000 deaths in the US and Canada directly or indirectly attributed to the record-setting heat.
But compared to what’s happening now, that’s nothing.
USA – January – June 2012 (NRDC as of July 14, 2012)
Thanks to carbon emissions and climate change, we live in a wholly dangerous world when it comes to weather. Hot days, heavy rainfall, dangerous flooding, wind storms, hurricanes, blizzards, droughts, wildfires— all of these are on the rise worldwide.
“..more than 1,100 counties— one-third of all counties in the lower 48—will face higher risks of water shortages by mid-century as the result of global warming. More than 400 of these counties will face extremely high risks of water shortages.” NRDC: [pdf] Climate Change, Water, and Risk: Current Water Demands Are Not Sustainable
2011 was a year of unparalleled extremes: 14 disastrous weather events in the US each resulted in over a billion dollars in property damage. This was an all-time record breaking number — and their estimated $53 billion price tag did not include health costs…. 2011’s severe weather events struck communities all over the US, breaking 3,251 monthly weather records. NRDC
“… 2012 may well outdo 2011 when it comes to shattering extreme weather records. This spring’s prolonged heat wave gave us the hottest March since record-keeping began back in 1895 — an astounding 671 records were broken, according to the National Weather Service. And April 2012 marked the end of the warmest 12-month stretch ever in the US.” (NRDC)
June 2012, wildfires burned 1.36 million acres – including 57 large wildfires in CO, MT, UT, WY, VA, WV, NC, and TN – destroying hundreds of homes and filling the air with smoke. (NRDC)
More than 1,000 counties in 26 states are being named natural-disaster areas, the biggest such declaration ever by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as drought grips the Midwest. —Bloomberg (July 12, 2012)
And it’s the same story all over the world – every continent, every city.
11 dead, 18 missing in record deluge : 33,000 ordered to evacuate as flood threat in Kyushu mounts. The Meteorological Agency said rainfall in parts of Kumamoto and Oita prefectures reached levels that have “never been experienced before.” -Japan Times
As in the western United States and northern Canada, Russia is ablaze. On July 11, 2012, more than 25,000 hectares (97 square miles) of forests were burning, according to the Russian Federal Forestry Agency. redOrbit (http://s.tt/1hEPm)
So unless we do something about carbon emissions, this land – YOUR land, is in trouble. So what to do? Woody said it well in Pretty Boy Floyd:
“Some will rob you with a six-gun, and some with a fountain pen.”
Well it’s the fountain pen that’s robbing us; the short-sighted politicians, climate change deniers, oil & coal companies, and everyone who is in their pockets. And the only way to fight back is with a pen of your own, preferably with some cash to back it.
So in honor of Woody Guthrie, I ask you to take a stand for your land. This will get you started —
Specific to US:
Tell the EPA: Protect Us from Dangerous Carbon Pollution
Join the Natural Resources Defence Counsel
Tell congress climate change is real
Specific to Canada:
Support Climate Action Network Canada
Donate to power a movement: 350.org
Donate: Pew Center on Global Climate Change
Donate: Climate Reality Project
Got more? Put them in a comment and I’ll add them to the list ..
It is true, of course, that the science of climate change has not been fully formed. We know only that things will get worse and it will cost us a lot. How fast the change will happen, and how quickly the extremes will ramp up and really not known with perfect accuracy. Kim, your mission, if you wish to accept it, is to keep telling us how this is all unfolding.
Meanwhile, here in Canada we have a government that doesn’t even have the smarts to look for the economic opportunities in change. However builds cheap and efficient solar panels will rule from mid-century on. Those who accelerate reliance on carbon fuel will suffer. But the science and economics of that isn’t really settled yet either.