Fall is here; Summer travel is ending. I’m thinking about staying in one place for a time and resuming the writer’s life. The nomads in Morocco are returning from the grazing grounds in the high mountains to the desert plateau where I met them in March of this year. They will await the winter rains and watch the grasses return. We have a kinship across borders and oceans. Moving with the season is an ancient pattern of man and animal. My hikes in the high mountains this summer took me out of the smoke and heat that plagued the valley I call home.
After an intense wild fire season there is talk of moving in my valley. Talk of finding a place to live that isn’t plagued by disasters caused by climate change. It’s getting hotter everywhere in summer and colder/wetter in many places in winter. Climate change has its effects. Will there still be year round livable places? Will the changes in climate transform our living habits?
History and research tells us life on this planet adapts. How will we adapt to the current big changes we’re experiencing? Will we develop technological solutions to solve the problems we encounter or will we become a more nomadic species?
Technology can’t disappear a smoky sky, stop the sea from rising, stop the wind from becoming a hurricane. We can protect ourselves with new tech inventions, which can give us safe places to hide, breathing masks, amphibious vehicles. But we can’t stop the damage to plant life or animal life as temperatures soar, water warms. Technology offers limited solutions.
Will we experience a more nomadic life pattern to avoid exposure to difficult, dangerous climate changes? We may, especially among the privileged who can afford to be a snowbird, a smoke bird, or a climate bird and migrate with the season.
What about people who can’t afford to live in two places, who are eking out a living while traditional means of survival are disappearing? Water for agriculture? Forget it! Abundant fish catches? Not happening. Forest lumber? All burning up.
Right now there are an unprecedented number of refugees, as much as there were after World War II. The refugees are moving away from war, violence, famine, and lack of economic opportunities. They are coming to the few places perceived to be safe, to have food and water and vibrant economies. However, the “haves” want to hang on to what they have, move to the best places to live and close the doors on the desperate and the poor. There’s just too many of us, the resources are dwindling and it will become uglier before it gets better.
With the world population soaring, moving or migrating is no longer a solution for dealing with climate change. How we live and operate as humans is the better solution. It’s painful because we must change our lifestyle, our habits and adopt new values. Livestock farming contributes 18% of human produced greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. This is more than all emissions from ships, planes, trucks, cars and all other transport put together. Can we become vegetarians and save the planet? Chemical byproducts of our consumption society pollute our water and our air. Are we ready to live with less stuff? I remember what my guide and friend in the Himalayas said, when we discussed the increased wish for western products, “You try living here for a winter, and you’ll understand why we want what you have.” Do we have enough empathy in times of climate stress and resource shortages to share with the have-nots? Are we willing to share our shrinking livable land?
I encourage people to walk, hike and see what’s left of nature. Going out for a long walk gives you increased awareness and may convince you to embrace the place you live in, change your lifestyle, fix things locally and encourage others to do the same. Talk to the person who is drinking water from a disposable plastic bottle, wake 'em up to the facts. Grow a garden or support a local farm and help shift the carbon imbalance.
Think WE instead of ME and contribute to a real solution for a livable planet.