If you stop to think about it, the fact that various simple substances can be transformed into fuel to power our modern lives is quite remarkable. The conversion of oil deposits into gasoline or plastic containers or spandex features in the problems we’re currently facing, of course, but that process is still fascinating.
More to be celebrated is the way that wind, rushing across the landscape and turning turbine blades 140 feet long, can be converted into electricity. Ocean waves, sunshine, raindrops and biomass can all be converted into usable energy.
These processes are impressive, but the most urgent conversion we need to effect is the transforming of the confusion, distrust, fear, concern and anger surrounding climate change into solutions to address the many threats that we face. That task may be as big a challenge as any of the others.
The United Nations Climate Action Summit began on Monday, and many people said many grand things. Others, who should have said that they were going to make stronger commitments and dedicate more resources, said either not enough or nothing at all.
There’s a lot to learn, a lot to think about, even more to do. The most arresting voice I’m hearing is that of Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old girl from Sweden. I first heard her 2018 TED talk (11 minutes), and have since heard her speak to EU leaders (four minutes), and at this week’s UN Climate Action Summit (five minutes). She has a way of bringing things into focus.
I hope you’ll watch one or all of these. We do, indeed, need to pull our attention away from other matters and place it squarely on the issues surrounding climate change for as long as it takes to make course corrections. Failing to do so will sink us.
Being worried about climate change is not enough, but it feels like a necessary early step. If we can transform our worry into focus and can cause political and business leaders to focus, then we have a hope of transforming our concerns into actions, and making the concrete transformations our future depends on.
[Image: peoplesdispatch.org, futurity.org]