After you cry, what will you do?

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by Karen Topakian

I cried today when I read this story about a woman named Phoolvati who lived in Bihar, India and lost her daughter and husband in the raging monsoon floods.

She thought her family would survive when she packed them in a small boat, her daughter clutching a metal box protecting their worldly possessions. The boat couldn’t fit all three so she stayed behind unsure if she would make it. Instead, the waters swallowed up her family. They were found later, her daughter’s arms wrapped around her father’s neck. Together they perished.

In one moment Phoolvati lost everything.

A few months ago she thought they would have saved enough money from their earnings rice farming on someone else’s land to buy their daughter a bicycle. A few month’s ago they felt hope.

Now she’s lost everything in a cruel heartless way. Because storms and natural disasters have no heart, no soul, no conscience. They only have wind and water and the power to destroy. Those same forces also have the power to give life.

We humans also have the power to do both.

I fear this government can only do one – destroy. Our elected leaders think they are creating by loosening up environmental regulations, dismantling executive orders and removing our country from voluntary treaties that they see as ties to bind us. Instead, they are destroying our lives, eco-systems and habitats in this country and around the world.

No. Donald Trump did not cause this monsoon and Cat4 hurricanes. His thinking and behavior along with others who deny the existence of climate change and who feel they/we bear no responsibility for changing our behaviors, systems and practices to mitigate it, turn it around, slow it down, stop it did. They/we are complicit.

We caused that woman to lose everything. Just as we caused the impacts of Irma and Harvey by NOT destroying the fossil-fuel economy that contributes to the increased carbon in our atmosphere and the increase in global temperature levels and the added moisture and heat in the air and the increased ferocity of natural disasters.

Phoolvati’s family fell victim to our unwillingness to take the steps needed to address climate change head on. She pays the price for our global leaders’ refusal to make the heard choices that will stop pipelines, stop drilling, stop fracking. Stop burning fossil fuels. Her daughter and husband died at the end of the pipeline we built.

Yes. India bears responsibility for its environmental practices, behaviors, policies, regulations….though not all of it.

After I finished crying this morning. I thought about what more we could all do to turn this around. Many of us do many things – we divest from fossil fuels, put solar panels on our roofs, drive less. That’s not enough. Not even close. We have to take our activism up a few notches. We have to get out of our comfort zones and push ourselves and our communities and our leaders to meet this challenge head on.

I fear for the future of this planet. Trust me, I feared for it under every previous president. Nobody gets a pass in my book. Some performed better than others. Nobody gets high marks. Nobody will unless we make them.

Read this article for yourself and see if you don’t also cry. When you wipe away the tears, tell me what you’ll do next. Take another sip of coffee or get up and act?

Starting tomorrow I can hit the streets of civil disobedience, to stop the pipes, ports and permits, will you join me?

bin Laden Goes Green

by Karen Topakian

What kind of world do we live in where Osama bin Laden makes more sense than our own elected leaders? Leaders like Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe and Utah’s Governor Gary Herbert.

Leaders who don’t believe in climate change. Global warming. Or our role as humans adversely affecting the environment.

Apparently Mr. bin Laden gets it. Because this is what he said about the destructive flooding in Pakistan. “The huge climate change is affecting our (Islamic) nation and is causing great catastrophes throughout the Islamic world.”

Granted he doesn’t spend any of his time or resources providing aid to the Islamic world just sowing destruction. But he recognizes the impact of our behavior on the environment.

If he really wanted to so something about it, he would speak out about the contribution that oil rich nations in the Islamic world make to climate change.  He would urge Islamic leaders to invest in clean energy and away from fossil fuels. He might even be able to persuade the Islamic world to champion this cause.

As a leader, which he is to many, he could use his network and influence for good instead of evil.

A girl can dream, can’t she?