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To Challenge & Imagine Life Differently: Two New Year’s Resolutions

January 1st, 2013 · No Comments

C4 (Catastrophic Climate Chaos Cliff) threatens 383359478_3dd94a0fdf_m.jpgour future prospects and our ability to create a positive future reality for ourselves and descendents.

George Herbert Walker Bush lies at the core of a driving motivation in my life.

President Bush was facing a reelection battle against Bill Clinton, and so advisers persuaded him to attend the world environmental summit in Rio de Janeiro, possibly the most optiistic moment in recent history. Before he went, however, he told a press conference that “the American way of life is not up for negotiation.” If that’s true, if we can’t imagine living any differently, then all else is mere commentary.

One thing that unites the progressive blogosphere is the drive to imagine a different life, a different world, a better one, a better path forward … and we all, in our own ways, fight to achieve those visions.

Twenty years ago, the first President Bush stated that “the American Way of Life is not up for negotiation”, showing an inability to imagine catastrophe from non-negotiation and an inability to see something better. Without imagination to see a better future and the power to achieve it, we will not progress out of catastrophe to prosperous sustainability.

A New Year’s Resolution:

imagine that better path and fight to achieve it.

And, I imagine life differently and it energizes me to fight to Energize America.

The quote comes from the 2006 paperback edition of Bill McKibben‘s The End of Nature. Put simply, all Americans should read The End of Nature (and move onto more recent McKibben work … and look to join For a strengthening of our polity, High School ‘global citizenship’ programs should return and have this as part of the reading list to help foster an understanding the interactions of our lives with those around us (human and otherwise), today and into the future, and how these feed back to affect our own lives (out into the future).

The End of Nature is about Global Warming. Published first in 1989, McKibben wrote the first mass accessible book about Global Warming. “The End of Nature” refers to McKibben’s (convincing) thesis that atmospheric changes due to CO2 (and related GHG) emissions have eliminated the concept of “untouched” wilderness and wrecked the notions of the constants of nature so central to core concepts of the world. (And, if serious in 1989, over 20 years later we are in a far worse situation requiring serious action to figure out a path not just to slow emissions but to return to 350 ppm. And, thus, the more recent McKibben book: Eaarth) McKibben calls on us (US) to think differently to try to avert the consequences he (and many experts) saw looking into the future.

In particular, my “imagine life differently” focus relates to energy issues and Global Warming. My casual concerns over these have turned to varying levels of fear and utter terror as I try to comprehend the world that we (collectively) are creating for ourselves and the future. I am learning ever more about the feedbacks and interconnections that are such a part of The End of Nature (and the more recent Eaarth).

I am a pessimistic optimist.

My pessimism envisions an extremely bleak future (sadly within far too near a term future), with terrifying economic (political, global, and perhaps conflict) havoc from Peak Oil and mass damage from Global Warming capped with a horrible die off to come.

My optimism drives a belief that I (that we) have something to say about this future. That we have the potential to change our path as per a talk given  in 2007

I am a CarboHolic. My last full tank was two days ago, my last plane flight a day ago, and I am beginning to feel withdrawal staved off by the CO2 emitted for the electricity to be on the web.

Let us face facts. … Take a moment to put together a list of the top ten challenges for humanity for the 21st century. Your list might include global economic growth, health issues, hunger, environmental destruction, climate change, water, terrorism and others. When considering such a list, there is at least one common thread. All are worsened by a future dominated by an expensive, uncertain, unevenly available, polluting energy system. And, all will face eased solution with a future dominated by a clean, sustainable, readily accessible, fairly distributed, and reasonably priced (if not inexpensive) power solutions.

At this time, the United States is hurtling toward the cliff like Thelma & Louise, but we’re in our Hummers rather than a convertible. And, we are dragging the world … and future generations … behind us, bound hand and foot by our dangerous habits and shaky energy structure.

My name is A Siegel. And, I am a CarboHolic.

Unlike President Bush, however, we are able to get past that first step in a twelve-step. We recognize the problem. And, we recognize that we are not powerless — we have the ability to change, to take control of the situation, to turn ourselves away from that addiction. We decided to figure out what we (as individuals, communities, and country) could do about it.

And, we are acting to seek that change. To end that addiction. To set the path to Energize America for a sustainable and prosperous energy future.

In my life, From the Home to the Globe, I am striving to do my part to affect this change. Whether putting insulation in my roof, assisting organizations and businesses adopt better energy practices, participating in The Climate Reality Project, or communicating to others , I am striving to turn us away from that cliff.

As part of those efforts, three years ago, I accepted. Actually, I embraced DannyInLA‘s Challenge.

Six years ago, I promised to and now again repledge to diligently challenge those who seek to maintain a path hurtling over that cliff, whether that is inefficient Christmas light displays, McSUVs, not recyling aluminum cans, challenging astroturf or Global Warming enablers (like Robert J Samuelson or George Will, systematic journalistic malfeasance, and otherwise). I will CHALLENGE those who threaten a path toward a Prosperous, Climate-Friendly Society.
I take up Dannyinla’s Challenge TO CHALLENGE those who do not comprehend the reality of the threats that Global Warming portend for us, US, and the future. I will take up that challenge TO CHALLENGE falsehoods, deceptions, and truthiness about energy and Global Warming threats and opportunities. I will take up that challenge TO CHALLENGE us all to imagine new and better paths forward, in an integrated conception of options to develop something better.

I can imagine life differently and I am terrified at the world that we are creating at a head-long pace.

I cannot any longer leave stand any comment about ‘gasoline taxes are regressive’. Not anymore. Is there any “tax” more regressive than the damage that we are doing to the globe and the dangers it creates for the potential of human life in the years ahead? Politically inconvenient? Perhaps. But what is politics about but striving to create a better polity for all, and a better polity that is improving into the future? Without a meaningful confrontation of Global Warming, that future will not be better.

Nor can I leave stand comments about ‘this is beyond us’ or ‘we can’t do anything’ or … I refuse. … Instead, I accept. No, I embrace Dannyinla’s challenge to Challenge.

Six years ago, I pledged to Challenge.

While I’ve not always fully lived up to it and the to do list grows longer rather than dissipates, the need for action and real achievement intensifies. There were failures, yet … In my life, I do not know if I have ever made a New Year’s Resolution with such import before 2007. And, I do not know if I’ve ever lived up to a New Year’s resolution so resolutely before.

Thus, at the dawning of a New Year, it is time to pen one’s hopes and plans for 2013.

For 2013, my New Year’s Resolution is clear.

I pledge to continue to embrace DannyInLA’s challenge to CHALLENGE.

And, I pledge to

Imagine Life Differently …

Imagine it Better …


Seek to create that better life …

Join me in these two pledges.

383359478_3dd94a0fdf_m.jpgWe can all help make


Energy Smart.Ask yourself:

Are you doing your part?

Note: This is a modification of what was, originally, a 1 Jan 2007 post and has appeared many New Year’s Days since then.

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Tags: climate change