I paid as little attention to world news, or any news for that matter, as everyone else did before I started Ranae Hanson’s Introduction to Global Studies class this semester at Minneapolis Community Technical College (MCTC). I would read or hear a piece of news on the internet and think for a fleeting moment, “Wow, that doesn’t sound too good!” or “Geez, could that really be true?” Just as fast as my brain let those thoughts in, it pushed them out. I would go on to news about Miley Cyrus’s tongue or some other part of her body sticking out and completely forget what I had just read.
Then I started the class. When I opened my brand new 2013-2014 book, I could not believe what I read. I couldn’t believe that the things I had seen or heard about on the internet were in a college textbook with scientific proof! I mean, the news is one thing, but to be published in a college textbook! How could this be? I thought these things were mostly hearsay. Even if they were a bit more than that, I surely didn’t think they were this bad. I needed a while to realize that climate change and other issues had been proven by scientists beyond a shadow of a doubt.
I found myself buried in the internet every night, checking up on what I had learned in class. I had to make sure. After all, I couldn’t just believe a textbook or a professor; I had to prove to myself that things were the way my textbooks said. And, yep, my textbooks are right.
One day in early October a notice on D2L said that one more person from MCTC could go to the Pittsburgh Power Shift. It seemed, when I read about Power Shift, that the people there were trying to save the world. I didn’t think I could do that, but I was curious and I cared enough that I wanted to find out what was really going on. So I wrote to my teacher to say I wanted to go. The next thing I knew I was on a bus for 20 hours with three others from MCTC and 178 people from other places in Minnesota.
We arrived in Pittsburgh late Friday night. Saturday morning we joined 7000 people from all over the world at a massive six-floor convention center. They were there to fight for clean air, clean water, food with no GMO’s, no more fracking, no more fossil fuels—to fight for an earth where we can live for the next hundred years.
I picked from different courses to attend on Saturday and Sunday. I learned from a movie called Come Hell or High Water that BP sprayed more chemicals on the Gulf of Mexico to make it look like they had cleaned up the oil spill even though they couldn’t clean it up. I learned about hydraulic fracturing from Gasland, Part II. (Yes, there is a part l.) That movie showed what is happening to people’s land and how people are dying. I literally sat there and cried. One man turned on his garden hose and took a cigarette lighter to the end of it. He had an instant torch; their water had that much gas in it. People in Canada have died, if you happened to see that on the news. Oil companies tried shipping liquid gas by train. Guess what? It exploded!
I learned that oil companies need silica sand to mix with liquid chemicals to shoot below the ground to fracture the rocks to get out the gas, so they are mining for sand in Minnesota. The silica released from frac sand mining can cause asthma and other lung diseases. Worse, when we allow sand frac mining, we give fossil fuel companies ammunition to hydro frack for gas. Have you been to the MN Renaissance Festival? Yep, that is one place frac sand mining has been happening. A map of Minnesota on the internet has the places marked that have the most perfect type of soil for the next frac sand mining. The small town of Jordan, 7 miles from the Renaissance Festival, is marked. Jordan is where I live. What is the soil like in your town?
By Sunday night in Pittsburgh I had learned many things. Most of the dangers to our Mother Earth are real and have already begun. Not in small amounts either. In large amounts all over the world. Because humans are fracking, drilling for oil in the oceans, removing mountain tops to mine for coal, putting pipelines underground, polluting the air, and adding more and more CO2, we are heating up the planet. All the destruction from us is what’s killing our earth. We do not have long to save it. If we keep up our use of fossil fuels at current rates, the earth will be too hot for most life by 2047. Most of our water will be poisoned; it’ll be too hard to grow food to feed ourselves. But still we are burning gas to drive, using coal for electricity, and using plastic and buying stuff that just becomes garbage. Here’s an interesting one–eating or buying a half-pound of ground beef releases as much CO2 as burning gas to drive 10 miles. I went to Pittsburgh to get some questions answered and, boy, did they get answered!
What I learned worries, scares, and confuses me.
But I also learned that we can save our world if we ALL get together NOW and get to work. According to the best projections, we only have 34 years left if we don’t do anything. But if we get busy on these problems now, we can slow the process down by 20 years. This would give scientists until 2067 to try to come up with scientific solutions to help the earth. Scientists need those 20 extra years to develop and test new methods.
You would think that these things I have mentioned would be really hard for a person trying to save the world to deal with. No. Those are the easy things. The hardest thing is what I learned when I got home.
95% of the people are in total denial about what is going on. When I told my friends what I had learned, they laughed at me. Some got mad and me and told me to “get back into the real world”! What is clear is they are giving up on the real world. People said to me, “Why worry about it! You can’t do anything about it anyway!” What really hurt me was when someone said, “It is what it is.”
Wow! You know, if I told all these same people that the Chinese and five other countries were on their way along to fight us on our land, do you think I would get the same response? HELL NO! Every single man, woman, child, and barnyard animal would have his or her gun drawn and ready to fight!
What the hell is wrong with everybody? Do we really need to turn saving the world into something patriotic before people will get up?
We cannot use guns on this problem, people! We also have to work with other countries in order to make this work. Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe we are all so used to fighting one another that we cannot come together, not even to save the planet that we all live on together.
THIS, scares the hell out of me. This tells me that people are not going to do anything until it is too late.
I’m sorry, but this is the real world. If you care about anything or anyone, you will choose to fight for at least ONE thing that needs to stop to change the world. You will also choose to change your life in at least ONE way that will help save the world. AND… You will bring at least ONE person with you to do the same three things.
Fight, Change, & Bring! Fight for one cause. Change one thing about how you live. And bring one person with you to do the same three things. If you can do more, great. If not, at least do these three.
I hope to find people that care enough to fight for the lives of the next generation. Yes, for yourself and your kids and your grandkids!
How old will you be in 2047?
The Following are links to help you get started.
1. For ideas of where to start with life changes:
Go to this page for 1000’s of fun and easy “baby step” ideas.
2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_environmental_organizations Wikipedia – environmental organizations world- wide, both government and non-government.
3. Also go to your own home town city meetings and get to know the person that is in charge of your city parks, and or water shed and talk to these people.
4. http://www.co.scott.mn.us/Pages/ContactUs.aspx Scott County Environmental Center
5. http://mn.gov/governor/contact-us/ MN Governor, Mark Dayton
Image from http://www.wearepowershift.org/