Climate Anxiety Counseling: Bike to Work Day, 5/15/15

Weather: Cool but not cold, overcast, pleasant

Number of people: 8 stoppers, 1 bikeby

Number of hecklers: 0!

Pages of notes: 4

Alternate Histories: 0

People who commented on the Peanuts reference: 2

People who remembered me from last time, and I remembered them: 2

Pictures taken with permission: 1, if holding up the phone with a questioning look on your face counts (I think it does)

Flyers for related concerns handed out and accepted: 1

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $0.05

Observations:

Bike people, or at least these bike people, were not substantially more interested in the booth than the average range of passersby.

For longtime followers of this blog or my Twitter account: today saw the triumphant return of SSI Dress Guy!

When people say, “I think it would take a major disaster in this country,” I understand where they’re coming from, but I’m kind of wondering what would make a disaster major if Katrina wasn’t, if Sandy wasn’t, if the Colorado floods weren’t, if the California drought isn’t.

As part of Bike to Work Day, there was a table with muffins and bagels and bananas. When I asked who the food was for, the person working the table responded very coldly that it was for people who were biking to work. I said I was participating in the event and she said, “Oh, in that case, you can have some of the food.”

A lot of the most direct statements I’ve heard about climate change and anthropogenic environmental degradation have been from people whose work shows them the effects directly, and I want to write more about that, maybe for this week’s reflections.

Some conversations:

Gases going into the air, that’s what I’m worried about. I got asthma, epilepsy, COPD, scoliosis–well, that last one I was born with, but the others. And the other thing is, they should have a law, there should be no smoking in the damn park. Exposing the kids to smoke–I was exposed when I was in my mother’s womb. I worry more about the kids. We been exposed to everything now. It’s the new generation.

*

[Person 2 joined this conversation halfway through.]

Person 1: The increase of severe weather. Hurricanes. More and more disruption, we’ll become more like the Third World [sic]–you see places like Bangladesh, huge areas get underwater. It’s only a matter of time before it comes here. And just a general trend of more bad weather–hurricane plus wind plus storm surge. People who build in the vulnerable areas have money and political clout.

But–were you here in 2010, do you remember the flooding then? That wasn’t rich people who got flooded out.

Person 1: No, that’s true. But along the coast–I think it would take a major disaster in this country. Policy is reactive rather than proactive. When the beachfront mansions get washed away…

Person 2: [Gives me a flyer for a rally on June 10th, “The Environment is Everyone’s Business.“] The environment is where we live and work. There is no business, no politics, without the environment. The poorest neighborhoods have the dirtiest industries, the least cleanup of garbage, and then the city’s like, “Why doesn’t anyone want to live there?” The climate has changed, and it disproportionately affects the poorest people first. … There’s political dimensions of global warming, too. The disproportionate responses of corrupt governments, taking the opportunity to create a global empire: “Oh, there’s a disaster, we better go in and lock it down. Oh, I guess we better lock down the Navy base there.” We had that in Charlestown [RI] during Sandy. For two weeks, I couldn’t go on a street in my own home.

*

The city–pollution. Buildings, cars, power plants. People just like to litter, it’s just fun to them. Like when I was younger and I did litter, I felt bad about it. Like why would you do that.

What do you think would make people change that, those habits?

More influence. More influences. Maybe through music–I’m a musician, reggae, hip-hop, percussion. Inspirational vibes and dancing. If it’s there, more broadcasting of it, something in there for children–the inspiration needs to be there. Rhode Island is very depressing, people hate it. It’s depressing, it’s boring, there’s nothing to do. All it really is, is an ocean, which, sure, if you have money.

*

It’s not like we see a whole bunch of climate change, but what we do see is trash everywhere. I’m a fisherman, and the garbage piles I see in the ocean–plastic bottles, fish tangled up in it–you would not believe. The USA does a little to clean it up, but countries like China, Indonesia, nobody’s doing anything about it.

What if you had, like, a bottomless bank account to respond to this, what would you do first?

There’s too much out there to haul out and bring in. The problem is just too great, but you have to start somewhere. I’m an ocean person, and it’s just astounding. It would literally take hundreds of millions of barges to even make a dent.

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2 thoughts on “Climate Anxiety Counseling: Bike to Work Day, 5/15/15

  1. Pingback: Alternate Histories: 5/15, 5/27, 6/21 | climateanxietycounseling

  2. Pingback: Alternate Histories: 5/8, 5/15, 9/8 | climateanxietycounseling

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