Climate Refugees

From the New York Times 5/26/21: “Even Amid a Pandemic, More Than 40 Million People Fled Their Homes. Storms, floods, wildfires and to a lesser degree, conflict, uprooted millions globally in 2020 — the largest human displacement in more than a decade.”

It’s likely there will be more climate refugees in the western United States this year as one of the worst droughts on record continues.

Shasta Lake Reservoir in California last week.
In Shasta county last week. Remains from last year’s fires.

How will we handle the enormous, ongoing and increasing problem of displaced peoples and climate migrants? This is the central question of Lightport Books new release, “In the Middle of a Wish.”

Lightport Books’ new release is a novel for our times.

After 21st century CIVIL WAR, CLIMATE CRISIS, and ECONOMIC COLLAPSE
there is THE RENEWAL
In the year 2047, Mom and her daughter, Star, leave their home in Westlands. Traveling with their collective, Caretakers, they join other bands of climate refugees heading inland to a region rumored to have vast wind farms, underground cities, and blockchain banking. Their new guide, Riga, was a hero with the Reformers in the Civil War of 2030. Riga and Star form an intense bond as they journey east and encounter hostile war veterans; cross the newly formed Valley Sea; and then, for those who make it to the other side, a new world.

“Earth is now losing 1.2 trillion tons of ice each year. And it’s going to get worse.” Washington Post 1/25/21
“Going back to normal now means returning to a course that will destabilize the conditions for all human life, everywhere on earth. Normal means more fires, more category 5 hurricanes, more flooding, more drought, millions upon millions more migrants fleeing famine and civil war, more crop failures, more storms, more extinctions, more record-breaking heat. Normal means the increasing likelihood of civil unrest and state collapse, of widespread agricultural failure and collapsing fisheries, of millions of people dying from thirst and hunger, of new diseases, old diseases spreading to new places and the havoc of war. Normal could well mean the end of global civilization as we know it.” Roy Scranton, Director of the Notre Dame Environmental Humanities Initiative, New York Times (1/25/21) “I’ve Said Goodbye to Normal.You Should, Too.”

THE MIDDLE of a WISH takes us to this future and beyond.

There is Still Hope

As reported in the New York Times this morning, it is still possible to prevent 70% of extinctions currently threatening one million plant and animal species on Earth. And it is still possible to keep global temperatures below a rise of 2 degrees Celsius. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/14/climate/biodiversity-farmland-extinction.html


How? By restoring 30% of the planet’s farmlands to nature. Rewilding, as some call it, strategic swaths of farmland around the globe will achieve these remarkable results.

As reported in the journal Nature, a European Space Agency map was converted to identify the key swaths of land. The Global Safety Net provides a similar and complementary map representing the areas key to preserving biodiversity and stabilizing the climate. https://www.globalsafetynet.app


The rewilding of farmlands could be done while still producing enough food for the human population. How would the farmers be reimbursed for their land? If the trillions of dollars currently used to subsidize fossil fuel industries and unsustainable farming practices were redirected to rewilding farmland, the goal can be achieved

What the World Needs Now: Maintenance

Last March, Michelle Obama commented on something she discovered during the pandemic lock-down:
“….we just don’t need a lot of the stuff that we have.” (3/27/20 USA Today)

Yet the driving engine of the world economy is making stuff, more and more stuff. To do that, manufacturers need raw materials and energy. To get those, they extract minerals and fuels from the ground, cut down trees, build dams. And to sell the stuff, they advertise, for which they need telecommunications. They launch ever more satellites into space. And they need to defend all their stuff with increasing military and police forces, requiring more rockets, weapons, fuels…. and so it goes.

One big problem with all this making stuff is that no one is cleaning up. Most makers do not clean up after themselves. There is no glory in maintenance and no money in it.

As Matthew McConaughey’s character in the film “Interstellar” said, “We’re pioneers, not caretakers.” He uttered the word caretakers with disgust.

The enormous messes makers make have not simply contributed to climate change—they have also made a huge mess—filthy, toxic, cluttered messes in the ocean, in the forests, in the earth, in outer space. These are some of them:

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. A collection of trash floating in the Pacific Ocean twice the size of Texas. https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/great-pacific-garbage-patch/

29 Million Abandoned Oil Wells. “Reuters estimates that, despite not being able to obtain concrete data from the governments some of the world’s leading oil and gas producers (Russia, China, and Saudi Arabia), there are 29 million abandoned wells around the world, emitting about 2.5 million tons of methane annually.” (July 2020)

Nuclear Waste. “Currently, there is a global stockpile of around 250,000 tonnes of highly radioactive spent fuel distributed across some 14 countries. Most of this fuel remains in so-called ‘cooling pools’ at reactor sites that lack secondary containment and remain vulnerable to a loss of cooling.” (January 2019) https://phys.org/news/2019-01-storage-nuclear-global-crisis.html

Space Junk. “The latest models from the European Space Agency estimates … 900,00 objects in space.” As well as endangering telecommunications, “Some space junk naturally falls back to earth – one tracked object a day, on average.” (January 2020) https://www.npr.org/2020/01/10/795246131/space-junk-how-cluttered-is-the-final-frontier

Logging Slash. On a personal note, last May I took a hike in a forest preserve in Angwin, California. It is privately owned land in Napa County recently opened to the public for daytime hiking. I was expecting a beautiful forest “preserve”. What we found was previously logged land still covered with slash—dry dead wood and debris. In a year where there has been very little rain, it was already tinder dry. Whatever company logged that land had not cleaned up after themselves. This week, it burned.

One of the things the pandemic has shown us, as Michelle Obama said, is that we don’t need so much stuff. It has also shown us how “essential” the work of maintenance is. Maintaining healthcare, maintaining schools and daycare centers—the work of caretakers. Maintaining food supplies—grocery stores and agriculture. Maintaining clean air and ventilation. We need far fewer makers and far more essential workers.

Tucson Festival of Books 2020

LIGHTPORT BOOKS will participate in the Tucson Festival of Books on March 14 and 15, 2020. The Festival will be held at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona. Come and visit our booth, #334 in the Children’s Exhibit near the the Education Building.

http://tucsonfestivalofbooks.org/

This spring is a great time for children to read Lightport Books newest release: Joys of Spring: Spring Celebrations around the World. Take a tour with a friendly parrot and visit twelve spring holidays on six continents: Noruz in Iran, Passover in Israel, Gelede in West Africa, Kolla Raymi Killa in the Andes of South America, Wattle Day in Australia, Sakura Matsui in Japan, Chun Fen in China, Basant Panchami and Holi in Pakistan and India, Easter in Europe, Yancuic Xuithuil in Mexico, and Earth Day around the world. A map and activities at the end of the story provide fun and education for families and the classroom.

Welcome

The Welcome Project donates handmade blankets and quilts to new immigrants at the border. https://www.welcomeblanket.org In September I gathered with friends to make a blanket for the project.

Marcia’s grandparents were born in Italy. Soon, Sunhee and Kisup were born in Korea. Heather’s grandparents were born in Germany and Newfoundland.
We are very happy to welcome people at the border!

We chose our yarn and came up with a simple design.

Each of us went home and started working on our strips for the blanket

We met again in early November to sew the blanket strips together.

We sent the blanket to aspiring Americans at the border to say we WELCOME you!