My Turn:




Published: 06-17-2024 6:02 PM


Like it or not, the transitions are upon us. The calendar doesn’t say “summer” yet, but we have already felt some summer heat. The luscious blooms of spring — trees, shrubs and early bulbs — have all passed by, petals falling like forgotten confetti after the parade. The grass turned that stunning deep green color, one of the most healing colors of all, and now we see a few tinges of gold or beige or rust —time for the first cutting of hay has already passed.

Now we can savor the early offerings of the garden: abundant asparagus, lettuces and kale wintered over, the first strawberries. After the effort of getting the beds prepared and seeds and plants into the ground, it is heartening to enjoy the tastes of the fruits to come (if we are lucky).

But other transitions are challenging our ability to savor the familiar seasonal switch. Global warming has destabilized our expectations: it’s already very dry (thank heavens for the rain the other day) — will it be another drought year or will we face the deluges that ruined crops across the Valley last year? What fierce storms await us? Will the heat be tolerable or unbearable?

Records are being shattered in the Southwest and West Coast and Florida in the U.S., in India, Mexico and numerous other places. Overall, for the past year, every single month was the hottest on record for the globe. Deniability is harder to come by as scientific evidence mounts and our personal experience adds up.

It is also getting harder to deny the political peril we are facing. The campaign season can offer a transition period between parties or agendas or personalities. But after the blatant attempt to overturn the last election and the increasingly outrageous distortions and threats of retribution, violence and endless examples of complete disregard for the rule of law, this coming election is not one to take lightly.

Disinformation has reached disturbing levels, some fostered by supposed enemies like China or Russia, some promulgated by supposed allies like Israel. Heads up, everyone — now is not the time to take anything at face value. Question the source, test the validity, and above all ask that truth-revealing question: Who benefits?

Transitions are essential — ideally they help us prepare for new or changing circumstances and situations. They can offer time to research, test and create solutions. Abrupt transitions can be jarring and disorienting and lead to confusion, misunderstanding and disruption. Sadly, we may have left our climate and political challenges until too late for ideal transitions. The sheer magnitude of change and disruption in the climate and political realms threaten to derail careful and considered actions.

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All the more reason to take action now. In the garden we are devising a new squirrel deterrent of some kind for our peach trees. Our water tanks hold the roof water from early spring rains and we will parse out our supplies during the harsh heat predicted next week.

For climate action, the best defense is to vote for the candidate who does not deny global warming and has already gotten legislation passed to provide the largest investment ever made in climate protections, many of which directly aid individuals or municipalities to install solar, or heat pumps, acquire electric vehicles or insulate buildings.

It is heartening to hear that friends are taking the leap to solar or electric vehicles because the incentives improve the benefits. There is much work to be done to be sure that solar and wind do not get placed on crucial farmland or forestlands, but the trend is moving toward ambitious goals.

We’ve ignored the climate crisis too long (thanks to the disinformation and power plays of the fossil fuel industries) for there to be a “soft landing” on the threats from climate disruption. And the political forces threatening our democracy have reached a level that precludes any disengagement.

These two crises — climate and political — are of course connected through the powerful, ideologically inflexible and greedy people who refuse to give up even the smallest bit of wealth or power to save the planet. Make your pledge and step into the transitions facing us all.

Judy Wagner lives in Northfield.