Super We, the Earth, and Me
When my son was two-years-old, he entered a typical toddler phase- the superhero obsession. He had never seen Batman on TV or in the movies, nor had my husband or I spoken to him about Superman’s super-human skill set. Yet somehow, the moment he laid eyes on the big black bat emblazoned on the eight dollar cape and shirt set at Target, he knew that there was something inherently magical on that hanger that he needed to be a part of. More than three years and three shirt sizes later, he has matured from zealot to enthusiast, but his dedication to these icons still burns strong. Scared of getting a flu shot? Fearful of the the whir of the dentist’s tools? He tucked a twelve-inch plastic Falcon action figure under his arm to give him courage. His Batman costume (which he wore two years in a row and many days in between) made him feel invincible, and he, along with his partners in trick-or-treating, Batgirl and Supergirl, ran down the dark streets of our California suburb, unafraid of the ghouls and goblins, committed to their search for candy. These characters make him and every kid like him feel brave, capable, and poised to come to the rescue. So now, it’s my turn. It’s been eleven years since I first saw An Inconvenient Truth, former Vice President Al Gore's harrowingly brilliant documentary about climate change. I was petrified, heart broken, and horrified about the dismal fate that was barreling our way. At the same time, I was energized and inspired to step in the ring and join the fight. I was ready to go beyond energy-efficient lightbulbs, recycling, and a plant-based diet, so I went back to school in my thirties and earned my degree in International Development and Environmental Studies. After giving up weekends, summers, and sunlight for years in exchange for empowerment, I graduated with honors, and was ready to activate my newfound powers. I was confident that with commitment, a well-crafted plan, and grit, we could nudge the world in the right direction. But then life happened. I went through an amicable turned spiteful divorce, changed careers, and got a job that had me working fifteen-hour days, six days a week for close to minimum wage. The following year, the tides turned, and I moved in with my boyfriend and started planning for a family. Nearly six years and two kids later, I’ve done virtually nothing for our planet. I have chronic mommy brain (yes, it is a real thing); it has emptied the contents of my cerebral matter, sapped my energy, and made it impossible to focus on anything when the children are around (which up to late has been ALWAYS). But finally, yes finally, my babies are getting older (they’re five and three now), and they spend most of their days learning, playing, and snacking at their respective elementary and preschools. It’s time for me to get back to another noble mission, defeating the most insidious and fast-moving nemesis of our time. On August 19th of this year, my now husband and I dedicated our date night to seeing An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power. Just when I thought that by not looking, the problem may have disappeared, retreated back into the genie’s bottle, leaving little more than a trace of smog as a memento, I discovered that I was wrong. Ignorance is not bliss, it merely compounds the problem, eventually rendering it impossible to ignore. In this jarring follow up to Mr. Gore’s first film, the audience is given an insider’s view into the Paris Climate Accord negotiations. In addition, it showcases various training sessions (the first one took place in a barn on his property in 2006, and was attended by a handful of ardent and resolute participants), in which Mr. Gore and his team educate everyday people to sound the alarm about climate change and work as a collective to advocate for the planet. I saw these trainings and a light went on. I searched online and discovered that the next coaching session was around the corner. It was time to step up to the plate, so with the support of my husband, I applied for the training. Exactly two months later, to the day, I sit here typing, flying home with a certificate of completion tucked in my folder, and a green circle pinned to my sweater, signaling that I’ve been inducted into the ranks Climate Reality Leaders. Today, I, along with 1,400 other new trainees from thirty countries (the largest graduating class to date), join forces with a league of courageous warriors fighting for truth, environmental justice, and a sustainable prosperity. What an honor. We are armed with ingenuity and technology, empirical evidence and tenacity, fellowship and heart, and most importantly, hope. These are the supernatural tools we will employ to win the war against climate change. Our mission is clear: build consensus among our peers and work fervently yet thoughtfully to reverse course on a path that will otherwise undoubtedly lead to our destruction. Denial is not an option, just as ignoring a cancer will not make it go away. Our enemy is cunning. This villain is sinister and has weapons in its arsenal that kill at will, without discrimination (although it often targets the most vulnerable first), and without regard to whether or not you believe in its existence. With each passing year, we are experiencing weather events that are more extreme, more frequent, and more relentless in their punishment. Hurricanes yield more destruction, rising waters drown out cries for help, fires burn brighter, droughts last longer, and temperatures continue to hit new highs. If your child was suffering from a chronic disease, wouldn’t you comfort them, seek a diagnosis, and do everything in your power to find a cure? Shouldn’t we do the very same when our home, the only home of our children and every life force that sustains us, is pleading, warning us that catastrophe is near? The command is irrefutable. It can be overwhelming, complex, and depressing. But like any other sleep-deprived, shell-shocked new parent, I know that WE can dedicate ourselves to this most worthy and necessary duty with focus, straightforwardness, optimism, and above all, teamwork. Because we are the creators of this ailment, we must also be the ones to save the Earth from its tragic fate. It is time to put on our capes and be brave, capable, and poised to come to the rescue. Our little superheroes are depending on us.