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“We are on the top of Niagara Falls…in a canoe,” says scientist Ovid Byron in Barbara Kingsolver’s recent novel, Flight Behavior, about climate change. Byron goes on to say, “We got here by drifting but we cannot turn around for a lazy paddle back… We have,” he says, “arrived at the point of an audible roar.”
Today the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Institute announced that June was the hottest June on record. This comes on the heels of May being the hottest May on record, and the ocean temperature is the warmest of any month. Everyone is wondering how climate change will play out and when.
Below I present the visions that my students and I have had in recent months, as well as some information on climatologists’ projections. But first some ideas about how to use this information.
How to turn this information into an opportunity. People react to climate change projections in different ways. Some of us feel powerless to do anything about it, become paralyzed, or bury our heads in the sand. Others, however, are transforming these painful feelings into a new relationship to nature based in wonder and gratitude. The more we understand climate change, the more we realize the miracle of our living planet. In an attempt to live more in sync with nature, people are changing their lives in miraculous ways–eating more locally, living more sustainably, and practicing a grateful awareness of our exquisite world. It is this sense of connection with the natural world that will move us into a new paradigm of life sustaining living.
It’s hard to make change, however, unless we face up to our planet’s distress. The rest of this article shows our situation, the scientists’ projections of future sea level rise, and the visions that arise when intuitive people meditate on the future.
Scientists’ Projected Sea Level Rise Depending on which study you read, climatologists estimate sea level rise will reach an average of three to six feet by century’s end if we continue our current high rate of carbon pollution. On the Atlantic seaboard of the U.S. where I live, one study found we experience four times the global average sea level rise, which would mean twelve to twenty-four feet sea level rise by 2100. In a survey that I feel is the most credible of the many studies because it combines scientific knowledge with a more subjective intuitive element, ninety top climatologists gave their gut estimate for sea level rise by century’s end. Those estimates averaged six feet, which would mean 24 feet on the Atlantic seaboard. Of those 90 scientists, a dozen of them estimated ten to twenty feet for the global average, which, if correct, would mean forty to eighty feet along the Atlantic coast. How do those estimates compare to people’s intuitive visions of the future?
OUR PREDICTIONS AND VISIONS OF CLIMATE CHANGE: At this time, we don’t have a prediction for sea level rise, although I’ve had visions that indicate it will be high enough to cover large parts of Florida and to send people fleeing from New York City which would be at least 24 feet by 2100. I’ll try to provide a number in a later post. Taken together, our visions of the rest of this century fit Joanna Macy’s characterization of a “great unraveling” followed by a “great turning” to a more sustainable world:
- A drought in the American heartland beginning in the 2030′s may require food rationing.
- Heat, polar melt, drought and sea level rise begin to surge around 2037.
- Parts of the American southwest run dry, prompting migrations.
- The financial markets become unstable from 2017 to 2019, then crash in 2020. They rally in 2029.
- Floods in Boston, New York and the upper eastern seaboard of the U.S. as early as 2050.
- Unity in leadership not based on greed.
- Leadership of Dalai Lama especially felt in 2030-31
- In the mid to latter part of the century, the Great Lakes region becomes a sparkling jewel center of commerce and prosperity.
- Railroads see a revival.
- There is a power shift from male to female, from central power to grass roots.
- Small family farms are revived, especially in cooler, northern latitudes.
- By 2100 large parts of Florida flooded; in a vision, I saw it as a playground for sailboat enthusiasts.
- There are large-scale mass migrations all over the world.
What can you do now about this? This is not meant to create panic, but raise blinders and move us all deliberately and confidently towards sustainable living. There is much we can do to prepare. We can even slow down these changes if more people wake up and take action now. The earth is forgiving; the deep oceans are absorbing the worst of the heat, and while these changes will not reverse easily, we still have time to prevent worst case scenarios. Participating in the People’s Climate March on September 21 in New York City is a good step forward. Our president and secretary of state have said publicly that they need a show of hands before they will do more.
DETAILED YEAR BY YEAR VISIONS: Each line is by a different person. While my students wish to remain anonymous, I’ve tagged my own visions. We are located in the Northeastern U.S., hence our perspective is from this geographic viewpoint. I will attempt to post visions of other parts of the world at a later date.
2014 (as of June 10):
- Elephant is in charge – throwing its weight around (Republican party) (Jeanne)
- Year of the Tiger, starting strong but getting a bit tired towards the end.
- Air pollution, smog
- War that does not end.
- Stock market volatility (Jeanne)
- Reflective year, angry mobs at the beginning
- “No escape from reality” – Queen song
- Bad drought in the American southwest; huge cyclone Texas panhandle; Great Lakes region gets positive attention. (Jeanne)
- Sideways landscape with trees (means trees are in trouble) (Jeanne)
- Sunshine, optimism, the star, belief in new ideals
- Light – sunrise as more people embrace change.
- An epic storm, many dead; palm trees blowing sideways. (Jeanne)
- The frog (in trouble?); stock market volatility (Jeanne)
- Reality sets in, unemployment lines, hunger, mass destruction, Detroit fires.
- Guns, shooting
- Stars and lights over the Great Lakes region– a promising part of the U.S. for the future. (Jeanne)
- Hunger, poverty
- War, genocide.
- Many storms in the U.S.
- People living on the streets, stray dogs, people looking for food in trash
- Serious market volatility (Jeanne)
- “I told you so,” repetition of history, not learning from our mistakes.
- Financial markets crashing (Jeanne)
- People selling objects for cash, gold, diamonds not meaning much, fires, drought.
- Tsunami, hurricane, natural disaster
- More market upset, boys walking along road – war?
- State of Texas in crisis
- Heavy rains, mudslides, floods, tornadoes
- Barbed wire fences, borders, jail.
- Cars that drive themselves
- War? Soldiers, guns.
- 2022-24 market volatility. (Jeanne)
- Silence, flooding has ceased, people in awe of devastation
- People breaking down borders.
- Europe upset
- Airplanes flying up above, looking for people to rescue
- Survival, disparities more extreme than ever.
- Crying, hungry babies, food rations
- Wind gusts, rain, eruptions, Mother Nature rebelling.
- Railroads revived (Jeanne)
- Government controlling masses.
- No electricity, finding light.
- Lazy in the yard, rakes, rural scene, some migration to farming areas (Jeanne)
- Drought more severe
- Refugees all over the place, no safe haven.
- People coming together out of necessity to survive.
- Market extremes
- Peace pigeon
- Mustaches in fashion. (Jeanne)
- Awakening from bad dream
- Men in life vests doing work (Jeanne) Is this a scene from a flood?
- Power shifts flip.
- Two women running for president
- Women in power.
- Stock market goes up, up, up (Jeanne)
- War breaks out.
- Arguing about new structures, people resistant to new way
- Women continue to dominate.
- Roller coaster economy (Jeanne)
- Righteous man in robes preaching on hillside. (Jeanne)
- Crimes, military governments fall, few are safe, Dali Lama
- Leader emerges, unity, not centered on greed.
- Success of round-table discussion.
- People migrating, like a biblical exodus, (Jeanne)
- Tibet – Dalai Lama
- World leaders come together to step up, make decisions
- Barren land; Afghanistan
- Right wing powers lose control
- Positive changes, growth and light.
- Man and dog by big river.
- Purple flags swaying, Tibet
- New generation- technology
- Importance of China
- Women recaps from 2029
- Pacific Rim the focus of attention
- Tom Sawyer images
- Chance to recover.
- Women in lead.
- Problem with trees, need for trees that can survive (Jeanne)
- Chance to recover.
2050: Greenland turning green (Jeanne)
2051: Black cloud around the U.S. Capitol, as if the U.S. central government is disconnected from the rest of the country. (Jeanne)
2058: Small boat filled with people, some armed, crossing body of water (Jeanne)
2068: Mushroom shaped cloud – (nuclear explosion to block heat from sun?) (Jeanne)
2070-80: Peaceful scene of village in forested mountain region – looks like ancient Japan (Jeanne)
2100: Large parts of Florida are flooded, becoming a popular place for sailboating. (Jeanne)
A LIST OF POSITIVE ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE NOW
- Join in the People’s Climate March on New York City September 21. Show the nations of the world who will be meeting on climate at the U.N. that you want action now. Our own president has said he needs a show of hands before he will do more. Bring your friends. If you live near Boston, email Jeanne about a bus ride she is organizing.
- Read Joanna Macy’s Active Hope: How to survive the climate emergency without going crazy, and Coming Back to Life, or attend one of her workshops, The Work That Connects.
- Let your elected officials know how you feel.
- Consider divesting from all petroleum industry stock holdings and suppor efforts to get pension funds and universities to do the same.
- Try eating more local foods. It might be the most effective way you can reduce fossil fuel emissions. The average American meal travels 1500 miles. It’s healthier and tastier too. Grow a vegetable garden. You may need this skill in the future. Check out Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle for an inspiring guide to growing your own food.
- Other ways to reduce your carbon footprint: If you are buying a car, buy the highest gas mileage you can. Use more carpooling and public transport. If you can, change your electric source to hydro or solar. Many electric companies offer this choice.
- Visualize a sustainable world. Send healing to our planet.
- Think of five things you are grateful for about our natural world every day. Have gratitude for running water, plants, all of life, and cultivate an appreciation for the interconnectivity of all of life. Your elevated consciousness will spread to others.
- Try growing a small vegetable garden, even if just in a container. It may transform your relationship to food and to the natural world.