There is a chapter in my (tattered and torn) Winnie the Pooh when it rains and rains and rains until Piglet finds himself stranded in a tree, musing that “It’s a little Anxious to be a Very Small Animal Entirely Surrounded by Water.”
Didn’t we all feel that way during the September hurricanes in Texas and Florida, the Caribbean Islands and Puerto Rico? Television coverage alternated between graphics of one vast storm after another whirling down upon us and close ups of towns and villages, highways and shoreline communities entirely surrounded by floods.
Everyone down there must have felt just like Piglet: “Here I am, surrounded by water, and I can’t do anything.”.
I attended a Paul Hawken webinar this week. He pointed out that when we puny humans hear about overwhelming natural disasters, we tend to ward off anxiety by freezing emotionally. The way the news is presented impacts us too. “Battle” language about “fighting climate change” or “going to war with global warming” convinces us that we are in a win/lose situation. Faced with such a vast, existential threat to earth’s and humanity’s future, we feel like very small animals indeed; if somebody is going to “lose,.” and it will probably be us.
But Piglet is not without resources. He concocts a survival plan of putting a message in a bottle. “IT’S ME PIGLET, HELP HELP!” Pooh finds it, and, though “a bear of very little brain” he is is clever enough to cork up a big jar and float on (and below) it to find Christopher Robin to read it. Christopher realizes that he and Pooh can go to Piglet’s rescue in his umbrella. (Considering that Pooh has acted very cleverly indeed, he christens their craft “The Brain of Pooh.”)
Paul Hawken’s Drawdown describes the many clever ways we can bring the time when greenhouse gasses diminish closer. It is basically a list of 100 technological and social solutions, a short chapter for each. They are all quite doable, things like refrigerant management (the top of the list as most effective), onshore and offshore wind towers, rooftop solar, managing food waste and production, the education of girls, planned parenting, etc.
Piglet is rescued from an overwhelming threat by his ability to formulate a plan, by Pooh’s little bit of smarts and by Christopher Robin’s literacy and resourcefulness, none of which would do them any good were each not impelled by a will to action on behalf of the others.
As we watched the 24/7 coverage of hurricane flooding, our anxious hearts were lifted by all those people rushing around to rescue each other; white people wading out carrying black people on their backs and vice-versa, Cajun folks organizing flotillas of rescue boats, all impelled into action by community feeling.
And so we learn that global warming can be mitigated if we
1. Don’t just sit up there in our tree frozen with terror and anxiety
2. Use our smarts.
3. Brainstorm practical ideas
4. And then, altogether, PADDLE!