I'm a big believer in "timing & location" being applicable to more situations than real estate. Helen Thayer has been pulling off explorer-naturalist excursions for decades and only a few weeks ago did I hear her name. She was being interviewed on NPR prior to a speaking engagement in San Diego. What caught my ear was her plans for an upcoming trek with her husband, Bill: 1500 miles across India to study the culture. Never mind that Bill is 82 and Helen is 71. She was 63 and he was 74 when they walked across the Gobi Desert: 1,600 miles in 80 days with temperatures often topping 110 degrees.
"Walking the Gobi" is part thriller, part adventure story, part feat of endurance. And a very early call about the disastrous effects of climate chaos/global warming. Remember that Thayer walked in 2001. She published her book in 2007. Back when she and Bill were making their way west to east across a forbidding landscape, Mongolian nomads who make their homes here, raise their children, raise herds and flocks of sheep and goats, had been telling her there had been no rain in three years. Mongolians date to at least Genghis Kahn. These people are desert nomads. They know the climate of their home.
You might wonder why a desert needs rain. Green things grow in the desert. Animals adapted to this ferocious life find sources of water and forage. As do people. When there is no rain and winds kick up to 50, 60 , 70 more miles per hour, huge sandstorms fill the sky and carry beyond borders. The natural equilibrium of the desert is thrown off balance and everyone suffers.
Believing that grass roots efforts are what really get things done, thousands of men and women and children met up in Manhattan on Sunday to march for correcting climate chaos. As reported in the NYTimes, Taking a Call for Climate Change to the Streets, legions of marchers with no more affiliation than this one shared planet demonstrated that the time had come for ordinary people to turn things around. Marches were also held all over the world as ordinary people on every continent realized that the heating up of Planet Earth is not some joke of the scientific community.
I am gearing up for a pre-trial legal research, otherwise known as a focus group. As one of a series of political compass questions I am posting to the potential participants, there is this one: "Is climate chaos/global warming some error of science or a real disaster in the making?" To my astonishment, well over half of those being recruited in SoCal call it a scientific error. Here in California we are looking at Year 3 of a record drought. At a time when other folks are getting ready to don wool socks and prepare soup for dinner, we are reeling from weeks of triple digit temperatures. As reported in the NYTimes:
Last week, meteorologists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that this summer — the months of June, July and August — was the hottest on record for the globe, and that 2014 was on track to break the record for the hottest year, set in 2010.
It was concern about the consequences of that warming that drew people to the march, organized by a dozen environmental, labor and social justice groups, and that inspired some of the event’s most sober and most outrageous expressions, some of them not even on the route.
Whether you are two elderly foreigners leading camels across the Gobi or one of many marching in Manhattan or your corner of the globe, the message is still the same: this is real - do what you can with what you have. There is no Plan-et B.