It’s On The Table

The road from the Green Springs back to civilization crosses a summit and swoops down, tracing a series of curves across the flowing drapery hung by Cascadian vulcanism. Each swoop reveals a new panorama of the valley and lake below, the forested mountainsides and bare peaks beyond, and the vast, busy sky. Sometimes there is mist, and it’s often in my eyes.
As I descended one recent afternoon, I saw backlit clouds sweeping over the ridges of the Siskiyous, inscribing mare’s tails and mackerel scales on a translucent blue scrim. The radio brought the voices of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, evoking the love of distant cousins for a distant land.
Earlier that day, the gregarious hermit Don told me about his lupine neighbors. He has exchanged stares with a big red she-wolf who wears a collar. It is rumored that this gal recently decamped for California but her siblings continue to patrol Don’s habitat, no doubt supervising the herd of elk that has wintered over in that high meadow.
What a gift it is to move so seamlessly from the world of Don, the wolves and the elk to the community below with its endless fabric of families, friends, history and hope. And this is part of a greater gift, the miracle of living on this planet with these singers from Africa, these parents, these children and these wolves.
The awful truth is that all of this is at risk. We are legion and together we have changed the chemistry of our blue sky. We have stretched and torn the fabric that shelters us and sustains all living things. Call it the climate, call it the biosphere, call it home. We have changed it and degraded it. If we don’t stop polluting it and take all necessary measures to restore it, soon we will not be here to feel the joy of beholding a winter sky.
Currently, our state leaders are debating a Clean Energy Jobs (CEJ) bill that is actually a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The real objective is to dismantle our worldwide fossil fuel based economy and replace it with sustainable (i.e. carbon free) technologies. This will cost gazillions of dollars, something on the order of the budget for World War II, and upend huge multinational corporations. And the whole project is just a first step toward restoring a sustainable biosphere.
Here in Oregon, the pushback (a legislative term, like ‘heavy lift’) is coming from the business association, whose members include fuel distributors. They say that CEJ will cost jobs and cut into the profits of companies owned by hard-working Oregonians. That’s true. Of course CEJ will also create jobs, most likely more of them, and drive the growth of companies owned by hardworking Oregonians. But, with all due respect, the debate is idiotic. We are balancing the jobs of fuel truck drivers with our survival. There is no equivalency in this dialogue.
By the time you read this, the legislative session will be ending and the fate of CEJ will be decided for the time being. But the story of humanity’s existential moment will continue. If you understand the significance of this epic tale, I hope you will add your voice to the narrative. The future of joy is on the table.