The weather is turning warm again with some forecasts for temperatures next week to approach 60F. It is also likely to be a wet period, with rain instead of snow. Some forecasters fear the warmth might stretch on for several weeks. All of this portends flooding as we quickly lose our snow pack. The snow pack is very important as the slow melting of the snow in spring recharges our lakes, streams, and aquifer.
I am caught between my love of winter, feeling trapped by the abundant ice on sidewalks, and my desire to feel warm. Often we head south for a week or so during February, or go to India to work for a couple of weeks sometime during the winter. These jaunts allow me to warm up and make our traditionally long winters bearable for me as a person with the cold intolerance associated with Post Polio Syndrome.
Such trips also increase our carbon footprint, as do long-distance teaching trips. We try to offset the harm by living in a very ecological home, driving one vehicle, and having solar panels on our roof. We also have targeted our retirement accounts to support alternative energy sources and other green initiatives.
We have, in the end, a conundrum: no matter how carefully we plan we have a negative impact on the global environment. Simply doing what we love (teaching, traveling, and staying connected with family) increases our impact on the world, so we attempt to be thoughtful, to mitigate the damage we cause, and to work with others to build more sustainable futures.
Even so we know that eight billion humans must inevitably have a dramatic and lasting impact on global ecosystems and climate. We also understand that furthering human rights, educational access, and environmental and cultural preservation are crucial to any efforts to envision and create a livable future. At the very core of such programs must be the needs and aspirations of women and Indigenous people.
Of course, we are not alone in our desire to be thoughtful and kind, nor in our acknowledgement that living in this epoch of enormous environmental change is challenging. As psychotherapists we spend time each day with others who want to understand their personal struggle and challenges in a larger context, and to grasp the ways their lives are complicated by the very attitudes and policies that threaten environmental collapse. Repeatedly, the process of therapy demonstrates that personal experience is played out in political contexts on the ecological stage, no matter how much those in authority might wish to deny or obfuscate that.