Oh, the world is very big, very big, very large,
And the mountains very tall, very tall.
And the ocean very deep, very deep and very wide,
And people seem so small, very small.
But the space we’re living in is as thin as your skin.
The biosphere is what it is called.
From highest wing to deepest fin, very thin, very thin.
It’s a miracle that we are here at all.
And we’re making too much smoke, too much smoke, too much smoke.
We are choking on our factories and cars.
Because people are confused, are confused, are confused,
And we haven’t figured out how big we are.
But it’s really not so hard, not so hard, not so hard,
Because all we’ve got to change is our minds.
And we haven’t really tried side by side, side by side.
No we haven’t really tried side by side.
There isn’t any place quite like this in outer space.
No there simply isn’t any other place.
There is room for me and you,
Pelicans and kangaroos.
No, there simply isn’t any other place.
And we’re really only here for a while, just a while.
No time to be hostile, it’s just a while.
Won’t you put your hand in mine, hand in mine, hand in mine
Cause we’re really only here for a while.
Words & music ©Doug Hendren and Nancy Beall 2014
What’s it about? Despite well over a decade of unequivocal scientific warnings about climate change, many otherwise sensible and educated Americans still don’t grasp that it is real, serious and urgent. Although this was written as a “children’s song”, it addresses a common misperception in adults: that the world is to big for humans to have had so much impact.
In fact, the biosphere is very thin, and we have already changed it. Compared to the size of the planet, the biosphere, from the highest to the deepest forms of life, can be compared to the skin of a peach. When we grasp this simple fact, it’s a lot easier to see how human activity can change it. And we are changing it very quickly. What we thought would take centuries is now happening in decades, or even years.
We are not helpless. We’re just acting that way. The window of opportunity, however, is closing quickly. This is thanks in large part to members of Congress, home to a remarkable concentration of outright climate deniers, the US-based fossil fuel industries funding them, and a Supreme Court allowing corporate interests unlimited financial influence over elections (via the 2010 Citizens United and the recent McCutcheon decisions).
Where do we start? Start with accurate information. Mainstream US media have contributed mightily to our ignorance on climate, leaving Americans fully ten years or more behind the rest of the world. Owned by just six entities, mainstream US media are highly censored in certain areas, including climate change. If you want accurate information on the climate, see some of the links below.
The consequences of our inaction will be a bitter and devastating legacy to those who come after us, unless we wake up now. Stabilizing the planet can be done, and will take all of us. We need to care more about people, including our own children, than about short-term corporate profit. It’s a lot cheaper to rescue this planet than to try to find a new one!
What can we do? Bob Dylan once said: “Those who are not busy being born, are busy dying.” The status quo is dying, and you can join the living. It’s time for being born, for rebuilding the goals and infrastructure of our society, including the sources of energy driving it. Learn what a livable and sustainable future looks like! There are plenty of great places to start, like Yes! Magazine, Grist Magazine and Common Dreams. And sharp, highly organized grassroots organizations like 350.org and Citizens’ Climate Lobby to educate and motivate our lawmakers about the climate. There’s work to do, and these people are the best company your could ask for! Bring your friends!
Eaarth: Making Life on a Tough New Planet, Bill McKibben, 2010
The Green Boat: Reviving Ourselves in Our Capsized Culture, Mary Pipher 2013
Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. Naomi Oreskes & Erik Conway, 2010
Climate Cover-Up, Jim Hoggan, 2009
Heat: How to Stop the Planet From Burning, George Monbiot, 2009