Reflections on the return of sunshine to a still-warming planet — and Kansas

Kansas Reflector welcomes opinion items from writers who share our objective of widening the dialog about how public insurance policies have an effect on the day-to-day lives of individuals all through our state. Dave Kendall served as producer and host of the “Sunflower Journeys” sequence on public tv for its first 27 seasons and continues to supply documentary movies by his personal firm, Prairie Hole Productions.

Low within the southern sky, the noon solar casts lengthy shadows throughout the Kansas prairie. The daylight streams down tender and golden because the winter day speeds towards an early sundown.

For a few of us, the wintry sunshine induces a persistent, yawning sleepiness that makes us conscious of the truth that we’re primarily solar-powered beings. Shortened days cross all too shortly as we discover ourselves immersed in darkness a lot sooner than we desire.

However the winter solstice will quickly arrive within the northern hemisphere, and light-weight will start to return. Days which have change into shorter will reverse course because the planet orbits the Solar.

“The 2 nice celestial milestones of the 12 months, the Summer time and Winter Solstices, are maybe humanity’s most historical ritual observances,” claims Paul Winter, the famous saxophonist who organizes solstice celebrations every year. “Folks paused at these instances to mirror upon the journey of life, with its trials, blessings, hopes and promise.”

Do you’re taking any time to pause and mirror at the moment of 12 months? What involves your thoughts?

For me, I contemplate what’s taking place on this planet because the environment warms. Though we’ve been listening to about it for many years, the tough realities of local weather change have change into extra evident.

Kansas farmers and ranchers watch them crops wither within the fields and dump their cattle as a result of there’s not sufficient grass to feed them. A windblown wall of mud rolls throughout the plains as these in its path seize photographs paying homage to the Mud Bowl.

At The Land Institute in Salina, Wes Jackson talks in regards to the roots of our dilemma, international in scope, as he shares the views offered in a not too long ago revealed guide entitled “Inconvenient Apocalypse.” He co-wrote the quantity with Robert Jensen, professor emeritus of journalism on the College of Texas at Austin.

Requested how involved he thinks individuals round listed below are about local weather change, he says: “Not sufficient.” He goes on to say that “a whole lot of it has to do with … effectively, what can I do? what can we do?”

It feels overwhelming and upsetting to think about. What can one particular person do, anyway?

The Step by Step Kansas venture meets in Topeka. The gatherings have addressed what people can do to fight local weather change. (Dave Kendall)

A venture referred to as “Step By Step Kansas” has been facilitating dialogue about that query. Initiated by Lawrence psychologist Steve Lerner in collaboration with Dan Wildcat of Haskell Indian Nations College, public gatherings have been held throughout the state, starting with one on the Haskell campus final summer season.

Lerner refers to people singer Pete Seeger’s track in his opening remarks — “step-by-step, the longest march might be received” — as he encourages individuals to hitch along with a way of widespread objective in taking steps to handle local weather change. On the similar time, he acknowledges the psychological toll.

“Local weather nervousness is turning into a really well-known subject amongst psychologists and psychiatrists,” Lerner tells me. “Actually, the American Psychological Affiliation and the American Psychiatric Affiliation has local weather nervousness teams particularly centered on finding out it.”

“I feel a part of it’s the sense of despair, that it is such an enormous factor, that there is nothing we are able to do, which is definitely not true,” he goes on to say. “There are numerous issues – small, medium and enormous – that we are able to do.”

Turning into personally engaged and taking motion can present a manner for us to beat the sense of helplessness.

Lindsey Constance, a center faculty educator in Shawnee, Kansas, joined with Mike Kelly, then mayor of Roeland Park, to problem an invite to civic leaders from throughout the metropolitan Kansas Metropolis space. They put out a name to debate how to reply to the native challenges of local weather change.

Greater than 130 individuals confirmed up, participating in animated discussions and expressing a excessive degree of curiosity in efforts that will be mutually helpful.

Turning into personally engaged and taking motion can present a manner for us to beat the sense of helplessness.

“I’ve cared in regards to the atmosphere since I used to be a toddler, and typically it felt like lonely work,” Lindsey remembers. “And once I met Mike at that occasion 4 years in the past, it was so transformative as a result of we each shared that very same ardour. We had been an ideal partnership in that, and we had been in a position to simply dive in after which deliver collectively different individuals who cared.”

They’ve since convened bigger neighborhood gatherings, and their efforts have spurred the event of Local weather Motion KCwhich has collaborated with the Mid-America Regional Council to develop the Kansas Metropolis Regional Local weather Motion Plan.

Nancy Jackson is amongst these serving on the govt board of local weather

Motion KC. She has actively engaged with efforts to handle local weather challenges since she had a pivotal dialog along with her father-in-law, the aforementioned Wes Jackson, 15 years in the past.

At the moment an electrical firm was planning to construct a big coal-fired energy plant in southwestern Kansas. There was a whole lot of consideration centered on the variety of jobs it might create and the way a lot vitality can be produced and fewer concern in regards to the quantity of carbon dioxide that will be emitted.

Wes “requested how a lot do you care about this?” she remembers. “And I mentioned that I feel local weather change is the defining problem of my technology. If we do not take care of it, we can have missed our calling.”

When requested what she would do about it, she responded: “I feel that there must be a transparent and current and compelling different. We are able to have energy from wind, we are able to have solar energy, renewables are a viable choice now.”

Realizing that she wanted to change into extra instantly concerned, she left a cushty place with the Endowment Affiliation on the College of Kansas and launched the Local weather and Power Venture at The Land Institute.

“Now we have to first discover widespread trigger in order that we’re not continuously clashing and adversarial,” she says. “So the Local weather and Power Venture was all about how can we work collectively on widespread goals in order that we are able to make actually good issues occur.”

Greater than 45 p.c of the electrical energy at present generated in Kansas comes from wind. The corporate that proposed the coal-fired plant has since given up its plans, noting that the market has modified with the expansion of renewables. And greater than 22,000 jobs have been created in assist of wind vitality, with greater than $1.6 billion in direct financial advantages for Kansas counties and landowners, in accordance a 2020 report from Polsinelli.

Though Nancy Jackson has moved on to launch a brand new enterprise referred to as Generic Changewhich helps organizations with fundraising, the Local weather and Power Venture continues as an impartial, nonprofit group whose mission focuses on constructing resilience by clear vitality options and local weather motion in a nonpartisan vogue.

Climate activist Sami Aaron
Sami Aaron, a former software program developer, grew to become an activist after the loss of life of her son. (Dave Kendall)

Resilience seems to have change into one of the vital widespread ideas being employed by those that take care of local weather change. We hear about the necessity to develop plans for resilient communitiesmaking ready them to bounce again after an excessive climate occasion or modifying infrastructure that allows them to defend themselves from such threats.

Likewise, people are being inspired to change into extra resilient — to develop abilities and techniques that present assist within the face of anxious occasions and circumstances.

Sami Aaron, a former software program developer in Kansas Metropolis, is keenly conscious of the toll this will take. It has been nearly 20 years since her son Kevin, an environmental activist, took his personal life after turning into deeply depressed about humanity’s impact on the atmosphere and prospects for the way forward for life on Earth.

“The extra he discovered about local weather change and the way a lot human destruction there was across the planet, the extra he understood about all of the social justice impacts of human-caused local weather change, the much less he felt he was going to make any distinction. And we misplaced him in 2003 to suicide,” she says.

Whereas coping with the grief of her son’s loss, Sami determined to do one thing which may assist others who proceed to take care of comparable challenges. A number of years in the past, she based a nonprofit group referred to as The Resilient Activist.

“Our mission is to assist assist individuals as we navigate local weather change,” she says. “Our predominant focus is on supporting environmental activists.”

As her group continues to develop assets and share them, she believes that we’ll quickly attain a tipping level in our response to local weather change, understanding the urgency of taking motion. And he or she factors out that everybody, not solely activists, might be instantly concerned within the response. She notes that it could possibly even be a joyful expertise to have interaction within the course of.

“Each single factor each single considered one of us does has nice worth if it is accomplished from the center and with pleasure … after which if it is shared,” she contends. “Now we have to speak about local weather change. Now we have to speak about how we really feel. Now we have to be open to being weak … as a result of neighborhood goes to collect round that.”

All of those people, and others we’ve been talking with within the course of of manufacturing a documentary in regards to the native response to local weather change, are linked to communities and organizations that assist their efforts. There’s extra local weather motion happening on this a part of the planet than you might suspect.

Though the challenges dealing with us can appear daunting, it might be useful to keep in mind that we’ve the capability to show issues round, simply because the Earth tilts again towards the Solar in its cyclical journey.

It is perhaps value reflecting on that whereas our religion traditions have fun the sunshine that dispels darkness.

Via its opinion part, the Kansas Reflector works to amplify the voices of people who find themselves affected by public insurance policies or excluded from public debate. Discover data, together with how one can submit your individual commentary, right here.

Leave a Comment