Where do we go from here?

Photo by Susan Feathers

The previous post provided a downloadable copy of the latest IPCC report on climate change science and forecast for policymakers. It is condensed for quick reading. If nothing else, skim to the highlighted summaries.

All Bets Are Off

We are on track for massive warming. And because the Earth’s systems are complex with many hidden tipping points, we are unlikely to predict much of what might happen except that life as we know it will be greatly destabilized. What might happen then will become harder to predict.

The imperative is to halt burning fossil fuels as fast as possible. Most people don’t believe it is possible. But, the IPCC report tells us that is exactly what we must do NOW.

We are required to reinvent the way we live. Much of what we Americans refer to as modern life is fraught with stress and uncertainty. Except for the few wealthy among us, we experience everyday that we are working harder and enjoying life less. We are less healthy. We witness the beauty of the world fading before our eyes. Our democratic institutions are under attack from a vocal minority but at least in that area of our common life I think most of us are reasonable and see a way forward together. The last election proved that.

Many forces try to divide us on issues that are polarizing. We love our children and families and believe in the Golden Rule. So, we can come together. See here a short video of John Hume, the great Irish leader who made peace when no one thought it possible.

So to this majority of citizens I appeal. Gather your families and neighbors and have a good chat about how you can help move our nation to a more sustaining way of life and avert a certain catastrophe for our children. What are the elements of life that you recall you love the most? How can we simplify but also enjoy greater abundance together?

Attend your local city council meeting to express your concerns. Just go. Contact your senators and express your views and ask what you can do to help. A phone call, an email, a letter to the editor. We can ALL do these simple things.

We must look for and cultivate leaders who are of this mind set. President Biden has initiated legislation in the right direction but much more needs to be done and certainly approving drilling rights in the Alaskan waters with its great biodiversity and intact ecosystem is NOT that direction.

We have to be more vocal together. We must look together at candidates that believe in the democratic principles set forth in our Constitution. Who are they? What have they done? Elect them no matter their political party. Stay off the major news channels. Read. Discuss. Think for yourself.

Until the people of Who-ville (the “silent majority”) come together to confront the GRINCH (our way of life), we will not survive, or we will live very degraded lives in the near future. Many across the world — people who have contributed the least to climate change– are already suffering. But, it is coming home for all of us soon. We must rise to it, be responsible, and act together. And, whatever you do, support our children and youth who are fighting for a future and looking to us to help make that possible.

You know what to do.

Visionaries of the future

Threshold at the Tucson Festival of Books


February 4, 2023 | Tucson, Arizona

Visit Threshold for more details.

Southwestern Novel From Fireship Press—A fictional novel exploring the dramatic affects of climate change in the desert community of Tucson, Arizona

A Love Story in a Time of Climate Change
A Love Story in a Time of Climate Change

Susan Feathers will be present to sign and sell copies of Threshold during the Indie Authors Pavilion at the Tucson Festival of Books on March 5, Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Confronted by crisis in their own world—climate scientists, politicians, and desert museum curators face the biggest challenge man can encounter—no water, anywhere. In the barrios, families and community leaders, band together as they face unbearable heat and the crushing weight of the gangs that intimidate them. Amidst the turmoil, three teens navigate adolescence to become leaders in a new world. With shifting sand underfoot, characters follow their intuition and learn new skills as they chart a way into a viable future. Threshold will make you think while it celebrates the enduring nature of communities as they search for what is lasting and true. Threshold is a powerful new western novel in the best of its tradition. Appropriate for high school classes.

“In a riveting, multi-stranded plot, Threshold translates the conceptual worry over climate change into immediate, interpersonal dramas.” –Mary Lawlor, Muhlenberg College

“Such a well-written and thoughtfully conceived novel regarding very poignant issues of the day; THRESHOLD is a valuable contribution. The author continues a tradition in Southwestern Literature of social and environmental consciousness –Mark Rossi, Frank Waters Foundation.

About the Author

Susan Feathers is a writer and educator with 30 years of experience communicating science to the public. She served as the Director of Education at the Sonora-Arizona Desert Museum. Her writing focuses on the importance of place in forming character and destiny. Susan is an excellent speaker with years of experience delivering programs to the public. Her blog, WalkEarth.org, now in its 14th year, has an active following.

Fireship Press

P.O. BOX 68412 • Tucson, AZ 85737

520-360-6228 • fireshipinfo@gmail.com


Fiction: General, Action and Adventure, Urban

Trade paperback: 978-1-61179-369-7 / $19.95 • ePub & Mobi: 978-1-61179-370-3 / $7.95

Available through: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks and Kobo, and at Antigone’s and Barnes and Nobel (Wilmot) in Tucson.


From The Big Fix: Wright’s Law

See here my introduction to the new book for citizens, The Big Fix: 7 Practical Steps to Save Our Planet.

The first chapter, the first big lesson for us, is to understand what economists call the learning curve of a new technology. Theodore P. Wright was an architectural engineer with an inquisitive mind. Everyone knew that costs decrease as production increases but he wanted to know if there was a pattern that could predict it. The principle is rooted in economy of scale.

Wright eventually found that as production doubles, the cost of labor decreases by 20 percent. Production becomes more efficient as workers find better ways to do things and technology is improved. This formula is Wright’s Law.

In a graph of the production and cost of making the Model T Ford, Wright observed something else: as demand by the public grew, cost of production decreased and thus the price to the consumer. One drives the other.

When you plot the production by cost, you are measuring another principle that the business world knows well for any new product: the learning curve. The company and workers learn more efficient ways of making something further driving down the price.

An important idea is that the reverse is also true: if a new technology is left to linger, i.e. production is slow due to lack of demand, then the cost of production will not decrease and the potential will die.

It is not time that drives the learning curve, it is the amount of production.

Citizens can drive the learning curve for renewable energy to reduce humanity’s footprint on the Earth. We are not passive bystanders waiting for businesses and government to figure out how to make cheap EVs: we have to drive it with demand for it. And, the IRA funding will be available to you and your family or business to do just that! Go here to learn about the tax and price incentives available to all of us on January 1, 2023 and for the subsequent decade!

Poverty is the Elephant

For most of my adult life I have worked to end the violence of poverty. The most frustrating part of this work is entrenched misperceptions among at least half of Americans about “the poor”.

Poverty is multidimensional and not confined to any group of people, while its historic prevalence among “minority” populations is tolerated by American culture as if a natural condition of families in its grip. There is nothing natural about poverty. Poverty results from policies, practices, and prejudices.

The dictionary defines poverty as “The state of being extremely poor” and poor as “lack of enough money to live at a standard considered normal by society. During this pandemic, many more Americans are experiencing poverty–perhaps for the first time. Some might have become homeless except for the national moratorium on eviction during the COVID19 pandemic. Losing a job and having few or no savings, usually substantial debt — describes at least half of Americans today. Are they poor due to laziness or lack of ambition? No. They are poor due to circumstances beyond their control. COVID 19 for example created widespread unemployment and/or work at low hourly rates that are below living standards. The pandemic revealed the lack of resilience to events that strike at being able to work. Most Americans are running just ahead of an economic and health avalanche of poor outcomes.

Poverty in America draws on stereotypical associations with minorities or poor whites (lazy, unmotivated, less able). Poverty is endemic racism resulting in less opportunity to obtain a good paying job and poor education in neighborhoods that receive less funding for schools and public amenities such as grocery stores, parks, clinics, public transportation, libraries and museums, and so on, that build resilience and provide opportunities.

Yet there are other forms of poverty that we typically do not recognize– other dimensions of the poverty elephant in the room of democracy.

Poverty of justice is a pernicious form that is being scrutinized now in the face of blatant racism in police practices that single-out black citizens as culprits and typically resulting in outright murder on public view. This is a form of poverty that has been present for 400 years in America but never identified as such. Lynching is present today.

The hard truth is that poverty of justice arises from a poverty of soul among citizens who do not resist the violence and work to eliminate injustice of any kind in the Republic of America. This is another way of saying it: you are either part of the problem or part of the solution.

James Baldwin defines the “Negro story” of White America (aka “the Indian problem”) as emotional poverty among white people who need to perpetuate a myth of superiority to maintain white hegemony.

A new form of poverty is lack of access to the Internet and lack of technology (computer, printer, cell phone). The pandemic created a chasm among school children and college students by virtue of the an unequal access to these basic tech resources. Americans of means have been content to allow poorer kids to find these resources at libraries and other public institutions that closed during the pandemic. Students dropped behind richer contemporaries during the pandemic while wealthier families were able to keep their children progressing and even excelling with homeschooling by at least one or two parents at home or able to keep working at home. So, technological poverty is a new form arising that will further divide who progresses and who does not unless Americans intervene to bring everyone along in access to technology. This would mean we have a spiritually enlightened perspective, another important dimension of equality for all, and also an economically smart policy.

Another important area of “poverty” that has received scrutiny from researchers and sociologists is the basic need of human beings for a “roof over their head”. A house–so fundamental to Americans as essential to well-being and wealth-building–is denied to many citizens through unfair loan practices and keeping people working at below living wages, making it impossible to buy that first house. I think of all the college grads with student loans on their backs like Sisyphus from the Greek myth whose punishment was to carry a heavy stone on his back up a mountain with no end in sight. That seems a ready financial metaphor for all Americans under the age of 50 today.

What’s so important about safe housing? Today we know that it is the best predictor of a person’s physical and mental health. Stable housing is a basic human need, and it’s just silly that something like that need be stated at all, like the need for food. Yet, if you study the issue, it is true that America has an affordable housing crisis across the nation. A form of societal poverty that with all the wealth sucked up into this system, we have failed to provide even that guarantee. Once upon a time we as a society guaranteed it with the GI bill, with fair loan and hiring practices, with laws that worked to assure a great education for every child. But, much of that has been stripped away as white culture got scared again. The gig could be up on the perceived conceit of greed and privilege as their working dynamic.

Until we see all the dimensions of “poverty” as a creation of how we treat each other, we’ll always have poor among us. But, that is not inevitable, only probable, as long as American citizens tolerate it.

Thank God for Daisy Bates

Daisy Gatson Bates

Thursday morning I was blessed to join a tour group from Baltimore’s Civil Rights Movement at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. They are teachers, leaders, and powerful women traveling the civil right trail — next stop Memphis at the National Civil Right Museum at the Lorraine Hotel.

Great women have made significant contributions to democratic societies. Daisy Bates is one of these women. As our talented NPS Interpreter stated today, “If it hadn’t been for Daisy, there would not have been a Little Rock Nine or desegregation as it unfolded in Little Rock.”

Central High School, Little Rock, AR

Daisy Bates was the President of the Arkansas NAACP at the time of the Supreme Court ruling in Brown vs the Board of Education which desegregated public schools in the U.S. Nine children were identified by the Little Rock School Board to integrate Central High School. At the time, Governor Orval Faubus was not supporting the federal mandate and called in the National Guard to keep out the black students. Daisy realized that the nine teenagers would need protection and help and she organized meetings and support to help them on the first and subsequent days of their trials and tribulations. This story, and the life of Daisy Bates, is chronicled in her memoir, The Long Shadow of Little Rock, which I am currently reading. The individual stories of the nine students are each dramatic and many are told in their memoirs. What white students did inside the school to the nine black students, following integration, and the teachers who turned their backs, is horrendous and rarely told. I highly recommend that you visit this national historic site to reset your compass on American history and the long struggle of all American people for fulfillment of basic rights. As we see today, that struggle if still in progress. But, looking back to such pillars of courage and decency as Daisy Bates gives me renewed hope for a future all of us can make happen together.

Warming Earth, Changing Climate

Everywhere there is evidence that the Earth is warming at rates not seen in recorded history. Ice ages and temperate periods like the epoch in which we live (the Holocene) have come about over thousands of years. As human populations have increased exponentially, and as we have mined and refined carbon rich ores and deposits of oil, the concentration of greenhouse gases has increased in concert with emissions.

Warming the planet, changing the dynamics of wind and ocean currents, we are beginning to see changes in our ways of life. Agricultural changes include drought, floods, insect booms, and altered growing seasons. The ranges of tree and plant populations, and the insects and birds associated with them, are moving to higher altitudes in many places–changes that go unnoticed except by scientists and Peoples of Place (farmers, naturalists, indigenous cultures).

Without significant and coordinated actions at all levels of human government, we are likely to see major disruptions in our ways of life, and social conflict from disparities in resources to respond and survive.

Find out what your community is doing. Do you have solar companies? Other alternative energy companies? What is your state doing about carbon dioxide emissions?


Florida Solar Energy Center

Southeastern Solar Research Center

Rocky Mountain Institute

Go to NOAA’s Vital Signs of the Planet to keep track of Earth changes.