Thursday, January 29, 2009

Where to Go, Conclusion

Yesterday’s post segued into its ironical ending before I had a chance to complete it. The conclusion goes something like this:

All that searching around was pretty much fantasy on my part. Anybody who’s seen my spot knows how magical it is (except for the flooding and mosquitoes) – mists on the river at dawn, flocks of egrets flying up the river at twilight, sunrise and moonrise down the river... always the river, with its ever-changing moods. And right on the other side of the highway is desert, hundreds of square miles of de facto wilderness. After I moved here in 1973, I thoroughly bonded with this piece of land and the surrounding area – in many ways, I grew up here. In the 70s and 80s I spent thousands of hours hiking the hills and arroyos for miles in all directions, bonding with the land at a cellular level. This area doesn’t have what I would consider a sustainable culture, but Las Cruces has quality people the equal of those found anywhere – it’s just that there aren’t enough of them to overcome the relentlessly mainstream nature of the town I call “Little Albuquerque.”

Laura says we are finally moving – into our Ark. For all these years we’ve been living in a cave – a partly-underground house with small windows looking out into a jungle. The Ark is a sky house, up high, with large windows and views in all directions. “Who’s going to live there?” Laura asks. “Who are we?” It’s a time of change, that’s for sure.

One problem with moving somewhere in anticipation is climate change is, you’ve got to figure out what the climate will be like 50 years from now. And in 50 years you’ll either be old, or dead. There is no individual or culture capable of anticipating so far into the future. But that’s what’s called for. For all we know, Alaska might have the best climate on the planet 50 years from now, but until then, you’ve got to put up with relentless cold, gloomy overcast, endless snow or drizzle, and long dark winters.

The ones who will be able to take advantage of future conditions will be the wealthy. On short notice, they’ll be able to buy as much land as they need to create an Arctic stronghold for themselves, complete with a platoon of Blackwater mercenaries. The rest of us will be stuck with our usual limited options.

I wondered if the Amish would be able to anticipate future conditions and act accordingly, but realized that they are a deeply traditional culture, incapable of changing with the times. They plod along, generation after generation, raising large families, buying new farms for their sons, expanding into new areas when the old areas get crowded. They could, feasibly, start locating in Alaska or northern Canada in anticipation of climate change, but I doubt it. Finding a new farm for son Caleb or welcoming daughter Sarah’s new set of twins into the world is the extent of their future planning.

As for the rest of us, good luck. We’re on our own; always have been. In our culture, or what passes for a culture, “community” really means, “people to have pleasant conversations with.” There’s nothing wrong with that; in fact, a life without pleasant conversations is greatly impoverished. But we are incapable of making common cause with each other in a deeply significant way, at least not for long. We’d rather go it alone, especially financially, each of us carefully guarding our little stash of loot. The species gets maximum diversity that way, and perhaps that’s the best survival strategy – whoever happens to be in the right place at the right time gets to survive, and our attempts to stack the odds in our favor are useless.

At least for now, life is still good. The tsunami many of us have been watching for years has finally hit, and the villages below have disappeared under the water. But we, in our mountaintop fastness, will remain safe, snug and secure, right?


Post a Comment

<< Home