My wife Sarah and I are moving to Vermont.
I’ve been studying climate change and its interconnected problems for a year, and my research has brought me to the conclusion that a time of tremendous scarcity and uncertainty is upon us. So we’ve decided that it’s time to get started building a different, more resilient kind of life.
When I first began understanding the magnitude of the changes we’re going to see in the next few decades — climate along with peak energy, potential food shortages, likely social unrest — I got really scared. My first thought was to get as far away from humanity as possible. Find a cave in the woods, eat mushrooms and grubs, and let the whole thing blow over.
But after I calmed down and thought things through a little more, I realized that that instinct was dead wrong.
Crowding, no; community, yes
If people do not engage one another, we will be unable to fix the problems we have made, for they are happening on a scale that no single human can match. If we isolate ourselves, we will continue to see other people as our enemies and competitors at the exact time we need to be pulling together.
Even beyond the problem-solving necessities of banding together, there are the considerations of our happiness and inner life. Human beings are a social species. We find our love, hope, and self-worth in the eyes of other people (which is why solitary confinement is considered cruel and unusual punishment). Let’s face it: life isn’t worth living without other people.
With these considerations in mind, once we move to Vermont, Sarah and I will be making special effort to be active and involved members of our community.
We’ve also begun lobbying our families pretty hard to consider changes in their lives and possibly even coming to live with us. After all, family is everyone’s original community. In many ways it’s an uphill battle, as mine is a fiercely independent family, one that resists open talk and shows of emotion (much less cohabitation!). But slowly as time progresses, I can see the landscape shifting. One of my sisters has a couple of beautiful kids who have brought us all closer, and my mom is nearing retirement, so she’s already got the future on her mind.
Wishing to cohabitate with parents in my mid-thirties? Just another ridiculous road that contemplating climate change has put us on.
A reluctant farewell
At this point, I think I owe my current community, a suburb of Boston called Somerville, an apology.
Believe me, when I say that neither Sarah nor I have any desire to leave you! Yet the truth is no one can fight their battles everywhere. Somerville is the second most densely populated city in the entire United States, and even today the pressure for resources is always high. Somerville affords almost no open space to grow food and there’s little direct access to fresh water. I don’t want to leave, but you don’t have to be a tactical genius to see that cramped city living is some of the most stressful living when times get tough.
I take solace in the fact that Sarah and I aren’t the only ones making these kinds of huge life changes in response to the state of the world.
As knowledge of systemic problems spreads, people across the globe are linking up to build resilience and engage in mutual support. The most identifiable organization (I use that word loosely) associated with this is The Transition Movement, which is now gaining steam in America. The movement is a distributed, loosely affiliated network of people helping each other learn and coordinate in pursuit of resilience and local economies.
In the leaking ship that we’ve made of our planet, the Transition movement is like a flotilla of life rafts. And they’ve come not to pull us off the Earth, but to help us patch it and make it right.-Bill McKibben
So to sum up the Big Picture: Sarah and I off to Vermont, to build our little life raft and lash it to the rafts of others. We will build strong, loving community, plan for the worst, hope for the best, and fight for the future.
— Eric Krasnauskas, Science Pope