Image Source: official website of Beaverton, Oregon
Course: Climate Change (2021)
Faculty Mentor: Christine Muller
Submitted by: Dona J. Evans
When I began the course Climate Change, I knew nothing except the popular phrase “climate change.” From the start, I felt I was out of my depth, especially when I read terms like CO2, N2O, CH4, and biomass. I had to learn about chemistry and the metric system to understand the readings and appreciate what the scientists are saying about the urgency of the rising global temperature and its effects on interconnected ecosystems.
The words and phrases took on a whole new meaning in the context of global warming. Climate change is more complex than just a pitiful polar bear floating on an iceberg.
I learned that climate change is more likely to adversely impact people of color, poor people, and women. Historically, people of color and women are amongst the poorest people of any nation. The manifestations of climate change could be droughts, floods, famine, earthquakes, tsunamis, or hurricanes, and their subsequent impacts could be food shortages, homelessness, and disease. Regardless, they tend to impact women and children the most.
The situation is dire and requires immediate action. Waiting for the North Pole to freeze over again isn’t a viable solution. Through the course, I learned that many good people from all kinds of disciplines are looking for solutions to the problems of global warming and greenhouse gas emissions. However, we need to develop a new, better, and more cohesive way of raising public awareness about the seriousness of global warming. Experts need to frame their serious message (not some sappy commercial with a mama polar bear and her cubs suffering in the heat) in layman’s terms to garner the support of a critical mass of people who will generate the political will to make the Paris Agreement a reality. The old PR methods are not working fast enough to keep up with the rising temperatures and melting ice..
Because of this course, my personal attitude has changed drastically, affecting the future direction of my life’s endeavors. I now feel that climate change should be incorporated into my personal interactions with friends, family, and acquaintances, in my day-to-day living, and I may even somehow make it my life’s endeavor. Shoghi Effendi said:
“The thing is out of hand….and it is too late to avert catastrophic trials.”(Lights of Guidance #431)
I see more relevance in how the Baháʼí writings apply to sustainable development and conservation of resources, especially now as opposed to some far-off day a long time from now. I believe we need to start making drastic changes in all our social and economic systems, as well as our industrial and farming techniques, transportation, and energy systems to not only protect the environment, but also restore it, and learn a new, sustainable way of living.
Paul Haney, who wrote the book Eleven talked about “revitalizing villages.” Because Bahá’u’lláh has made it incumbent on everyone to work, my plan is to create a Community Planning Consulting Firm that spreads the “gospel” (i.e., “good news”) of how one can help limit the adverse effects of global warming to his/her family through creating or joining a user friendly Eco-community—“Revitalized Village”—based on sustainable development methods. My reasoning for this step is the following quote:
“It is enjoined upon every one of you to engage in some form of occupation, such as crafts, trades and the like. We have graciously exalted your engagement in such work to the rank of worship unto God, the True One. Ponder ye in your hearts the grace and the blessings of God and render thanks unto Him at eventide and at dawn.”Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, Bishárát (Glad-Tidings)
I also plan to implement my own 10-point plan to help lower the global temperature: reduce waste, take cooler and shorter showers, wash only full loads, use dryer less, recycle, reuse, unplug, consolidate my outings to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and turn off appliances when not being used (such as TVs, computers, phones, and radios).
Since completing the course, I have learned that my daughter is completely on board with my plans and is going to support me to the extent she can. She is a doctor, board-certified in two disciplines who is going to semi-retire very soon. I am looking forward to seeing if she can join me to implement some of my ideas in her rural neighborhood, which would make a good sustainable community.