Thursday, February 19, 2009

freak out in fort lauderdale

ft. lauderdale, fl

i woke up early and decided to go exploring. we had made camp the night before in a lovely cabin in Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, thanks to art's friend Ranger Mark.

i wandered a bit around the well-worn paths, checking out the local ecosystem. even though i've been in florida for weeks, the life here still overwhelms me with its beauty and bio-diversity. i climbed a banyan tree (my favorite) to get a glimpse of the inland water way, and my eyes immediately fell on the parade of skycraper hotels and luxury condos that lined the shore of the atlantic. behind me, the small river-way glistened, and i thought about what Mark had said last night about the dwindling size of the park. over the past 60 years, the profit-driven forces of development have come at the park from all sides. as i sat in the tree, avoiding spiders i had never seen before and trying to tune out the passing car traffic, i had one of those freak-out moments.

you know what i am talking about? a moment when you really really think about the state of the world, and it overwhelms you to the point of tears. this happens to me every time i come to florida. i am sitting in a tree near a beach that will almost definitely be under water within my lifetime, and i can clearly hear the pounding rhythm of construction in the distance. they know, and they continue to build their waterfront empire. we know, and we continue to drive cars, eat food that's transported from thousands of miles away, and stand by while the next racist genocide unfolds in the form of the climate crisis.

this might sound like paranoia or dooms-day preaching, but unfortunately it's science. most current predictions show that if we continue to consume fossil fuels at the staggering rate that we are today, both south florida and shanghai (which has a population of over 20 million people) will be underwater within my lifetime. beacause of the lag period between CO2 burning and greenhouse gases causing global warming, it's possible that even if we stopped all emissions tomorrow, much of the damage may have already be done, and it may still be too late for the everglades, for the oppressed communities of miami, immokolee, for the seminole nation, and even for the developers who are causing the problem.

around the globe, indigenous communities are already suffering the most from the climate disasters we have already caused through consumerism, colonialism, and related oppressions. in "alaska," indigenous folks are literally losing their land to the climate crisis, as ice melts and traditional methods of food production begin to fail. other land-based communities have already been entirely displaced by rising sea waters and it is estimated that over 150,000 people are already dying every year as a direct result of human-caused climate change.

the crisis is here today, it's not something of the future. to an extent, the media and government are beginning to acknowledge the weight of the problem; there is so much talk about "going green",and "eco-friendly" products line the shelves of every well-lit supermarket and department store. unfortunately, we cannot purchase the solution to this problem. every quick-fix "solution" that we have been offered has failed, or was never designed to address it in the first place. we are bombarded with false solutions like carbon trading, "clean" coal, nuclear power, carbon sequestration, and genetic engineering (follow the links for more information about these destructive, profit-driven industries). it is important to realize that these solutions are not only false because they scientifically don't add up to reducing emissions, but they are false because they fail to address the problem at its root.

consumerism and capitalism are inherently unsustainable. they are systems based on the premise of unlimited growth, and we live on a finite planet with a finite amount of life that these systems view as "resources." even if there was a magical, fossil-fuels-free way to power the society that we have to today (which there currently isn't), it would still be an unjust, unsustainable, and ever-expanding human empire.

the reality is that we need to drastically rethink the way that we live. since there is no sustainable way to power this market-based economy, we need to create alternatives if we are going to survive. communities everywhere are organizing to take care of their basic needs: food, water, shelter, transportation, safety, etc. the less we are dependent on corporations and the government to provide these things, the more likely we are to survive the next disaster, and the greater power we have as communities to resist the industries and institutions that are destroying the planet.


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  2. yikes... matt and i had a similarly brutal experience a couple of days later, walking down sunrise toward our next meal. we'd spent part of the day at the same park hoping to spot some manatees feeding in the big waterway, but to no avail (and we also came across some really freaky spiders!!!). so, walking along sunrise later in the day, we stopped by a little bay with those slanted driveways that people use to back their boat trailers into the water. we saw something big and gray floating next to one of the docks and went over to investigate.

    much to our surprise and sadness it was a dead manatee, tied to the dock by a rope around its tail. we figure it was stricken and killed by one of those enormous boats we'd observed clearly disobeying the speed limit while passing through their feeding grounds. apparently it's illegal to cause harm to a manatee, so it's not that surprising, i guess, that it was just left there to be found. it was too small to have died of natural causes (maybe 6 ft long?). it also had a huge chunk taken out of its tail, likely by a boat propellor that hit it at some point in the past (thus hindering the manatee's ability to propel itself away from other boats in the future, too, i imagine), and its belly was covered with laceration scars. it was floating belly-up so we couldn't see what damage it suffered on its back and head. it was heart-breaking to see such a gentle creature--an endangered one, no less--dead for no apparent reason except for the fact that some stupid humans prioritized their fun over the animal's safety.

    humans can be such fucking stupid creatures.

    a sobering jolt back to reality after a quiet vacation with the sun, sand, and inhuman sprawl. hope the rest of your travels are more hopeful and inspiring,

    - sarah.lawrance

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  4. What was stricken that you people found it...

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