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Suicide by Profit
it’s all about the money
our future has been mortgaged
against our present gluttony.
Madness grips our leaders
and delusion hems them in
locked in lust for profit
they doom us with their sin
Our climate is unstable
and it fills us all with fear
they insist it’s just a fable
as they close their fiscal year.

from Suicide by Profit, lyrics MADurstewitz/Christine Hull. Music by Mario Renes. Performed by Madmen and Dreamers.

For all intents and purposes, that’s what we’re doing: profit at any cost.

We see a lot of things around us that inform our choice of stories. The Children of Children was brought about by watching those around us with children of divorce and seeing those events echo through their lives. We thought that by writing about it we could make people think before they act, before they speak harsh words, before they yanked the rug of home and security out from under their kids. The story we are working on now is no less informed and important.

We’re concerned parents as well as writers and musicians. We have children. Grown children. There are even a couple of grand kids in the mix. We are not happy that we’re leaving them a world rapidly spinning out of control because we are so blinded by the acquisition of wealth that we won’t see the consequences of endless growth.

When we were kids, we knew nothing of climate change. We went to school, played outside, swam, rode our bikes and our sleds and even ice-skated on the local lakes, ponds and rivers. Yes, in those days even the rivers froze, and no, it wasn’t that long ago.

It started to change for us, here in New Jersey, in the 70s. Although the winters were still pretty cold, they were losing their bite. On the day my daughter came home from the hospital in 1977, it was nearly 80 degrees. She was born a few days earlier, on December 2nd. Things had already begun swinging back and forth.

We still didn’t know anything was up with the climate. That realization came slowly as more and more events we grew up with became rare.

In the 60s, 70s and even on and off in the early 80s it was possible to see a motorcycle race on Greenwood Lake in New York State in the winter. Hell, they used to race cars on it now and again! In Pompton Lakes, where i grew up, no one raced cars or motorcycles on the lake. Someone did drive a car on it once, though. The cops took a dim view of it. I can still remember being in a middle school class and watching this guy slide his car around on the ice. It brought the entire class to a stop. Even the teacher watched his long, sliding turns and donuts. We got back to work when the cops showed up. Never knew who was driving the car.

I can’t remember the last time I heard of anyone even skating on that lake, let alone driving anything on it. I remember skating on it. I’d lace my skates up and start at the upper end and go all the way to the edge of the falls and back again. Far away from the dozens of kids playing hockey at various places on the thick, black ice. At night, we built bonfires on the ice to stay warm and it never crossed our minds that the ice might not stand up to it. On the contrary; we listened to it groan and buckle as it continued to freeze in the cold night air, heaving itself up in fissures and shoving itself up onto the shore.

When you’re a kid, you don’t have decades of observations as a frame of reference. You exist pretty much in the moment. You remember discrete events from previous years, but not necessarily trends. That’s what parents and grandparents are for: the long term picture. Middle age is the greatest achievement of human evolution in that we can pass this long term picture to our progeny and help ensure their survival. That’s what we’re doing with this blog and our stories.

Things have changed dramatically since I was a kid. I can remember -10 or -15F below zero on many February mornings, and yes I had to walk to school. It wasn’t uphill both ways, but it was cold. I remember one Sunday morning while I was in college and pumping gas for extra money. When I got up at 5am to open the gas station, it was -15. My 1968 beetle wouldn’t start because it was too cold to crank the 30 weight oil in the engine. It made a few pitiful sounds before giving up, the battery so drained that the dash lights wouldn’t even work. I pushed it out if the driveway and walked to work, the snow squeaking painfully under every step. When I got there, the pumps wouldn’t work. They eventually started working after the sun rose and warmed them up a little.

Except for the odd winter blast, it hasn’t been that cold around here for a long time. In those days, it was normal. Now, it would be headline news.

Humidity has changed dramatically as well. It used to be humid during part of the summer, but it’s past ridiculous now. Go to NOAA. org and look it up. 70, 80, 90% humidity every night, regardless of the time of year. That never happened when I was a kid. Maybe a couple of weeks during the dog days of summer, but nothing like this.

Precipitation has changed as well. The rain and snow don’t behave they way they used to. I can remember “normal” rainstorms dropping maybe an inch of rain over a whole day and the problems that caused in Pompton Lakes. I can remember the epic 1984 flood which was the result of 5 inches of rain falling over two days on frozen ground. No one had ever seen anything like it. The entire area was shut down. People were stranded. A house exploded. It was a huge mess and it forced the Army Corps of Engineers to finish a tunnel project that would divert much of the water away from people’s homes.

Now, we get 5 inches of rain from a single thunderstorm (thank God for that tunnel) and it’s happening everywhere. In 2010, Nashville got slammed by a staggering 20 inches of rain in two days. It wasn’t a tropical storm or a hurricane. It was just an unusually energetic line of thunderstorms. Pensacola, Florida just got hit by 21 inches of rain in one day.

We weren’t told anything by the media. Scientists had noticed the trend to be sure, and they were concerned about it, but it didn’t get any play. We still drove our muscle cars and blasted our dirt bikes through the woods and had bonfires and large houses with sooty oil furnaces and cranking air conditioning.

Now, we are in the midst of our climate awakening, our inevitable loss of innocence, and the piper is heading straight at us. We cannot undo the past. What can we do to ensure some reasonable future for our heirs? What should we do? What are we willing to do? Our biology and psychology drives us to protect and nurture our children and grandchildren as our species’ and personal avenue to physical immortality. In the face of a threat, we kick into high gear, stepping in front of any adversary to shield our children of harm. We would step in front of a bus for our children. Why aren’t we doing that right now?

The situation is not without hope. God knows humanity has faced serious existential risks in the past, but we need to wake up and smell the coffee and do something. Each and every one of us. The Internet has opened doors to information and our elected officials impossible to find 30 years ago. There are groups trying to affect change through peaceful, non-violent protest and legislative action. There are ways to reduce your personal pollution footprint. There are countless ways we can each reduce the risks of the penalties facing us.

The question is: what are we willing to do?


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