Ill Winds of Change
The wind is not my friend, and, yet it is.
While I loathe its bite on bare hands and the angry howl of it overhead, I often consider the powerful metaphor it offers as I feel it and hear it and resent it in my life at the moment.
Wind is a symbol for unseen forces that move the ships of our lives; and winds are the gods of the sky–a pantheon whose cast dwell in varied halls by longitude, latitude and altitude.
There is an order in the chaos of moving air–predictable patterns (and their aberrations like renegade bubbles of the polar vortex) that we can actually visualizeÂ now, realities aloft that we could only imagine and deify not so many generations ago. We know theÂ demons and gods in the near-space above our heads.
We comprehendÂ this planet today at a level of detail unimagined by the storytellers of simpler times–times when we were surface watchers only. Just a generation ago, we had no eyes to see temperatures, atmospheric gases, wind velocities and the bigger “logic” of moving oceans of air overhead every hour of every day.
And so I keep coming back to a kind of grounding in pondering the state of the planet by looking down on this immensely complex web from space, moving in real time, viewed by lenses such as WindTV.
The illustration pictured here shows the circumpolar jet stream at an elevation of about 25 thousand feet. We can understand so much of the nature of Earth’s nature just recently, and with that knowledge comes responsibility.
The more we know, the more we understand. The more we understand, the better we can predict. The better we can predict, the better we can serve, informed by our knowledge and by the reverence and cautions such understanding gives us.
These are facts, truths of physics and mathematics and integrated by Â the memory and integration of our silicon brains–realizations that we would not possess without this new way of seeing the truth of our precarious place in the ecology of a burdened world.
And all the sadder that the plan is to dismantle science in the pursuit of what’s best for Earth and the people it houses. The plan is to act against what we have come to know is the prudent way to treat our water, our soils, our air for the health and common good of all of us.
The New Plan is business as usual, retelling the old and broken story, acting as if the goose can forever lay the golden egg of profit for some to the detriment of many.
From now through what remains of the current epoch of civilization, we can’t say that we did not know what we should have doneÂ to sustain the livability of the planet.
We can’t plead ignorance of the fact that our collective actions and inactions have made theÂ entire planet unstable, collapsing or collapsed, for those functions we have taken so for granted–goods and services once provided by the intact planet Â that teeming humanity requires to prosper, even to survive.
I am thankful to have lived in a time when we have grown so quickly in our comingÂ to understand the workings of this place so that we nurture a true reverence and awe for this unlikely rock in space. I celebrate it, even as I mourn, and an ill wind blows.