Grieving the Anthropocene

Cousin David-happy days

My cousin David died last week. He had a go with cancer, and the cancer won. We have a big family- my Italian immigrant grandparents had eight children- two of them died in childhood, but the other children went on to have big families too–except my mom– she and my dad only had two kids. So, when David left this world, he left showered in love of a mother and sisters, and aunts and uncles, cousins, and nieces and nephews, and a wife and two young sons that he was saying good-bye to way too soon.

At the end of David’s illness, I spent a lot of time thinking about death. It is after all, the one certainty we can expect from life. Some people check out at the height of their creativity. What’s that about? That seems even more tragic. Or depart when they have young kids, like David. What does it feel like looking out into the abyss of unknowing and mourning those kid’s baseball and soccer games or graduations or weddings that you won’t see?

Somewhere in this contemplation, I thought about climate change. And pondering the demise of life itself, the death of future generations, was way more overwhelming to me than thinking about my own death or even a loved one. In fact, it takes my breath away.

Is looking out into the abyss and seeing the inevitable results of our Business as Usual scenarios extreme? Well, if you are reading this, probably not. I once started a talk with my story of passing through the five stages of grief on a daily basis and everyone in the audience could relate.

Just in the last several weeks, we’ve had a new IPCC report- bad news; the US has released a The Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4) – more bad news; and we’ll seen emissions for 2018 increase 2.7% — an all time high. At the same time you have the Trump Administration at #COP24 in Poland working with its allies Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait to derail “welcoming” the text from the IPCC report into negotiations.

You couldn’t script a thriller with higher stakes with the window for opportunity to course correct speeding by faster and faster.

A few days ago, I watched 24 Hours of Reality— a yearly show produced by the Climate Reality Project. Looking at Al Gore’s pleading eyes as he wrapped it up, I felt fear; fear that we really might not make it. By make it, I mean agreeing that the most important thing we can do right now is to work towards solving the climate issue; and then implementing everything we need to do all at once with Kennedy to the Moon urgency, so that we don’t doom future generations to an inhospitable planet.

Some days I feel low. I grieve, but I also know I’m here now and so are you, so that means it’s necessary for us to engage. I also think that some of the most important stuff that  goes on at the COP events happens in civil society. There are people there doing real work, engaging and meeting other people working on solutions. So even though the COPs always seem to fall short on policy, they are big on movement building.

So in my users guide to the Anthropocene, I say lean towards the problem. Your strength lies in knowing that you and all of us are vulnerable. Speak out. Join groups. Write letters to the editor and Congress. Engage. Start a carpool program at work (lots of great carpool apps now). Familiarize yourself with Project Drawdown and Designing Climate Solutions. Eat less meat. Go solar, Go talk with your mayor and your Member of Congress.

Act like your life depends on it; because really, it’s even bigger than that.

Birthing the World We Want

That Was Then

It’s record hot everywhere,” I heard a guy say as I was sitting under a tree outside of a café in Pagosa Springs, Colorado in late July. His son–maybe seven years old– replied,
“Yeah, if it’s this hot now, imagine what it will be like in 30 years. You’re lucky. Your generation screwed it up and we are the ones who have

Lessons Learned from Hurricanes & Connecting Climate Dots


When I left Florida five years ago, hurricanes weren’t high on my list of reasons why. It was more the rat race; the traffic, the cost of living, the apathy, and oh yeah, no more hurricanes.

Living in South Florida for over twenty years, I’d seen a lot of hurricanes. Most notably was Hurricane Andrew, a cat… Continue reading

Are Catastrophic Weather Events the New Normal?


There are a lot of words being used to describe Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath; unprecedented, historic, catastrophic, one-in-500, one-in-1000, costliest natural disaster in US history. You get the idea; Harvey’s devastation was massive and on a scale that is hard to wrap our brains around.

I even heard one stat that said we’ve had 10 1/1000… Continue reading

Before the Flood, Getting Out of Florida


I spoke with my friend Robin this week. Robin lives in Miami Shores, a mostly upper-middle class neighborhood located in Miami Dade county. It’s near the causeway that takes you to the beach. Robin was born on Miami Beach; she’s a native.

On our call, Robin recounted a conversation she recently had with a friend who lives on… Continue reading

My Grandfather was a Coal Miner

My Grandfather Was a Coal Miner

My grandfather, “Sam”, immigrated to America from southern Italy in the early 1900s. He served in the US Army during the first world war. My mom remembers him putting on his best suit and walking for miles to cast his vote on election day. He loved his adopted homeland.

Back in his mountain origin of Bocchigliero, he was a… Continue reading

A Fool with a Plan Can Beat a Genius with No Plan

A Fool With A Plan

It was late 2008 and everyone in the room laughed as billionaire T. Boone Pickens retold this story from his college years. His father, concerned with Boone’s lack of direction in choosing a major told him;
“Listen son, a fool with a plan can beat a genius with no plan. And your mother and I have a concern that

The Anthropocene and the Fierce Urgency of Now

“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there “is” such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.”   — Martin Luther King Jr.

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