The experience of watching “The Human Element” at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival in March 2018 changed my life. It opened my eyes to fossil fuel-consuming activities, human activities shared with my wife, family, friends, colleagues, multiplied by millions in the United States and around the world. Uses of fossil fuels are ravishing our planet, the water we drink, the air we breathe, the land we live on, and the oceans we depend on.
After watching “The Human Element” and attending a session organized by several Martha’s Vineyard groups addressing the climate crisis, I returned to Falmouth passionate to join a local group. Not finding one, I organized screenings of “The Human Element” in Woods Hole and Falmouth and recruited audience members to join in forming a local group, Falmouth Climate Action Network, or FalCAN, modeled by Martha’s Vineyard’s Island Climate Action Network, ICAN. In addition to participating in FalCAN activities, I made a list of about 250 people, including family, friends, colleagues and audience members from the film showings. I sent monthly emails, 22 in all, each with links to between five to 15 articles I had read, mainly from the New York Times, on the climate crisis. I am convinced that reading several hundred articles on the climate crisis during these two years caused my CCS.
My life is dominated by CCS, day in and day out. I dream CCS. A few examples: I am constantly exposed to people driving SUVs and pickup trucks, large vehicles used by landscapers, plumbers, and tree service people, leaving me horrified at the rampant fossil fuel consumption. Conflicts come when the driver of a gas guzzler shows kindness, stopping, smiling and waving me across an intersection on my bike. How can I smile back? Symptoms come while shopping, entering over-air-conditioned stores, especially those with doors ajar to the outside. Meat departments in supermarkets and stores freak me out. I can’t understand how all my neighbors can stock up on packages bulging with meat. Although it’s been a long time since I’ve eaten in a restaurant for dinner, I am grossed out thinking of platters filled with large steaks or ribs. Can’t people think about fossil fuel consumption in raising those animals and what is happening at slaughterhouses?
Professional sports—I will focus on baseball. Growing up on Chicago’s south side, my father, an avid sports fan, took me to White Sox games year after year. Although I still check out the scores and standings of the White Sox on the internet, I worry about the fossil fuel consumption involved in transporting all those players to 162, not including postseason, baseball games around the country, and the millions of fans driving and, in some cases, flying to the stadiums to watch and eat hot dogs. How can we save our country and our planet? Will we ever stop professional sports from happening, and the gluttonous fossil fuel consumption associated with them?
No! I don’t want to be cured. I hope that a CCS pandemic will spread throughout the country and around the world and turn attentions to combating fossil fuel consumption.
Robert M. Gould