At 65, time appears to be moving faster. Seems like the days, weeks, and months are flying by. I’m beginning to realize I don't have a lot of time left on this planet.
When I think about getting older and how precious time is, I wonder if Duluth is using its time wisely to address climate change.
In "Consilience: The Unity Of Knowledge," Edward O. Wilson wrote, "We are drowning in information while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely."
For Duluth, we have the right information. And 2020 is definitely the right time to think critically about what's happening. We now need the synthesizers — people in city government, business, social services, universities, the arts, and community development — to come together and help our city make some very wise choices.
It seems like the news gets worse each day. Over the past three months, we’ve heard about the catastrophic fires and heat in Australia, warming temperatures and melting permafrost in Alaska, rising sea levels and flooding in Southeast Florida, the drastic reductions in various fish and bird populations, and growing acidity in the oceans. And when you consider that many of the participating countries at the recent COP25 conference in Madrid — including the United States, Australia and Brazil — were unwilling to seriously address the global rise of carbon dioxide, it becomes very easy to wonder what the future holds for all of us.
Most of the scientists and experts on climate change have reminded us that their original timetables for when they thought certain climate-related events would occur have been revised. The time is growing shorter. They've acknowledged that the climate changes in places such as Greenland, the Arctic, Western Europe, and California are happening faster than expected.
The other day I thought about the lyrics to a song by the musical group Chicago: “Does anybody really know what time it is; does anybody really care."
Duluth, do we really know what time it is? Do we really care? Do we take the concrete information about climate change and make the right choices for all the citizens in our city? Do we understand that we don't have until 2050 to figure this out?
In his book, "Plan 4.0," Lester Brown wrote, "The question we face is not what we need to do, because that seems rather clear to those who are analyzing the global situation. The challenge is how to do it in the time available. Unfortunately, we don't know how much time remains. Nature is the timekeeper, but we cannot see the clock."
It's time to be honest with ourselves. Time to make wiser decisions. Time to be proactive instead of procrastinating and pontificating. Time to admit that our city is not immune to climate change, and it's no longer business as usual.
Time for the City Council to pass a climate emergency resolution and request that all plans and policies incorporate a climate-change review or protocol. Time for city government to move forward with the GreenSteps Cities program and utilize the resources of ICLEI and other global climate organizations. Time to encourage all social-services agencies and community organizations to explore how climate change will impact the people they serve.
In Avicii's song, "The Days," are three lines that I keep going back to: "These are the days we won't regret. These are the days we won't forget. These are the days we've been waiting for."
I hope we don't look back at this moment in time, and truly regret and try to forget what we didn't do. We should remember these days as the time when we rose to the occasion and shared our community's greatest gifts and talents to help us make a successful transition to a more resilient, sustainable, and environmentally just city.
Tone Lanzillo is a member of the Loaves and Fishes Community in Duluth and is a live-in volunteer at the Dorothy Day House.