Spotlight on screen: ‘Years of Living Dangerously’ | Guest Column

Steve Ulvi

By Steve Ulvi

The inner-workings of nature, especially the immense sun-driven feedback loops, until very recently in human advancement, were mostly beyond human comprehension and outside of awareness of linkages of cause and effect.

With the benefit of incredible technological advancement, we now can see the history-altering disruptions we have created.

Regardless of what outcome people plan or pray for, the immutable forces of nature continually act upon us. Simultaneously. At every conceivable scale-from the sub-atomic to our vast solar system-without regard for our self-centered aspirations.

Like many of you, older than we thought we would ever be, I have experienced social upheaval in America, as long simmering issues reached a boiling point. People took to the streets to force change in stagnant government policies that favored entrenched interests of a minority view.

Today, we know that the most deeply entrenched and politically powerful economic interests of all are the multi-national corporations making money hand over fist as purveyors of dirty fossil fuels. In the face of irrefutable evidence and mounting human suffering, these corporations will fight to the end to preserve the status quo.

They are banking on eventually marketing their gargantuan poisonous assets still in the ground.

Free-thinking people, informed by decades of serious indications of accelerated climate change, are moving beyond the phony talking-head debates, the self-serving misinformation of bombastic talk radio and criminal congressional inertia.

Progressive governments and communities around the world are forming coalitions to improve energy conservation, develop adaptive strategies and plan for some semblance of resilience in an uncertain future.

We are fortunate to live in one of those regions.

Late to react, with everything in flux, we must now look beyond the rapidly melting primordial ice at both poles and record-breaking warm temperature years. We have to focus on compounding environmental destruction, political strife and forced relocation of hundreds of millions of people living at a subsistence level.

In the eleventh hour, in the huge void left by objective, apolitical and often boring scientific portrayal of the most important story of all time (all but ignored by corporate media) award-winning documentary films are exposing the destructive corporate practices that batter our environment and diminish human lives that are already too short and brutal.

I recently learned that as a follow-up on the informative Climate Lecture Series of last year, and convergent efforts by Transition Lopez and Orcas Sustainability groups, a newly formed citizens group here, Islands Climate Resilience, in collaboration with many co-sponsors, is scheduling free showings of the nine-part film series: “Years of Living Dangerously,” beginning April 2.

Two hour-long episodes will be shown back-to-back each week using the excellent equipment at San Juan Island Grange #966 and culminating with the last segment and open discussion on April 30.

Here we live in a bucolic “geography of hope” in deeply troubling times. I am reassured by these collaborative efforts by informed citizens throughout our county, to raise awareness and nudge government toward meaningful energy conservation and adaptive strategies for community resilience.

Thinking globally while acting locally has heightened meaning today. This is a good place to draw a line in the sand and stand for life-affirming change.

— Editor’s note: A self-described concerned advocate of humans and the natural world, retired NPS ranger Steve Ulvi relocated to the Lower 48, San Juan Island, in 2007.