Thursday, May 17, 2007

The melting of Greenland

Yesterday I read an article about a university researcher who had literally heard part of Greenland's ice pack crack. The article goes on to say much of what was glossed in Al Gore's film Inconvenient Truth--that Greenland is literally melting away. And last week I got an email notice from a friend about an on-line effort to have people boycott gas stations on May 15 in an effort to bring down oil prices (these efforts go on about once or twice a year--a national "gas out" day as a protest to our inflated gas prices). Problem with these boycotts is that (a) I don't think it has much if any effect on oil prices (b) we pay a subsidized rate on gasoline compared to everyone else in the world. I mean, c'mon--the US is the cheapest place to gas up your SUV or hybrid compact.

Do these things have something in common? Well, if you believe (as I do) in greenhouse gas emissions and global warming, then yes.

Do these things have anything to do with mixed-race America, the topic of this blog? Well, I suppose not really--not directly. Except that when the polar ice caps melt, we'll all really be in the same boat--one world finally.

It does make me wonder if what I do, talking about race, thinking about race, writing about race, is really making a difference to make the world a better place, or perhaps more specifically in terms of global warming, am I doing my part to stop global warming? I suppose I'm not doing undue harm, and that certainly being an educator allows me a forum to talk about these issues, even when they don't seem to have a direct bearing on my class topics. But should I be doing more? I suppose the answer is "YES" but the question is, what more should I be doing? I don't think it's feasible, at this stage, to be doing a PhD in climate change. But perhaps I should be shifting my focus from social justice to environmental justice--or maybe more importantly, linking the two--social justice and environmental justice together, to create a socially and more environmentally sustainable future.

I am going to a conference about Literature and the Environment. This could be the place to think more carefully about the ways in which race intersects with the environment. I'll be thinking about this with respect to Ruth Ozeki's novel My Year of Meats but perhaps I should extend my thinking, to a more green syllabus that also thinks about other environmental issues. Any suggested readings? Would love to hear them.

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