Community Articles
Go to Site Index See "Community Articles" main page
General News · 9th August 2015
Carrie Saxifrage
First off, thank you for the terrific Cortes book launch! I so enjoyed reading to you.

This next book event, in case you are wondering, will be a bit different.

On the book tour, my readings of The Big Swim inspired some interesting discussions. We’ll have an opportunity for that here, this Saturday at Hollyhock, Raven, at 8 pm. Barry Saxifrage will be present to answer questions about climate science, technology and policy. Karen Mahon, a climate activist, will be available for questions about what we can do.

Climate change on Cortes Island came home to me this year: breathing in wild fire smoke, swimming in changed lakes, worrying about fire and the effect of such dry conditions on the plants and animals here. This is what less than one degree of global warming looks like.

The International Panel on Climate Change reports that our current trajectory will take us to 4 degrees or, possibly, 7.8 degrees. What would that look like?

The IPCC also tells us it is avoidable. Existing technology can give us a safe climate and comfortable lives. Inaction resulting in runaway climate change is a choice. Why would we choose it?

It has to do with how our brains work. Psychology researchers use the metaphor that our emotional minds are like elephants and our rational minds are their riders. They communicate well and mostly agree but, if there’s a conflict, the elephant decides. And there’s a lot of reasons why elephants don’t engage with climate change. It can seem too big and overwhelming. But mostly, it just doesn’t come to our elephants in a way that engages them: stories full of meaning and metaphors that relate to pre-existing values.

Maybe that’s why my Vancouver writing group didn’t want to read about climate change, or anything prescriptive about what they should do about it. But they were very eager to read about how I engage with climate change. So I wrote stories full of emotion, ie in elephant language. The Big Swim, in addition to being the title chapter, became a metaphor for how I grapple with climate change given my immense desire for climate stability.

So please swim on over to Raven on Saturday night if The Big Swim inspired some ideas or questions for you, or if you didn’t read it but are secretly longing for a safe place to hear or talk about such things.