Dear Governor Ducey,
In the fall, Sustainability, A Love Story, my new book, will be released by Mad Creek Books, an imprint of Ohio State University Press. This book is right up your alley. I pair the story of the way we resist changing our fossil fuel using habits as a kind of self-destruction. But as I argue in the book, humans as a species tend toward self-destruction, and then they find a way to reconstruct themselves. So for example, I have an essay about school shootings. You’d think that as a species, we’d be interested in stopping people from killing our kids with machine guns. Even rabbits have more self-interest in protecting their species than we do. But perhaps, as with climate change, we’re in such deep denial that we just turn up the radio and drive our Suburbans back and forth between Phoenix and Tucson and Phoenix and Flagstaff and Phoenix and Globe.
In this chapter of the book, I point to another kind of gun—a sunray-blocking kind of gun. It sounds comic-book-real doesn’t it? It’s true that this idea hasn’t been tested, but the technology behind this solar-ray blocking device does exist. The theory goes that we (scientists) could, conceivably, shoot a spray of sulfur dioxide into the upper stratosphere that would deflect the amount of solar energy that hits the earth, minimizing some of the worst effects of global warming. There are drawbacks. The sunsets might be less beautiful. The amount of sulfur dioxide might be too impossible to create. We don’t really know how to get it into the sky. And I suppose there’s a chance the sulfur dioxide could fall from the sky and, since its poisonous, it could wipe us all out. But perhaps this is in keeping with our species’ character. As with our kids being killed in high schools, it’s easier to abandon our species than to change our behaviors. People love guns and love to drive. Nobody had better take away those inalienable rights from us. Plus, the rabbits are just hanging out, waiting for us to get out of the way.
It’s a kind of suicide, this global warming. This school shooting.
But I have to say, as bad as that sometimes feels, the man in whose esteem you have vested, the man with his finger on all kinds of scary buttons, has imposed a 30 percent tariff on solar panels, effectively killing the solar industry, which feels, in many ways, like he’s purposely killing us. Possibly the rabbits, too.
It’s one thing to support old, dying dinosaur-based resources as if there is anything to come out of the ground. It’s another to kill a burgeoning new industry that offers not only hope for the almighty “jobs” but also offers hope for an entire planet.
Have you seen 13 Reasons Why, Mr. Ducey? Erik and I just finished watching it on Netflix. It’s a troubling insight into why a person might kill themselves, how truly cruel high school kids can be to each other, how rape culture is so deeply entrenched in high school sports culture and how, when someone does commit suicide, the effects ricochet like bullets down the locker-ridden high school hallways. My daughter is 12. Three small years younger than the girl who committed suicide. I keep telling her, whatever dark thoughts you have, just wait. They will go away. Eventually. Patience is the key to survival, especially with regard to high school. At least with suicide, the self-inflicted part is, to state tautologically, self-inflicted.
To say, as the president did, dear planet, dear industry, dear sun, I am cutting you off. It feels murderous. It makes me feel trapped. Powerless. Watching someone kill an industry with such cold calculation. It’s almost as hard as watching the girl in 13 Reasons Why slit her wrists. And, as hyperbolic and metaphorical as that may sound, the climate is changing. Six inches of snow this year in Flag instead of the normal 116. People are already fleeing Bangladesh as climate change refugees. With his new killing-planet policies, soon enough, there won’t be any place safe to flee. We’ll all be refugees. As governor of the state where the solar industry thrives, you could stand up and protect us. You really, truly could.