John Steinbeck’s novel was published in 1939.
Eighty years on, after that terrible time in the 1930s that made dust bowls in USA and Canada when droughts destroyed crops, farmers suffered, banks foreclosed and all the warnings about the impact on the ecology of the areas went unheeded, and the Joad family like so many had to take the long, hard road to California, Steinbeck’s title ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ brings those lyrics down to earth. The powerless, like the Joads then, appear the prey today. But people need not be prey. Voters in democracies have power, if we decide to use it well.
And we have had the evidence of our contribution to global warming for so long.
So, where are the signs of hope?
In the Arts and Humanities and Sciences where so many refuse to be silenced.
Rachel Carson’s book has been re-printed!
AND Barbara Kingsolver has woken sleep walkers through ‘Flight Behaviour’.
But, where do politicians stand on global warming? Why, eighty years on from Steinbeck’s warning, are too many politicians listening to a media mogul who jeers at climate change? [Didn’t his employees in USA and in Australia try to blame our terrifying fires on arson?]
Fiery lightning strikes are waking more and more. But not waking enough of those who use their power to refuse to care about the Earth’s ecology. Look at these English-speaking nations: Canada, where English and French are official languages, Australia and USA.
In USA Trump attacks the EPA in every way. Destroying forests in Alaska. Oil exploration in the melting Arctic. Polar bears moving inland. [Has he just now offered to issue exploration licences?] In Canada, forestry companies are using Monsanto’s toxic pesticide, glyphosate, to spray remote Indigenous forests, when trees and their bio-diversity are our lifeline. And is the Canadian government doing anything to stop it? In Australia our Federal government, funding fossil-fuelled, LNG corporations to the tune of $52.9 million from our revenue, is trying to reduce its responsibility for environmental – with cultural – regulation. And the Prime Minister has cut 29% from funds for Environmental Studies courses in our public universities! Why this attack on education? Why this attack on a core part of learning today for all young and older people?
But the problem with grapes of wrath is that they are sour.
They feed the bile, make us irritable and liverish, bitter and acrimonious. They do not bring about renewal and regeneration. How do we bring about the change we need?
Where is hope in all of this while the truth of global warming is marching towards us?
There are businesses moving ahead. 64 nations signed the pledge to work to improve bio-diversity. Australia, unhappily, is not one of them. Nor is USA. But ‘green aviation’ is on the agenda in Europe! ‘Future Tense’, on ABC RN, told me about this on Sunday. AND there’s the
AND the Arts: in drama, painting, plays, music, on film, and always in poetry.
Poets help us find and feel the truths in our humanity.
Judith Wright, one of Australia’s finest poets, called us ‘self poisoners’ in ‘Australia 1970’.
AND, thanks to JoAnne Growney, https://poetrywithmathematics.blogspot.com
I have discovered an American poet, passionate about environmental science and community.
Visit her websites.
AND, in the political sphere, despite this pandemic, there is good news. New Zealanders have just voted for a government whose Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has committed New Zealand to zero emissions by 2050.