Climate Choice | Leonardo/ISASTwith Arizona State University

Climate Choice

By Jenifer Wightman


We arrived on Tuesday.

I have seen 3 gopher snakes, 1 king snake, 1 red-ring neck snake, and 2 green electrical snakes (extension cords left on the path to my delightful studio). Red tailed hawks, tiny blue butterflies, dragonflies, honeybees, bumble bees, and this strange little orange fuzz thing (kind of like a horizontal orange snowman on legs). A beheaded vole. A broken neck sparrow. Other sparrows communicating with clicks and whistles as their crisp wings cut the sky. Loads of scat treasure. A bobcat with a saucy flickering tail that suddenly leaps up and dives head first into holes, vultures, all kinds of birds grazing the seeds and tinier critters outside my window (lemon yellow bellies, oranges crests, blue underwings, red necks, olive chests). Buff little black lizards that do pushups on the public display boardwalk that is my patio. Voles mound up earthworks everywhere.

Tons of human art all over the place, precariously vulnerable within the landscape and therefore a conceptual relief (to me) as they will return.

Mauro Staccioli - Untitled, 1989

Aristotle Georgiades - Here, 2013

But most notable, at this stage of my brief visit, is the change. I have not yet been here 4 full days and the landscape is so full of change,

I have to ask myself (and here, you), why are we (humans) so  'surprised' or caught off guard by 'climate change'.

Change is all around us, all the time.

We make all kinds of change when we bake cookies or build a house. We change our outfits, our location; we like creating the diversity and difference that makes each of our days.

I often joke, that the ancient fossil fuels pent up in their stored underground bunkers can't wait to get oxygenated by our combustion habits. I mean, they were once wild roaming dinosaurs having dinosaur thoughts that respired the hard work of prodigious trees (synthesizing plant sugars and respiring oxygen bubbles as they had their ancient tree thoughts), all participating in surface exchange activities (and buried all these years. You are frustrated by being pent-in by covid? Imagine how they feel being denied the play in the biosphere for all these years). Come on! What creature does not want to jump into this scene!? to rest, to snack, to frolic, to hunt physical or metaphorical making.

We are an aggregate of 8 billion change makers.

Today for instance. I requested some card stock be picked up; 50 sheets to make invites to participate in a new project about change. I have caused all kinds of change in this world - as somewhere someone had to cut down some tree (with a saw made somewhere else by some other people on some other mineable surface) and all the creatures that lived there had to move as the tree moved away on a truck via a highway built by some others in our larger community. Going through stoplights (constructed and installed by other members of our shared society) and engaged gas stations (serviced by other trucks and their drivers and tires mined somewhere else so to sustain the delivery of fuel across the network of travelers) so that piece of wood could be pulped and papered and packaged in a plant (built by others in the 8 billion galaxy of human industry) and then to the store (powered perhaps by other trees combusted in biomass electric generating power plant, perhaps built by your cousin or uncle or great grand parent) and then to me, with receipts and carrying bags and etc etc etc (Thank you Jewel, in particular, the human that specifically animates the specific safe passage of this card stock to me in this collective story of human cooperation), so I could make some cards. My curiosity of the life cycle of the just the potato chips (a salty treat with its own life cycle) enjoyed by all the people who garnered the energy to help bring me this 'stuff', used to be debilitating, because of course those people weren't just eating potato chips. But as I relentlessly followed every single one of those things associated with the other things in the incomprehensible lineage of activities that supports just one day in my life, I settled into the humble and mundane and deeply meaningful reality; it all comes from the land, or the sun that hits the land and activates it.

We are a system of massive metabolism.

Turnover is the name of the game. 

Change, is a very ridiculous word, at least for me, right now. Because change is always already here. And here. Now again, here. Climate change is not surprising - as you set 8 billion people to work, you will change the world. Really, what we are talking about is climate choice. Which climate do we choose for ourselves and future generations? And can we change our selves to make that happen? 

With deep gratitude to all that supported me to be here, now. Thank you.