THE BLOG
04/02/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Homage to a Hero: Climaticide Johnny Rook

The reality of the web: anyone with access to a computer and a web link can become a near universally available resource. In many, even most, cases that click can end up being a waste of one's time. And, sometimes that click can end up eating up a tremendous amount of one's time due to the strength and value of the discoveries that that click brings.

This is a challenge and a benefit of the web, but that benefit opens new horizons, creates new communities, and helps friendships/acquaintances that might (no, would) not have occurred otherwise.

For me, one of those clicks ended up with Johnny Rook's Climaticide. In a variety of blogging environments, Johnny Rook has become an increasingly powerful voice in the domain of global warming moving from science to policy to, well, impressive passion about the issues and challenges we face.

What raises Johnny Rook to an even higher level, one that puts in a pantheon of heroes for me, is his personal circumstances. One might call his passion a death bed conversion as he was already ill with terminal cancer when he begin his voyage of discovery and writing on climate-change issues.

Several weeks ago, Johnny put out "My doctor doesn't think I'm going to die today-Updated" (see comments here in that Daily Kos version). From that discussion:

Before I came down with [my illness] I'd never been in a hospital except to visit ill family members and friends. I spent hours in the gym working out, went on long hikes in the mountains and desert, bicycled and kayaked and ate a mostly organic, vegetarian diet. To say that I was surprised to discover that I had cancer would be the grossest of understatements.

My initial response to learning that my life was likely to be shorter than I had expected was, not surprisingly, rather selfish. I thought about the time that I would lose with my family and friends, of the traveling that I would not get to do, of the books that I would not get to read.

But something else happened too: the world became more poignant to me. I'd always thought of myself as a caring, empathetic, compassionate person, but now I found suffering, cruelty, and abuse to be intolerable regardless of the form it took. Debeaked hens crammed into tiny cages and stacked in factory-farm warehouses, infants shaken to death by their parents because they wouldn't stop crying, genocide in Darfur, my countrymen in Appalachia and on the Gulf Coast treated as if they lived in a Third World Country, Iraqis bombed by us and by Al Qaeda... It was all too much. I was feeling the world's pain.

And I realized, pardon my presumption here, that I didn't want to die with the world in such terrible shape, which, finally, brings me to global warming. Of all the insanities that bedevil human beings on this planet none is greater than global warming. Only all out nuclear war poses as grave a danger to the planet and human civilization. Ironically, the former, if we fail to check it, may lead to the latter--a two-for-one sale at the Armageddon store, if you like.

I'm not confident that we are going to survive this. I'm positive that we won't survive unscathed because the harm has already begun and we still haven't done anything to reduce CO2 emissions. And here's the question that keeps haunting me: If we won't stop genocide in Darfur or provide universal health coverage in the United States, two horrible but much simpler cruelties, why should any one think that we will deal adequately with global warming?

Well, the news is grim and Johnny Rook's doctor might not think this today, might not believe that Johnny Rook will survive the week.

Johnny Rook had wanted to be in Washington, DC, for Powershift 2009, to see the power of 10,000+ young people impassioned about helping bring about change in American (and global) policies on Global Warming. He has been thrilled to see that there is political change, that the Obama administration is filling with people filled with understanding of global warming science and the need to act seriously even as he has serious concerns that President Obama will not (be able to) do enough to turn the tide on Global Warming's rising seas.

And, Johnny Rook had hoped to go to the Capitol Climate Action, to participate in a mass civil disobedience to end Congress' use of coal to power itself. (Johnny, take a small solace, Senator Reid and Speaker Pelosi ordered Thursday that the plant be shifted to natural gas ASAP.) Johnny Rook will not be there.

While Powershift 2009 went on, rather than being buoyed by the passion of 10,000+ others fighting to set a different course when it comes to Global Warming's menace, 'Johnny' might quite literally have been on his dying bed. His teenage son came to Washington, DC, in honor of his father who asked him to go, losing the opportunity for any last precious minutes together but strengthened by knowing his son cares about humanity's future as well.

Johnny Rook has become my friend and an inspiration.

We will never meet in person but we have met through the web.

Johnny Rook is a person well worth knowing.

To honor him, to honor his passion, to honor his commitment, take a few moments to click to Climaticide Chronicles ... Perhaps to begin with his first post at this site that he started just last June: Why call it climaticide? The power of calling things by their true names.

. Climaticide is a term that I coined several months ago to describe the human-driven destruction of our Holocene-epoch climate, the climate in which our civilization has developed, thrived and prospered, and which we now threaten to irrevocably alter without regard to the consequences. ...

I use the term Climaticide because it is the true name of the crisis that threatens us. As the poet Thich Nhat Hanh has shown, calling things by their true names makes us aware of their complexity and wary of simplistic solutions.

He ended that post with words from one of the most astute analyses of politics in history, Machiavelli's The Prince.

Thus it happens in affairs of state, for when the evils that arise have been foreseen (which it is only given to a wise man to see), they can be quickly redressed, but when, through not having been foreseen, they have been permitted to grow in a way that every one can see them. there is no longer a remedy.

"Johnny", my friend and inspiration, I pledge to you that I (and others) will battle to achieve remedies, to give space for your son to help in that struggle for a better tomorrow, and for a world where your son and his children will be able to pursue their aspirations.

"Johnny", my friend and inspiration, I pledge to you that your thoughts and your values live on through others.

As for the others ...

greenfyre, Do not say that I'll depart tomorrow:

I confess I was immediately drawn to Johnny based solely on his blog's name. My stubborn insistence on calling climate Deniers by the ugly, but nonetheless accurate name "Deniers" seemed to match his reasons for describing what we are doing to the planet as the ugly, but nonetheless accurate "climaticide." ... You clearly wanted to call that which is ugly and horrific by it's true name so that we could call all that which is beautiful and redeeming by their true names.

Joe Romm, Murder, He Wrote

Humanity is, as the name Climaticide Chronicles makes clear, in the process of murdering the climate. Everywhere Rook -- or any of us -- looks, there is more and more evidence of that crime in process ... So there is hope as long as people like Johnny Rook are willing to use their energy -- even their last drop of energy -- to tell the world what is to come on our current path and how we can stop it ...

konopelli, Well, At Least We Now Have A "Word For It": Climaticide

I had not been aware of the environmental/climatological work of blogger "Johnny Rook" at his blog, "Johnny Rook's Climaticide Chronicles, until this morning, ... courageous environmental crusader.

Grace Kelly, Running out of time

I grew up knowing that any day could end in nuclear holocaust. Yet it seems even stranger to see the certainty of climaticide marching toward us. It makes the "terrorism" and "communism" scares look like laughable threats. Then a hero comes along, that reminds us that we can act! ... So does it take a dying man to teach us to live and to act to save our future?

Seeking to maintain a list of such discussions at Tributes to Johnny Rook & Climaticide Chronicles.