[Note for TomDispatch Readers: Today, that superb writer and naturalist William deBuys returns to TomDispatch with a piece that offers a sense of his new book, The Trail to Kanjiroba: Rediscovering Earth in an Age of Loss. As Bill McKibben, a man whose word I would always take, writes, “Bill deBuys is one of the planet’s great observers, and this may be his masterwork — a story of an exploration of Nepal, but also of the present and future of this planet. Caring for that world, and all that’s in it, is necessary, painful, and as he makes clear, exquisitely beautiful work.” Just out, that book is at the top of my own reading list and I hope it will be on yours, too. Should you want a signed, personalized copy in return for a donation of at least $100 ($125 if you live outside the U.S.A.), just visit our donation page and offer us the necessary support — the kind that allows me to regularly publish pieces like deBuys’s on a planet that desperately needs more of them. And, of course, my deep thanks go to so many of you across this country and the world who, after all these years, keep giving to this site! It simply couldn’t mean more to me. Tom]
Yes, unbelievably enough, her vote seems to control the direction that American politics is going to take in this era. I’m thinking about Kyrsten Sinema, the Arizona Democratic senator who, like that king of coal, West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, has essentially held President Biden’s Build Back Better Act for ransom over these last weeks. Only recently, the New York Times reported that Sinema, representing a state that’s been clobbered by climate change, is deep in a megadrought unprecedented in its history, losing its water supplies, and regularly setting heat records, would like to see $100 billion in climate-change funding cut from that very bill. Brilliant! That should help solve Arizona’s problems fast!
Perhaps Sinema and Manchin are just holding the line as best they can until you-know-who announces his presidential bid for 2024. He’ll then ensure that, for at least another four desperate years of ultimate madness (if American democracy even survives), the fossil-fuel industry will continue to run wild on a planet that, these days, seems to stand every chance of going down. In such a world, who wouldn’t want a tad of hope, which is what TomDispatch regular William deBuys, author most recently of The Trail to Kanjiroba: Rediscovering Earth in an Age of Loss, offers today on a planet increasingly desperate for just that. But be prepared, you might have to take a long walk. Tom
A Himalayan Journey Toward Hope
Thirteen thousand feet high on the far side of the Himalaya mountains, we have entered the past and the future at the same time. We are a medical expedition and also a pilgrimage, consisting of doctors, nurses, Buddhist clerics, supernumeraries like me, and a large staff of guides, muleteers, and camp tenders. We are bound for the isolated villages of Upper Dolpo, a remote region of northwestern Nepal, land of the snow leopard -- both the actual animal and The Snow Leopard, Peter Matthiessen’s nonfiction classic. We are traveling the same trails Matthiessen walked in 1973.
As a medical mission, our purpose is to provide primary health care to people who rarely, if ever, see a clinician. As pilgrims, our purposes are as varied as our individual identities. Mine is to make peace with the anger and grief that have dogged me since finishing a pair of books, one on climate change, the other on extinction. They left me heartsick. My delight in the beauty of the world had been joined to sorrow at its destruction, and the two emotions were like cellmates who refused to get along. Their ceaseless argument soured the taste of life. I hoped that a long walk -- about 150 miles in this case -- might cure the resultant moral ache. (The story of that walk provides the backbone of my new book, The Trail to Kanjiroba: Rediscovering Earth in an Age of Loss.)Read More