The weather outside if frightful. No, it’s not snowing. It’s too warm. This is the last day of November and I have yet to wear a sweater or a pair of boots. My grass is stilling growing and in need of a good mowing. I have hibiscus blooms and dozens of roses. While it is a lovely sight I am a creature of habit and it is simply not supposed to be this temperate at this time of year. I’m all in for some cold weather but it doesn’t seem to be anywhere on the horizon.
The stores in my city can barely give away coats. I won’t be surprised if someone is one day standing at the exits passing them out to anyone who wants to take them away. Sweaters are faring no better. The winter season will pass and I will never have removed my flip flops. Usually by now I have switched my winter things to a more prominent position in my closet but this year I have left those things hidden in the dark recesses. I wonder if I will need them at all.
I point all of this out because I can’t imagine how anyone still clings to the false premise that climate change is a myth. It stands to reason that we have a symbiotic relationship with nature. There are photos from space that show the destruction that we have wrought on our planet and our atmosphere. We have already reached a dangerous tipping point and yet there are far too many people who argue that we humans have nothing to do with the changes that are so apparent to those of us who have witnessed many seasons.
A recent article in my local newspaper pointed out that areas of the city are experiencing flooding problems for the first time in their history. An expert noted that when communities are being initially planned the builders generally take drainage into account and grade to insure that run off goes into the gutters. Of late individuals are tearing down older homes and erecting massive houses that disregard the way heavy rains will flow. The result has been devastating in some places. This of course is just one more way in which we humans sometimes ignore the negative effect of our decisions.
We have a world of problems and we have become accustomed to living in relative luxury compared to our ancestors. My children are members of the first generation to spend all of their lives in air conditioned homes. Back in the day we left our windows open in the summer and used fans to stir up a breeze. It was sometimes brutally hot but we learned how to live with it. There weren’t many electronics to run and most families owned a single car regardless of the size of the family. In other words we used far less energy than most people use today. We all too often believe that it would be impossible to live in conditions that were commonplace in the past.
I realize that it would be difficult to revert to the old ways and I don’t necessarily think that we should. What does need to happen is a nationwide investment in finding new and reliable ways of providing energy. When we put concerted effort into reaching the moon we were successful in a very short span of time. We should create the same level of excitement for dealing with climate change. In my day young people dreamed of working at NASA and being part of the space program. The best and the brightest wanted to be part of the action. If we were all to agree that solving the problems that so devastate our planet are just as important we might turn the tide.
My brother was one of those youngsters who walked around with an illustrated book written by Werner von Braun which described a station in space that would house humans. He told people when he was a tiny tot that he was going to work on building such things. He studied hard with the goal of one day achieving something exciting. He has now spent virtually his entire career designing the navigational systems for the International Space Station. What had once been only pictures in his mind became stunning reality.
I feel that it is incumbent upon all of our leaders to accept the facts that scientists around the globe have proven with compelling evidence. My own anecdotal comments about the weather may be false but the data and photographs lead to the same conclusions as mine. I worry when I travel to the western United States and see dangerously dry conditions so unlike what I witnessed in the same places when I was young.
Some people seem to think that climate change is a political football. An entire party appears to embrace the very dangerous idea that it is somehow a made up concept designed to funnel money to particular industries and take it from others. The game that they play is dangerous. It overlooks the possible future of our children and grandchildren. It is a gamble that I don’t wish to make.
A group of Native Americans are waging a battle at Standing Rock. They do not want a pipeline to be built near the Columbia River. They worry about its potential effect on the very water that the people in that area drink. Whether or not their concerns are real or foolish seems to matter little to me. They deserve to have a say over what happens to land that once belonged wholly to their ancestors and was taken away by people who somehow thought their claims were invalid. We have treated our native peoples with gross disregard for far too long. We have ignored their traditions and dishonored the animals and the environment. They have been right more often than not as we blithely altered the landscape. Now it is time to hear them out. Theirs is a voice that we should not ignore on both moral and objective grounds.
We are beginning to understand the error of our human ways but there are still those who have managed to convince themselves that we are entitled to the fruits of our planet without consequence. The time for such thinking should be long past. It is too dry in some places and too wet in others. The extremes that we see in weather should not be reproduced in our political landscape. I long for true leaders who will educate the public rather than pander for votes. Our fate depends whether or not we are able to finally take the necessary steps to save us all.