The Climate in Emergency

A weekly blog on science, news, and ideas related to climate change


Leave a comment

Confession

I have a confession to make; I don’t feel like writing today. I don’t mean I’m not in the mood or that I don’t want to, I mean that I’ve spent most of the past hour staring at my computer screen while drawing a complete and utter blank, nothing at all in my mind except for some bleak pop song that’s been on infinite repeat inside my skull all evening for no good reason.

My husband is away on a wildfire, so I am NOT going to write another post about how dangerous climate change is for forests and wildlands fire fighters. Not until he is safely back home. Yes, I m superstitious.

I wanted to write about upcoming climate protests, except I can’t find any. Or, I haven’t found any yet, anyway.

I found something interesting on the radio today, to the effect that the cutting of an old-growth forest in Poland, which has been on the news and in social media of late, has a climate change connection, that the cutting is designed to contain and counteract a beetle infestation caused by climate change (I have seen what are probably similar beetle problems in the US, where too-warm winters allow beetle populations to get unusually large and/or summer droughts keep the trees from making enough sap to defend themselves). So this is not humans intruding on a pristine forest, this is humans trying to repair damage other humans did. Also, this is not a forest that has never been logged before, it has in fact been manged by foresters able to plan cuts that leave the forest’s primeval character intact. I don’t know if this alternate version of the story is true, and I did not think to write down the name of the NPR story in question, but the contrary-ness of it appeals to me.

My dog is barking. She wants me to do something. Probably she wants me to make my husband, whom she misses, reappear. She’s making my ears hurt.

Look, this blog post is unlikely to win the Pulitzer Prize, but I wanted to at least check in with you.


Leave a comment

Putting Heat in Context

Hi,

I am busy and tired and I can’t think of much to say right now. But it has not missed my attention that parts of Arizona hit 122 degrees Fahrenheit again. People are posting photos online of weird stuff melting in the heat.  I wrote about this same thing last year. At least six people have died in this heat wave, in other states (none reported in Arizona itself). But remember that heat stroke keeps killing days, weeks, even years after the heat wave is over. We won’t hear about those deaths in the news. We won’t learn their names. But think about those people as the days and weeks and years go by, please.


1 Comment

Hope in the Darkness

Today I’m re-working a Christmas post from a few years ago. I know it’s not Christmas yet, and that a lot of us don’t even celebrate Christmas…I guess this is more of a Winter Solstice post, though we’re not quite there yet, either.

The thing is, this has been a hard season for those of us who care about the climate. It’s hard to keep hoping, and it’s hard to keep believing that anything any of us do will really help. I’ve been drawing a lot of comfort lately from Solstice imagery, from the idea that when the world looks darkest is sometimes literally the moment when light and life return.

I’ve also been drawing comfort from The Little Drummer Boy.

Yes, I’m aware that some people harbor a special hatred of this over-played song, but I kind of like it.

Actually, I really like it. That song has been known to make me cry whenever I really pay attention to the lyrics. Minus the rum-pa-pum-pums  and traditional lyrical line-breaks, here they are:

“Come,” they told me, “a new born King to see. Our finest gifts we bring to lay before the King, so, to honor Him when we come.”
“Little baby, I am a poor boy too. I have no gift to bring that’s fit to give our King. Shall I play for you on my drum?”
Mary nodded. The ox and lamb kept time. I played my drum for Him. I played my best for Him.
Then He smiled at me, me and my drum.

I mean, seriously, picture this. There’s this little boy who has this fantastic experience–mysterious grown-ups appear from some exotic place and tell him of this amazing baby–this King whose birth was announced by angels and by a new, very bright star, the subject of prophesies about the redemption of the whole world. The drummer boy probably doesn’t understand most of it, but he understands this is a Big Deal, and when the grown-ups urge him to come with them to worship and honor the newborn King, he eagerly agrees.

Except what can he give? He has no money, no expensive gifts. He’s poor and he’s just a child–compared to all these Wise Men and other important people, what can he do? He doesn’t know how to do anything except play his drum and maybe he can’t even do that very well, yet. Poor little drummer boys just don’t get to go visit kings. It isn’t done.

But then the child gets to see the baby, and he sees this King is actually a poor little boy just like him. They aren’t that different. And the baby is looking up at him, expectant. The drummer boy just has to give something. So he does the one thing he can do, knowing it can’t possibly be enough. He plays his drum and he plays it just as well as he can.

And it makes the baby smile.

We’re all like that, in one way or another. Most of us probably feel inadequate most of the time–I certainly do–and, frankly, in the face of global warming, we are each inadequate, at least by any reasonable definition. We don’t have enough money; we don’t have the right skills; we don’t have the cooperation of friends and family (or Congress); or we have other, competing responsibilities; or grave problems of our own to cope with. These are entirely valid excuses, real stumbling blocks, and arrayed against us is the full power and might of some extremely rich people who do not want us to get off fossil fuel at all, ever. We’re running out of time.

And yet, sometimes the universe isn’t reasonable. Sometimes one person can change the world. Sometimes one’s best turns out to be good enough after all.

May it be so for you.