by Theodora J. Kalikow
I have been getting up really early and rowing on Flying Pond before I go to work. For the last month or so when I walk down to the dock, the stars are out. The lake is usually calm and when it is clear, the stars reflect in the water. Sometimes a mist is forming as the water loses its heat to the colder air, so I am rowing in a little local cloudbank.
Even in the dark, the lake is lighter than the surrounding forest. The summer people have gone home; their rafts have been mostly taken out, so I can row along without hitting them. As I return to my dock, the light has increased enough so that once again I am seeing colors rather than just dark and light. Often the barred owls are calling back and forth — “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for yooooou?”>/p>
Wouldn’t we like to be sure that our children’s children could have this?
Sorry, everybody, we can’t be sure anymore. We hear about floods in Atlanta and Tennessee and drought in Texas. We ourselves endured a month and a half of rain earlier this year. I hesitate to call what we had “summer.” The tomatoes got blight and some of the maple trees got mold. Even the zucchini was weird.
Well, these are local events and they change in the short run.
September’s weather was sunny and we had to remember how to water what was left of the garden. Last spring, Atlanta had a drought.
But year by year, the average temperature gets warmer around the world, and the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere keeps going up. We are building our “greenhouse” nice and strong, so that eventually we will make ourselves an irreversible mess, and our grandchildren will live in the hot new world as best they can.
If we are still around, we will tell them stories of the way it used to be, rowing on the pond in the cool mornings, and they won’t believe us.
This is the picture to keep in mind when you hear world leaders telling us that yes, they will reduce their carbon emissions after they have caught up with industrial development in the first world.
Or when you hear our own legislators explain how they like the idea of cap and trade, but let’s not do such a radical thing right now. Never mind that it worked beautifully already when we invented it to save the ozone layer, back in the ’90s.
On Oct. 24, coming to a location near you, in Maine and around the world, “350” events and sociable happenings will occur to urge leaders from every country to go to Copenhagen for the next round of climate talks with the determination to take significant steps to reduce everybody’s carbon footprint.
The “350” is the number of parts per million of carbon dioxide that our atmosphere might be able to sustain while keeping global warming within acceptable limits. (We are already over that, but maybe not so far over that we can’t get back.)
It is important that you add your voice; we need a lot of popular pressure to get our leaders to pay attention and do the right thing.
All I read in the paper about the preliminary negotiations does not give me much hope that any leader anywhere has this as a top priority. Yes, we had an economic meltdown, but eventually we will recover from it. That was a short-term event compared to the possibility that we may be changing the Earth forever, and we have only a limited time in which to act.
It would be painful to regain economic prosperity only to find that we have lost one of the relatively few and relatively affordable chances to preserve our world as we know it.
Do we want to live in a world of Wall-E’s hot garbage piles? Wouldn’t we all rather live on the lake?