This week has been the best of a typical Norwegian spring: early sunrises, budding flowers, and snow showers.
New birds: 1, Journey to date: 65
Siland (Mergus serrator)
For our future
A dinner table conversation brought up the topic of air pollution. One of the boys fingered China as the main source. Despite the epically dirty air of eastern China, I had to correct him. We are the source.
His screwed up face demanded an explanation. I had to give a little lesson on other sources of pollution such as carbon dioxide. Trying to get an eight-year-old to comprehend an invisible gas as a source as pollution, global warming, was a heavy lift. It’s a heavy lift with adults too.
This was a big week in news. Earth Day was earlier this week. But the biggest news, the news that hopefully our children will study in future lessons, was the signing of the Paris Climate Accords. Sadly and predictably, the news cycle was dominated by stories that didn’t amount to a pebble in the mountain of significance of the Paris agreement.
There was a green spined book I kept in my personal collection at school. The students were welcome to browse, but no one picked that book. It was the environmental almanac of 1991. And while obscure, it was a treasure of wonder for me, a snapshot of what was, a reference for how things have changed.
The most humbling section of the book dealt with greenhouse gases. The authors noted the 1991 situation, trends, and predictions. They made strong claims that global warming was in progress and worsening but that slow yet steady adjustments could be made to life to forestall or even stop the catastrophe.
Twenty-five years later we are still gnashing our teeth. Two decades on, the predicted effects are visible and visceral. A generation hence, we can see we’ve done almost nothing. Imagine how easy it would have been to have made incremental change?
The Paris accords give me hope for a better world future. I don’t think climate change, global warming, or whatever you want to call it, are the right names. This is a people crisis. People in Dhaka, people in Miami, the folks in Chicago or Antwerp, people are at risk, all people. The climate will always be here, as will the earth. But will we? Will we and our civilizations perish from the earth?
I feel a great sense of responsibility for global warming. I should, I’m an American, we are the biggest CO2 contributors on the planet. But I also feel a great sense of opportunity to make a difference. That also makes me an American.
When my children are grown and having those suppertime conversations with their families, what will they say about our world, our civilization? Because of the Paris Climate Accords, I feel better about them having a thankful conversation about our present human community than I have in a long time.
Looking up, looking ahead, and keeping my pencil sharp.