Monday, April 27, 2009

How I invented "wonderland"

Oh, I wonder, wonder, wonder--so begins one of the great rock-n-roll standards of the 50's, only they were wondering who wrote the book of love. That I'm not wondering about--I just assume it was not a woman.

What am I wondering about is a great river--the River of Denial, and how so many people seem to be floating down it mindlessly and not giving a thought to what we're doing with the earth. At an Earth Day celebration in Alpine, Texas, this weekend, I had a visitor to my table tell me that she really didn't care if the seas rose and enveloped coastal cities like Galveston and Corpus Christi, because she considered them "trash" anyway. On how many levels is this wrong? Well, let's see--first of all, dear lady, you are not the center of the universe, and these two sparkling cities by the sea do not exist to please you. Second, the coast does not exist in a vacuum, sealed off from the inland areas by a fortress strong and true. What affects Galveston is more likely going to affect you in one way or another. Liked that Hurricane Ike, did you? Hope so, because you're up to bat next if you live inland and the oceans deposit their hurricanes right at your doorstep now instead of having them wade through the lowlands to get to you.

Oh, and this is all going to happen on somebody else's watch? Your daughter's generation, or your granddaughter's? We won't even deal with how selfish that would be, to care only that things remain the same for your own generation. We'll just drop this on you instead--scientists have consistently been wrong about one aspect of climate change--they've underestimated the damage, over and over again. Underestimated the destruction of the arctic ice shelf. Underestimated the time it would take to see the Siberian permafrost melting. Underestimated the severity of drought and the intensity of storms. Wouldn't it be a grand sort of karma if the generation most responsible for all this ended up getting caught in its maelstrom?

We're not getting out of this world alive, surely. But the least we can do in our short time on our home planet is leave like we found it. And we've got some major work to do to ensure that comes about.

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