I have been around for 62 years, and I have worked with the land and been out “in nature” for a good share of that time, camping, fishing, hiking, snowshoeing, hunting, snowmobiling, farming, gardening, skiing, photographing, boating, skating and generally anything that would get me outside. Now, 62 years is not a big slice of time in the larger picture. I can say that my view of the climate picture has changed significantly for me over these past decades. I don’t need to be a scholar or data collector or scientist of any sort to open my eyes, feel with my skin, and witness the changes that are happening all around us.
Honey bees are disappearing. Droughts, even in normally blessed climes, are becoming more and more numerous and severe. Glaciers are disappearing. Clean water is becoming more and more precious.
Far wiser men and women than I have been raising the alarm for some years now: if we don’t act soon, we may not be able to turn this ship around in time. I don’t generally consider myself an alarmist or pessimist. And, the power of observation, added to the keen words of folks like Wendell Berry, Bill McKibben, Sandra Steingraber have me concerned. My concerns lie not for me personally. I have been blessed in so many ways, spiritually, emotionally, materially, relationally.
My fears lie in what we are bequeathing our kids and grandkids. More and more, I am getting a strong sense that what we are setting them up for is a life of extreme difficulty and challenge at best, and conceivably the end of life for the human family (and many other species that will go with us) at worst.
I am not smart enough to know what the solution is. I am quite certain that meaningful change, and I mean change that gives the next generations a reasonable chance at a fulfilling life, and one which is not a struggle just to survive, is a change which will have to start with the people who make up the majority of our population. I get the sense that wholesale change on a grand scale will be required. I don’t know what that looks like. I only know that I am one person. And, I am one who has choices to make.
I have heard elders in my life say something like this: Some day, my grandkids will likely come up to me and say one of two things. Either, ‘Thank you, Grampa, for doing all that you could to make things better for us.’ Or, ‘What the hell were you thinking, Grampa?’.