A few days ago I had a chance conversation with a fine and intelligent woman who, nevertheless, did not want to hear about global warming because, she said, it made her sad. I understand those feelings. I prefer musicals to dramas for a similar reason. They’re more fun.
I understand that global warming can seem painful and overwhelming. It’s unacceptable to me, however, that my children and grandchild should become refugees, homeless or hungry because I wouldn’t make the time to deal with the biggest threat to their future. But we can’t cross over a bridge that hasn’t been built. So it behooves those of us who are trying to confront global warming to make it hopeful and possible to deal with.
So let me bring up another conversation. I was sitting around with some friends, most of whom had served in the U.S. Peace Corps, so collectively we have been all over the world. And several in the group were actively involved in dealing with global warming either at work or as private citizens. One of the former Volunteers brought up the total destruction of the village in which she worked in Western Samoa, a village like all Samoan villages, on the coast because the interior of the island is volcanic and uninhabitable. It was simply washed away by storms. Sue was also pointing to the imminent destruction of a group of islands in the South Pacific. What could we do?
As members of the WAMC audience you have heard a great deal about global warming for several years. So although I could talk about global warming in my commentary that is preaching to the choir. Indeed that’s a lot of what people do who are trying to make a difference. We preach to the choir. We put together meetings and events about global warming and we invite the world to come listen. So the choir comes. But that doesn’t expand the audience.
So let me make a different suggestion. Each of us is a member of some organization where it is appropriate to have a discussion about topics of relevance. It could be your church or temple, a men’s or women’s club, a school or workplace. There are many people who can speak on the subject. The New York Secretary of State has a coastal management task force that is trying to figure out what to do with the lengthy New York coastline that will be inundated by the rising sea waters. There are people in this area who have worked with Al Gore to spread the inconvenient truth about global warming. There are scientists at the universities nearby. To find people locally you can start with http://www.350.org/ or http://theclimateproject.org/ , click on the American flag and then the button that says request presentation.
If we are going to make this globe habitable for our children and our grandchildren, we have to adopt the mantra that yes we can. We will and we must. Policies have to change. And to make them change we have to get across to more and more people that this is the top priority of our generation. It’s our problem. It’s our battle. We have no honorable choice but to fight it and win it.
– This commentary was broadcast on WAMC/Northeast Report, October 13, 2009.