Posts Tagged ‘Climate Change’

Letter From New York 03 22 2016 A dirge for Brussels

March 23, 2016

The sun is setting as I sit looking out at the creek, the vista in front of me full of greying light and the still barren branches of the trees clawing to the sky. 

Mahler plays in the background.  He seemed right for the moment, a day in which I have been enraged and sad, felt broken and hopeless, contemplative and escapist.

When the alarms went off this morning, the screen of my phone was cluttered with news pushes from the BBC and AP about the tragedy in Brussels.  I rubbed my eyes and attempted to focus, not wanting to believe what I was reading.  But it was there, a truth that had entered the world, unwanted but present, never to be put back in any bottle.

I hit the snooze alarm and closed my eyes, staying there until I had to break into the day.  Playing commuter, I made a round trip to the city today for a meeting I felt I could not miss.  If I missed my train, I might miss the meeting.

It seemed inconsequential when I really thought about it, a media meeting balanced against the carnage of Brussels, another IS attack on western civilization.  However, our worlds go on and we met and it was good and some business might develop from it and we never talked about Brussels.

We are becoming inured to the cadence of troubles that has burst upon the world.  We are accepting all of this as the new normal, much as did the Russians did during the last fifty years of the Empire when anarchists struck again and again.  You have to go on because what else does one do? 

Perhaps we should take a break, think about what is happening, see what individually we might do to change the horrible road we’re on.

We don’t really know how to change the map, the road; we do our best, or our worst, and keep on going.  We are, at this moment, caught up in the flow of history and we poor individuals don’t know how to do much to change it yet it is somehow, in democracies, in our hands.

Ted Cruz has apparently called for the patrolling and monitoring of American Muslim communities.  I wanted to take my phone and throw it across the drive when I read that. 

How do we make them our friends when we cast them all as enemies? 

It is frightening and complex and every Muslim I know is as appalled by IS as I am.  Monitor and patrol their communities?  He is taking a page from the Trump playbook.

As I drove to the train this morning a commentator on “Democracy Now” which I do not often listen to, claimed that if there were a Brussels style attack in America just before the election we will be looking at a President Trump.

And I was afraid he might be right.

On my way out of town tonight, on the 4:40 heading north, I might have been imaging it but it seemed there were a lot more soldiers in Penn Station than there normally are.  And I understood it.

Facebook notified me that Facebook friends of mine in Brussels were all safe, for which I was grateful.

I am frightened tonight.  I am going into the city again tomorrow and that doesn’t frighten me.  But the world in which we are living frightens me. 

“The War on Terror” may not be the best option in dealing with this situation which is rapidly, I think, growing out of control.

We have failed to address systemic issues in the Mideast and are reaping the rewards.  Just saying…

I am in the third act of my life.  It is for my younger friends and relatives I am concerned.

It is for the world I was born into that I am concerned.  It is slipping away from us.  IS is taking our peace and our consumption habits seem about to take much else from us. 

Scientists are saying global warming is worse than they thought.

No wonder I am playing Mahler tonight.

Letter From New York 12 12 15 Climate Change

December 13, 2015

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is in thirteen days.  The temperature today scratched 60 degrees.  I wore only a fleece pullover all day; it was too warm for anything more.

Now, a little after 7, the temperature is beginning to drop and I am thinking of perhaps lighting a fire.  When I finish writing this, I am going to watch some video and “wrap” presents, which means I put them in those oh so convenient bags, wrapped in tissue paper.

In the late afternoon, I went grocery shopping as I am having people over for dinner on Wednesday evening.  Since I am getting up in the morning and going to the city until Tuesday evening, I needed to do the shopping now.  Wednesday I will cook.

Young Nick was here today and we got the table all set so I don’t have to be concerned about that.  I love having dinner parties; it feels like a vacation to me putting them together.

My mind rests from all the everyday noise and I am lost in the cooking and prepping.

Because it is so warm, there have been lots of climate change jokes going around.

Today, an accord about climate change was reached by 196 nations in Paris.  It is monumental and there is still a great deal of work to be done.

Beijing has been on red alert for several days this month, pollution having reached a level that caused schools to close, factories to shutter, cars to get off the road and for people to stay at home. 

Delhi has worse air than Beijing and is doing less about it though starting January 1st, cars will be on an even/odd system for being on the road.  But the police say they will cancel it, if it becomes too inconvenient.  Which it probably will…

My friend Raja lives in Delhi and has a young daughter who spends this part of the year with nebulizers and in great discomfort because of the pollution.

Yes, we need to be tackling these problems.

Oh, so many problems…

This morning I had an impossibly difficult time waking up but when I did I began to charge into action.  It’s that time of year for all of us when there is absolutely more to do than we can but somehow it all comes together.

I’m getting up early tomorrow and heading down to the city.  My friend, Rev. Peter Panagore, is giving a talk at Trinity Wall Street about his death experiences.  He’s been dead twice.  Once as a result of a hiking accident when he was young and, most recently, when he had a massive heart attack and they kept losing him in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.

He has seen heaven.

I hope I do.

Letter From New York October 20, 2009

October 20, 2009

Or, as it seems to me…

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom has issued dire warnings that failure to create an agreement at the Copenhagen Conference in December will result in even more dire consequences to be revealed in weather catastrophes. As I read his dreary statements [and Gordon Browne seems a dreary sort to begin with] I wondered [and here I must admit I was pushed toward this thought by the musings of my friend, the writer/philosopher Howard Bloom], is there no hope in the world? Have we become ostriches with heads in the sand because we hear no one saying there is hope anywhere? It is dire out there, whether climate changes are happening naturally, are being accelerated by human actions or are solely the result of human actions, we are living on a planet that seems to be going through a…change? Menopause? Something. Something is happening and to shrug it off is irresponsible as is ignoring it, as it is acting as if we are as doomed as the passengers on the Titanic after its brush with an iceberg.

While it is true that something significant is happening climate wise, it is untrue that it is completely out of our control. We are a remarkable race that consistently does remarkable things, often when our backs are against the wall [why do our backs have to be against the wall?]. So where in this desert of despair in which we so often seem to be living do we find a voice of hope? Who is going to stand up and say, yes, we can! [Oh wait! Obama said that and for a moment we thought we could and now seem to be slipping back into ennui, a tenebrous state of enervation. In others words: dark, gloomy, exhausted, without much hope.] And while it is more than a tad gloomy out there, we have survived gloomy periods before.

The Great Recession is not infrequently compared with the Great Depression, eighty years ago and there are some striking similarities. Now that was a pretty gloomy time also – and in the end the west pulled itself out from that period’s ennui through the vastly unpleasant shock of World War II, an event that united individuals and nations in a common cause against a frightful enemy. Do we, today, have to be that confrontationally threatened to wake up and react? Perhaps.

We have challenges in front of us [and, in fact, more challenges than we might actually need (certainly more than I personally want)] and we need right now a someone [thank you, Howard Bloom] to stir us with the same passion that John F. Kennedy stirred us with when he said: ask not what your country can do for you but what can you do for your country. It has been nearly fifty years since those words were spoken and yet they still have the power to excite and move and stir us in the fiber of our beings, a call to something beyond ourselves.

According to promos I saw on television this week, this is a week of volunteerism, a celebration of getting out and doing for someone else. God knows we have a lot of people who need doing for [I read a report of a 97 year old woman who is living in her car] and we have a lot of people who need to be doing, to stir themselves out of that ennui, the tenebrous state of enervation, out of the dark and gloomy space which really surrounds us but which we do not necessarily need to be victim to…