My daughter is fifty-two, old enough to have lived a life, have friends, a career, travel. I am glad for this. I am pleased I had her when the predictions of “global warming,” what climate change was called then, were still mere rattling of yet to be imaged chains.
I read the population bomb at nineteen and resolved to have no more than two children. As it was, I had one. But, as I later learned, Paul Ehrlich was a racist. I was not the person he had hoped would limit her childbearing. I was white, American, and raised largely middle-class. I was supposed to reproduce. But I learned this much later.
Today on my smartphone, not invented in 1968, the year of my daughter’s birth, I read of the floods in Germany and the fires in the American West. The inevitable has arrived. The warning, rattling around for fifty-plus years, denied or ignored by many, has finally arrived. I am in no way gladdened by this. Yet, I write this flying at 500 miles per hour, jetting to meet a friend. I have paid for carbon offset but does this matter at this point? I love to travel and have flown often, long before carbon offsets.
I can attempt to justify myself by saying that I occupy a small carbon footprint. I had one child. I live in a 700 square foot home. I don’t eat a lot of meat, but I would be kidding myself, wouldn’t I? I was born and raised in the United States of American. The land of the profligate spenders.
When I look back, I think the inevitable is now occurring. Scientists have been predicting a disaster of our making for so many years, and nationally, we have done little. American oil companies knew, many years ago, that oil and gas production would damage the planet. They, like the cigarette makes lied to the population, and we chose to believe it against all logic. Did we think our large SUVs were a good idea for the planet?
I think about the three children I saw playing and sleeping in the Tijuana airport. Innocent, loved, I hope, and likely doomed to see the worst of this climate catastrophe play out. They sleep peacefully while the forest burns, the rivers flood. This growing disaster is my legacy. I wish it were not.
“Ok Boomer” is the catchphrase applied to the most ignorant of my generation by an angry younger generation. Their anger is not unjustified, and it signals that our time is over. It is also a statement that we did not do enough. A comment that my generation did not take this seriously enough, and we did not. Many of us demonstrated, wrote our representatives, sent money to various causes. We were busy working, raising families, falling in love. With all of this, it is easy to get sidetracked. But ultimately, all that we did was not enough. It was a drop in a rapidly leaking bucket, and there is no excuse for not being more aggressive and direct in dealing with the dynamics of climate change.
I chose to make an income (yes, necessary), see the world, play with friends. There was a time that I imagined receiving a terminal diagnosis, and I thought of being a monkey wrench saboteur a la Edward Abby’s novel of many years ago, “The Monkey Wrench Gang.” Instead, I worked, trained, obtained a Graduate Degree, bought property, sold property, lost property, gave it away. I did not develop a terminal disease, although eventually, I am likely to. I am sixty-nine.
As I enter into my seventh decade on this planet, I assess my survival odds and realize the clock is ticking loudly. Death is natural and predictable. It is not sad. I am one of the lucky ones. I would never have imagined that I would live this long. It is a miracle, given the youth I lived.
I wish I could say I could not have imagined this outcome, but that would be inaccurate. I did imagine it many times. The world ending in a fiery nuclear holocaust. After all, I am part of the duck and cover generation, or slowly dying of pollution and human denial. It appears the end is the latter, although we might still blow ourselves up. Or will we, in the last seconds before going over the ledge, save ourselves? It is anyone’s guess.
So why write this? It is a comment to the brothers and sisters of my generation, my brothers and sisters. Wake up! To continue to deny the obvious is suicide, and we are taking the innocent with us. To continue to deny the obvious is not only suicide but additionally homicide. We will take the animals, the children, and the forests with us, although ultimately, the earth will survive. The Hopi say that there have been human extinctions before. They may be right. After we are gone, the earth will heal itself, slowly. But our human time, the time of homo sapiens will be over.
This situation is not an action movie or a horror story. It is reality. The ET’s will not save us. Wake up!