Water is too warm, too much, or too little. Coral reefs are bleaching, Venice is drowning, Brazil is almost dry, and extreme weather events are the new ‘normal.’
Neither of us like reading about a certain topic these days. It’s downright depressing and makes us both wonder if it’s the end of the world as we know it, and if it is, are we feeling fine?
Jill: “In Nova Scotia today, the ocean rose by 25 feet,” I heard from the next room as my older cousins crowded around the TV watching The Day After Tomorrow. That day was the first time I remember: #1 being excited to hear Nova Scotia mentioned in a movie and #2 being scared that global warming was going to wipe us out. It was 2004, and I was in grade four.
Now it’s 2018. We’re facing rising sea levels, devastating floods and fires that wipe out entire forests and cities. Is it going to take a plague of locusts to convince people that the end is near?
Karalee: I remember reading in a cottage journal dating back to the 1930s that big patches of snow hung around until June. As a teen in the 1970s, I was more apt to lie out on the back deck in shorts than shovel snow during March Break!
In the 80s, my generations’ heads were comfortably buried in the sand. The concept of ‘global warming’ was the ‘fake’ news’ of the day, David Suzuki was viewed a heretic, and talk of another ice age, pardon the irony, was busy catching fire.
Today, life is green Christmases, watching the ice caps disappear faster than Timmy’s Roll Up the Rim cups, and bracing for whacky weather in our own backyards. This summer Nova Scotia had its hottest summer on record, while Cape Breton and New Brunswick were partially submerged. Biblical disaster appears upon us, the prescient line from The Day After Tomorrow imminent.
Jill: Science has never been my strong point, which in some ways has allowed me to remain blissfully unaware of what’s causing these anomalies around the world. I’ll be the first to admit that I’d love to sit back and let climate change be someone else’s problem. It’d be my greatest pleasure to shrug and say “the science-y people will figure it out.” But the fact is, that’s not good enough. We live on one planet, and the problem belongs to all of us. I’d rather not have the world crumble before my eyes. So if we can’t stop this, what do we do to slow it down?
Karalee: Oh, I wish I could put the truth in a spoon with a little sugar on top to help the medicine go down. But sugar can’t candy-coat the words no one wants to say out loud. Jill, the world won’t quit oil until it’s gone, and slowing down climate change probably won’t happen.
Global oil production and consumption are actually on the rise, even though carbon dioxide released from burning fossil fuels is the single greatest contributor to global warming. Meanwhile, every minute of every day we happily use the energy produced to stay warm, see at night, move around, and make all those goods that keep the economy going tickety-boo.
Human behaviour is pretty much hard-wired. We don’t like going backwards or voluntarily giving up creature comforts unless we have to, even when we’re at peril. So as we burn and flood, we’ve shifted the mindset from solution to mitigation, figuring out how to live with, rather than fix the problem. That kind of business as usual approach shuffles the root cause and potential cures under the ‘IKEA’ carpet.
Jill: You really popped my bubble of dreamy denial with that one, Karalee. The future looks pretty bleak. As much as I’d love to keep pretending this isn’t happening, I know of course that you’re right.
Until the past couple of years, it’s been easy for me to be selfish and take an “I’ll be long gone before the world bursts into flames” attitude. Now that I’m getting older and the possibility of starting a family doesn’t seem far off, I’m looking past my own generation, and I’m on pins and needles about the future, to say the least.
If I have children and grandchildren, will they have green grass to play on? Will they have snow days and fresh air and clean beaches? Or will they be left to pick up the pieces of a planet destroyed by the ones that came before?
Karalee, do we just sit back and give up?
Karalee: There it is, the big wa-zoosie—what’s on all our minds, all the time.
When my sons were young, making them feel better was an easy fix—stick a band-aid somewhere, give a quick hug, and tell them they’d be okay. I wish there was something like that I could do for you, but I don’t know what your okay will be, except a whole lot different.
Just don’t stick your head in the sand like my generation did, Jill. Stay in the game. History has shown that when cornered humans are capable of incredible feats. Pulling it together is part of our DNA, and you’ll need to be ready to step up when the time comes.
For now, stay on top of what’s happening, spread it around, change what you can in your sphere, and keep hope close to your heart because, yes, the future is unknown, but it always is, isn’t it? And whatever is to come, barring a global nuclear disaster (and yes, I know who’s in the White House) or a rogue asteroid hit, the Earth will keep spinning.
Jill: I guess I’ll just ready myself to ride the wave, and hope it’s not the one that carries us to ruin.
A millenial from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Jill Ellsworth writes because ink lasts longer than her memory.
Half Gen X and half Baby Boomer, Karalee Clerk launched threemillenials and is rediscovering and writing about how life works, in the now.