Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Watching The World Die

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Trauma can have the ironic effect of leading you to more deeply appreciate what is good in the world.  I think it can also render a person more sensitive to the darkness within the world.  Some days I feel there is so much of it.

This morning I met with Dr. Lee Frelich of the University of Minnesota Center for Hardwood Ecology.  I met him for the purpose of introducing myself as I had recently been exploring the possibility of doing a research project on behalf of the Friends of the Boundary Waters.

I spoke with Dr. Frelich about the impact of global warming on the forests of Minnesota.  To say that our conversation was a sobering one would be an understatement.  Even if the human species doesn't emit a singly additional molecule of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere we have already committed the world of future generations to a very changed world.  A "Business As Usual" scenario may load the atmosphere with so much more greenhouse gases that warming here in Minnesota may amount to an astounding eight degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels.  It could even be more than that!  With a climate more typical of Kansas you can bet the Minnesota of past generations could easily become nothing more than a collection of memories.

The boreal forest of Minnesota seem quite likely to essentially vanish by 2100.  Certain species of plants and animals may forever relocate to Canada.

It saddens me to think of what we are doing to our planet.  I had a very early understanding of our capacity for complacency when I was a kid.  I was a science geek as a kid.  I can still remember seeing a truck hauling drums of what appeared likely to be some sort of toxic sludge just a few days after I watched one of those television dramas that featured a plot line of environmental destruction.  Every day we wake up and unleash our daily dose of carbon is another day we are creating a profoundly changed world for future generations.  I sometimes wonder what successive generations will think of us.  "Why didn't you stop this lunacy?" they might rightly ask.  There are so many reasons why we aren't doing much about it.

To my knowledge there will not be a single place on the planet that will not change due to what we are doing.  It seems there will be no 'safe' place to flee to.  I think people are the only species that foul our collective nests to the degree that we do.


A person may experience nightmares as but one symptom of a range of symptoms associated with PTSD.  I am not sure if here is a particular term for the nightmares experienced by a whole collection or culture of people.  One of my waking nightmares is the prospect of a world fundamentally and irrevocably changed due to the misguided actions of our species.  I do not want to watch the world die. But I wonder if my species will have a "front row seat" to witness a massive extinction event if we do not begin to collectively think and behave in a sustainable way.

After listening to possible future scenarios that might become a reality here in Minnesota I feel a strong desire to go outside and enjoy this beautiful spring day.

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