Recognizing that “Six Degrees Could Change MY World”

NASA The dryer is humming in the background, but the house is only lit by one compact fluorescent and the glow of the television and my laptop. There’s a cup of cold, forgotten coffee next to me, but I am drinking water we filter at home out of a Nalgene bottle I have used a thousand times. We went for a nice hike today, despite the gusty wind and the snow, but we drove to the top of the mountain for a change of scenery rather than take the path from the backyard.

My husband is watching a National Geographic special called “Six Degrees Could Change the World” and I am finding it impossible to focus on an Andrew Harvey book about Christ. The idea of the infinite love of God is tough to focus on when a voice is saying that “a change of just one degree could change American cattle country into a wasteland swallowed by drought.” I have never heard Alec Baldwin sound so terrifying – he’s the narrator of this scary little story I find impossible to ignore.

Instead of listening to the proof of “the dangers posed by global warming,” the litany of awe-inspiring changes that could occur with each degree increase in the global temperature I am writing this and trying unsuccessfully to keep my own fears at bay. It’s cable, so I know that this program will be repeated again and again, so later I can catch those details about how many thousands (was it 500,000?) of species that could be lost if one coral reef died so I can rattle off some statistics next time someone speaks dismissively about climate change. For now, I will watch and worry and wonder how on earth I can stop another polar bear from drowning and whether I will bring my grandchildren to my favorite Cape Cod beach someday.

Is this show going to give us any answers beyond reminding us to recycle and walk more and buy a hybrid (or wait, maybe you shouldn’t since there are so many resources already tied up in your current gas guzzler that putting yet another car on the road just makes it all worse)? I’ll keep watching and let you know.

At the very least, I think I can answer the question that Andrew Harvey posits at so many of his lectures “If you wake up at three o’clock in the morning and look at all of the injustices of the world, what is it that breaks your heart and forces you to action?” I cannot pretend anymore that someone else is going to take care of the corners of this earth that I love; I cannot withdraw into the fear that the science is too contradictory for a mere mortal to understand. The disappearing Arctic ice is my heartbreak; the rising seas will not recede into the neglected background of my modern life.

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3 thoughts on “Recognizing that “Six Degrees Could Change MY World”

  1. merrymaryallegra February 10, 2008 / 10:18 pm

    What a great action statement! Your last paragraph is very moving. It’s the 3AM thoughts that gnaw so quietly during the day sometimes, yet are really at the core of what we are driven to address. Be the change, be the change! 🙂

  2. gartenfische February 10, 2008 / 10:58 pm

    This is so, so difficult. It worries me very much and it really worries me that this country isn’t taking climate change seriously. There are scientists (albeit a very few) who still insist that it isn’t human-caused, which is so irresponsible when the evidence is overwhelming.

  3. RuaidhrĂ­ February 13, 2008 / 9:00 am

    Well I think the really really important thing you can do about global warming is to make sure ye ‘mericans don’t elect another republican idiot to be president and to make sure the democratic people don’t get any more corrupted by the corporations.

    And while the simpler life is important it is okay to come visit Ireland…we have magic carbon offsetting that works through the powers of rainbows and guinness and people saying shush to you in the crane.

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