My grandchildren

Posted by Edith Cook on Thursday, January 12, 2012 Under: Personal
 What will life be like when Baby Grace is a young woman? 
Since returning home I've struggled with an assignment I've given myself: to answer a friend's query why I'm preoccupied with global warming. What should I say in my column? That Richard Leakey, the eminent pathologist, speaks of a "sixth Extinction" which, unlike to preceding five, is human-caused and quite likely will wipe out all of us along with the species we drive into oblivion? That Laurence Smith's world of 2050 is wracked with warfare, famine, vector-caused diseases, and water shortages? Smith cites a Pentagon Report that anticipates "a more than 50% increase in armed conflict and huge numbers of battle deaths by 2030. That Australian scientist Tim Flannery (he of the Weather Makers) glumly contemplates a new "Dark Ages" via James Lovelock's Revenge of the Gaia that predicts humans will have eradicated themselves by the end of this century?

My inclination shies away from doomsday predictions. I would much rather contemplate the past with Leakey. There's comfort in knowing human have prevailed against such odds as the Little Ice Age, which came on scene but a few hundred years ago. Life itself was repeatedly brought to the brink of extinction. In one instance, 90% of all life forms perished. The fifth extinction happened 65 million years ago, when the impact of a meteor that slammed into the earth brought on a global dimming that wiped out the dinosaurs who had ruled for millions of years. Birds were left as the dinosaurs' sole descendants.

 Stephan Farris cites a study that correlates the dip in carbon dioxide during the Little Ice Age with "the biggest pandemic of all of preindustrial history: the arrival of Europeans into the Americas." Before Christopher Columbus, the New World was home to between fifty to sixty million people; they were wiped out, not so much by Europe-style warfare (which was bad enough) but more devastatingly by the diseases the newcomers brought with them: 200 years later, only around five million Native Americans remained. Farris's observes that agriculture has emitted CO2 into the atmosphere for a very long time. Until 200 years ago, the atmospheric changes were slight. The Industrial Revolution changed all that.

I want my children and grandchildren to survive, to live, to enjoy a longevity that includes healthy and productive careers. Hence my concern. Hence my worries about global warming. Storms of My Grandchildren is the title of a James Hansen book on global warming that came out a few years ago. Judging by the recent erratic weather patterns, these storms have already arrived. 

In : Personal 

Tags: "storms" "global warming" 

About Me

Edith Cook Though I now live in Wyoming, I make frequent return trips to California with visits to travel club members along the way. At home I play classical guitar, enjoy gardening and cooking, and participate in group yoga. Getting together with family and friends is high on my agenda. I value people who write or make music and love it when my adult children and their offspring play their instruments, sing songs with me, or discuss what they read and write. Such gatherings help me cope with the losses in my life, which have been severe. Next year I hope to visit family in Germany.



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