I’m glad I’ll be dead by then
The news was bad. My mate and I took it poorly. We felt scared, angry, and yet relieved.
Scared by the knowledge that by the year 2050 Colorado’s average late season snow pack is predicted to shrink by more than 30 percent. Our lush mountains will become a high desert, powder skiing will be a memory, and our rivers will be as dry as my skin.
Angry that world leaders, most visibly our own, have ignored the warnings that our dependence on fossil fuels is exacerbating global warming.
Relieved to realize that by the time this tragedy occurs, we’ll be dead.
The news item certainly got our attention. We read it just as we were about to head out for a day of backcountry skiing in late June. A hydrologist at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography delivered this prophecy of doom at a conference of climate and water hosted by the University of Colorado.
The news was received by most of the scientists attending as no great shock. Many of them have been telling us this for years. World leaders have chosen not to listen.
Why hasn’t our government done more to encourage more efficient vehicles, better public transportation, conservation, and cleaner energy alternatives? Why haven’t we the voters held them more accountable? My first thought was that we place growth and capital gains over the health of the planet and citizens.
I also would suggest that most of our leaders take a sick comfort knowing that they won’t be alive to see the result of the foul seeds they have sowed. I’m comfortable with the fact that someday I’ll be as deceased as goat cheese.
That said, this was the first time I have considered an event, even a dreaded one, and thought that I’d most certainly will miss it due to deadness.
My bride, being over a decade younger, could perhaps live long enough to see our mountains turn to sand hills. As well as being youthful, she is the most avid skier I know. If it comes to pass that I’m resting in our compost heap and my mate is still breathing, if she can’t ski her life would be worthless. Plus I’m sure she’ll miss me.
In the book “Journey to Ixland,” Don Juan informs his pupil that the angel of death hovers our right shoulder. He suggests his student consult his personal angel of death when making decisions. The message being live your life as if your end was imminent. I took this to mean live in the moment, love in the instant, feel more, plan less, or to quote the New Age mantra, “Be here, now.”
For the most part, this is sound advice. It is tempting to obsess over needs, wants and fears while overlooking your current place in time. Of course, the other side of the coin is that if you make decisions in terms of immediate gratification, eventually the piper must be paid. In the case of global warming, Mother Nature is the piper.
Maybe a better adage would be to live your life as if you’ll die next week and love the planet as if you’ll live forever. Fortunately, we do not have to leave it to our leaders to protect our planet. Our votes and financial support of right-thinking rulers can begin to undo the damage done.
If you look at mankind’s ecological impact in historical terms, the last hundred years have been a century of devastation. One statistic that I’ve read was 98 percent of the current global ecological injury has been done since the early 1900s.
It appears that each generation thinks only as far as their immediate needs rather than the reality of the long-term effects of their consumption. If the scientists are to be believed, by as soon as 2050 the ecological chickens will come home to roost.
I’m sure that many discount these findings. Our own president has suggested that the science of global warming is “fuzzy.” Others might hold that the economy could not survive if we placed the health of the planet over the financial health of the planet’s stockholders. Whether our stock markets and lifestyles can survive a world policy based on preserving our planet’s health is a moot point.
What good is a healthy economy of an unhealthy planet? What good is so-called progress if in 50 years my mate can’t ski? Thank God I’ll be dead and won’t have to hear her complain. Plus I’m sure she’ll miss me.
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of “Biff America” can be seen on RSN television, heard on KOA radio, and read in several mountain publications. He lives in Breckenridge.