I’ve been searching around for an end-of-year post. And I came up with this. Altho truthfully, it’s something of a downer.
The other day—about two weeks ago in fact—I was reading a few pages of my favorite print publication, The Atlantic. One article in particular appealed to me, and the next day I was discussing it with one of my friends. “Did you know,” I began unceremoniously, “That it seems to be a foregone conclusion that the polar ice caps are on their way out? They may be gone in as soon as five years.” Based on this article, Russia, Norway, and Canada are duking it out for over-the-pole shipping routes. Furthermore, if it successfully secedes Denmark, Greenland will suddenly become the first fully fledged (and potentially non casino-based wealthy) Native-American nation. Inasmuch as we’re thinking that policy wonks are trying to save the North Pole, they’re actually aggressively and enthusiastically scavenging its remains.
Which is great for the 500,000 native Inuit of Greenland. And—let’s be really super generous—the 5,000,000 employees of a group of cargo, retail, and fulfillment companies that benefit from faster polar-express transportation. But somewhat disturbing for the 6,694,500,000 (or 99.92%) of the rest of us. Never mind that we have to invent new Christmas narratives. (Santa Claus lives on an impossibly large hovercraft? With mer-elves and flying beluga whales? Imagine Gene Autry or Burl Ives singing, “Rudolf the aqueous mammal, had a very shiny fin. And if you ever saw him, you would even say he’s grim.”) Without the polar top-ice, those of along industrial coasts could find ourselves knee-deep (or even scalp-deep) in a world of hurt.
For anyone sensitized to this issue, it’s easy to get angry. But lest you or I shake a finger at a despised global warming disputant/defender/apologist, it’s not disproportionately any single idiot’s fault. We as humans are too powerful and too many.
That said, I could tell I’d cast a cloud over my friend’s day. She responded, “That’s the reason I’ve chosen not to bring children into this world.” I remembered harboring such gloomy feelings from the days before I had kids. But now that I have them, scurrying happily about, I think what all parents think: I’ll defend my offspring to the Nth degree, taking every last bullet every bad guy has to dish out. But ultimately, it’s up to them (the offspring, not the bad guys) to persevere. Because that’s what all good children do. They carry on and, with any luck, build a better nest and bear unto it more little children.
Still, I felt bad. So I emailed my friend this slight poem. I know you people rely on me for computer graphics advice. Which is why I don’t want to shove a stupid halfwit poem in your face. Read it if you want to. Don’t if you don’t. But whatever, have a happy and prosperous 2009. Because there is no one on this beautifully warm melty planet who doesn’t deserve to be happy in his or her space.
The Ice Fields
Oh gosh, you bet, the human race
is an inherently evil force
that should take its leave from the Earth
as it will one day, don’t you fret.
And when we leave it, the world will abide.
Our stewardship’s gracious but it’s not required.
And the ice fields will freeze back up
over the tankers in the shipping lanes.
And the polar bears, they will come back.
They won’t be polar bears, but they’ll come back.
Something to eat the fattened woolly ducks
and few other creatures living there.
That’ll be some time—forever it might seem
to anyone who would be looking on.
But kind and innocent will all expire.
Only the selfish there to shut their eyes.
In the meantime, lest you forget
you’re a human being and so am I.
And your progeny would be just like us.
They’d muddle through and be afraid to die.