What I See, part 5, by Karen Joy Fowler

Thu 16 Dec 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Author

What I See, part 5, by Karen Joy Fowler

We have had a week of rain and stormy seas. The waves have been coming in huge sets, as if someone picked up the globe and shook it. Yesterday Mojito and I turned left instead of right and went to watch the surfers. There were about ten of them, performing feats of breathtaking balance and athleticism, with a sea lion in the water behind them, neither watching nor swimming, but bobbing quietly out past the breakers.

The ocean changes color when the sky changes color—green and gray and brown and red and blue, only so filled with or empty of light that they aren’t really green and gray and brown and red and blue after all. I like the fact that most of the colors I see I have no name for.

My father was a bit of an amateur naturalist. When I was a girl he seemed to know the names for everything. And more—he knew why the tides were sometimes high and sometimes low, how photosynthesis worked, the role top predators played in the food chain, how birds navigated their great migrations, why the sky was blue, etc. etc. He saw the wild world the way a scientist sees it.

This same wild world used to be a source of great comfort to me in times of need. I thought it was eternal, that my place in it (and therefore my troubles) was small and inconsequential. Now I walk along the ocean and I know that I’m looking at a system in peril. This, as much as my age and my growing sense of a finite amount of time left here, is why I’m trying to pay attention. I’m saying good-bye and I’m not sure which of us is leaving faster.

We live in a social order created by and for rich men. Nothing matters in it but money. Many on the right, and no few on the left, are, whenever it’s convenient, exorcised over the financial debt we’re passing on to our grandchildren. So unfair! Such a burden! Something must be done (by someone else)! Poisoned skies, waters, and food, mass extinctions, rising seas, and global droughts; these are things our grandchildren are just going to have to tough out.

While I was in the UK for Thanksgiving, the House Republicans disbanded the committee tasked with battling global climate change, saying it was a waste of money.

According to a NYTimes/CBSNews poll, the tea party, those media-crowned activists du jour, do not see climate change as a credible problem.

John Shimkus, who will probably chair the House energy committee come 2011 is not worried, because God told Noah He wouldn’t destroy the earth again.

All of which made Bill Maher say in an interview last week that people outside the US must be laughing at us ridiculous yokels. But I talked to a number of people in London (some of them Tories). There is no other world to go live in while this one is trashed. No one I talked to was laughing.

Previous posts:

What I See
What I See, part 2
Interrupting our regular schedule . . .
What I See, part 3
What I See, part 4

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