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February 2, 2011

Climate Change, Real And In Our Faces

I was a very serious, anxiety ridden child who enjoyed watching public television. So naturally I was engrossed in all of those documentaries about global warming and climate change that came on in the late eighties and early nineties. Back then a lot of people dismissed global warming as pure speculation. I was totally freaked out and could not understand why working to find ways to stop or reduce global warming was not the world’s highest priority. But back then, when the effects were dull at best, we could kind of set the issue aside. We no longer have the luxury of blissful ignorance.

Although I generally love snow and enjoy winter sports immensely, I am tired of the snow this year. Last Friday when the flakes started, I was okay with it. I told myself, hey, this will be the last of the snow this year. While snow is common in March in Michigan, eight inches of it at once is not, which is why I was happy that it melted away by Tuesday morning. Of course, I know that Michigan occasionally gets snow in April, so I was prepared for a few more light dustings. However, what I was not prepared for was looking out of my window this evening and see a couple of inches on the ground again. Not to mention , it is still snowing so there will be more in the morning.

Like I said, I don’t mind snow. I can use the late powdering to get in some cross country skiing, something that was not possible in these parts of Michigan for many year due to lack of snow. But I also know that this snow and the snow that has been dumped on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and in Ontario and Quebec indicate that something much bigger than a late snow fall is going on.

Last weekend I watched reports about massive flooding in the lower Midwestern states. Houses were swept off of their foundations and carried in currents that flowed like natural rivers. It was scary and sad to see all of the people that lost their homes and the reports of deaths. I try to not get too upset about such things because honestly, there is very little that I can do about them, but I can’t help but hurt for anyone caught in catastrophic situations.

These climate swifts and news of more melting in the Artic are scary. It is that same fear that I had when I was a child, learning about global warming and thinking about some places being swallowed up by water and the end of rain forests. I can remember bugging my parents for money to donate to the Rainforest Action Network and getting classmates to sign a petition to save the rainforest. I was twelve then and the first Bush, who was president at the time, was the one I sent it to. I can recall how scared I was about losing the earth as I knew it and trying to do whatever I could to help save the planet.

I’m much older now but I still really am terrified of losing the earth as I know it. I recycle and use as little energy as possible, walking wherever I can and wearing sweats at home so I can keep the heat low. I don’t use air conditioning unless the temperature gets over 95 degrees and I have cloth, reusable grocery bags. However, I know that these efforts are not enough and constantly search for ways to reduce the amount of damage I do to the planet so that others after me can enjoy this beautiful, diverse place. I know my efforts are futile and I probably could be doing much more, but I like to think that the little things add up.

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