I just entered my 80th year, and although I might be a little late, I’ve decided to make a change in my life. I’ve decided to take a page from Dylan Thomas’ poem “Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night.”
Thomas believed that “Old age should burn and rage at close of day.” I agree. He also believed that old folks should “not go gentle into that good night.” That we should “Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” Again, I agree.
Continuing to follow Thomas’ admonitions, I want my words to have “had forked lightning.” That my “frail deeds” will “have danced brightly in a green bay.” I want to have “caught the sun in flight” and to have sung about it, with no regrets. And, I want to see with eyes that “blaze like meteors” and are “gay.”
More to the point, I have five children, nine grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. And if, or when, one of them were to ask me: “What did you do to fix the climate change problem?,” I won’t have to look down and mumble a half-baked apology that I had done very little. That I had been too busy, too old.
Actually, I’ve done a few things. I own a 14-year-old Prius that still gets 45 mpg. I visit the local recycle facility once a week with bins of plastic, paper, cardboard, Styrofoam, glass and metal. And I try to moderate our home thermostat so that our heating and A/C bills don’t break the bank.
But there’s something else I need to do that dwarfs all else, and that’s to convince as many people as possible that climate change is the single most important issue in the 2020 election — not immigration, health care, national security or jobs. In fact, all these other issues are in various ways tied to climate change.
The Trump administration, plus numerous members of the Senate and House, denigrate the science behind climate change. To make matters worse, they’re trying to roll back every environmental regulation made by the previous administration — regulations that were put in place to make our planet safer for our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
If these same people are re-elected, I fear that by 2024, the added environmental damage they will cause will make any future efforts to curb climate change more difficult, if not totally meaningless.
That’s because self-reinforcing feedbacks in the carbon cycle and planetary reflectivity, that are already happening, could eventually trigger a cascading set of tipping points that would lead the world into a hothouse climate state. Issues regarding health care, immigration and national security would increase a thousand-fold due to intensifying heat waves, droughts, floods, crop failures, fires, extinctions and rising sea levels. The result could be a world of anarchy — a terrifying place for future generations.
So please, vote wisely.