Just when I thought the ride could not get any rougher, it did. And while the breakneck speed of events is unlikely to slow anytime soon, this weekend provided a few quiet moments in the yard to reflect. What hit me was this: that the laws of nature and science dictate what actually happens on the large scale. What we believe or hope is true may be important and influential on our daily lives, but we are not driving the bus. We, the human race, are very much along for the ride. How we behave will have a big say in how long the ride lasts for each of us individually and as a species.
Need some examples? A few come to mind. The west is on fire, not because there are too many twigs on the ground, but because trees have died due to the stresses of climate change. Drought is widespread and soil moisture down because of lesser snowpacks over the years and heat extremes have become commonplace. The tinderbox that is now California burns because dry, hot and windy places are ripe for fire. All the rhetoric, blame-shifting and denial does nothing to lower the fire risk and so the wildfires burn because the laws of nature make it that way.
We are Greek letter deep into the list of tropical storm names. Why? Perhaps because a warmer planet with warmer ocean temperatures is a hospitable place for the development of more and bigger tropical storms. Sea levels are rising. Why? Nature says a warmer planet is less supportive of glaciers and ice sheets and that that the melting water has to go somewhere. That someplace is our oceans and so they are higher and erosion and inundation is increasing. I see no need to argue that point, but if you want to, go find the owners of Liam’s at Nauset Beach. They should be easy to find since they no longer have a restaurant to run; it washed away during a storm a few years ago because the sea came up faster and further than anyone expected.
The 7.5 million Americans with known cases of Covid-19 know the virus spread doesn’t respect beliefs or station in life. Some of the infected did everything they could to avoid infection and some did little or nothing to protect themselves. Some even behaved in a way that invited infection. None were spared by their lack of understanding. Denial of the mechanics of virus spread has spared no one. This weekend should have proven that if you needed convincing. Bacteria and viruses spread the way they do no matter what you think.
So, what is the point of all this? That’s simple: As general proposition those that understand and obey the rules tend to stay in the game longer. Since reputable scientists can, and have, told us a lot about how climate change works, how to slow it down, how to adapt to it, how to mitigate its near term effects and how to slow the spread of pandemics, let’s listen to them and start to behave like we want to be around for a while.