It is an unseasonably warm Sunday and I am out in the greenbelt adjacent to my home, pulling silver dollars, a plant I have always loved but learned recently is invasive and therefore unwelcome here. It along with others I have long cherished, like myrtle and ivy, are unwanted trespassers on the 800 acres of wild space I share with my neighbors. The fine folks who developed my neighborhood some fifty years ago had the foresight to create a management plan that would ensure that our pristine kettle lake would remain the clean gem she is. Part of the plan includes stemming the tide of invasives overtaking portions of our wild space. Some of the worst of it lives in my own back yard. So despite my attachment to the above-mentioned vegetation which provides an enchanting carpet of blue green at my feet and the occasional shimmer of silver, I know that to allow their existence, to continue to give them free reign over these woods would produce an outcome I cannot abide.
Here I am, maddeningly pulling at roots as though my efforts will have some impact. Truth is, this patch of ground is so overrun that the battle here is near lost and I, one of the few lone defenders, am powerless. Which leads me to a larger conundrum: we have bigger problems than invasives to consider…things like climate change. But an even bigger problem than that is our failure to act.
At this point, you either believe our global climate is changing or you don’t. I do. Science doesn’t lie. Temperatures are rising. Oceans are warming. Glaciers are shrinking. Still, not everyone is in agreement on just what this means and it worries me. I think that the science we so callously dismiss will come at a tremendous cost to future generations, to say nothing about the health and well being of our one and only planet. What would it take to convert the denier? Something tangible, something dramatic, something very personal. Sadly, until we are significantly and directly affected, we do not change. If people are unwilling to accept the truth of climate change, than they certainly won’t act differently to impede it. Until we reach critical mass in our thinking and our actions, I think we are setting our future selves and our planet up for failure.
I am complicit. As a consumer who uses and consumes almost without limit (as noted in a previous post on abundance), I’m part of the problem. I walk heavily on this earth despite the fact that I am trying to offset my imprint. I recycle, upcycle and donate a fair amount of stuff instead of discard it. I drive an electric vehicle. I buy local. I buy organic (mostly). I buy less and less. I conserve. I educate my children. I pull weeds! But is it enough? Not nearly.
I see my community as a microcosm of the debate that is raging (or not) in this country of big-time consumers. In my neighborhood, we’re all passionate about our resource, the lake in our back yard and the trees that encircle it, but we’re not all on the same page as to how we would like to enjoy it. On the one side, we have our stewards—boots on the ground—educating about the importance of preserving and protecting our natural space and enforcing the rules that mitigate the impact of our homes along the periphery of the greenbelt. On the other side we have our users, moving only to improve their views of the lake, expanding their footprint into shared space, opposing the tree-huggers, defending their comfort. Sound familiar?
I say microcosm because this is what is happening around our country. While we’re busy debating climate change, it keeps on keeping on. If you don’t believe me, or the scientists, look with your own eyes: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/21/glacier-retreat-then-and-now-photos_n_1616983.html. This is happening. What if we continue to focus on our own little patch of myrtle, on our comforts, on those things that influence our right now? As Mr. Gore said oh so long ago, it is an inconvenient truth, with a capital “T”. Every one of us is responsible. Are we really that selfish? By the time we get around to finding our altruism, or are motivated by circumstances, it may be too late.