Maybe it's just me, immersed in the bad news. There's been an abundant plenty of
it in the last several weeks.
The population of Chinstrap penguins is declining because many, many
newborn pups are not surviving. The krill they eat thrives below
the ice and the ice is not there. Neither is enough krill. Less food, more deaths.
Polar bears are drowning as they try to find to food. There's
talk that they are approaching endangered species status. The ice
floes they rely on to help them get their food are fewer and farther
between, so exhaustion sets in before ice or food can be found.
Scientists report that eighty-four percent of Antarctic glaciers
have retreated in the past fifty years, as the average temperature in the region rose four and half degrees. The Sjogren Glacier has
retreated by a record nine miles since 1993, surpassing anything ever
seen or expected. The warming oceans have caused giant icebergs
to calve off, tumbling like tumble weeds into the water, an Antarctic
version of the dust bowl that scientists now suggest will return to the
In my own front yard, the rhododendron open and close their leaves
with every temperature change whiplashing from season to season in a
matter of days and doing it repeatedly.
Each day I pass a nesting site for great blue herons. Usually
the birds are back in residence long before now. This year I have
seen only one or two lone birds and no sign yet of nesting season
Sheila Watt-Cloutier, a Canadian Inuit, traveled to Washington, D.C., hoping to get the attention of the
United States government with a simple and clear message: climate change is killing her people. They rely on frozen
ground and ice to get to the animals during hunting season. The ice has
been unusually thin. More of her people have died this year than in recent memory deaths the result of thin
ice; thin ice the result of climate change.
She wants us to understand that global warming is creating a
situation that violates the human rights of indigenous people living
close to sea-level across the globe. But Joe Barton, a congressman from Texas, believes that, although
hundreds of thousands of Asian Pacific Islanders might be forced to
leave their homes, the rest of us should focus on the benefits of climate change!
Think of benefits to countries in the northern hemisphere like
Russia, where global warming would mean a longer growing season and more food. In the tropics, climate change
will likely be a wash. And in the southern hemisphere it could go
either way, but there could be significant benefits, he claims... just think of the
All of this is swirling around in me as I try to imagine what my
pagan soul can stand for. What can I pray for, hope for in this
season that is traditionally a time of honoring the earth, celebrating
new life, rebirth and the return of spring?
No simple song singing the earth's beauty will do. No honoring
of the season's turning is possible without acknowledging that these
are urgent times.
Recent reports from the intergovernmental panel have confirmed it.
Human activity is significantly responsible for climate change and
global warming. We are responsible. The ancients who honored the solstices and the equinoxes did
not share the same sense of certainty that we take for granted—the certainty that spring will come again. As their ancient spirit lives on in us we do as
they did and honor this earth our home. But this year and at least for
me as never before that honoring is tempered with fear. It is an urgent
fear. It is the fear that we cannot count on spring.
We cannot count on spring. We cannot count on the earth's
capacity to renew itself. We cannot count on this season of
rebirth and renewal to return year after year after year.
As a Unitarian Universalist I stake my life on our interdependence—the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part-and draw sustenance
from earth-centered traditions that guided and still
guide the lives of many
peoples and cultures. This time, this
year, we need to reclaim that
interdependence and the wisdom of those
sources. Our individualism—whether as persons or nations—has
led us to act as if we can meet our personal
needs, sustain our
lifestyles, attend at a time of our choosing to those in
a little when it is convenient and use as much as we “need”
our comfort. Our government says that signing on to the Kyoto protocol is
costly in dollars and jobs. Yet there is the will and the
money to spend
billions on a war over oil.
spring, in this season of rebirth and renewal, perhaps it is to
our own souls we
should attend. This planet, as never before, depends
on us. We are all on
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Last updated on Tuesday, February 19, 2013.
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