I just returned home from the 25th doctor to tell me my heart’s in serious trouble. If I don’t have an operation soon, it will be too late to fix. Twenty-five doctors all told me the same thing, but I know a Japanese guy who wrote a paper on hearts and he knows a lot. He says I look good. Not to worry. So, I’ve decided to get on with my life as usual.
I’m lying, of course. Few would be so cavalier with their own lives that they would wait until time runs out, and still I hear that same reasoning when it comes to the lives of today’s toddlers, babies and babies still to be. You know the ones. Ones who will be adults by 2040 when scientists tell us climate change will be too far gone to fix if we do nothing now.
Instead, I exercise daily at the Big Dipper to keep my heart healthy. I’m 80 now and am personally building a new home for my wife and me, but I enjoy watching the preschoolers play while mothers with babies in strollers jog away the new baby pounds. Some days I find tears in my eyes, knowing what scientists tell us is happening to the planet and how it will affect the future of these children in their innocent games.
Yesterday, I had another man tell me he knew a Japanese man who wrote a paper about climate change and that man knew a lot. “He said the planet looked good.” Our president tells us not to worry. He had an uncle who was a scientist and all that smart just rubbed off on him somehow. That’s how he knows we are safe. I’ve failed to count how many times I’ve been told rhetoric like this, or similar and just as foolish, as though rhetoric is more important than these toddlers’ lives.
It’s not worth jeopardizing political jargon just to save a planet while the majority of scientists agree about the truth. And why would we? We’re adults, it’s not our future is it? It’s the children’s future — the youngest of our children who may have to be the first to hear, “It’s too late now. The Arctic is melting and we can no longer stop it. We’re sorry, but we warned your parents for 40 years and they chose rhetoric over science to ignore our warnings. We wrote a lot of papers. They chose not to read!”
Why do some cling to this — this religion? I don’t know what else to call it. What if the scientific community is lying to us for some innocuous reason I fail to fathom and we go ahead and follow their recommendations? Well, the first thing we might do is stop spending billions of dollars protecting other nations’ oil fields. We would rebuild our antiquated power grid with a new smart-system that would serve us all into the future. We’d create thousands of higher-paying jobs for the middle class, improve our housing to cut costs, enjoy cleaner air and water. Homes would generate their own power just as the new one I’m building will hopefully do, and we can reverse some of the damage we have already done to our environment.
I don’t know. Don’t all these things, and much more, seem better than the worsening storms, diminishing harvests, loss of millions of acres to flooding and an eventual scorched Earth? We have people who know. People just waiting for us to say, “Go. Show us your ideas, your answers, build your solutions.” Or we can wait until it’s too late for answers.
Our politicians know the truth, those who choose to believe science over rhetoric, and they’re too afraid to speak up for fear of being rejected by the nonbelievers. Ask them as I do and hear, “First I have to get elected.” First, I have to get elected and then what? It’s us! They need our reassurance it’s safe to help our world. We can stand the truth. We want to leave a world where our now toddlers can live theirs. A world that can sustain 10 billion people.
I challenge the deniers to sit down with one of these youngest of our people and explain why we should do nothing. It doesn’t matter if the tiny mind understands you. Listen to your own words. They may not know if you’re lying for political expediency. But, explaining the gamble of that baby’s life, you will.
Richard Ourada lives in Fairbanks.