Dear God, I tried to do what I could do.
The present presages an ungodly future
I drafted this blog entry July 2021 (and have added to it since) while I was in Oregon feeling the week’s ungodly heat and seeing forest-fire smoke brown the sky. Knowing the IPCC predictions—a hotter world filled with forced migrations, extinctions, droughts, floods, big storms, big forest fires, ocean level rise and ocean acidification, and that each year of climate inaction will worsen the damage—could get me down, except that I counter such feelings by acting for climate and habitat.
Someday I’ll stand before God, and he’ll ask what I did during my Earth sojourn. God gives us many ways to serve, and as George Washington Carver—a great man of service—once said, “Someday I will have to leave this world. And when that day comes, I want to feel that I have an excuse for having lived in it. I want to feel that my life has been of some service to my fellow man.”
Me—I will have acted for climate and for the preservation of species, which is also for my fellow man.
Smoke in the air. No water to drink.
Last summer, and the one before that, smoke from forest fires in British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and northern California filled the air. There’s a fire now (July 2021), close to where I am at Klamath Falls on the Oregon/California border. Yesterday, I drove by the cracked moonscape of what is left of the Tule Lake Refuge (which is part of a major flyway for birds). The lake is being sucked dry by farmers wanting to water their crops, by water managers wanting to ensure that fish have enough water in the rivers to spawn, and by people wanting to drink. Only a remnant of a Tule remains (see the post https://michaelmaddoxconservation.com/2021/07/12/i-need-water-said-the-duck/).
Bigger than Us
Being in heat where water is disappearing from the land is bluntly real. Watching such events unfold, it seems that the forces are at play are bigger than humans’ presumption that we can control nature. And yet, Congress filibusters, futzes, and can’t gather enough votes to pass an infrastructure bill that includes desperately needed funding to fight the climate crisis while major fossil-fuel forces evilly (see https://michaelmaddoxconservation.com/2021/10/01/fossil-fuel-companies-doing-evil/) obstruct the efforts to do so. We humans, the intelligent species, seem to lack godly wisdom and foresight.
See David Horsey (Seattle Times cartoonist), “Humans do not have the mental bandwidth to confront climate change,” Seattle Times, 18 June 2021, Web, https://www.seattletimes.com/opinion/humans-do-not-have-the-mental-bandwidth-to-confront-climate-change/
Watching us stumble toward the extinction of many species on Earth, and the worsening of our human situation, I decided not to sit on the sidelines. I have grandkids, family, and friends whom I love. I like nature. I love God, who created this garden planet we live on, who filled it with life and variety of life, and who then gifted us with the freedom and power to steward or destroy it.
With that decision, I now do what I can, using the abilities I have, to fight the Climate Crisis and the Sixth Extinction. I’ll try to be an example to those few within my personal orbit by using reusable bags, driving a Prius, moving away from gas to electric, advocating for electric vehicles, working to secure habitat, and other such actions. I fall short often, and I find it tough to manage the reality that the truck-by-which-I-tow-my-trailer, a truck that makes 7.4 mpg while doing so, is not an example, but instead is part of the problem.
We function within systems. All around me is the fossil-fuel system—cars, trucks, planes, stoves, heaters, buildings. We need a system filled with fossil fuel-free choices. On the highway, as my wife travel around the country, are mostly gas stations, and I rarely see (such as in Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, and Kansas, through which we just traveled) an electric vehicle charging station. When stationed in Europe, my wife and I would ride modern trains from the center of a city to the center of another city, then bus from city to a town and within towns, and then walk in the pedestrian-only town and city centers. I often remarked that one almost didn’t need a car in northern Europe. The systems there are less car/highway dependent than in the United States. Here, however, our choices left and right are fossil-fuels. We desperately need a fossil-fuel system surrounding us.
Keeping informed—and then engaging in action for climate and habitat.
I try to keep informed about news, science, politicians, and events. I write letters to the editor and make blog posts, I support those working for climate action and habitat—such as Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, State Senator Christine Rolfes, Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, Governor Jay Inslee, and President Joe Biden—and I call out authorities locally who are worsening it. I campaign for climate action through groups such as 350 West Sound Climate Action, Kitsap Audubon Society, and Citizens Climate Lobby Bainbridge, I support habitat preservation groups such as the Great Peninsula Conservancy.
People like Marty Bishop of 350 West Sound Climate Action inspire me, for she makes posters and protests and organizes. Gene and Sandy Bullock of the Kitsap Audubon Society do so too, for they have advocated for birds and habitat their whole lives. Many such people do their part—such as those in the Washington Environmental Council, Washington Conservation Voters, Sierra Club Washington, Futurewise, Zero Waste Washington, Evergreen Future, Washington Wild, and many others. We all have different skills and means of engagement. The tragedy would be to not use them when our time desperately needs them. As the Theodore Roosevelt quote on my coffee mug says, “Do what you can, with you have, where you are.”
God enjoys his life-filled, variety-of-life filled world.
God enjoys and treasures the miracle and beauty of life, of which he put so much on this blue-green planet. He must cry when he sees us seemingly hellbent on eradicating it. I pray often for guidance about what to do.
I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know if we can halt the climate crisis and the sixth extinction, though I do (heaven help us) think it’s possible, because many scientists say that markedly reducing greenhouse gas emissions and setting aside a third of the planet is physically possible. The plaguing question is whether we’re morally capable of doing so. Right now, we’re way off course. Whether we temper the climate crisis and reverse the mass extinction we’ve started, I want to stand before God at the end of my life and say that I tried to do what I could do—using the talents he gave me—to steward the life and variety of life with which he so abundantly gifted this planet.
We must strive greatly for this Earth gift of ours, for as Theodore Roosevelt—a man of humbling defeats, but ultimately of some great victories—stated in his “Man in the Arena” speech, the person who strives greatly, “who errs and comes up short again and again . . . who knows the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”
Standing before God
Dear God, I tried to do what I could do during the time you gave me using the tools you gave me.
Hopefully, enough people will have felt and done the same; if so, then—with God’s help—we will have created the hope-through-action that Greta Thunberg so aptly challenges us to strive for.