For the second time in a little over two weeks, the tornado warning sounded, and I went down to the lower level with my lantern and my cell phone, so I could keep track of the frightening climate event threatening overhead, hoping there was enough charge in my phone for whatever was approaching.
In the next day or two I would learn there had been eight tornadoes in the Northeast from Long Island to Connecticut and Rhode Island, sparing Cape Cod, barely. This, on the last day of the Glasgow Summit, COP 26, the results of which left everyone unhappy with pledges that don’t meet the moment.
A climate activist for over 20 years, I have given up wondering, “What will it take to wake us up?” Clearly a lot more and worse, is headed our way, and there’s the sobering thought that maybe we’re too late.
The other day, I listened to two young voices, struggling to understand what this means for their future. One, a college senior, is pretty sure she won’t have children, and wonders why she is spending time and money acquiring an education she may not be able to use. The other one has quit college for now to devote herself full time to youth activism, hoping to have an impact on this devastating climate crisis.
She has not given up, and has hope for her future. I fear my climate hero, Greta Thunberg, has given up, when her response to the Glasgow summit is, “Blah, blah, blah.”
We Americans are responsible for almost one-quarter of all planet warming emissions, and yet, we represent just a little over 4% of the global population. It’s clear that, for a variety of reasons, we can’t look solely to leadership, in our country or globally. There’s too much greed and power at work preventing substantive progress at the national level, but action at the state level in some states — Massachusetts is an example — gives me reason for hope.
If you live in an island community in the Pacific or on top of melting permafrost, do you have much hope? Probably not. How can we not modify our life styles in the face of such a threat?
The majority of people in this country believe the earth is heating up and human activity is responsible. That’s progress from just a few years ago, but acknowledging the reality doesn’t move the temperature needle down. It is going to take every one of us to do what we can.
Sheila Place lives in Yarmouth Port.
This article originally appeared on Cape Cod Times: commentary: Future depends on beating climate crisis