When the honeysuckle is left to its own devices, the earth will swallow us up.
The concrete of our driveways will crumble, our windows and our rooftops, our backyard barbecues and our Subarus will disappear in the thicket.
All those volunteer trees we lop, all the weeds we whack, the branches we faithfully trim, will keep growing long after nature has locked the door on humanity.
I think about this when I hear about ice caps melting and nuclear bombs ready to launch. When I hear that the EPA has eliminated its science adviser and the justification for ditching lower fuel standards sounds a lot like “Too late! Who cares?”
I think about it when I hear that a Nobel Prize-winning panel on climate change has come out with a warning and a deadline: Slow down the warming in the next decade or else.
A gloomy report, the Associated Press wrote.
“Preventing an extra single degree of heat could make a life-or-death difference in the next few decades for multitudes of people and ecosystems on this fast-warming planet, an international panel of scientists reported Sunday,” the story began. “But they provide little hope the world will rise to the challenge.”
The report those 80-some scientists issued was 728 pages long. It calculated 529 scenarios to keep the warming below the 1.5 degree Celsius tipping point; and found that only 2 percent of those options would do the job.
The story said that the 2015 Paris Accord pledges are insufficient. (Even if every nation kept them.)
That the ocean’s coral reefs will disappear, that severe weather will worsen, droughts will lengthen, heat waves will become ever more extreme.
We knew this already, but there is laundry to fold and time cards to punch and children to raise and Saturdays to spend yelling at the television.
We are only human, after all, so excuse us while we shake the sand from our eyes.
I am not a scientist, but I trust the 99 percent of them who believe climate change is real and human-made. I think about our joint humanity and the political will it would take to change the way all nations approach climate, the responsibility of our leaders to ensure it happens.
The idea of that change is so daunting, so we plod along changing out our light bulbs and lowering our thermostats and installing our water-efficient showerheads.
And these are good things, says Rezaul Mahmood, director of the High Plains Regional Climate Center.
“We need to deal with our day-to-day situation but keep the long-term solution in place.”
Cities and states and regions can and should implement carbon emission-lowering plans, he said. People can petition their leaders.
“The challenge also brings up opportunities; there are other kinds of fuels we can use and be a leader in the world and focus on that.”
Before I have time to ask if he’s checked the EPA website, he says: “Our challenge is there are people who don’t believe in climate change, right?”
But the scientist knows this: Global warming will cause island nations to disappear. Places such as Glacier National Park will disappear, too, and he’d like to take his son for a visit before it does.
“When I see this I feel depressed; at the same time, I know we need to work through it, that’s what I’m saying.”
A complex problem, with complex solutions, Mahmood said.
His advice: Don’t give up.
And how can we?
A new baby came into my life in June. Her name is Elise Grace and she is a wonder like all babies, but especially so because she is tied to my heart.
In 10 years, the girl just discovering her toes will be a fourth-grader. I would like to think that my granddaughter’s elementary school science project will explain how the countries of the world came together to save the planet from doom back in 2018.
Native wisdom says that we should consider the impact of our decisions seven generations into the future.
And maybe every generation wrings its hands, angry over the mess we were handed by our elders.
But somehow we soldier on.
We try to find balance in an ever-tilting world. We do what we can. We vote, we protest, we write letters, we get angry, we eat entire bags of potato chips contemplating tomorrow’s news.
We find hope in the cracks.
When a home is abandoned the trees take over, said Myla Aronson, professor of ecology at Rutgers.
The grass grows and the ivy grows and the mortar crumbles. The varmints move in.
Where people see decay, the natural world sees opportunity, she said. Increased biodiversity, more birds, more bugs, improved carbon storage.
She points to places in the world ravaged by earthquakes or floods that now teem with life.
But give the honeysuckle five years? “And your house is full of honeysuckle.”
I’m happy that our human follies are fuel for the honeysuckle. I am.
But now seems like the time to sit up and scream about climate change, because nothing else we do matters if we can no longer inhabit our home.