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Thursday
Dec152011

45 Degrees


Last week a friend of mine from Botswana called to say hello. Some of you may know the story—that I served there in the Peace Corps in the mid-1980s then lost touch with a dear friend and miraculously reconnected with her a few years ago. Anyway, she calls from time to time for a brief chat, which always thrills me.

Knowing that it’s summer there now and that climate scientists predict that Southern Africa will be hit hard by climate change, I asked if it was hot. “Oh my God!” she exclaimed. “It’s 45 degrees!” For those of you who live in the Fahrenheit world, that’s 113 degrees to us. I checked later on the Internet to see if I had heard her right. Turns out what was an unusual high back in the 80’s is now the average summer high. The climate website said that it is so hot during the brief rainy season that the water evaporates before it can be absorbed into the ground. I found the below GoogleEarth image of my old village, which shows the white bed of a dry river. Above is a picture of the river when I was there.

I think this was the last straw for me. For a few years I’ve been feeling that I should do more about climate change. I’ve written an article or two about things others have been doing. I’ve posted articles and videos on Facebook (including this compelling one for those who doubt the science). But I recently reheard Father Michael Doyle’s line about what prompted him to direct action during the Viet Nam War. “What do you do when a child is on fire? Write a letter?” 

It’s not like we haven’t done anything. We insulated our old house well and are now insulating our new one. We try to limit our consumption and take short showers. We worked to elect Obama, hoping that would help. But I wonder, when I hear on the news someday about the massive famines climate scientists are predicting for Africa and Asia, will I feel it was enough? I don’t think so. I can’t help remembering that my mother still blamed the British 150 years later for not doing more to prevent the Irish Potato Famine.

I’ve been waiting awhile to see what the thing is that I’m supposed to do. Suddenly there is a new job I just heard about that might be the thing, and I feel a new sense of excitement and hope. Please hold me in the Light as I rewrite my resume for the first time in years and test the leading to apply for this. The timing is a bit stressful—yes, we finally got the house but haven’t finished moving yet!—but I have the sense that if it’s what I’m supposed to do it will work out. If not, then maybe something else will make itself clear. In any case, I’m clear that I need to do something more.

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