Is a Great View Really Worth Our Future?

October 14, 2018 GMT

Climate change, though it was not the focus of the 2016 election, should be on your mind now. It is mine, especially with this latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report under the United Nations Environmental Program and the World Health Organization recently suggesting that we all -- and when I say we all, I mean all of us on this green Earth -- start thinking about how we can better address the world’s weather.

I don’t care which party you belong to. The panel made up of scientists from around the globe cites we all need to address the very real “threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty,” if we are to sensibly and safely live on this planet.

I’m tired of politicians using this issue as a political football. When it comes to this one, we are all on the same team. We have to be. The alternative is simply counterproductive to a happy and healthy life. Whether you believe climate change is happening due to human activity, or that it’s part of a natural occurrence that would happen if we lived in caves or heated with fossil fuels, foraged for nuts or ate beef is beside the point. The point is that it is something we can do something about.

The fact is that most scientists worldwide believe climate change is underfoot, and even one single, seemingly small degree can make a big difference in the way in which our natural environment behaves, which is why we all want to encourage our kids to learn all they can about all things science.

New jobs, new skills and new innovations -- maybe even a return to old practices, like planting a tree -- will help turn things around.

There are arguments on all sides, I get that, but I am not going to be a lemming. Instead, we should be wary of politicians touting arguments funded from the endless coffers of the Koch Brothers on one side or the deep pockets of George Soros on the other. Let the lopsided players funnel their money into their so-called philanthropic think tanks and seemingly good 501(c)(3) foundations and let them buy their lobbyists and pay for their campaigns.

We have our trees. Let’s plant them on our city rooftops and in our front yards. We’ll all breathe better if we plan ahead.

Let’s teach our kids to be Aesop’s ant and not the regrettable grasshopper. Let’s teach our kids to get to the bottom of what is true. I don’t want to live in a world where we teach our children to ignore the very plausible scenarios of rising seas and melting ice caps because it doesn’t fit a political narrative. I’d rather err on the side of caution and save a tree. I’d rather stop arguing and save my children’s world.

For starters, let’s teach our kids that trees are the green giants that can help us fight the greenhouse-gas challenge we all face.

There are woods all around my house. Beyond the trees are mountains. Not just mountains but two ranges, one to the north and one to the south. It’s tempting to cut some of the trees down to afford better views. The tree guy suggested we do it to prevent the pines from wreaking havoc with our cedar roof. Of course, he’s really expert at cutting trees and clearing land, so I wasn’t surprised when he made a case for the roof. And he’s right, we would have a great view of those hidden rocky faces and piney peaks to boot. I’ve admired those lovely views more than once from my neighbors’ backyards, spaces that are more like real-life shadow boxes framing long vistas that draw you in with grand rises and peaceful precipices when the sun sets to swirls of autumn ochre, crimson and purple majesty christening the barred owl’s ballad.

It’s that mesmerizing.

I have to admit, I have stood on our hilly drive and tried to imagine pruning a few high limbs to create an opening just for me without chopping any trees down at all. Chosen lopped limbs could work. Others, eager to help with this idea that a view is worth a few trees, have been more blunt about it. They’ve suggested we ask our neighbors if they would be neighborly and simply chop down that big hemlock blocking everything.

As I mentioned, our nice neighbors happen to have an open view to said mountain range from their backyards. We can just barely catch sight of a similar view, but to do it, we must climb a ladder and cautiously scale (Steve scrambles like a squirrel) to the highest ridge of our roof.

These well-intentioned friends also say things like, “Tell them you’ll pay for it.” And they’re serious.

The trees sway in the nutty, crisp breeze as a feathery cascade of yellow and red leaves floats to the gravel drive. I sigh. A view would be nice. But is it worth all this trouble?

Without going into wonky detail, the IPCC report suggests that if we don’t begin to make changes in the way we live and work now, the idea of halting a 1.5-degree rise in temperature may become unstoppable, like a runaway train. Sweeping and smart change over all sectors across time must begin now to clean up our act.

They say climate change is a matter of science. It is. But it is also a matter of dollars and cents, and so, I am not going to cut those pines down after all. The cost is just too high.

Bonnie J. Toomey teaches at Plymouth State University, writes about writing, learning and life in the 21st century. You can follow Parent Forward on Twitter at https://twitter.com/bonniejtoomey our email at bonniejtoomey@gmail.com . Learn more at www.parentforward.blogspot.com or visit bonniejtoomey.com .