Let us be earth wise

Seniors shouldn’t sit back and relax as climate change marches on


July is a wonderful month in Minnesota, with Mother Nature at her most beautiful and benign — green trees, blue lakes, blooming prairies and colorful sunsets.

It’s also a month that reminds me of what we have to lose as the climate of this planet changes — and not so slowly, at that.

The deniers of global warming are, according to those more learned than me, in the same category as those who doubt the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer.

The science is in: The globe is warming. Temperatures increase. Glaciers shrink. Oceans rise. Storms grow.

And I could be doing more, ought to be doing more, to contribute to those who are trying to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, reduce carbon emissions, preserve old-growth forests and develop alternative energy sources.

Getting started, but wanting more

I do a few smart things already. I drive a Honda Civic that gets 37 miles to the gallon. I switched to LED light bulbs in my townhome. I try to turn off the lights when I leave. I fish from a boat that uses only a trolling motor. I let the fish go. I rarely water my lawn. And I don’t flush the toilet as often.

But that seems like a drop in the bucket. A few years ago, a homeowner suggested installing solar panels on a few of our townhomes. Along with other owners, I dismissed the idea as too risky in a climate like ours and in an association that fancies a uniform appearance.

I might think twice about the idea now.

I might also think about inquiring of any candidate seeking my vote, and my money, how he or she stands on climate change — and I might withhold support from anyone who denies the science.

I can contribute to at least one environmental non-profit. My ex-wife, who spent a career as a lawyer for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, left the bulk of her estate to the Nature Conservancy, a fitting tribute to the work she did and the life she lived.

I am so proud of her.

Seniors ought to be leading the way

We’re the ones closest to returning to this good earth: Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. And we’re the ones smart enough, who’ve lived long enough to know that our spiritual life is dependent on a relationship with this earth.

Pope Francis says as much in his encyclical letter, On Care for Our Common Home.

“Environmental education seeks to restore the various levels of ecological equilibrium, establishing harmony within ourselves, with others, with nature and other living creatures, and with God,” the Pope wrote. “Environmental education should facilitate making the leap toward the transcendent, which gives ecological ethics its greatest meaning.”

Don Henley, of the Eagles, in his CD Cass County, sings his message in Praying for Rain, a common-sense homily for country folk like me.

Something’s different. Something’s changed and I don’t know why.
Even the old folks can’t recall
when it’s ever been this hot and dry.
I ain’t no wise man, but I ain’t no fool. And I believe Mother Nature is takin’ us to school.
Maybe we just took too much
and put too little back.
It isn’t knowledge, it’s humility we lack.

Beyond hurricanes

It took a long time, but I’m now feeling that humility when it comes to our relationship with Mother Nature.

Quite frankly, she can kick our butt. The beauty of tranquil lakes and golden sunsets is offset by torrential rains and withering droughts. The issue is about more than trying to reduce our exposure to natural disasters, however.

It’s really about doing the right thing: Showing respect for Creation. Taking care of our home. Thinking about our children. And, if you believe as I do, nurturing our souls.

Seniors should be heading up the charge.

After all, we’re the ones who remember how things used to be.

Dave Nimmer has had a long career as a reporter, editor and professor. Now retired, he has no business card, but plenty to do. Send comments or questions to [email protected].