Think of this as Volume 16, Number 12 of A-Clue.com, the online newsletter I've written since 1997. Enjoy.
As energy technology has been the story of my day, so this great crisis will be the story of my kids' day.
The crisis will involve terraforming this planet, taking responsibility for global climate and working to get evolution moving forward again.
Its symbol will be one of the great totems of our own time.
Kitty. Kitty cat. Kitty kitty cat cat.
I'm writing this in celebration of my eldest, who has decided to make this problem the work of her own life. It is an honorable calling. We have always had cats, and she loves her cats, but starting with our current pair they're indoor meows.
Indoor cats are different from those which are free to go in-and-out, as our previous cats did. They're stupider. They're more dependent. When my wife and I visited Texas recently, leaving our two in the hands of our son, they got tweaky and frightened. One hid under the furniture, the other screamed his little head off, even with plenty of food, water, and litter in the box.
They're also more affectionate. One of our cats has taught himself to play fetch. We didn't train this behavior, but you can throw a toy mouse across the room and he'll bring it back in his mouth, laying it at your feet. The other one demands affection by climbing up my wife and licking the backs of her hands.
When in-and-out cats are in, they're resting. They may notice the staff, they may partake of the facilities, but their lives are outside. Both our neighbors have such cats. They know one another, and the other area cats, guarding their territory zealously. They prowl the yard like tigers. I once had one who enjoyed “chip-sickles” – chipmunks on the hoof, and was still killing them on the day she died. I wish they'd go after the squirrels, but that game seems too big for them. Maybe they've evolved.
Point is, we live in the environment, we are all part of the Earth, whether or not we acknowledge it. Our suburbs are, in fact, ecosystems, and unsustainable ones. This needs to change. We need to understand – all of us – that we have natural roles in the world, that all the things we do has an impact, and we have to conform our behavior, our daily lives, to the role of stewards over the planet.
Otherwise the planet will cease to be, in just as real a sense as if we burned it up in methane and carbon dioxide as we've been doing. If we don't take our responsibilities as environmental actors seriously, if we don't find some way to enforce norms that encourage the diversity of species where we live, we'll soon find ourselves living in a family treehouse that does not fork, that is highly susceptible to virus or bacterial attack, a monoculture.
Getting action on this will take time. Research must be done. Policy must be created, it must be sold, it must be enforced. The same idiots who now claim they can burn all the coal they want with no consequence will be fighting this like mad. And it won't just be happening in this country, but around the world, on every continent. It's a global problem that demands both global and local solutions.
History doesn't end when you do. This won't be the last crisis. The beginning of civilization, the replacement of caveman burning of energy with farmers harvesting the abundance around us, isn't the end of man's story. It's just the start of another chapter.
I may not see it, although I hope to see some of it. But my kids will. Your kids will. And it's a crisis I have consequence they can take on and conquer. Because we raised them to.