Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Swimming in the Ruins

--On Sunday, I stood on a Ft. Lauderdale rooftop, surrounded by even taller buildings, talking to a friend who has an advanced degree in Meteorology.  She had just come back from a climate conference.  The news is not good.  You knew that already.

--As you might suspect, the climate conference attendees spent a lot of time talking about the milestone that we've just reached:  the level of carbon in the air has just reached 400 parts per million (for more info, see this story).  As our friends grilled meat, we stared out to the ocean, which we could see.  We talked about sea level rise.  We speculated when our landscape would be completely underwater.

--I stared up, imagining that I was a diver looking up to the surface of the ocean as I swam amongst the ruins.  I imagined the skyscrapers of Ft. Lauderdale sunk into the sand.  I imagined swimming down between the towers and steeples and ruined condos.  Within several hundred years, this peninsula will likely (VERY likely) return to the ocean floor, as it used to be. 

--Will there be humans left to go diving?  It's hard to imagine that we'll be able to adapt to the changes barreling towards us.  We're not very good at adapting to smaller changes, after all.

--A few weeks ago, I talked to one of my friends who's been sorting through stuff.  He came across a box of personal finance magazines that he'd kept, and he could barely bring himself to look at it.  He remembered how faithfully he used to follow the principles laid out by those famous finance magazines.  If he had stayed true, would he be wealthier now?

--I pointed out that he might be even poorer.  I remember those magazines, with their recommendations that we invest in tech stocks and that we leverage everything to get better housing options.

--By the middle-end of my work day yesterday, I was so tired that I was tempted to put my head on my desk and take a nap.  But my office is such that I'd be very visible, so I resisted the urge to sleep.  Instead, I put all the poetry books back on the shelves.  Long ago, I brought most of them to the office.  I thought, I spend most of my time here; maybe I'll reach for a poem when I'm tired.

--It hasn't quite worked out that way.  I have been reaching for volumes of poems in the last half year to write essays and articles.  And they've never quite made it back to the shelves.  And when I've gotten new books, I've kept them at home until I had a chance to read them.  Again, it hasn't quite worked out that way.

--I have now filled up all the shelves reserved for poetry.  Yesterday afternoon, I said to a friend, "That's it.  I can buy no more books."

--My spouse has sorted through his Philosophy books.  We have such a good collection.  Once, those books wouldn't have been widely available.  Now, since they're in the common domain, it's fairly easy to find them online.  Do we need to keep our paper copies?  More importantly, do we need to haul them to a new location?

--Yesterday we took one of the cars to the shop.  It had a shake and a shimmy, and the two front tires have been showing wear on the edges.  My spouse took the apocalyptic view, whilst I thought we needed alignment. 

--In a way, we were both right.  The car can be redeemed.  It needed more than an alignment, but not a tie rod or an axle.  My spouse started to splutter when the mechanic called to tell us that the brakes needed to be replaced.  I said, "The last time we replaced the brakes, Susan Pawela was my boss."  That was several bosses ago, at least as long ago as 2007.  They've lasted a long time.

--Oh little car, that has pumped so much carbon into the air!

--I think of my husband's favorite car, the little Geo Metro that got 60 miles to the gallon when we first got it.

--It got that great mileage because it had no AC.  I think of my younger self, who didn't use the AC because she didn't want to contribute to global warming.

--My moral high ground will not protect me from rising seas.  We'll all be in need of high ground before too much longer, at least in geological timelines.

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