01 June 2014

Cockroaches and Elephants

I read a sad article this past week (which, when juxtaposed with idiot deniers still insisting that nothing's happening and it's all a hoax, made me cry) about what's happening to the small island nations in the Pacific. 

In The Nations Guaranteed to Be Swallowed by the Sea, by Stephen Leahy, we learn how bad it's getting: 

  • homes are being destroyed by rising sea levels
  • some island atolls have been lost
  • coffins and skeletons from graves are washing away
  • full moon high tides are bringing salt water into streets
  • people are moving further inland, but the islands are so small, they can't move much further
  • shorelines are eroding
  • groundwater and agricultural fields are being salinated by salt water intrusion

People in island-based countries and communities that are, literally, disappearing (you've heard me talk about those who are "losing their homes and entire homelands") have started wondering what they've done to deserve this. 

An alarmed Wayne Andrew is the head of a reef protection organization in Palau. According to him, "Local people wonder what they've done wrong and 'why they have to pay the ultimate price when other nations are benefiting from all this,' referring to wealthy nations' high CO2 emissions." Hearing that breaks my heart.

According to Tony de Brum, Foreign Minister of the Marshall Islands, "'There is no sense of urgency. It's frustrating' .... Countries with the biggest CO2 emissions are more concerned about their economies than the survival of small island nations," he suggested.

de Brum offered an evocative analogy: "'By the time the rest of the world awakes to [the] crisis, we've drowned,' he said. 'We are like cockroaches trying to herd elephants.'"

That reminded me of this African proverb: "If you don't think you can make a difference, if you don't think you have power, if you think your voice is too small to be heard, then you've never been in a tent with a mosquito." I've also heard that mosquitoes can force migrations of large animals, such as the caribou herds of Alaska. 

Add to that this statistic I just heard: on average, you have to talk to someone seven times before they will buy what you're selling.

Can we give world leaders and climate conference negotiators credit for being as wise and intelligent as elephants? Probably not. But if we make pests of ourselves, like cockroaches and mosquitoes do, perhaps they will do the right thing in New York (September 2014), Lima (December 2014) and Paris (end of 2015) -- just to shut us up and get rid of us.

So folks, it's a call to wings (rather than arms)! Start buzzin' around their ears (and walkin' up their walls) and maybe they'll start listening. 

Here's to a climate change agreement that saves the world from us. From New York and Lima to Paris, or bust -- for the sake of all the children, of all species, and all future generations, for all time.

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I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?