Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Seven Things to Expect with Climate Change

You've been wondering what it'll be like. Whether you fear it or shrug it off, the prospect of an ailing Earth is a bit of a mystery. Even the scientists keep saying the full consequences of global warming are unpredictable.

Here are some things your grandchildren probably can expect:

1. No more personal cars
2. Locally grown food only
3. Small, compact cities; you work where you live
4. Coastline cities flooded and abandoned
5. Unpredictable seasons; hunger and disease
6. Political upheaval. Refugees, power grabs
7. Water wars

My novel What Love Can't Do took you to the 2040s. My next novel, Human Scale, happens in the 2060s. It comes out in April.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

mini book review: Storms of My Grandchildren

Bloomsbury, hardcover $25 277 pages

The subtitle of James Hansen's book is: The Truth about the Coming Climate Catastrophe and our Last Chance to Save Humanity. The urgency of this title and his last words, "It's our last chance," are not reflected in the presentation, which is a bit dry. Hansen is a professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia, and director of the NASA Institute for Space Studies. Though he's written innumerable journal articles and papers, this is his first book.

Each of the 11 chapters deals with a facet of climate science, also reporting his many often frustrating attempts to get government to listen to the science.

I would say, don't buy this book, but make sure your library has several copies, so everyone can taste it. The man's integrity and passion shine through, and you find yourself grateful that he lives in your time and cares enough.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

"I Don't Believe in It"

Now and then on the subject of climate change, you hear those words. I usually reply that it's not a religion. It's not a belief system, it's a set of facts. Take the "germ theory." When germs were first discovered in the 19th century, there was widespread resistance and even outrage. But pretty much everybody nowadays accepts that germs bring disease. That's because all the reputable scientists say so, and it's been proven over and over.

So I've been encouraged in recent years that people seem to be listening, taking in the scary news about climate, waking up. The media is paying real attention, reporting the scientific evidence as fact.

But apparently the recent snowstorms in D.C are being touted by tea party types as proof that global warming is "untrue." Blizzards in Washington? Doesn't that sound screwy to you? Most people grasp by now that such extreme weather events, from hurricaines to wildfires, are becoming more and more frequent and violent. It's what's called empirical evidence. But fear does strange things, and denial is seductive and comfortable.

The logical conclusion to avoiding climate chaos is a drastic change in the oil-driven, consumer-worshipping way of life too many people call "American." Let's not face that subversive, disturbing thought at all!
Look, I want to love this world
as though it's the last chance I'm ever going to get
to be alive
and know it.

--from October, by Mary Oliver

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

When we no longer have the fuel to bring our fruits and vegetables from Florida or California, we will have to make do with what's grown in our own region. Remember that only 100 years ago--when my father was born--folks were in the same situation. Here's a recipe using veggies New Englanders can find all winter. It's delicious and exactly suited by Mother Nature to nourish those living in the cold.

Root Soup

1 tablespoon butter
1 each Yukon Gold potato, celery root, leek, parsnip, and carrot, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup water
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock

In a soup pot, combine the butter, vegetables, salt, pepper, water, and stock. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 35 minutes.

Bon appetit!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Spy Pond

"It's a dream!" I cried as tears warmed my face in the cold February wind.

There I was this afternoon, emerging from the tree-embraced bike path, suddenly seeing before me the expanse of Spy Pond--completely frozen over. Dozens of people were skating in the bright sun, alone or in pairs or in family groups, all ages, as far as the eye could see. A few serious hockey practices, a toddler trying out tiny skates, a young man speeding past with a makeshift sail bigger than he was, parents helping kids, a teen helping a shaky mother, lots of laughter, glowing cheeks.

My amazement included these thoughts: Nobody was selling anything! No machines smoothed the smooth ice. No machines of any kind were seen or heard. It could have been a scene here 100 years ag0, 200 years ago. Yes, in 1810 early Americans in their wooden skates probably sailed around with friends and families in just this way.

Connection. Everyone here was connecting to each other in this peaceful beautiful place, and connecting to the generations before.

Shall we dare to hope the scene will be the same in 2112? Spy Pond used to freeze over all winter every winter. Now it's rare. The violent historic snowstorm in Washington DC this weekend demonstrates that climate change continues to gather momentum, disrupting natural balance. In Human Scale, it snows in June.
Mini Book Review

I wrote real reviews in my salary-earning days. Those you'll find here will just be little nutshells meant to give you a quick overview, with a hefty dose of my opinion, of course.

WHAT'S THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN? A Rational Response to the Climate Change Debate, by Greg Craven. Penguin/Perigee $14.95
Packaged looking compostable in newsprint-looking paper, this 210 page book delivers its promise. It's as down to earth as it looks, with a sensible tone welcome on this often emotional issue. Craven is a high school teacher and it shows. Which is a compliment. When I wrote my small book, In Your Hands, a Citizens guide to the Arms Race in the 80s, I geared it to a high school audience and it sold all over the world. Craven's work is supremely accessible. I hope all teachers of the subject will use it.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I'll be sharing my thoughts with you as part of letting folks know about my upcoming novel about climate change, Human Scale. It's a sequel to What Love Can't Do, which came out in 2006 to grand success among environmentalists and those interested in how families cope in chaos. Human Scale offers the same scenario of an immediate future where environmental collapse leads to social and political breakdown as well as terrible hardship, and reveals how love survives.

Human Scale comes out on April 22, Earth Day.

See my web site at

That's it for today.

Think of me as an intellectual Mother Nature.