In 1965, as a college freshman, one of the general education courses I was required to take was Biology.
The man who taught the course was obviously angry that he had to teach this bonehead science class, and clearly of the opinion that everyone should be majoring in the sciences.
His name I do not remember. What I do remember is that he was the first person I ever heard use the word “ecology.”
He spoke of how human beings were, through carelessness, ignorance, arrogance, and greed, ruining the ecology of planet Earth. He spoke of a coming environmental apocalypse and painted a dire picture of species extinctions, famine, rising sea levels, and crazy weather.
It was a doomsday scenario and it scared me, I can tell you. I was seventeen, though, and that doomsday seemed so far off – if it was even real – that it was easy to forget.
In the 1970s ecology popped up again. We began to have Save the Earth rallies. There was talk of recycling, and how what we did affected the environment.
By 1973 I was living here on the island and waiting in line for gasoline. We were being told to drive more slowly to conserve gas. A national speed limit of 55 miles per hour was made into law. Oil was a finite resource and we were running out.
We have short attention spans. The 55 miles per hour speed limit is long gone. Oil is still a finite resource, and it is now being acquired in ways that no one would have considered years ago – e.g., fracking – because it was so easy to drill a well and strike oil.
Now many of us would like to see our country turn to energy sources other than oil: solar panels, wind turbines, hemp oil, and tidal energy are all possible energy sources. But there is still too much money to be made in oil. Those who profit by it will not release their death grip on those profits, regardless of what that means for their children and grandchildren.
For years we heard about “global warming,” and then at some point the term “climate change” began to be used instead. Many people did, and still do, call climate change a hoax, and treat the idea with contumely.
Even if you think it’s a hoax, you can’t deny that we were choking on forest fire smoke last summer, and people were burned out of house and home in California and other Western States. People died in those fires; people died from bad air.
What we are now calling “Fire Season” (remember when we didn’t have a Fire Season?) has already started this year.
Could fire happen on Vashon? It has in the past. It is still moist enough here that we are in slightly less danger of wildfire than dry locales but clear the brush from around your house if you are worried. Seriously.
Then there are those pesky hurricanes (cyclones, typhoons) that are devastating the Caribbean islands and the southern and eastern states of our country, as well as countries in other parts of the world, destroying homes and people and infrastructure, and new storms striking before people have recovered from the last one.
This winter there was something called a “cyclone bomb” of snow in the Midwest, which along with the heavy rains that followed contributed to flooding of a magnitude people say they’ve never seen before.
If it is your opinion that climate change is a hoax, fine. Believe whatever you wish.
You, and climate change believers, and people who have no opinion on the subject, will still need to roll up your sleeves and deal with the results of the fires, floods, droughts, snows, hurricanes, tornados, rainfall, drought, polluted air, rising sea levels, and accompanying diseases, famines, wars, homelessness, and refugees, and whatever else is thrown at us, because reality does not care what your opinion is.
Reality is impartial and fair that way.
Right now it seems that almost everyone except the people presently running this country understand that we are in deep kimchi and we need to live responsibly if our species is to survive.
I believe that part of being responsible is to vote for people who have more sense than God gave a goose. If anyone like that runs for anything. If not, maybe we should turn our government over to the geese.
My college biology teacher knew what he was talking about, the old curmudgeon, so he really did contribute to my general education, even if I cannot remember zip about biology.
Mind you, we have not even mentioned what happens in Pugetopolis when the Cascadia Fault shifts, or Mt. Rainier erupts.
Let’s face it: life on earth is not for sissies.