What tea leaves do you read?

by Terry Oliver on May 2, 2010

I had no idea I had so much in common with James Hansen, the chief climate scientist at NASA. It turns out we are both grandfathers and both obsessed with how we can rescue our grandchildren from the plight our society is intent on inflicting on them.

In his new book, STORMS OF MY GRANDCHILDREN, Hansen spells out, chapter and verse, the life-threatening errors we have made and continue to make that are going to create a living hell for our granddaughters and grandsons.

And he is quite clear about who are the only ones who can take the hard decisions and  make the necessary changes. The young people – the rising generation. The rest of us are too in thrall to our western standard of living even though we know it is unsustainable. In spite of knowing all about Peak Oil and climate change.

So does that let me off the hook, then, as one of the older generation? I am part of the problem, not part of the cure?  I can continue adding  my small portion of deliberate destruction of my and your grandchildren’s lives?

Am I being too melodramatic here? Over-egging the pudding? Not if Hansen is to be believed. The crisis is real and it is here now. Right now. So why don’t I act – do something to match the enormity of the crisis?

The answer is obvious, of course. I’m waiting for you. And who are you waiting for? That’s right, you’re waiting for me. So round and round we go, circling the drain.

But not James Hansen. He has called time. The party’s over. The jig is up. And why has he taken this stand – stated  clearly that Obama doesn’t get it? Harsh words but necessary, he believes. They leave him open to attack and there are plenty ready to do so. Tens of thousands of lobbyists for a start. Hundreds of vested interests telling him to go back to his laboratory where he belongs. So why doesn’t he?

Because he is a grandfather. Like me. We are both concerned about our grandchildren. Notice how as grandparents we talk about our grandchildren, not our children. Does that mean I’m not concerned about my kids? Sure I am. I think about them all the time. Daily. But when it comes to Peak Oil and climate change, I leap-frog a generation. My kids will have it tough in the years ahead, no question. My grandchildren, however, on current estimates, don’t seem to stand a chance.

Unless. Unless I, as their grandfather, part of the problem – become part of the cure. A clear role – James Hansen has shown the way.  On present behaviour, my grandchildren have a lot to worry about.

Am I up to the challenge? Are you?

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