"Trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky,
We fell them down and turn them into paper,
That we may record our emptiness."
Khalil Gibran

Sunday, July 16, 2017

An Apocalyptic Conclusion

And however sanguine you might be about the proposition that we have already ravaged the natural world, which we surely have, it is another thing entirely to consider the possibility that we have only provoked it, engineering first in ignorance and then in denial a climate system that will now go to war with us for many centuries, perhaps until it destroys us.
The Uninhabitable Earth: David Wallace-Wells

Ice Floes Under Midnight Sun
William Bradford 1869



How easily I can recall that July
when we revelled in yellow warmth –
no fire in the grate, perhaps an extra blanket
thrown across a knee and soon discarded.

That was the winter the Antarctic calved
the biggest iceberg ever – no matter
it was tilted away from the sun – we thought
how cool to have seen that in our lifetimes.

Oh, of course the pundits howled
and bandied phrases like planetary clock
blamed us for mass extinction despite
our best efforts to save the rhino.

We were unimpressed by the hype –
even presidents thought it a joke
as they exchanged lucrative handshakes
with the oil barons and admired new pipelines.

Yes, those were the days, halcyon
I’d call them now that time has unwound –
we castaways can only curse this perfect summer
desperate for any Ararat rising from the boiling sea.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

On the occasion of the birth of A68 (Giant Iceberg Splits from Antarctic BBC.com)

This weekend's prompt in the Garden has us Imagining a Changing Earth. Brendan has laid down the gauntlet: "I suspect the only way we can visualize something like this is through the collective of individual attempts..." And this, then, is my attempt to imagine what should be impossible given all the forewarning.

The last time it snowed in my home town in July was 22 years ago (bearing in mind my southern hemisphere perspective where all our cold fronts arise in the Antarctic). Now the temperature seldom drops below 22C (72F). While this makes for an endless number of pleasant days, it does not rain in this season, so the vegetation is parched and conditions perfect for uncontrollable wildfires (Hell and High Water as Knysna Battles Fires HeraldLive.com). I see how the warmer weather is affecting the migration patterns of birds and the cycles of deciduous trees which produce new leaves long before Spring.





31 comments:

  1. This is where the collective counts most -- your verse report from South Africa, Julian's from the United Kingdom, Erbiage's account, I take, from Bangladesh, mine from Florida -- voices all seeing into changes which have tremendous dimensional consequences. Anyway, the varied inroads to the them here counts as well, yours to take today (or earlier in this week, when the iceberg calved) and making that a mythic moment for the future -- the perpetual astonishment that we of this day did nothing in response, a luxury which no future day can ever again afford. Your ending is fascinating, that Ararat would rise from a boiling sea. Those are the dreams we curse the future to with our present yawns. Anyway, thanks.

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    1. In truth, I struggled to picture where my survivor might be in this retrospective look at the way things were in the early 21st century when change was still a possibility. I doubt there'll be a latter day ark.

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  2. Stunning imagery here Kerry - I love this piece

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  3. The last line is just terrific, reinforcing the apocalyptic aftermath of our inaction.

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  4. What adds to my depression regarding these matters is the distinct sense that the powerful, in their single-minded pursuit of short term gain, will do what they will do and that nothing can stop them.

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    1. Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris Accord has been a terrifying wake-up call. It could put efforts back a decade which we don't have.

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  5. In the whole news cycle, there is barely a mention of this iceberg. Those lucrative handshakes you described sicken me to the core. I am with Fireblossom in my feelings of powerless. We scream out -- but those with control only dig in more & find ways to damage the environment more. How can humanity change the tide!

    If you have not read this article, do so....it will stay with you. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/07/climate-change-earth-too-hot-for-humans.html

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    1. Thanks Mary. It is the article from which I took the opening quote.

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  6. A measured and lyrical lament, Kerry. Too often, too many of us see only our own backyard--here you broaden the view, and make us realize just how deep far and wide that backyard extends. I especially like the dry tone, and the contrast it makes to both real nostalgia, and bitter loss.

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    1. Yes, I recall scoffing at the idea that my deodorant could rip a hole in the ozone layer and it was only a few years later when I learned the hole in the ozone was directly above us! This planet we exist on is dynamic but we cannot ignore the fact that the most intelligent life form that calls it it's only home has had a direct impact on an impending mass extinction.

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  7. Those lucrative handshakes are at the core of why nothing is being done. It is appalling to know what we know and watch it all happening. In my province there are 133 wildfires burning, whole towns evacuated. And Trudeau is still talking pipelines. I lovethe perspective in this poem, set ahead in time. Future generations, if they survive, will think we were insane.

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    1. I fear for those generations, and I couldn't agree more.. insanity abounds.

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  8. We are going to need all the help we can get, to get along in these changing times.

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  9. I especially like the second stanza and this:

    "as they exchanged lucrative handshakes
    with the oil barons"

    Oh, and the part about the blanket over and then off of the lap.

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    1. I find the corporate conniving to be one of the most sinister factors in the world today.

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    2. Indeed. I just liked the way you worded it.

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  10. Kerry your writing is always well thought out, you take the reader on a journey of consciousness. The world is changing and it scares me.

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    1. Thank you. There is much to make one pause for thought these days.

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  11. I too was undone by the report of this iceberg breaking away...but here it has garnered barely a word....it seems our greed and laziness is just too great to turn from and try to change the effects we are having on our environment. I hear the lawnmowers buzzing constantly here day after day as useless cutting of useless lawns will add to the mayhem....your poem was spot on and drove the message if we can only get more people to hear it.

    Donna@LivingFromHappiness

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  12. Such incredibly imagery in this one, Kerry!

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  13. All those short benefits when it should be so easy... (actually a joy) to do it different... those handshakes makes me shudder actually.

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  14. Terrific writing as always. The power held by those barons of oil and the like is only that which we willing cede to them in pursuit of the bigger, brighter, bolder piece of bullshit.I think often in these times of the words of Percy Bysshe Shelley in the Masque of Anarchy:

    "Rise, like lions after slumber
    In unvanquishable number!
    Shake your chains to earth like dew
    Which in sleep had fallen on you:
    Ye are many—they are few!"

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  15. Very well put. The lucrative handshakes - since the first kings began there have been those handshakes and actions that are "above" the mass of other humans. Change is inevitable. We are at the end of an ice age. But unlike the other risings and fallings of temperature, we have brought this one ourselves, a little sooner than we had thought.

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  16. Wow. I believe this will be true. I'd like this to be a first page of a novel. I also like the quote above. I hadn't thought of a new system here fighting to establish itself--how arrogant of me to think the one I know is all that could be.

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  17. Yes, I thought it strange that this iceberg broke free in the middle of southern hemisphere winter and even more that placating noises were made by scientists (as it happened before) which reassured me not one bit. I don't think an ark is much good but I might be heading for the hills!

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  18. Well composed. Your poem reflects the way things are now-a-days. (so uncomfortably unreal)

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  19. I love this poem, Kerry. I love that it is personal; that it tracks the sad demise of winter; and that last line...
    I miss real winters, the ones the British can't cope with, when everything stands still, the true seasons of my childhood.
    I hate to think that one day the whole planet could be a desert and our planet will no longer be blue.

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  20. I really enjoyed reading your piece. The way you encapsulated the iceberg into a future legend. Loved the final line too............
    desperate for any Ararat rising from the boiling sea.

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  21. Oh my, I'd like to cry about this but don't want to add to the rising waters. Well written poem to spread around.

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Let's talk about it.