Written by Jason Sheehan
Teacher Programs Educator
Nostalgia is a burden. Longing for something, longing for truth.
Pain of consciousness for one more late night in the moon. One afternoon in the sun. One more breeze blowing on your skin that has echoed through mountains tall and white.
I was young and full of wonder. Commander, captain of my own crew of pirates. Set on sights to which we soared.
Young and full of wonder. Wishing for grown up days where the sky is still blue and wide and vast. Hand in hand of a loved one. Where the trees grow tall and green and drape curtains of vines on the mysteries beyond.
Young and full of wonder for the unknowns of what nature, the natural world, held. For me.
But that was then, and today is now, and tomorrow is too late. For in two hundred years when the Earth’s crust is baked dry, and smoke fills the lungs, and oceans burn, and tuna is as the dinosaurs, the science will be bible.
Too late to turn back the clock, where a small child asks what was coral like? What do stars look like? I can’t see through this cloud of old man’s dreams and corruption and economic greed, and carbon.
When the child asks were the islands always underwater? Was anyone able to play on a beach? What were those colourful things on trees and bushes that smelt nice? Why didn’t anybody look after them?
But that is very much the wrong side of the coin.
Three minutes I might have for this review. For our collective attention to be held, to continue.
But I kid not myself when I came to communicate all I had gathered on the climate humans create. I know that you know that I know that you know. Degrees of warming, degrees of warning.
So I’ve thought to reflect a sentiment, a mood, a position of perspective on an issue so crude. And I don’t mean the oil.
CO2. Number one on the global watch list of rogues. An indefatigable little thing so innocent in its being, so integral in its path to and because of human history, so overwhelming in its place in our eyes, our ears, our mouth, our minds. They say you can’t see the forest for the trees. Well you can’t see the trees for the CO2 when you do what we do.
There is very much a case for urgent action on climate change. We did this. Us. It no longer matters whose responsibility it was, but we are all accountable for what comes next. Blind eyes are the safest, and so our leaders feign. For wishes of power still exist in that space. Of ships and pirates and glistening waves. Of treasure buried in earth not sand. An X stamped over cultures, not maps. But blind eyes don’t see just what can be.
Some of that future warming is already locked into the climate system. It takes time for a response to the woes we create. We must limit warming before it’s too late. But how late is too late when the horse has rushed the gate?
There’s inertia in the system. Actions taken today commit us to an outcome twenty or thirty years delayed. Hence, the amount of greenhouse gas in the air means it will be extremely difficult to avoid 1.5. My entire working life, focusing on 1.5. Yet there’s chance that exists to limit to 2. I implore you out there that it’s something we must do.
Global tipping points. The Greenland icecap, decay of Antarctic ice, melt of permafrost, we are close to triggering these tipping points, continuing warming in a feedback that will last beyond our efforts.
Act in the coming decade or risk losing control.
On I could go with stunning comparison (on a side note here its that famous Harrison – Ford who voices the ocean for Conservation International. Listen, it’s worth it. I’m sorry this digression is natural – to me.
So on we can compare of climate to that little vile bug we call Covid. Lockdown in a pandemic, they said, is the response needed to the climate crisis. Not a lockdown, masked and withheld from the light, but a vision of change, new thinking, new sight.
Cut emissions hard and fast. Create emergency capacity to deal with consequences of environmental phenomenon. Again, don’t be an automaton. Artificial intelligence would have more common sense.
Deal with rising sea level, the cancer eating away at coastal habitats and cities, accelerating.
Drawdown is the way to go. Silcate rocks drawing CO2, grossly underesearched and due for review. When they break down up they suck that carbonous pollution, and in due time this may be a considered solution.
Then there’s seaweed growth to store and lock up all that CO2 just like the rock. It’s interesting and important and something being studied. Tick tock. And tock, and tock, and tock. To go from being studied to something that is moneyed.
Within the next 3-4 years we may lose the opportunity to be as effective as we might have been.
Trends for renewable energy look good. But double down along with drawdown.
Tomorrow is too late for the wishes of boys and pirate ships. Because tomorrow will be spent telling bedtime stories wishing that we had acted sooner.
Well it’s a different bedtime story that I see being told. One of a different sort of pirate. The side of a coin more piece of eight.
Attended I did the Climate Reality. With Al Gore at the helm, a captain facing this calamity. A pirate I admire as he rebels against the mire.
And so he said, not verbatim but in words so American, as his ultimatum.
Hand in hand. Step by step. Face to face. We can make this world a better place.
It is no simple thing to ask, and can be a lot to take on such a task,
But here and there, and everywhere, we see behind the troubled mask, a face, a person, a pirate, a child, a parent, an artist, a heart that is wild.
They are saving the earth. Not just you or me, a team, a group, a community.
The human race are coming together. We are the hope. The climate reality is just that. A reality. And so too is the change.
Led by others like Greta, like Attenborough and Flannery, each of them poised against this calamity. So many take to the task. And so, will you too, I ask?
So here I am. A pirate once more. With a team I admire each for their own. I may not be captain. I may not be cook. I may not be bosun, and none of us crook. But we sail a ship on these high CERES. A pirate I am, with all of you today. And a pirate’s life, is the only way.