Amblin’ Alameda: I Am A Nature Lover

Amblin’ Alameda: I Am A Nature Lover

Morton Chalfy

I am a nature lover. My children are nature lovers. My grandson, who turned six years old today, is a nature lover. He lives with his parents (my daughter and her husband) on the edge of a nature preserve in the wilds of Colorado and apparently loves growing up in that environment. Living here in Alameda is not quite the same but it does have nature close at hand. The beaches and Bay front, the tree canopies that roof the streets and the close proximity of the many state and national parks that surround us let us know that we are still in Mother Nature’s bosom.

I’m fairly confident that my grandchildren will still have plenty of nature around when they are my age but looking further into the future leaves me shaking my head. We humans have been remarkably successful on a global scale. Our population is at an all time high, our life expectancy is the longest it has ever been and the future seems to hold more of the same. Which is the problem.

More of the same means more of everything; more cars, plains, trains, air conditioners and on and on. We are already committed to several centuries of warming and the results of that warming are totally unpredictable. The climate can switch in a geological instant and whether we find ourselves broiling in new tropical climates, frozen in a new Ice Age or just whipped by hurricanes and tsunamis is almost immaterial. Climate change will reshape our culture.

The question I ponder in the early morning hours is “can we survive ourselves?” As we rush into the future it becomes more difficult to modify our direction and while many are mindful of the dangers many more are doing what they must in order to stay alive and feed their families. These are competing imperatives and feeding the family will always win out with whatever consequences it entails.

In the very long run, the longest of long runs, the Earth will heal itself. We will be gone someday and the patient bacteria will continue their work and life will regenerate once more. After all, the sun has another five billion years of fuel in its locker. In the shorter long run, the next couple of thousand years, we will likely break many of the systems of wind and water and weather and climate that we currently enjoy and learn to live with the results. I’m afraid, though, that we will have said goodbye to many of the species that made the journey to this point alongside of us (the dodo, the passenger pigeon, the quagga) and hello to many species we don’t like (mainly new viruses and other vectors of disease) but which have found the world we’ve created to their liking.

And so I bid a rueful Happy Birthday to my grandson. Enjoy your life and enjoy your natural surroundings and save as much of it as you can. Being a nature lover looks like a lost cause in the world of tomorrow.