A thin blue line and a place called home

View from Scenic Hudson's Long Dock Park in Beacon, NY

View from Scenic Hudson’s Long Dock Park in Beacon, NY

Today as I laid in the grass, basking in the Hudson Valley sunshine I couldn’t help but drift upward into the blue sky I so often worry about. I fell (as I often do) into a strange moment of utter content followed by a surge of angst and worry. A cloud passed to ease my mind and I settled on playing a favorite childhood pastime, searching for animals amongst the clouds. How wonderful, for a moment to feel childlike again! Alas! My thoughts came full circle back to that wondrous thin blue line protecting our planet from the cold and unforgiving forces in our solar system.

How fragile a treasure this thin blue line truly is, yet our modern society nearly depleted the ozone through refrigerators, hair sprays and other aerosols. Even today, years after the implementation of the Montreal Protocol (an international agreement governing the phase out of ozone depleting chemicals) a large hole remains in the ozone and will take a long time to close. How arrogant must we be as a society to believe that our industrial activities have no impact on this pale blue dot we live on! Look around and you’ll see one cut among millions (as they say, “death from thousand cuts”).

Long Dock Panarama

However, I digress, the tide is coming in and I hear the Hudson River crashing into the large boulders placed to fortify the park from the steady pounding of the moon. I see the forested shores of Denning’s Point State Park in Beacon and the majestic Hudson Highlands as my fingers run over the fresh blades of spring. I wonder if a future drought will bring fire to the landscape as climate change drives New York’s weather into more extreme periods of wet and dry. This year we have already had two unseasonably early fires in Orange and Ulster County.

We have such limited time here, so few chances to circle around the sun. For thousands of years of human existence we’ve more or less received the perfect amount of warmth from the sun, allowing the earth’s atmosphere to shed the excess radiation. Now, however, we’re wrapping our humble little world in an ever-thickening blanket of greenhouse gasses.

The View from Mount Beacon

The View from Mount Beacon

There’s exciting news on the solutions side and a convergence of many factors, indicators giving me hope. Many companies once resistant to climate policy and science are backing away from that position and embracing the need for action. Renewable energy is reaching price parity with many conventional fossil fuels. If the enormous subsidies for fossil fuels disappears, renewables would be dramatically cheaper than their competitors. The fossil fuel divestment movement is moving into the mainstream and raising questions about the asset-worthiness of fossil fuel investments if the majority of known reserves must remain unburned and forever buried. Lot’s of good things are happening, I can rest in the grass a wee-bit longer.

View of Fishkill RIdge from the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater

View of Fishkill Ridge from the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater

I guess I never really understood the ‘do-nothing’ attitude, even if the odds seem insurmountable. I’ve always been inclined to root for the underdog. Now, I am the underdog, working alongside millions trying to safeguard this little “mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam” (astronomer Carl Sagan). Just looking up at this remarkable blue sky makes me feel like I’m a little bit closer to victory, a global average temperature increase of only 2 degrees centigrade. This is a good place, its home. Let’s keep it that way.

View from Storm King Mountain

View from Storm King Mountain

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