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The Wrack

The Wrack is the Wells Reserve blog, our collective logbook on the web.

Blog Post from a New England Office

Posted by | January 15, 2013 | Filed under: Opinion

a thoughtful guy, Martin Luther King, Jr.

I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.

So wrote Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., from a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama, fifty years ago this April.

It is King’s birthday today.

The official holiday is next Monday. As a kid, that January Monday meant only a three-day skiing weekend to me.

I know better now. (Also, we don’t get as much snow as we used to.)

It’s January, so I’ve been thinking a lot about the future. I’ve been thinking about the year to come, certainly, because 96% of it lies ahead, but also the longer term. “Strategic planning” is what we call it here. What will the next five, ten, even the next thirty years look like here at the Laudholm Trust?

What will the next 100 years look like here in Maine?

Dr. Cameron Wake was up here again today, delivering a presentation on Northeast Region climate change impacts at the Reserve’s excellent 3-day climate adaptation workshop.

Dr. Wake makes it a point to start off his public lectures with three main points he hopes we’ll get from him. His second is the one that always strikes my church bell of a head like a crowbar: “Our response to climate change is fundamentally a moral issue.” Wake continues (and I paraphrase): “Reaping the benefits of fossil fuels today, while passing on their catastrophic effects to our children and grandchildren, is IMMORAL.”

As oceanographer Matthew Fontaine Maury so elegantly wrote:

It is only the girdling encircling air, that flows above and around all, that makes the whole world kin.

Which leads us back to King’s letter from the Birmingham jail. Given the way atmosphere works, we of the developed world have made ourselves, and everyone else, downwind for generations to come. The once and future greenhouse gases will persist for centuries; it is impossible now to think about the future without thinking about a warmer, more disrupted planet. CO2’s injustice is now everywhere; where will we find justice?

It could make one feel just a little gloomy… if one stopped reading King and climate scientists after only the first few paragraphs.

But King closed his letter thusly:

Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.

He had hope. So do the climatologists, staff members, neighbors, and visitors to the Wells Reserve at Laudholm, I think.

The people of the United States have risen to great heights before, righted great wrongs, solved seemingly insurmountable problems. We have set foot on the Moon.

Surely, we can meet the challenges of our changing climate, perhaps even preserve some of the comforts of the lives we have enjoyed for our children and grandchildren.

With great leaders, with great effort, and with honesty and hope and compassion, we can do this — and many other things as well.

So let 2013 be a year marked not by continued division and hot air, but by common ground and cooler heads.

In Dr. King’s honor, and for our own.

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